Fans have not reacted well to Football Manager 2012's DRM solution.
Sega representatives responded by citing piracy and the relative ease of activation as justifications.
"Last year we decided against any activation as we couldn't find a solution that we thought struck a balance on combating piracy and not penalising the genuine consumer," one response offered.
"We said we'd continue to look for a solution that stopped, or made it very difficult to pirate the game and play it for free. This year we have found what we believe is an acceptable solution.
"We appreciate that the vast majority of people reading this post on the forums are genuine consumers of the game, and that having to activate is not as simple as putting the game in the drive and playing. However we hope that, as a fan of the game, you feel that having to do a one-time activation is worth it to try to prevent others playing the game for free and stealing what you purchase."
Sega claimed that if just one quarter of those who pirate the game paid up, "sales worldwide would more than double" - a comment which drew eye-rolling responses, and comments along the line of "pirates never pay".
"We've taken this decision because we believe that the steps the consumer has to take are not excessive, and that as a one-time only measure with no tracking or reporting it is not too intrusive. Having worked with Steam for a few years now we also believe that their system is ever improving and gives Football Manager players a good service of free auto-updating, achievements and other great benefits without cost or hassle."
The physical, retail release of Football Manager 2012 on PC requires a one-time activation via Steam to play. Once activated - which requires a sign up and client install - the game can be played offline.