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Author Topic: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again  (Read 10155 times)

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Offline Tarkus

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ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« on: February 05, 2017, 04:42:31 AM »
Just to alert everyone here at SC4D, Origin seems to have let their unpatchable copy of Version 1.1.610 (which can't run the NAM) out into the wild again for retail customers.  Here is the original thread over at ST . . . I've also written up a brief analysis over at SimTarkus.

From the looks of it, it's been out there awhile.  If you've purchased the game off Origin in the past couple years, check your version number (those who redeemed CD keys for a free digital version are presumably okay).  I'm trying to get an accurate picture of just how many users out there are affected, so if you are among those with a 1.1.610 from Origin, a screenshot showing the version details would be very helpful to the cause.

-Alex

Offline art128

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Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2017, 05:25:16 AM »
Wow, this is really pathetic from EA... Truly PC gaming as we know it is dead.
I'll take a quiet life... A handshake of carbon monoxide.

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Offline mrbisonm

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Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2017, 07:00:23 AM »
They're simply jealous that we did a better game that they could've done........Bunch of nogoods from EA!

Fred


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Offline art128

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Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2017, 07:49:18 AM »
They're simply jealous that we did a better game that they could've done

I think it's more the fact that nowadays game companies (with some exception) don't want you to mod the game. So by going with that, they willingly reverted back to the previous version what you couldn't patch and therefore couldn't mod.
I'll take a quiet life... A handshake of carbon monoxide.

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Offline Seaman

Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2017, 08:21:28 AM »
I think it's more the fact that nowadays game companies (with some exception) don't want you to mod the game. So by going with that, they willingly reverted back to the previous version what you couldn't patch and therefore couldn't mod.

As SC4 is another bright example of how the community keeps a game alive, I cannot see any argument why EA willingly wants to prevent customers from using the mods.

It's just my wild ass guess, but in this case it might just be unawareness. Someone is new in the company, sees the old version lie around, just bringing it to the server with a couple of clicks with simply no detail knowledge about what was happening before...


Offline MushyMushy

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Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2017, 01:04:41 PM »
In response to the question about why they wouldn't want us to have mods, the reasoning people generally seem to accept (for games in general - not talking specifically about SC4 here) is because mods increase the lifespan of a game. While developers/publishers want the game to remain successful for a period of time, they want its sales to fall off eventually and the game to become dated and obsolete so when they release the new version everyone buys it. They release a new version of Call of Duty every year and people who like it still buy it.

Just think, if SC4 never had any mods for it, so it was still the half-baked vanilla experience... would we have been more welcoming to games that most of us turned our noses up at (like SC2013)? A decade's worth of modding SC4 has raised our standards beyond what EA is willing to invest in. C:S is the same way. There are lots of mods for it already, and it looks way cooler with them than it did at launch. If nobody ever made any mods for it and CO released a new version of it people would be all over it. Mods (can) also get in the way of potential DLCs, and companies love DLCs nowadays. EA tried to stamp out any hope of modding SC2013 so they could release DLCs for it.

Looking at it from a publisher's profit-driven point of view, mods have the capability to hurt profits. That doesn't mean they always do - it just means the next version of the game has to be a real improvement (read: requires more investment) instead of basically the same game they released last year. Of course, there isn't another version of SC coming so I really have no idea why EA would do this.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2017, 06:33:36 PM by MushyMushy »

Offline compdude787

Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2017, 05:39:43 PM »
Origin did this again?!?! Seriously?!

I don't see why they'd gain any benefit whatsoever by restricting modding abilities at this point. Maxis is no more, so there's no studio that will make a new SimCity game. This gains them nothing but lost sales and goes to show why people hate EA so much.

Offline mgb204

Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2017, 12:07:21 AM »
I don't think there is some conspiracy going on here. More likely it's simply ineptitude at every level of Origins operations that caused this problem. Look at the hoops they made a customer jump through? Imagine those people running the fire brigade?

"Is your fridge well stocked?", "Did the fish get out of their tank?", "Try opening and closing your front door three times, is that helping?"

"No, I'm still on fire, couldn't you just, I don't know... come here with a fire engine or something?"

Instead of actually understanding the problem, they just went through a bunch of steps in a script, because they were not trained/not expected to do anything else. I know how these operations work, if you deviate from the scripts, even when it's necessary, you'll be in trouble with management. They won't care that your knowledge/experience can best their computer system, they literally expect you to be a dumb drone. Why? Because it's cheaper to get rid of everyone quickly than provide proper support. It's cheaper to go through scripts, rather than employ someone who knows what they are doing.

The problem in my eyes is that at some point, someone should have at least shown an understanding of the problem. An apology was in order too in my opinion, that's something customer service has mostly forgotten. Accept blame (where reasonable), apologise and where possible fix the issue as swifty as possible. Not deny, deny, deny, pass the buck, disable your security for you and then only when you realise they aren't going away, appease the user with a refund. It's a poor show. Ultimately, if you could get past that system and speak to someone capable (or allowed) to have rational thought, even if they couldn't fix it, they could at least treat you as a customer with respect. They would also, if they were half decent at their job, forward the information to their manager or someone up the chain of command. To try and get the issue rectified for others. What I'm seeing is a failure at every level of support, but I'm not surprised by this, that is how the system has been built. Getting past the system and talking to a real human being, best of luck with that.

Offline eggman121

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Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2017, 12:27:01 AM »
I work in retail myself (Not computers however) and that sort of attitude to any paying customer is absolutely rude  :thumbsdown:

You don't make good clients by going around in circles on purpose to the point of utter frustration on their end.

I got my main copy of SC4 from GOG after MicroSoft started adding updates to stop the copy protection (SafeDisc) from working. I was annoyed that I had too repurchase the game but am happy with my purchase from GOG. As a side effect I get emails from GOG about specials on other titles that they have been recently added or discounted. My main focus is SC4 however.

I agree with mgb204 about how DRM is having a negative effect on gaming especially for older titles. Unfortunately most newer (even if you buy the disc from a store) require you to download some of the content and have a steam, Uplay or a combination of accounts to make them work.

Back to the situation at hand. I would stubbornly oppose any purchase from EA unless absolutely necessary!!!

They seem to be making alot of new enemies. That is my spill for the time being.

-eggman121


Offline art128

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Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2017, 02:21:59 AM »
As a side effect I get emails from GOG about specials

I believe you should be able to unsubscribe from these newsletter from any of the emails they sent you. It's often written in small character at the bottom.

Not exactly related to the topic but I don't agree with mgb about the "conspiracy".I do believe video game publishers/developers, specially the big ones that make millions on a game sale, are doing all they can to stop you from doing any kind of modding to a game (even to the point where they deny that an official patch was created by them 10 years ago), exactly how mushy explained about profit etc. Because let's be honest, people nowadays don't create games for the fun and the experience, they only want it for the quick and easy cash.

But that is not the point of the thread. Mgb204, on ST you said you were going to write directly to EA, any luck in that?

I'll take a quiet life... A handshake of carbon monoxide.

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Offline mgb204

Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2017, 03:03:25 AM »
Mgb204, on ST you said you were going to write directly to EA, any luck in that?

I was going to try and get a contact higher up the food chain. But whilst waiting for a support rep (about 30m in), my computer started it's random lock-up phase once more... so I gave up. I may try again, but for the moment, since Tarkus has a higher profile than I, along with access to press and other more persuasive means, I figured I'd hold off for the time being. Also, right now we have one confirmed report of this, not having an account with Origin (although I have the disks), I may not be in the best position here to move things forward. But I'm still seriously annoyed, many, many years ago I had press contacts in the industry myself. I think ideally we want to find someone from Public Relations to speak to here.

Offline Tarkus

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Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2017, 04:19:53 AM »
I'm trying to get a bit of traction going again, but it's been a bit more of an uphill climb this time.  Here's how things are currently shaking out:

  • I have gotten confirmation from the comments on my SimTarkus post from at least one other user that Origin is back to their nerfed copy of the game.
  • The subreddit /r/games was most likely how the media ended up picking the whole thing up last time, but as I'm not particularly active on that subreddit, and they've gotten stricter, they weren't keen on me posting a SimTarkus link.  Fair enough, but it means I'll have to go back to the drawing board.
  • I did post a comment on the PC Gamer article, noting Origin's backtracking, but don't know how much attention that will get.  Richard (from the ST thread) did contact PC Gamer himself, and I'm considering doing the same.
  • I have tweeted about it, linking both to my analysis and the original ST thread, with @OriginInsider (the main Origin Twitter account) referenced in the message.  As far as I can tell, the folks running it must have taken the weekend off (Super Bowl Sunday was yesterday here in the US), but hopefully, they'll respond this next week.  Origin contacted me last time through Twitter to inform me they had fixed it, so it does get results.

However, those results from last time proved to be temporary.  While Origin may fix it again in response to this latest effort, it's clear that they're going to need continual pressure on them long-term, so they can't get away with quietly slipping the nerfed copy back onto their service when no one is looking.

As to why they went back to the unpatchable 1.1.610 copy, the only reasonable explanation (from their standpoint--not ours) I can think of beyond sheer and utter incompetence is that some Origin engineer found the 1.1.641 copy wasn't DRMed up enough, and they reverted it.  EA had been quite supportive of our community in the past, and I think their current stance is probably that their current people (very few from the Maxis team are left) don't know or care enough about the SC4 community to have any feelings one way or another about what we're doing. 

My guess is that they would just assume to forget we or the SimCity franchise exists, particularly after the bad taste SimCity 2013 left in their mouth (apart from maybe SimCity BuildIt).  The fact that they're still trying to sell SC4 for $19.99 US, while the base version of the chief competition, Cities: Skylines, is retailing for just $10 more (and sometimes goes on sale for less than SC4) speaks to the notion that they're completely checked out.

-Alex

Offline SimCity V6

Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2017, 08:12:47 PM »
Well, this definitely some tough news. I haven't found myself in an easy state to actually play this game (including with mods) for quite a while, ever since my other computers have shown their age/fallen apart and the notorious 2015 Windows Update/Windows 10 bugs have shown up. For running this game on a Windows 10 machine/my main Mac computer (sorry), what has to be the safest and easiest option?

I know that Origin has a "Redeem Product Code" feature, which can be utilized with this game's physical product codes if I were to contact EA. However, as with the actual Origin new purchase, will that copy suffer from the same problems, if it actually ends up working or being effective? If that is a tough way, then I might as well use Steam (albeit it is another DRM version from what I've heard) or, in the best way, order it from somewhere like GOG.com or whatnot. Or if I'd choose to play on a Mac, do all the mods/plugins still work even with the Mac App Store version? I would assume that, remembering all that, some of the installers run on an .exe file.

Offline Tarkus

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Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2017, 09:10:46 PM »
Everything I've heard from folks who have used the "Redeem Product Code" feature is that they've gotten a properly patched Version 1.1.641 copy, though apparently, the way Origin modified the file to add their DRM still prevents the BAT from recognizing the executable's checksum, thereby preventing it from being installed.  It's the people who have purchased the game off the Origin store that are getting the nerfed 1.1.610 copy.

Given that present-day EA representatives basically deny the BAT's existence, and they'd have to produce a new BAT installer or tweak their 1.1.641 copy in order to make them compliant with one another, sadly, I think it's unlikely that they'll ever fix that issue.  But given that they clearly have a ready-to-go 1.1.641 copy in their possession, and they own the source code and all associated intellectual property, they cannot in any way, shape, or form claim that they "don't have access to it".

With respect to the Steam version, there is DRM, but it is, based on what I know, less invasive.  I haven't personally tried to run the BAT installer with it as the only SC4 install on the system, but the reports are that the executable is recognized and does not suffer the same issues as either Origin copy.  If you are planning on playing the game on both Windows and Mac systems, it is a SteamPlay game, so you'd get access to both versions.  However, if you're just planning on running it on Windows (or using WINE on Linux or Mac), then the GOG and Amazon versions are preferable.

-Alex

Offline mgb204

Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2017, 01:28:09 AM »
With respect to the Steam version, there is DRM, but it is, based on what I know, less invasive.

Here's my problem with such arguments, DRM is always bad, it's DRM that stopped the discs from working. However gentle and easy going DRM is, it's a potential ticking time bomb that can be switched off at any time and when that happens, you'll be buying the game again or loosing access to it.

If that bothers you in the slightest, go DRM-Free for every purchase where that's possible. I'd go further and abstain from buying any content with DRM full stop. Sure I'm missing out on some stuff, but I just will not accept the conditions of DRM. Every publisher gives the same reason for DRM, it's there to protect us from piracy, well I call shenanigans! DRM hasn't stopped piracy, all DRM-based games are available to steal off the net (note, I'm not condoning it, merely pointing it out). So the simple question here is if DRM isn't doing it's intended job, why are you inflicting it on your paying customers? Laughably that means those stealing games and other content will have a better experience than those who legitimately purchase them?!? Now as a customer, doesn't that irk you, it's irks me, to the point I won't give you my custom if you do this. The only way to banish DRM, which I suspect is more about renting you content as a service than protecting IP, is to vote with your wallets. That's something all publishers listen to, not that it matters, I'm wasting my time pointing it out, since it's already clear most gamer's need to have a thing outweighs any concerns over DRM systems.

Enjoy your future, where playing games comes with a monthly fee and always-on internet requirement. It's coming, it won't just be games, software, Operating Systems, everything you now buy will be rented. You know my grandparents had a term for those that used to rent everything, "buying on the never, never." Because you never own anything and never stop paying for having it. Smart observation that if you ask me, even if it comes from early 20th century thinking/values.

Offline Tarkus

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Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2017, 02:18:12 AM »
I'm not a DRM fan by any stretch, either . . . I only go that route when it's the only option, or it's on a massive sale.  If you pick up the Steam version on a 75% off sale and you're looking to run the game on multiple platforms, it's not the worst option.  Otherwise, I'd advise folks to do what they can to get DRM out of their life.  I particularly loathe the way Adobe and Avid have gone to their cloud/subscription model for a lot of their software. 

On another note, I did alert the writer at PC Gamer who covered the fiasco last time about its return.  He responded with a "whoa dude" on Twitter, so we'll see what comes of that.

-Alex

Offline Seaman

Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2017, 08:06:27 AM »
I got my main copy of SC4 from GOG after MicroSoft started adding updates to stop the copy protection (SafeDisc) from working. I was annoyed that I had too repurchase the game but am happy with my purchase from GOG.

Just for the record, safedisc was disabled "due to safety reasons", but wasn't removed at all. You can enable it manually via the console and everything is working properly (except from a minor "safety issue", if it's true what microsoft tells in the patchlog.

run cmd.exe and type in "sc start secdrv" to start the safedisc driver. I f want to disable it again, type in "sc stop secdrv". If you want to enable it "permanently", you may type in "sc config secdrv start= demand". A quick online search will lead you to a plethora of articles which describe to get around the safedisc issue.

My old SC4 CD is still rocking and never left my DVD drive for a long time :D.

Since all this safedisc thingy is a result of early DRM, you may now proceed the discussion about the world of pain, which DRM might bring us to.
(I'm feeling like a dinosaur as I am boycotting Steam&co because auf this... :( )
« Last Edit: February 08, 2017, 08:18:26 AM by Seaman »

Offline mgb204

Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2017, 08:27:33 AM »
Just for the record, safedisc was disabled "due to safety reasons", but wasn't removed at all.

It depends, on Vista-8.1 systems, indeed you can re-enable the driver the update disables. But if you are using Windows 10, it doesn't exist, so that's that... well unless you fancy manually digitally signing a driver (not for the feint of heart).

Offline Nanami

Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2017, 09:13:08 AM »
The topic title is the reason why I dont use origin at all (was using the CD based SC4, now steam based).

anyway back to the discussion about DRM. The way I see it is that current DRM for SC4 in steam isn't limited with the online/offline mode which only require the steam to run. Some game like Cities Skylines in steam does have limitation in offline mode which is can't load any mods/addon from the steam workshop.

In case of older Disc based DRM programs, I think the SafeDisc update from microsoft just another way for older program to stop working in newer windows ("ahem" 10 "ahem") aside with the incompatibilities which occurs in early 2000s and late 1990s programs. luckily SC4 not one of the victim of these incompatibilities, while some of the related games like Sims 2 started to be incompatible since windows 8 era and some other minor programs. There is a conspiracy says that these stuff is to make people buy and play newer games and ditch the older one which also means profits for many companies. Yet I don't follow these conspiracy stuff so idk much about this.

Every publisher gives the same reason for DRM, it's there to protect us from piracy, well I call shenanigans! DRM hasn't stopped piracy, all DRM-based games are available to steal off the net (note, I'm not condoning it, merely pointing it out).
for somewhat this is true as much I see out there. There just lot of pirated game sold in very cheap price out there and idk if it still have DRM or not (idk since I don't use it).

Offline John Mitchell

Re: ALERT: Origin Giving Retail Customers Unpatchable SC4 Again
« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2017, 05:57:47 AM »
So I purchased this a few weeks back and received the 1.1.610.0 version. I bought it from.... ORIGIN!

In a never ending loop to chat to an advisor and refund option online is long gone.
I cannot update with official maxis update or any mods  :'(

Any suggestions apart from get it elsewhere?