PC Gamers Angered by EA's New Copy Protection System

May 8, 2008 -
Hotly-anticipated PC titles Spore and Mass Effect will be among the first wave of PC games from EA to employ a controversial form of copy protection.

Techdirt reports that publisher Electronic Arts will use SecuROM protection, a scheme that has caused technical problems with some past titles. From the Techdirt story:
This new version is causing controversy due to an online verification system connected to its CD key. The system requires a connection to the internet during installation... After this the game will try to re-check the CD key every 5-10 days... If the game can't verify the key... it will continue to try for a further 10 days, after which it will stop working... The protection will also only allow the game to be installed three times.

So what's the beef? According to Techdirt:
A lot of gamers consider this intrusive and inconvenient, and that the publishers are effectively assuming their customers are pirates... Other concerns have been raised over users who don't play with machines permanently connected to the internet... or how the system will work in regards to resale.

These potential problems combined with SecuROM's past have made some call for a boycott of the titles and others to declare an intention to pirate the game out of spite.

Cnet's Daniel Terdiman weighs in on the brewing controversy:
Systems like this are never going to be winners for companies like EA. For every copy of one of its games that it successfully keeps from being illegally copied, it's going to lose a good customer who's beyond annoyed at the way the system works and the way they feel they're being treated.

To be sure, software companies feel they have to fight tooth and nail to avoid being robbed... [but] as the Sony rootkit scandal and other DRM PR nightmares have shown, users do not want to be controlled in this way. And they vote with their wallets.


Re: PC Gamers Angered by EA's New Copy Protection System

Well, unfortunately I bought it. Yes, I have spent 49.99. What do I have to show for it ? Nothing. It won't even start. I get the message "The game can not start. The game needs access to the internet in order to verify ownership of this game. Please ensure that your computer is online and try again." Obviously, the internet is fine. I have the dvd on my table. The box was sealed - I opened it myself. I have left a message to EA's "help desk" and after two days I still have no answer from them. I have the confirmation that my help request has been posted, yes, but no answer, even though they claim that they will email an answer in 24 hours.

So not only after two days I still cannot use a merchandise I have paid good money for (as I said, it won't even try to execute), I'm also given the "silent treatment" from their "help specialists".

Way to go, EA ! After all, dummies like us, your customers, are paying your salaries (and profits). Well, from now on, dummies no more ! Some people have long memories. I'm one of them. Trust me on this one, EA !

PS. Too bad I don't have the money to go after them from a legal standpoint - the lawyer would  cost a fortune. That's what many companies are counting on, anyway.

Re: PC Gamers Angered by EA's New Copy Protection System

Actually, if you folks had scoured the internet (or this thread for that matter) a bit harder for information on the process, you'd find that you only need an internet connection every 20 days, not every 10. It checks every 10, but if you miss an update then you get an extra 10 "grace period". Even people who travel from their PC don't get it that bad.

But I will agree that for our servicemen This is a pretty bad deal.

Re: PC Gamers Angered by EA's New Copy Protection System

I currently own 498 PC games. All legitimate, store-purchased disks.

Simple solution to this DRM problem: I don't buy any games that will not allow me to make a backup copy.

I'm missing out, you say?

Not very likely, as there are more than enough superb back titles (and some new titles, such as Sins of a Solar Empire) to keep me happy.

Kiss my money goodbye, EA and all other paranoid publishers. Nice job of destroying your own industry.

Re: PC Gamers Angered by EA's New Copy Protection System

A lot of people ask me why PC gaming is starting to die... SecuROM is that fucking reason...

REMOVE secuROM from SPORE petition

News like that just makes me want to pirate the game instead of buying it, to avoid dealing with the BS that comes with SecureROM.

Companies like EA should be wary. There are lots of gamers out there that would happily support the publisher and do the right thing. But treat your paying customers like pirates in the first place, and the ones that are saavy enough will just go get a cracked copy to avoid the hassle. The people who would have just pirated it in the first place will still do so. net result: You lose more customers, and it costs you more because you are paying the ridiculous SecureROM license that does NOTHING to prevent piracy, and in fact, encourages it.

the funny thing is that games that hav NO copy protection (galactic civilizations 1 and 2) tend to do really well for that exact reason!

Stardock (the publisher of those 2) actually dont mind if you just give the cd to a friend to install. the way they get round it is by just saying, if you dont want to buy the game fair enough , use someone elses copy and see what you think. If you do buy the game and register your email and your game key and you get lots of free updates, expansions extras etc.

simple. reward those customers who pay. dont punish everyone in some half assed attempt to stall hackers who will get round the protection whilst everyone else suffers.

Its like dropping an A bomb, just to kill one pirate in a crowd of thousands of innocents, even though the pirate is in a bunker anyway.

I sent this to a whole slew of EA and Bioware higher ups:

Why I will not be buying Mass Effect.

To all those receiving this email,

My name is E. Zachary Knight. I am a life long gamer and a fan of PC based games. I am also a fan of Western RPGs.

I was looking forward to the release of Mass Effect for the PC. I don't own an XBox 360 and do not have plans to purchase one in the near future. I have limited funds to purchase games and choose the games I due purchase carefully. Ever since I saw video footage of Mass Effect at the 2006 Writer's Conference in Austin, TX, I have been anticipating the release of this fantastic game. I loved Neverwinter Nights. It is one of my top favorite games of all time. So I was glad to see something fresh for this particular genre.

But like I said, I *was* looking forward to Mass Effect. Then I saw the DRM scheme it contains.

Let me put this in perspective for you. I have never pirated a game in my life. I do not steal. I purchased every game I own. I really don't appreciate being treated like a criminal.

I also don't understand it. Why would you think that my purchased copy of Mass Effect, after being confirmed as a valid copy upon initial installation, would some how magically turn into a pirated copy during a ten day period? I don't understand that at all.

I also have a problem with the idea of my game becoming unplayable if 5 to 10 years down the line, you feel it is not worth supporting. If your authorization servers ever fail, I will be unable to play the game. Nothing to do with me. It would all be on you. I am reminded of Microsoft closing down one of their music servers and leaving those who purchased music through it out in the cold.

Why am I being treated like a criminal while the actual criminals will be playing their cracked versions of Mass Effect with no DRM to bog down their experience? I feel like the elderly, the children, the mothers, the shop keepers of Hiroshima as you the massive media companies come in to destroy the Japanese soldiers with your Atom Bomb. But without any of the positive consequences. This kind of DRM does nothing to stop piracy. The most it has done is destroy the confidence of those who enjoy PC gaming.

I recently read an article written by Brad Wardell of Stardock. He wrote that his business completely ignores pirates. His games come with no DRM. That is zero, nothing, nada. Yet his games are very profitable and extremely fun. As gamers we love to support those who make _quality_ games. If someone makes a game that is fun to play, we will buy it. Sure there are some who would rather steal the game, but they are hardly the majority. But with DRM such as that found in Mass Effect, that number will grow.

I have written quite a lot to you. What I have written is why I will not be buying Mass Effect. IF one day, I am able to buy a 360, Mass Effect will be one of the first games I buy for that system, but I will never buy the PC version.

My name is E. Zachary Knight. I am not a criminal. I am not a Pirate. I am a gamer and I support the game industry when they are worthy of my support.

So much of a bill did the states where his 'bullet proof' bill was introduced and subsequently mass overturned end up with.

Saw one state was $12mil, alone.

Could have helped a lot of families and kids....

@ Chris What is pandora? Also, buy a legit copy and then use a crack. However, you are right that no one doesn't pirate a game due to copy protection...at best they just never play it.


The key word you haven't added to your statement is "yet". They upgrade it continuously.

Pirates aren't lost revenue. They were never even potential customers. EA is only punishing and pissing off their real customers.

I would have liked to support Will Wright and Maxis, but fuck SecuRom.

Seems I'll be finding a DRM free copy of Spore.

From Elitebastards.com:

Spore and BioWare copy protection to be improved
Posted by Hanners on Sat 10th May 2008
Well, it appears that the outcry across the Internet about the proposed draconian copy protection mechanism to be implemented in these two games has had a 'mass effect' (sorry, but I had to get that joke in before someone else did), with announcements that both of these titles will now have far more reasonable online authentication requirements.

First up, here's Spore's new authentication system.

- We authenticate your game online when you install and launch it the first time.
- We'll re-authenticate when a player uses online features, downloads new content or a patch for their game.
- The new system means you don't have to play with the disc in your computer. And if you are like me, always losing discs, this will be a huge benefit.
- You'll still be able to install and play on multiple computers.
- You can play offline.

Mass Effect's authentication system has actually been relaxed even further.

When Mass Effect comes to the computer it will not use SecuROM's 10-day periodic re-authentication and instead will instead use a modification to do only a one-time online authentication, Bioware announced today.

The developer said the decision came after listening "very closely" to its fans and that the new system will also allow gamers to play the game without the DVD in the drive.

The system will allow gamers to authenticate their game on just three computers, but EA does have the ability to give additional authorizations if they are warranted.

So, good news all round, and proof positive of the power of community pressure on game publishers.

This is so stupid. It's a hassle for the people who buy the game legitimately, and for the pirates, there'll be a way to bypass the protection 2 weeks after the game comes out. All EA has achieved is turning more people to piracy.

Well, I guess I won't be buying the PC version of Mass Effect.

Damn! I was looking forward to Spore too. Oh well guess I'm downloading it. EA can take their DRM and go for a long walk off a short dock.

It's funny that 2 single player games will require internet access to be played.

I'm gonna buy Spore no matter what. But I'm not going to by any other copy-protected game ever again.

I was considering getting Mass Effect, but now, never mind.

cant you do something right and after this BF:BC thing
I'm losing faith in this company

If I had not already pre-ordered (and pre-paid) for Mass Effect this bull might well have prevented me from getting it. Not overly worried about the copy protection (have worked with worse). What burns me is having to pull full retail for something that I can only install 3 times. What the hell? Buy and install the title. 1 Use. Somewhere down the road reformat (usually do this every 3-4 months, annoying spyware and such) so 2 uses and gods forbid I buy a new system that is the 3rd and final use then have to pay for it again? ....... Is this OEM now?

I am a *massive* Will Wright fan, and have been intently looking forward to the release of Spore, but I will not purchase the game with this DRM—that's all there is to it.

[...] wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptHotly-anticipated PC titles Spore and Mass Effect will be among the first wave of PC games from EA to employ a controversial form of copy protection. Techdirt reports that publisher Electronic Arts will use SecuROM protection, a scheme that has caused technical problems with some past titles. From the Techdirt story: This new version is causing controversy due to an online verification system connected to its CD key. The system requires a connection to the internet during installation… After this the game will try to re-check the CD key every 5-10 days… If the game can’t verify the key… it will continue to try for a further 10 days, after which it will stop working… The protection will also only allow the game to be installed three times. [...]

This will solve the piracy problem ONCE AND FOR ALL.


@Chris: Two weeks after the games come out? Surely you meant before they come out...

And anyway, who has enough free time to even think about another game now that GTA4 is out? Maybe in one or two months...


A block of ice! of course, why didn't I think of that?

I may be way off base but isn't this pretty close to the Steam service and therefore every game under the Valve umbrella (Portal, HL2, etc). Even though they are single player they require the use of internet to validate.

I think this one looks worse mostly because it has all the crappiness of Steam without any of the pluses (digital download, online store, mods, etc).

It'll be a hassle, but I'll still buy spore in all honesty. But it's definitely things like this that have turned me away from PC gaming in the past few years. I find myself more and more turning to consoles, which I find disappointing because I have felt and will always feel that the PC is where the best games are simply supposed to be.

Oh well...I'll just simply look to valve for my PC gaming needs and watch the decline of the rest of PC gaming from my couch with a controller in my hand.

"to declare an intention to pirate the game out of spite."

...is the correct answer.

Large content providers love the idea of DRM (digital restrictions management) and won't quit anytime soon. DRM is one reason why I have not switched to Microsoft Windows Vista...

What's sad is that paying customers will be struggling with the product on the first day as the EA servers chug out handshakes, while the crackers will simply packet-sniff the outgoing data, figure out what needs to be sent back to the program, and any handshake or double-blind arguments the servers ask, then create a loopback program that completely voids the copy protection.

I wouldn't be surprised if crackers will be able to play the game before legitimate users.

same here... shockingly i wont be buying spore... or mass effect

(and ive had spore preordered for like over 12 months!)

gutted i really want the game but i cant be doing with that hassle. i love to get old games out n replay them but what happens once the 3 installs is up? i also reformat regularly (every few months) so what happens...?

sorry ea but you just lost a customer. After bioshock i thought ppl would have learned.

The irony with bioshock was that within 24 HOURS (actually 100% true ...just 24 hours) there were cracks and pirated copys all over the internet. And the forums were FULL of paying customers whou couldnt get it to work. I actually remember the adminhaving a go at one point suggesting all the people who couldnt get it working were pirates or something. the logic was bizaare and it was utterly insultig when people had come for support for THEIR mistake.

oh n let me remind you of the conversations with tech support that we had...

SecuROM : it isnt our problem, contact 2k games

2K: sorry its a problem with SecuROM contact their tech support...

SecuROM : it isnt our problem, contact 2k games

2K: sorry its a problem with SecuROM contact their tech support...

SecuROM : it isnt our problem, contact 2k games

2K: sorry its a problem with SecuROM contact their tech support...

so pirates will be playing these within 24 hours happily.

Paying customers will be the ones complaining and unable to play. GREAT business sense.

i will NOT be buying this game now. thanks ea.. thanks.

oh ps the review bombs on amazon have already started!

i may add my 2 cents!

Two words: lose-lose. No one wins in this solution - EA will probably lose customers, and people who bought the game are put at an inconvenience. Not to mention, people will find a way around this, I'm sure. ...how does this solve anything?

Yeah, if this doesn't change, I guess I can forgo Mass Effect. SecuRom was a bad idea from the start, yet folks keep flocking to it.

I don't understand publishers. (Who I assume are the root of the problem) Give people a good reason to buy the game retail. Make downloading it less attractive by offering registered games some content/function that a pirated copy will not be able to obtain. Online multi-player, bonus content of some sort. Something?

Why punish your INTENDED audience. Do you hate money?

I find myself hating EA more with every passing day.

This is why god gave us P2P.

I wonder if anyone has ever done a comparison between PC sales and the rise of DRM.

I am a big purchaser of games. I pretty much never pirate, with one exception. When a game I want to play has Starforce on it.

Isn't it possible that piracy is actually a symptom of DRM?

@David BR

Its easy enough to get online multiplayer even with a pirated copy, or at least use something like hamachi to get multiplayer going with other people with pirated copies.

And downloadable content? It would be up for torrent in 5 seconds flat.

Guess I am not buying Mass Effect and Spore anyone. Too bad, they deserve the money. Maybe I'll send cash directly to the developers and let them split it among themselves. EA isn't getting a single cent of my money however.


Yeah, apparently no one remembered how much fun BioShock was to get working on your PC... oops out of reinstalls, guess you gotta plunk down another $60 for a new copy...

And that's supposed to discourage piracy?

I won't be buying the game.

Ok, at my game retail job I get heckled by some of the other manangers because my PC gaming is pretty limited for a few reasons. Those being I enjoy easy surround sound, prefer controllers, and enjoy the large HD TV with the couch. Oh yeah..and that whole "I buy a game and it will work no matter what" thing with consoles as well. I wanted Spore on PC (I already have Mass Effect on 360), but I think I will be going console for that as well. Same reasons I won't get Orange Box for PC even though it is a better version is because I can't be online with all of my comuters at all times.

@ DarkTetsuya

yeahh it was crazy. the hilarious thing was people on the forums, after a week with no fixes actually started posting 'Screw you 2k, ive just downloaded the cracked version, and it works fine, whilst my boxed copy is now nothing but a useless drinks coaster'. Since the only way they could play the game they ahad paid for was with the HELP of pirates!

its madness

I already have Mass Effect for the 360, but this does guarantee I won't be purchasing Spore. (Guess I can go get my $5 back from the pre-order.)

All the more reason to think PC gaming is on it's way out the door. Though I certainly hope I'm wrong.

Spore looked interesting, but I was planning to see how the Wii/DS versions looked anyway. I was never too keen on PC gaming, mainly because I don't know what games have mouse-only controls (I don't like keyboard controls).

I PRAY that the gaming community absolutely decimates EA on this one.

I'd like to add that I never pirate new games. As far as console go I have one maybe 2 PSone isos, and I generally place a 5 year gap for PC game downloading. But here I think I'll be getting Spore the free way right away. Screw this shit.

im actually speachless. im so full of rage there is nothing to say but Fuck SecuROM, and Fuck EA......eh.......well...shit... :(
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
Andrew EisenAnd again, you keep saying "accountable." What exactly does that mean? How is Gamasutra not accounting for the editorial it published?07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenMatt - I disagree with your 9:12 and 9:16 comment. There are myriad ways to address content you don't like. And they're far easier to execute in the online space.07/28/2015 - 11:47pm
Andrew EisenMatt - Banning in the legal sense? Not that I'm aware but there have certainly been groups of gamers who have worked towards getting content they don't like removed.07/28/2015 - 11:45pm
DanJAlexander's editorial was and continues to be grossly misrepresented by her opponents. And if you don't like a site, you stop reading it - same as not watching a tv show. They get your first click, but not your second.07/28/2015 - 11:40pm
TechnogeekYes, because actively trying to convince advertisers to influence the editorial content of media is a perfectly acceptable thing to do, especially for a movement that's ostensibly about journalistic ethics.07/28/2015 - 11:02pm
Mattsworknameanother07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
Mattsworknameyou HAVE TO click on it. So they get the click revenue weather you like what it says or not. as such, the targeting of advertisers most likely seemed like a good course of action to those who wanted to hold those media groups accountable for one reason07/28/2015 - 9:16pm
MattsworknameBut, when you look at online media, it's completely different, with far more options, but far few ways to address issues that the consumers may have. In tv, you don't like what they show, you don't watch. But in order to see if you like something online07/28/2015 - 9:12pm
MattsworknameIn tv, and radio, ratings are how it works. your ratings determine how well you do and how much money you an charge.07/28/2015 - 9:02pm
Mattsworknameexpect to do so without someone wanting to hold you to task for it07/28/2015 - 9:00pm
MattsworknameMecha: I don't think anyone was asking for Editoral changes, what they wanted was to show those media groups that if they were gonna bash there own audiance, the audiance was not gonna take it sitting down. you can write what you want, but you can't07/28/2015 - 8:56pm
MattsworknameAndrew, Im asking as a practical question, Have gamers, as a group, ever asked for a game, or other item, to be banned. Im trying to see if theres any cases anyone else remembers cause I cant find or remember any.07/28/2015 - 8:55pm
Andrew EisenAs mentioned, Gamasutra isn't a gaming site, it's a game industry site. I don't feel it's changed its focus at all. Also, I don't get the sense that the majority of the people who took issue with that one opinion piece were regular readers anyway.07/28/2015 - 8:43pm
MattsworknameDitto kotaku, Gawker, VOX, Polygon, ETC07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
MechaTama31So, between pulling a game from one chain of stores, and forcing editorial changes to a media source, only one of them strikes you as being on the edge of censorship, and it's the game one?07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
Andrew EisenHave gamers ever tried to ban a product? Can you be more specific? I'm not clear what you're getting at.07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
Mattsworknamethey should have expected some kind of blow back. But I didn't participate in that specific action07/28/2015 - 8:41pm
MattsworknameAndrew Youd have to ask others about that, I actualyl didn't have much beef with them till last year, so I can't speak to there history. I simply feel that gamesutra chose politics over gaming and chose to make enimies of it's prime audiance. For that,07/28/2015 - 8:40pm
Andrew EisenI'm still not clear on how Gamasutra was lacking in accountability or what it was lacking in accountability for.07/28/2015 - 8:38pm
MattsworknameAndrew: You and I agree on most of that. I don't diagree that there should ahve been other actions taken. Now, I do want to point something out, casue Im not sure if it's happened. Have gamers ever tried to have a product banned?07/28/2015 - 8:37pm

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician