Consumer Revolt Convinces EA & BioWare to Rethink Mass Effect DRM Scheme

May 11, 2008 -
Last week GamePolitics reported on a controversial copyright protection scheme which Electronic Arts was planning to institute on the upcoming PC version of Mass Effect as well as on Will Wright's long-awaited Spore.

The proposed SecuROM scheme would require periodic re-validations following initial activation. PC gamers were not happy, to say the least. Apparently that consumer discontent got some attention, at least at BioWare. In a message posted on a BioWare forum, community manager Jay Watamaniuk announced the good news:
There has been a lot of discussion in the past few days on how the security requirements for Mass Effect for PC will work. BioWare, a division of EA, wants to let fans know that Mass Effect will not require 10-day periodic re-authentication.

BioWare has always listened very closely to its fans and we made this decision to ensure we are delivering the best possible experience to them. To all the fans including our many friends in the armed services and internationally who expressed concerns that they would not be able re-authenticate as often as required, EA and BioWare want you to know that your feedback is important to us.

The solution being implemented for Mass Effect for the PC changes copy protection from being key disc based, which requires authentication every time you play the game by requiring a disc in the drive, to a one time online authentication. This system has an added benefit of allowing players to seamlessly play the game without needing the DVD in the drive.

UPDATE: Mike Doolittle of GameCritics wonders why PC gamers hate DRM.

Via: GameDaily

GP: Thanks to longtime GamePolitics reader Black Manta for the heads-up!

Comments

@Corey: "DRM is actually

@Corey: "DRM is actually kind of necessary if you want to be able to copy the game onto your hard drive."

Stardock begs to differ.


I have read on biowares

I have read on biowares forum posted by other people that the DRM EA is using is actually illegal in some countries and even goes against FTC settlement against sony over the DRM.  

though now opens the easier floodgates for pirates :/

and still bans overseas service members from playing at all unless they can get permission or illegally under UCMJ law get onto a net connection :/

though i'm happy to hear they fixed that fatal error in judgement :)
now i may get it myself as i had considered before.

basicly though its like a hard copy of something from EA Downloader, or D2D now...
EAD of which is giving me BS about having 3 installs of Crysis... i only have ONE install, and it could count as 2 if they want since i did have to reformat recently, but either way its BS i can't login and play it :/
luckily i found a cheat :) (log out of downloader and it can't authenticate the license.. but the game will load. grand since originaly i know that didn't work back when they started this shoddy service... they need to join STEAM)

Kotaku has it that Spore has had its DRM lessened also.

http://kotaku.com/5008454/spore-removes-10+day-reauthentication

I'm still not happy with the level of distrust here but the resuthentication every time you download new content is much more tolerable then every 10 days. I've been looking forward to this game ever since it was first announced but there is only so much person should have to but up with.

I honestly don't give a flying flip whether or not I need the disk in the drive to play the games in question- if it's still got that wonderful little computer-wrecker known as SecuROM in there in any way, shape or form, I'm STILL spending my cash elsewhere.

I'm NOT taking the chance of bricking my $600 computer just 'cause EA thinks I'm a dirty pirate bastard.

Why do gamers hate DRM?

1.) It is inconvenient. Restricting what we can and can't do with our games, like what we can and can't do with our music, kills a lot of the pleasure value.

2.) It sometimes keeps you from playing. I've run into situations where I've had to HACK a DRM-managed game to make it work for myself. That's right, I had to download and run illigal software to make my legally bought software run as it should.

3.) It often invades your privacy, or at least has the ability to do so. I don't want anybody knowing anything about me, least of all my gaming habits. When a piece of software is phoning home every 10 days, do you expect me to trust the developer when they say "it's just checking in"? I don't think so. I trust no company (exception is Google, and them I only trust marginally), and I trust very few people.

4.) It doesn't work. I've yet to see a DRM scheme that hasn't been defeated.

Too damn right!

If I buy myself a car, I'm not told what colour I can paint it, when I can drive it, and how often I can replace broken parts. I'm not told that I have to check in with the buyer whenever I do something with it, and I'm certainly allowed to sell that car on without complaint at a later date if I so choose to.

Meant to add, what about Spore? My main gaming rig is offline, I only really play Eve on this particular computer, so if this system is still in force for Spore, it will mean that I will not be buying it.

Did they leave in the feature where you can only install it so many times? I still only want the console version.

EA Bastards. I petition everyone here to boycott all EA games from now on. Like that guy did however long ago it was..

What annoys me is that they seem to think it is perfectly appropriate to punish those who actually purchase those goods as some kind of 'revenge' on pirates.

The fact is, as EA are well aware, there will be a hack-around for this within months, I don't want to have to use that, because the chances are it will invalidate the copy I 100% percent plan to buy in the eyes of EA, but it would be the only way to do so on the game computer.

So, in truth, the only people who suffer are those who want to play the game legally, because those who don't will happily have hacked out this system and be playing the game.

It's an insult to their paying customers in the long run, 'You can give us your money, but we will still treat you like criminals.'.

Sorry, my last comment should read '100% planned to buy', since it is past tense now.

I think the common misconception in the game industry is that if people cannot get a pirated copy of a game they will buy it. Most pirates only want the game if its free and would just as happily not play it.

This solution does nothing but hurt the people trying to sell it.

It's not so much a misconception as an abuse, since they are quite happy to assume the same thing when it comes to 'calculating' how much they have lost to piracy.

To be honest, the Game Industry is quickly going the way of abusing its customers to the point where there's something mirroring the 80's crash, where loads of game companies folded as interest in things like the Spectrum and Commodore 64 started to fade. If they insult customers too much, they will simply lose interest.

I just think its only a matter of time before some DRM scheme is instituted that has a bug in it like the one in that game "Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor."

For those that don't know, PoR had a bug that when you uninstalled the game it deleted your windows System folder. Fortunately the game wasn't a big seller.

But imagine if this happened to a game with the popularity of Halo, Half-Life, or WoW? That company better have one HELL of a liability insurance policy to cover the damage suits (especially since people might lose unrecoverable or extremely important data).

And even consoles are no longer immune to this kind of problem now what with firmware upgrades and installs, DRM hasn't really been an issue on consoles because console were fundamentally different from PC's. That isn't true anymore, they are becoming more and more similar and its only a matter of time before these same schemes start causing problems there.

EA and the other game companies need to take a look at the music industry to see where this is heading. The music industry is in absolute shambles because of their DRM issues.

Ultimately though the only solution is a repeal and re-tool of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). That law is absolutely one of the worst laws ever passed and is probably unconstitutional in a lot of ways.

Ever since the introduction of CD-keys, game pirates have and always will find ways to easily bypass these measures to stop piracy, and the only result is punishing the law-abiding people who actually buy the game by bombarding them with needless, useless and over-the-top measures. This, of course, leads people to piracy because it is simply easier nowadays to pirate a game than trying to jump through the hoops that companies like EA make you go through whenever you buy a game.

If you want to lose all your customers, treating them like criminals before they even install the product is a surefire way to lose them.

online authentication,DO NOT WANT.........


as for "piracy" goes once you lump sharing,illicit physical distribution and not buying new/at all together thats a 30% spread on the media industry as a whole.

30% profit is not enough in these "profiteering" times to save any project that failed to meet its 200+ % projection.

My point being(if you can't read zippy speak) you can not sale to those that think the media industry is a racket, you can't sale to people who think its over priced you can't sale to people who buy used, 30% of the consumer base will forever be locked away from the media mafia.

As long as there is the 3-install limit, I'll never get Mass Effect or Spore...

A 3 install limit would be fine for me if they had a way to credit you back installs once you uninstalled a game.

I mean seriously, who needs to install a game on 4+ machines simultaneously? I can certainly understand the issue of having to reformat causing problems...but I usually try to uninstall stuff before I do that anyway.

If you had to format in an emergency you would probably be screwed...but at least giving you credits for uninstalling would be a step in the right direction.

"The solution being implemented for Mass Effect for the PC changes copy protection from being key disc based, which requires authentication every time you play the game by requiring a disc in the drive, to a one time online authentication."

So does this mean that players who don't have an internet connection are screwed?

Honestly, this DRM nonsense is beginning to sour me on games altogether. I mean just sell me the frigging game and let me play it. Like 99% of players I've never pirated a game in my life, so I resent being treated like a criminal every time I install a game.

Why don't these people take a look at Stardock? There's a company that doesn't treat it's customers like criminals, and are they losing sales left and right? No. In fact more than once I've seen people inclined to check out games like GalCiv 2 and Sins Of A Solar Empire because they don't have this annoying copy protection crap. They don't realize that copy protection doesn't really do anything except make them feel like they're protected. The people who pirate games bypass the protection and play anyway. They'd pirate it whether it's got protection or not, so what's the point of persecuting your legitimate buyers?

Dang. Me and my buddies dug out the old torches and pitchforks for nothing.

@ Distaria

exactly!

i actually first found out about galciv through watching a friend play! and then i went and bought 1 and 2 !

its insane more people dont follow Stardocks example. If you buy a legit copy and register you get some bonus content n extras n stuff. simple.

I mean theres two options..

1)reward those customers who are legit and loyal and buy the game like stardock. (they have sold well and havent lost loads of sales due to piracy)

2) punish everyone because the minority are pirates, driving customers away and making them feel alientated and frustrated.


wow difficult choice.

@BlackIce

I try to stay away from EA games myself after all their shenanigans. First they try to takeover Take Two, now this. Could I sign the petition?

I think the moral of this story is clear: don't mess with the US military. Especially their video games.

I'm still certain this is more about making sure they can control the second hand market to be honest.

the only upside to the way they're going to do the DRM now is that you won't be required to have the CD in for authentication. i'm always glad to not need to run a game off CD.

it is good that they can listen to us when it is clearly a bad idea to do something.

Hopefully they can stick to this at least. Still ain't good, but it's at least palpable.

@ZippyDSMlee

online authentication,DO NOT WANT………

Me neither, but if the exchange is I don't have to worry about having the disk in the drive, I'm willing to consider it. Heck, plenty of shareware demands you register, so at least it's something that's more common.

also, Mike Doolittle is a retard.

he completely ignores why the DRM is bad and calls everyone a whiny baby for not having the internet 24/7/365.

nighstalker160

dude........2 words corrupted data, when one has to reinstall the OS or the product itself,the install limit becomes assinie, also in a house hold of 3PCs if one needs to be reinstalled/fixed....its just BAD, this kind of nickel and dimming the consumer is intolerable see the music mafia trying to force you to buy a MP3 for each device you own.....

Gray17
ya I can give in just a bit and say for a simple passive online activation and key check system(ID's key check system) I could buy in,but everyone wants to use draconian no net no play,net to install but only install 3 times crap.

GoodRobotUs
of course it is they are trying to devise a way to eliminate their only real competition, hell they can do it for all I care I will still buy used and crack the game I bought, most sheeple wont care and buy into what they are selling, the rest of us with voices in our heads will just have to make do like we always have :P.

BTW I posted the article in the forms if you y'all want to rant ^^

http://forums.theeca.com/showthread.php?p=78246

BTW stardocks CEO weighs in on piracy, targeting games for the high end market and DRM
http://forums.theeca.com/showthread.php?t=4560

Maybe if Mike Dolittle is so comfortable with invasive procedures like the ones EA were considering he should give them a key to his house. You know so they could just walk into his house at any hour of the night to make sure he doesn't have any pirated games.

EA started back in the days when copyright protection didn't exist.

They've obviously forgotten.

Too little, too late.

EA hasn't changed its spots. This decision doesn't change the fact that the mooks in charge thought the original scheme was a great idea. They saw the backlash coming in, realized it could hurt their sales, and tried to blunt it by throwing the gaming public a bone.

Until I see evidence of a shift in attitude--not just policy--I'm not buying anything from EA.

Aight. But what about Spore? I already own Mass Effect on the 360 and Spore is the only PC game I would buy since Sims 2. If I have to put up with that crap I might just get a lesser console version.

I second the Mike Doolittle (much like what DRM to pirates, does little to stop anything) is an idiot sentiment. Maybe he should get something like Starforce installed on his computer and hopefully break something. I wonder how much love he'd have for DRM then. Oh and Apple iTunes is number one simply because the vast majority of people who own portable media players buy iPods and it's the first (maybe only) site they'll know of that sells music online. Then there are those who just don't care about quality or the DRM issue until it affects them.

@nighstalker160
That would be a big help, not perfect, but it would eliminate a major issue with the system.

I don't mind the DRM, but the 10-day to verify is dumb. What if I don't play the game for 10 days, does it lock me out of the game completely eventhough I verified it at least once. Are they checking to make sure that I didn't steal a game that I verified previously?

@ DarknessDeku

I wanna know that too. If the 3-installs-max is still in, im not buying.

@kurisu7885:

What are you talking about? I remember that the EA disks on the C64 were copy protected.

The Doolittle piece seems uninformed and downright naive.

@nighstalker160 Says:

And what happens in the event of a hard drive failure, etc? Sure, you'd only be down one of your three installations, but given time it could become a serious problem. I know the last time I bought a new computer I had to have the hard drive replaced twice in less than five months. I'd now be on my last install, and ten years down the road - when support is discontinued - and something else happens? My Mass Effect DVD is a coaster now.

Sure, most people won't have problems with this for a long time, especially if they *did* introduce a way to get those credits back. But I refuse to buy a game that - through no action of my own - essentially becomes garbage at some unknown future date.

I can still play my DOS, Windows 3.1, etc games that were made back in the early 90's if I want to. All I need is an emulator or a computer running the correct operating system.

I want the ability to play my games - not just when I buy them - not just five years from today - but in ten, or fifteen. Will all of the games I buy have that kind of lasting appeal? No, of course not. But since I'm a fairly picky gamer, a lot of them do.

Bear in mind that through all of this, the people pirating the game - since this DRM will in no way prevent it - are completely unaffected by these inconveniences. How is this a good business model?

Think of it this way: Imagine, at some point in the future, all DVD players are connected to the internet. Because of this, new movie releases are encoded with a form of protection that prevents a movie from being played on more than 3 DVD players. Would you accept that? Personally, between my computer, playstation, and DVD player, that's three right there - and if I ever replaced one of them, I guess I'd be out of luck.

Maybe this is the future of PC gaming. Maybe I can't do anything to prevent it. But if so, in the future, I will not be a PC gamer.

I'd also point out that whether or not it was intended, this really seems to be classic Door-in-the-Face technique.

I really wouldn't praise them for removing the "every 10 days re-activation" when the remaining copy protection is still unacceptable.

I would be willing to accept SecuROM if they provided a quick, easy way to *completely* uninstall it when I was finished with game... but I doubt that's going to happen. I'm even willing to put up with a single online activation, though I realize it inconveniences some gamers.

The install limit? Not so much.

YES! BEAT THEM INTO SUBMISSION! TAKE THAT EA!!!

@Alyric:

My thoughts exactly. I still go back and play Dungeon Keeper and Ultima 8 (do I hear snickers?) from time to time. God knows how many times I've forgotten to uninstall games before reformatting and/or changing my OS. Or for that matter, how many times the install directories have become corrupted? What about family computers where little Jimmy just deletes everything will-nilly? Is EA saying that their games aren't good enough to be played long after they've faded into the annals of history?

Or worse yet, are we headed into an era of buy-once-play-once games? Perhaps a subscription system if you wish to keep playing? I'm sorry, but I'm going to sorely miss the good old days of hassle-free gaming and power to the modders. (and btw, I'm not against subscription systems where they make sense, like WoW)

Oh, also. Notice that those old games I mentioned had their companies bought up by EA and ruined.

The sad thing is I'm not too worried. Why is that sad? Because eventually there will be a crack for games like Spore (if they still plan to use that copy protection) that will allow me to play my legal copy without having to do numerous checks and limited installs.

Kind of like how if you bought a game that used Starforce you were better off using a crack just so you didn't have to have Starforce screwing up your computer. So basically, pirates can download a game and use a crack without worry while consumers have to make sure they didn't just install some amazingly hazardous copy protection on their system. However now it sounds like consumers aren't even actually buying the game, just renting it for 50 bucks. If we keep going down this road then eventually pirates/crackers will be the GOOD guys, allowing you to actually retain ownership of something you already bought.

I wonder if that Mike guy reads his own articles because there are a lot of good comebacks nya.

Furthermore Theres a topic on many forums I go to. How many Games do you own. Many who are pc gamers say between 30 and 100.

If this becomes acceptable that will just punish actual PC gamers more.
 
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