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 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.

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