How To: Play SecuROM and SafeDisc games in Windows 10, 8.1, 7 and Vista

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SecuROM Borderlands

Microsoft’s decision to drop support for SecuROM and SafeDisc DRM with Windows 10 was met with applause from the gaming world, even if the decision came very late indeed. After all, Microsoft’s decision concerned the fact that these two types of DRM posed security risks for Windows as a whole and had nothing to do with the wider concept of DRM which the company has no problem with. But I digress. A few weeks ago, users of Windows Vista, 7 and 8x received a security update that eliminated support for both types of DRM in their PCs in a retro-active security patch. What this means is that if you own any physical discs of games that were released somewhere between 2003 and 2009, you will not be able to play them normally. But that is why we are here, of course.

So why did this happen?

Microsoft has not done a very good job of explaining their decision, possibly because the fact that DRM got removed was enough for most people anyway. The fact is that Microsoft did all this on purpose as the DRM allowed for possible loopholes that could be used to introduce malware to a system, a risk that the company found unacceptable. Rovi, the creators of SafeDisc, did not really believe Microsoft and blamed the whole thing on them. In fact, you can read the (translated) comments from both companies in Rock, Paper, Shotgun if you so desire.

How to go against Microsoft’s wishes and play your games

Microsoft’s patches break all affected games in the native system but there are plenty of ways to play the games anyway. Of the methods listed below, only the first one does not work in Windows 10 so skip it if you are on that OS. On a side note, I never thought there would be a day when I would be showing people how to play DRM-enabled games but stranger things have happened I guess.

  • Enable the secdrv service: The update that breaks the DRM in previous versions of Windows does something very simple: it disables the secdrv service of the secdrv.sys driver, a service that is necessary for the DRM to run and subsequently for the games themselves too. The simplest solution then is to re-enable the service. Microsoft provides a very detailed page of instructions for this, including how to enable the service to run automatically on boot. If you just want to test it quickly, type sc start secdrv in a command prompt and try playing the game. Do note that re-enabling the service means you may be vulnerable to its security flaws.
  • Get an update from the developers: Several of the developers who published games with the affected DRM solutions have released patches and updates that remove the DRM and thus allow you to play the games in any system. The problem with this is that you will have to search for a patch or announcement at the developer’s website or online platform (e.g. social media) and there is no guarantee that the game you are looking for will have been fixed. Still, a quick online search does not hurt.
  • Re-purchase the game: I know that this is far from an ideal solution but video game marketplaces such as GOG.com offer older games at heavily discounted prices and with a guarantee that they will work in any newer system. Obviously, you should only do this if you have no other choice.
  • Get yourself a no-CD crack: When everything else fails, piracy may well be the answer to your problems. A no-CD crack will basically remove the DRM and let you play the game on any Windows version. Of course, getting the no-CD crack is the trickiest part of all as pirate websites and other similar sites are infamous as hosts of malicious content so you will have to proceed with a lot of caution if you decide to go on this road.