- It breaks the back button
- It breaks the native UI of the system
- Generally, its content I don't want (i.e.: I don't want websites making sound unless I explicitly enable it; Flash doesn't support such a preference)
Generally, the "only activate once" checks your activation code (serial number, etc.), downloads some portion of the game off a server somewhere, and then marks it as activated. Should that server go down, you may not be able to install the game any longer. At the same time, there are usually hidden activation limits (3 to 5 installs) before a game will shut down and require a phone call to tech support to up the limit.
Is Steam better than this? That's a matter of personal preference. Is it as good as no DRM? Hell no.
Civ IV eventually came out in a DRM-free version.
It did? Do you have any information on that?
rather than pirate (or even threaten to pirate) the game.
Don't pirate. Publishers count each case of piracy as a lost sale. That may be a flawed method, but its how they do it. Instead, take your money and buy a game that is roughly the same but doesn't have DRM (i.e.: Galactic Civilizations). Make sure you buy it from a shop that reports to NPD Group (they track video game sales) so the purchase gets properly represented. That sends a much harsher message than piracy: your policies drove my willing dollars elsewhere.
As for joysticks, you ever tried to play a flight sim without one (of course it was your smart ass answer, so I'll let it slide).
On your last point: Asus, Acer, and Dell are pretty smart not to try to be a major player in the game console market. The market is crowded as hell (3 huge competitors with a several-year lead in install base and minimum 8/9 year lead in mindshare for Xbox, decade and a half for PlayStation, and decades for Nintendo), their competitors have a pretty big back library, and you're talking about hardware companies that don't generally develop software (and when they do, it tends to suck). Licensing an engine isn't cheap, and building a good game around it isn't any easier: there are a bunch of UE3 licensees that put out crap games, including Too Human, Stranglehold, Area 51, etc. The best these guys could do is to pay id to have Rage on their systems day-and-date, and then pick up on the scraps of gaming on Linux (and as a Linux fan, I know how scrap the games tend to be). Remember: game consoles aren't bought based on the hardware or OS inside them, they're bought on whether or not there is a big library good games for it.
The best book on programming for the layman is "Alice in Wonderland"; but that's because it's the best book on anything for the layman.