Print 79 comment(s) - last by mindless1.. on May 16 at 4:38 AM

M.E. takes a hint from E.T. and decides to phone home more regularly

While Xbox 360 gamers have been able to enjoy Bioware's action-RPG title Mass Effect -- and all the innuendo and controversy surrounding it -- since November 2007, PC gamers will only receive their first taste of Commander Shepard's interstellar adventuring and Captain-Kirk-esqe taste for alien romance later this month.

That is, assuming their computer can not only meet the modest system requirements, but also remain connected to the Internet for the mandatory authorization check that occurs upon installation and every ten days thereafter.

That's right, fellow PC gamers -- it seems that the complaints and furor that surrounded Bioshock's irritating activation scheme have been taken as a "how-to" rather than something to be avoided. Bioware marketing employee Chris Priestly has posted the grisly details on the official Bioware forums, and it isn't pretty for those who only have sporadic connectivity:

Q: What happens if I want to play MEPC but do not have an internet connection?
A: You cannot play MEPC without an internet connection. MEPC must authenticate when it is initially run and every 10 days thereafter.

Q: What happens if I install and activate MEPC with an internet connection, but then do not have an internet connection after 10 days? Can I still play MEPC?
A: No. After 10 days the system needs to re-authenticate via the internet. If you do not have an internet connection you will not be able to play until you are reconnected to the internet and able to re-authenticate.

The discussion thread on the Bioware forums has grown rapidly, with several members voicing their distaste to various degrees of subtlety -- some even openly declaring that they will pirate the game rather than buy it, simply because it will be less of an inconvenience.

In addition to the game routinely phoning home, the SecuROM copy protection will also enforce a limitation of three "activated" installations of the game -- any copies installed beyond this will require a phone call to EA Support. For those who recall the server issues during the initial launch of Bioshock, EA has addressed this with no small amount of confidence:

Q: There were some problems with authentication servers for games like BioShock. Is EA ready for the influx of MEPC players? Will we be able to play our games when we get them home?
A: Yes, EA is ready and we are confident there will be no server problems. EA has assured us that they have their authorization systems and customer support staff in place and ready for the launch of Mass Effect for PC. Anyone having issues with getting the game activated will be able to contact EA Support and get their problem resolved.
Gamers of the world will have to wait until May 28th to determine if EA remains true to their word, or if they will be forced to eat them.

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RE: DRM again
By chizow on 5/7/2008 4:04:05 PM , Rating: -1
This is the reason for which people actually pirate the games

No its not. People pirate games because they don't want to pay for them and see nothing wrong with stealing.

And I love this quoted in the article:

some even openly declaring that they will pirate the game rather than buy it, simply because it will be less of an inconvenience.

Because downloading a 5-15GB torrent over the span of a day or two is less convenient for those who aren't perpetually connected! Probably too cheap to pay for their ISP bill too, so they only flip it on and off when they want another free title. Just goes to prove pirates will say and do just about anything to justify STEALING.

RE: DRM again
By FITCamaro on 5/7/2008 4:15:05 PM , Rating: 5
What they should do is still buy it. But still download it and play the hacked version that doesn't require the authentication.

I really wouldn't blame the BioWare team for this. I can almost bet that its EA that pushed this on the game.

RE: DRM again
By mattclary on 5/9/2008 9:25:36 AM , Rating: 4
Then they will still have our money and will have no motivation to alter their behavior.

RE: DRM again
By FITCamaro on 5/9/2008 11:56:23 AM , Rating: 1
Yes but your behavior only encourages them to adopt more restrictive means. If piracy stops, DRM stops. Piracy is killing PC gaming. You can blame them all you want, but remember that piracy came first, not DRM.

RE: DRM again
By odessit740 on 5/9/2008 12:46:37 PM , Rating: 2
That may be so, but it is widely acknowledged that DRM is not the answer, but more so adds to piracy. I discourage piracy and think that it is wrong, but at the same time it is a natural reaction, a revolt if you will, in response to the strict control and industry-wide practices of computer game manufacturers and their publishers.

Your right, piracy is killing the PC game industry, but so are the draconian methods that try to stop it.

And it isn't like piracy doesn't exist on game consoles, its just that it isn't as wide spread. If the PC game industry went all the to the dogs, I think that some of those same people would migrate to consoles and use mod chips, and download and burn their games.

I think punishing is not the answer, but rewards for buying legitimately is.

RE: DRM again
By mattclary on 5/9/2008 3:53:13 PM , Rating: 4
I'm not saying to pirate it, I'm saying don't play it at all. I have no intention of buying or pirating it. I wanted it badly, 'til I found out about this.

RE: DRM again
By jtesoro on 5/9/2008 11:09:36 PM , Rating: 2
I was going to buy Bioshock until I learned of the DRM mechanism it uses. Mass Effect I was still unsure of, but now I've decided not to buy it either. Too bad for the industry as I personally know only 2 or 3 people who buy original games.

RE: DRM again
By omnicronx on 5/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: DRM again
By jtemplin on 5/12/2008 1:15:28 PM , Rating: 2
The people who are "whining", know that a 1 minute trip to the pirate bay will yield a copy of this game. Nobody will be stopped...So I'm not sure what you're getting at there, other than what I will address below.

What follows in your post seems to be the same old argument that people who support wiretapping etc fall back on: "well I have nothing to hide".
The only people whining about this are people that probably would have pirated the game anyways.
Someone can stand up and say hey I am against wiretapping because it invades my privacy or hey I am against DRM because xyz reason. In either case, just because you are opposed of the measure designed to reduce the illegal act, doesn't provide some damning proof that you are in fact participating in said illegal act. Take drug policy for example. Plenty of reasonable people don't think certain drugs should be scheduled as they are, and dont use any drug at all. You can't just pigeonhole people like that.

Game piracy is a problem that needs to be attenuated, but criticizing draconian systems and stopgap measures to reduce the problem is part of whats great about our country. All these systems seem only to punish or reduce the experience of the legitimate consumer. The "pirates" and anyone who knows where to get these pirated materials will be getting copies stripped of any such anti-piracy systems. So obviously their systems don't work.

RE: DRM again
By omnicronx on 5/13/2008 9:06:56 AM , Rating: 2
Game piracy is a problem that needs to be attenuated, but criticizing draconian systems and stopgap measures to reduce the problem is part of whats great about our country.
You say this as though it is your legal right to have a video game with zero limitations. Its perfectly within the rights of the Devs to do whatever they want to stop piracy. I used to be against DRM of anykind, but if you actually consider how many people play computer games, and how many of those games are pirated, you may change your tune.

Its not like music where most of the money goes right into the Studios pockets, games today take 2-4 years complete on average, and that can cost a pretty penny.
Most of the money goes right back into developing the next game, and considering how stagnant the PC market has been lately, its no wonder no good games are comming out for PC.

Why pay millions of dollars to create a game, only to have half the people pirate it, when you can focus on a console that essentially nobody can pirate games.

I am not advocating the use of malware and spyware like apps that some gaming studios use mind you. But if an online activation mechanism is a way they can achieve the same results without using spyware, then I am all for it. Who buys a PC capable of playing these games today without having the internet? If you don't, then you have a mighty expensive paperweight on your desk..

RE: DRM again
By jtemplin on 5/14/2008 5:12:16 AM , Rating: 2
Well I never said I personally find this draconian or stopgap, but clearly some users do. The unscrupulous ones will pirate and others will put their money elsewhere. Either way the money will talk.

If Mass Effect is all its cracked up to be I would like to get it. KotOR was so awesome.

I want the PC gaming industry to survive more than anyone and I believe that involves an interaction between user and company. The company of course needs to protect its investment, but I hate to see a great company like BioWare getting railed on for stuff like this. You're totally right in contrasting games and music. Different strategies need to be undertaken. Hire some creative freshly frocked PhD security studnets from the halls of Ivy. Do something to have the cake and eat it too, I say. Yea I know I live in an ideologue's fantasy world... =D

RE: DRM again
By MADAOO7 on 5/12/2008 1:58:18 AM , Rating: 1
That is the most ridiculous and contradictory statement you could make. Let me get this straight. You were going to buy the real version, until they took steps to make sure you didn't steal it. DRM shouldn't affect you purchasing behavior. You can't say you are against DRM and against piracy. If you are against piracy, then you are buying the real thing, and DRM shouldn't affect that decision. It's as if you don't want to practice what you preach.

RE: DRM again
By mindless1 on 5/16/2008 4:16:10 AM , Rating: 2
Yes some would buy the retail version until the DRM makes it either less convenient to play or offensive to a potential customer.

For example, it has been several years since I have bought any games that I couldn't find a no-cd crack for. Any game I consider, I first hunt down the crack. No crack, no play the game because I will not go juggling discs around. Similarly I won't buy or play games that require internet validation continually - maybe when first installed but that is the limit.

I would never buy a game that limits how many times it can be installed or activated. My gaming system is a secondary one and if any change often that one would be it.

Basically, there's more to a game than just the few hours of play, there's also the incentives to those who respect our, the gamers, desires. I am even thinking seriously about foregoing games that require a no-cd crack for this reason, though frankly part of it may be that I just don't play games as much as i used to, these days it's more about wanting to run it just to feel I'm keeping up with state of the industry graphical eyecandy, some of them just look nice as if the gaming industry will be far ahead of most when we finally get to the point where systems are well endowed enough to support a truely immersive VR for RPGs.

RE: DRM again
By gramboh on 5/7/2008 4:23:55 PM , Rating: 5
For me, the 'convenience' is knowing whether or not the integrity of my PC is being compromised by DRM (remember early StarForce?). I have no problem paying for quality titles, and I do, but I am not going to install something that might compromise my PC.

If I am able to buy it and use a crack from the warez version to remove the authentication (since it's single player only) I will do that, as I do with most games since I hate putting the disc in the drive.

Downloading a 4GB torrent at 1mbyte/s doesn't take very long either.

I have no problem with online authentication (e.g. simple check of key against db) but if there is anything more, especially limiting the number of installs, that is ridiculous.

RE: DRM again
By darkpaw on 5/7/08, Rating: 0
RE: DRM again
By gramboh on 5/8/2008 2:13:55 AM , Rating: 2
Sure it's possible, but believe it or not the cracking groups do what they do for 'pride' and 'respect' in their scene. If they installed a trojan/rootkit etc. via a crack their releases would be blacklisted, it's highly unlikely but yes, it is possible.

RE: DRM again
By robinthakur on 5/8/2008 8:35:13 AM , Rating: 2
Actually if anyone's using vista that won't happen with UAC :) I've actually never come across a virus/trojan etc in a warez crack. Common sense is all that's needed. Anti-virus, firewall and ensure that the crack comes either with the release or from somewhere 'well-frequented' (in the absence of being able to say 'reputable')

RE: DRM again
By darkpaw on 5/8/2008 11:43:43 AM , Rating: 2
Firewall won't do anything if they're smart enough to use the same port out as the game EXE normally would. Virus scanners are generally behind the curve on catching much of anything that isn't mass distribution. Finally, most of the people that use these things wouldn't have the slightest clue their system was taken over.

Smart attackers don't run crap that is obvious and crash the system. It's pretty much been my experience that most people that whine about how unreliable Windows is are the same people that download and install absolutely anything without question.

RE: DRM again
By kondor999 on 5/8/2008 12:46:24 PM , Rating: 2
You have obviously never actually seen or downloaded a cracked release. I've *never* gotten a trojan, virus, etc from any cracked release from a *reputable* group. It's all about knowing where to go.

In many ways, I hate what these guys do (it will destroy PC gaming) - but they are good at it, and they have pretty amazing integrity when it comes to ensuring the quality of their "product". Go figure...

RE: DRM again
By 4wardtristan on 5/9/2008 4:35:15 AM , Rating: 3
backing up what your sorta saying for a bit of your post...

i believe that alot of the time (high 90%), malware is common sense.

dont open that "birthday_card.exe" attachment that your uncle sent you

dont download "J.T - cry me a river.mp3" that is 64kb big

for that matter, dont install any p2p program what so ever etc.

dont click on "congratulations! you are the 14124124124124124th unique visitor! click here to win a exorbitant amount of money!"

follow common sense and you will lead a long and prosperous OS install.

yes i know this is completely unrelated and whatnot but its a rant.


RE: DRM again
By Nik00117 on 5/10/2008 4:22:38 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, this kinda copy protection is going too far. What If I install it on my laptop, and i'm on a trip without internet acess and 11 days later I wanna play it?

RE: DRM again
By omnicronx on 5/12/2008 8:50:19 AM , Rating: 2
You have obviously never actually seen or downloaded a cracked release. I've *never* gotten a trojan, virus, etc from any cracked release from a *reputable* group. It's all about knowing where to go.
And thats when you realize, these 'reputable* groups do not distribute their own software!!! Unless you have drump/topsite access(barely exists anymore), or you know someone else has access, then you have no idea how many channels it went through before getting to you.

Sure back in the day when everyone downloaded their games right off MIRC and then it filtered out, you were much less likely to get some sort of malware or virus, but today you really have no idea where it came from, or who got their hands on it before it reaches you.

RE: DRM again
By omnicronx on 5/12/2008 8:44:28 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know why you were rated down but you are right on the button. I have had access to scene rips and games for years now, and even I do not trust every release I have downloaded. You are much much more likely to have some kind of malware or spyware of some sort installed on your computer using pirated content then any DRM scheme. If you think otherwise, then you have something coming. My guess is download 20 games, at least one of them will result in your computer being part of somebody's botnet =P

RE: DRM again
By robinthakur on 5/8/2008 8:31:50 AM , Rating: 2
Actually the downloading would be pretty brisk on my connection, and any amount of inconvenience in playing a game is too much for me i'm afraid. That's why I also own consoles. At the end of that download time, I would be able to play the game as I saw fit, not as EA want me to, after I've purchased the right to play it and forfeited my right to a refund.

I don't want to be prompted to uninstall Daemon tools/Nero etc just because EA deems that its possible to use them illegally as well as legally. Nor do I want the game phoning home every 10 days. I don't have to justify why I don't want it to do that. Who honestly would? Ea Servers are no more reliable than any other servers and how long will they keep them in operation? What happens after this period, does the game become unplayable? If EA has a server problem, does this mean that you can't play your game if it chooses to recheck that you aren't a thief at exactly the same time as the outage? Will this require reconfiguration of my firewall to play one game?

Not being funny, but as with most anti-piracty systems, this will not inconvenience a single person that steals the game through downloading it, because this securerom system will be the first thing which gets ripped out by the release group. However, it will annoy and antagonize the living snot out of legitimate purchasers and for that reason only, its a terrible idea.

The Result? Fewer people will buy the game. More people will download it. Publishers see this and stop putting resources into developing PC games. PC Gaming 'dies'. There has always been alot of piracy on PC. The only new thing is the fact that genuine purchasers are the ones being discriminated against. I will be amazed if they sell more copies of this versus people downloading it...

RE: DRM again
By MatthiasF on 5/8/2008 6:22:49 PM , Rating: 3

some even openly declaring that they will pirate the game rather than buy it, simply because it will be less of an inconvenience.

Robin-hood style pirates just need an excuse to cover what they were going to do anyway. The feeling of righteousness overrides any guilt from stealing, even if it is callous.

RE: DRM again
By Bladen on 5/9/2008 7:22:03 PM , Rating: 2
Can EA confirm that they will be able to maintain the validation servers until the end of time?

RE: DRM again
By Vinnybcfc on 5/12/2008 6:50:17 AM , Rating: 2
Probably end up being MSN Music all over again in a few years.

I can imagine the telephone support would go first so if you uninstall it too many times then its formatting time.

"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken

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