The PC version of Grand Theft Auto IV will use the controversial SecuROM 7 DRM technology, as used on the EA games Spore and Mass Effect. Rockstar claims that this DRM system is needed to protect the amount of time and effort it has spent in each title and also claims it is the most effective form of disc based copy protection currently available.
For the retail version of the game, the user will need to carry out product activation for each installation or significant hardware upgrade, such as additional RAM, a new CPU or graphics card. The game can be activated either online or by getting a code using another PC online (e.g. for Offline users).
Due to the number of gamers upset over the number of activations that were allowed with other titles using SecuROM, Rockstar has decided not to limit the number of product activations in its retail version of the game, but instead require Disc 1 to be present in the drive to play the game. It is unclear at this time how many installations will be allowed for the version that can be purchased as a download.
Unfortunately, despite all the criticism about DRM systems that do not come with an uninstaller, SecuROM 7 is also be difficult to uninstall. Once a game using SecuROM 7 is uninstalled, the DRM service UAService7.exe remains active on the system. Rockstar said it is working with SecuROM to create instructions on how to remove the intrusive DRM service once the game is uninstalled.
For those who try to get around the DRM such as by trying to get a cracked version off a warez site, Rockstar stated that this title will include Easter eggs that will cause varying changes to the game experience to the unsuspecting game pirate. These changes will range from simple amusements to preventing the user from being able to progress through the game.