WE TOLD YOU earlier that Valve came out with an anti-piracy feature called Custom Executable Generation (CEG) that purportedly ends the need for DRM. What is CEG, and does it obviate the hated DRM?
The short story is that when you download a CEG-protected game from Steam, you get two components. Most of the game is exactly like the one you got without CEG, the data, graphics and sound are the same files. The executable itself, usually only a few MB in size is different, and that is where the magic is.
As the name may hint at, each executable is encrypted uniquely and keyed to your steam account. Only your account can decrypt the code and run the game. You can copy it between computers to your heart's content, but only when you are logged into Steam will it pull the key down. If someone else logs in to Steam, they will need to download a few MB of executable to get things going, not download a completely new copy.
CEG is actually just a crypto wrapper for the game, so the tech is fairly well known, but this implementation may very well have some unique twists to it. Since Steam requires a net connection, Valve is safe in requiring components to be pulled down from the cloud, even if they are only a few bytes worth of decryption keys.
The tech is available now, and is fully backportable to older games should you want to spend the time. Valve gives you the tools for free, they want you to use Steam so they can make money too. It is a win/win for them.
How about for the users? The jury is still out, mainly because no games actually use it, but several will in the very near future. When a few of these do, it will quickly become apparent how intrusive or not CEG is. From the sound of things, it should be fairly seamless, by far the least painful form of DRM out there.
That said, it won't kill DRM because it is DRM, just a very mild form of it technically speaking. The basis of CEG is still remote authentication, something that many find unacceptable. Valve didn't kill DRM, they just look to have made it a lot less intrusive. Until DRM goes away for good, this looks to be the best among a set of bad choices. µ
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