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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 Le Québécois on 5/8/2008 3:58:19 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, if you read the forum link that was provided in the article, it says that all their previous games(except the BG series) also used SecuROM so it's far from the first Bioware game to use DRM.

The difference this time is that they will use an activation process(a la Bioshock) with a limit of 3 activations, which I don't like, unless they provide a way to deactivate or "fully" uninstall the product so you can get back your "activation point", just like you're able to do with Bioshock by using a separated .exe you can download on their website.

The other difference is that every 10 days "check" which I don't like much but should not be a big problem since very few people with a computer able to play this game don't have access to the net.

In all, I would prefer they would go the "Stardock" way like Stardock did with Galactic Civilizations, its sequel, Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords and Sins of a Solar Empire.

DRM CAN be a real pain and like Stardock, I believe that if someone really want a game, they will buy it and if they really want to pirate it, they'll always find a way do to so.

RE: DRM again
By DASQ on 5/8/2008 11:59:30 AM , Rating: 2
And what happens when EA no longer wants to keep their authentication servers going?

You just stop playing Mass Effect? So you're paying for a game that EA can just effectively disable at their own whim?

RE: DRM again
By Le Québécois on 5/8/2008 2:41:19 PM , Rating: 2
That could be a problem, yes, but I don't see EA doing that any time soon.

But what does it have to do with my post?

RE: DRM again
By achintya on 5/11/2008 9:52:35 AM , Rating: 3
RE: DRM again
By Le Québécois on 5/11/2008 4:12:47 PM , Rating: 2
No, I meant, I clearly said that I don't support DRM in my previous post so I don't see why he replied that to my post.

Do not confuse stating a fact(that BioWare has been using DRM for a while now) with my opinion (About the "Stardock" ways with DRM free games).

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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