How about Linux ? Impulse is known for not working in wine (emulation). But Demigod itself works. Suppose I were to purchase windows version of Elemental for purposes of emulation. I would probably be unable to patch it.
I still use Linux on some of my boxes and had it on my main desktop for a couple years (some years back), so I understand the situation, but Elemental is a Windows game and any attempts at running it in an emulated environment are prone to be experimental at best. It's just not a priority for developers. Even if it runs at first and breaks later, you can't expect support because Windows is a system requirement (as pointed out in a post above).
When I used Linux as my main OS, I would buy many of the commercial games that were available for Linux, just to support the platform. Now, four or so years later, I notice that even fewer games have native Linux versions. I understand why, and it's a shame because diversity drives innovation, but I think that if you are a PC gamer, you currently need a Windows box (or a Windows partition). Wine works for many things, but always with a performance hit, and frequently it involves a lot of tweaking.
As for the topic, people complain about any form of DRM, and if there is no DRM, they complain about no patches or content updates because the game doesn't make enough profit to finance them.
I think Stardock's approach is sensible. The games don't install some unwanted stuff on your drive and you can install on multiple computers. And as a customer I'm okay that only buyers of the game can actually update it as soon as patches are released. It's part of what I spent money for. Sure, there are and will be cracks, but typically those who release patches for pirated versions lose interest fairly quickly.