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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: USB Key
By mindless1 on 5/16/2008 4:38:00 AM , Rating: 2
It's not so novel, a few softwares had in past years required using a parallel port dongle to work. Problem is, people later lost the dongle or their systems didn't have parallel port or they needed the port for a printer and didn't want to buy another card or didn't have a slot free for it, etc.

I'm starting to think a better business model would be making profit off the value-added extras. Let people have the game for free, but make addt'l content so enticing that those who have the money to pay will want to and those without who'd have pirated it just to not pay anything will just move on. That might not work out to be more profit, but apparently their past strategy wasn't working either if they're now moving towards this plan. Maybe they ultimately need to find ways to lower production costs in order to raise profit instead of thinking millions of poor kids would end up paying for games if only they couldn't play them any other way.

What happens if the kid(s) can't play? Maybe they have an incentive to work or work more for the money, but then their time available to game is more limited and the value of the product is reduced again, as well as the gamer then spending more time amongst others who aren't gaming so they tend to spend disposible income on more social activities.

What's the answer? I don't know, maybe raising the minimum wage so the youngest workers are making more. I don't necessarily mean that's the best for society in general but to the gaming industry so the average wages of the average potential customer goes up.


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