Mass Effect, Spore DRM loosened

Digital rights management (DRM) is a thorny issue for publishers, who don't want to unnecessarily hassle paying customers but also don't want to allow piracy of the games they make. It's also something of a hot-button issue for a lot of gamers, as Electronic Arts found out last week. After an...

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Digital rights management (DRM) is a thorny issue for publishers, who don't want to unnecessarily hassle paying customers but also don't want to allow piracy of the games they make. It's also something of a hot-button issue for a lot of gamers, as Electronic Arts found out last week.

After an employee at the publisher's BioWare studio explained the DRM scheme for the PC edition of sci-fi role-playing game Mass Effect on the developer's official forums, fans started to make their displeasure known. As originally explained, Mass Effect players would need to authenticate the disc and its CD Key on install, and the game's SecuROM DRM software would then need to re-authenticate the game every 10 days in order to check and make sure the CD Key hasn't been banned for becoming public or being used for registering illegal copies.

The thread in which that was revealed went on for 13 pages and more than 180 responses (many of them nonplussed) before being closed, but the issue continued to simmer on message boards and blogs. Last Friday, BioWare did an about-face on the DRM issue, posting the following explanation for removing the 10-day mandatory authentication checks in another thread (which hit 75 pages before being locked):

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.

A similar plan for mandatory authentication every 10 days on another anticipated EA PC game, Spore, was also scuttled, according to a statement from the game's producer. Both Mass Effect and Spore will now authenticate whenever users go online to download new content.

This isn't the first time a publisher has altered its DRM plans after gamers raised a stink. Two years ago, Ubisoft dropped Starforce copyright protection entirely while it investigated complaints about the software.

Discussion

120 comments
snus3n
snus3n

I think more companies has to take action and go the Valve way. Valve has to be the best pc/console game developer out there due to they have their "steam" klient and they give ppl updates/upgrades for free after you've accually bought the game. And then the fact that when you register your game through your account you acually OWN your game both fysical and digital. I can decide whenever i want if i want to download the game through the steam engien or just install it with my disc. And the best part is that i dont have to type in my cd key more than once, the day i activate it on my steam account that is.You just have to praise em for understanding what the consumer wants. An easy, fast and plain simple installment part of their gaming experiance. But the best part is.. They want you to have your upgrades/new content on for example xbox360 and ps3 for free.And are fighting for your right to get it for free. They are a bunch of smart developers that have understood that when you buy your copy you acually own your copy.. and should be treated as the consumer you are.. not like a criminal. Thats why i only buy games nowdays through steam. If its not on steam its probably protected by some random drm/whatever crap that makes my gaming experiance before i even decide to play the game go down the drain. What the other companies has to take to heart is that the consumers wants to OWN their game and dont want to spend like 30mins-60mins to intall it. And then activate it on a regular basis.. Its not the piracy that destroys the game market. Piracy will allways be there because ppl wants stuff for free sadly and dont really care about if the companies gets cash or not. But then to go to the extent and call the consumer an criminal. Or rather make them "feel" like one. thats whats messing with their sales, not the piracy. Ofc its a problem, but then again theres a reason for it to. Best thing they can do and should do is to look in to what we want, not what they want. If this keeps up they wont have any consumers left. And im mostly talking about the "pc" gamer part.. That the companies has decided to call out that the pc is dead all hail the console or whatever.. its not that its dead.. its the developers that dont know how to cope with the "pirates" aka you and me. Because they dont trust their fanbase/consumers. And wants to label us as a "criminal". sad but true.. Darn, now I'v gone and done it again. Typing to much. But the fact that the companies rls'ing this crap is digging their own grave and blaming it on the consumer.. just makes me wanna puke/strangle yoda or whatnot. But regarding the ide with the "3 activations"/constant authentication every 10 days" They will probably wonder why their games dosnt sell good/get downloaded so much. But we consumers know why, but they dont due to their not interested in what we want. They just see the greens. And i feel sorry for them. I like to be able to play my games in 10 years.. look.. im playing moonstone on my c64 still today. And its in my eyes one of the best games ever made. With this i wont be able to look at my collection in like 10 years and say "wow! this was an awsome game" Because, it will just fade away in time and well, its sad. Im currently 27 years old, im what you call a gamer. Dont have a job due to some medical issues, and well, playing games is my life. Been playing since my 5th birthday when i got my first 8bit game. Since my i think 15th birthday i play games aournd 16~ish hours/day. And to see whats happening to us consumers.. thats just bad, because in the end this will result in companies puking out games of no quality whatsoever. And if they in the end make a quality game you have to buy it over and over again due to their "limited" user ownership path.

Tinz
Tinz

This limited activation DRM is a smokescreen policy to make games have shorter shelf-lives. PC gamers have always been able to reinstall games and upgrade their hardware without losing the ability to play the game, even after a decade. What right does EA have to change the way PC gamers own software? Such titles should be properly labeled as only limited licenses that expire after 3 activations. EA's DRM schemes with Mass Effect and Spore have nothing to do with Piracy.

venous
venous

They need to remove that 3 install only thing. I reinstall windows ever 1-2 years since after a while your system get bogged down. Then if you upgrade your mother board (which my computer needs), you have to reinstall windows for that which means reinstalling your games etc. Or if you upgrade your Harddrive, I usually just add but some people don't and that leaves me with old hard drivers that are slow and I barely use anymore. #1 You bought the game #2 You upgrade your MB/Processor etc #3 It's been a year since your last reinstall of windows or you roomate, cousin or someone else was on your computer and tried getting porn or music from an untrusted site. Well guess you can't reinstall windows every again to reset your system and don't upgrade any back bone components bc you will have to buy your games again. Some might say BFD the game will probably be a lot cheaper by then but not always if its a popular game, Oblivion was $40 for a long time, same with Doom 3. And you probably already paid $50 for the game which is more then enough. Here is a better idea if they want to stop pirates imo. Have players register person info like name etc, limit updates and patchs if you dont register, or even probably my fav out of the ideas I'm just now coming up with, require receipt info. I'm sure if they really wanted they could get ebgames, websites or stores to let them cross reference the info. They might not be able to sell to 100% of stores but if you want to get the game you can. Worst case you have to buy it directly from the company who made the game. In which case they could sell if for less or make more profit since they are cutting out the middle man.

Devonimp
Devonimp

To be blatently honest, the way trends are going, the pirates have less of a hassle than the paying customers, because while the customers have to deal with buggy and glitchy DRM's, the pirates get copies that circumvented this and as such can ignore it entirely. I am actually unable to play NWN2 with a friend of mine, because a VERY intrusive anti-piracy virus on their computer

JJFlash572
JJFlash572

One thing overlooked is that some people don't have internet! (Or in my case the connection is so shotty, I can't use it.) How do you 'activate' your software then? Eliminating a group of potential customers isn't just stupid, it's bad for business. At least they've gotten a clue about the 10 day renewal process. As for the 3 systems only? I've had to do 3 repair installs of Win-Blows within last year. (2 due to 'bugs', and 1 from a heavy upgrade) Guess what, it would be no more Mass Effect/Spore for me. Your system registry (among other things) changes when you reinstall your OS. Meaning, by DRM standards, it's a new computer. When I had highspeed, I downloaded over $60 worth of music. Now, I have $60 worth of useless files on my harddrive. Sure, when I get my internet back up and running (properly), I will have to re-register the computer and songs. But now, the company I downloaded them from has been bought out by Yahoo, and they're not honoring all the licenses. If Microsoft buys them out, I may be completely out of luck. Now, imagine buying a dozen or so games with the 3 computer rule and having this happen to you. Not a fun feeling, is it? These DRMs are not necessary. Stardock hasn't had any copy protection for years and they're not only making a profit, they're growing. And that is what business is about. Honestly, I'm sick of the way consumers are treated (especially computer gamers). We pay a large fee for incomplete products (why complete the game when the customer can just download the patch later). We get gouged by big monthly fees. (Just take a minute and add up how much you've spent on WoW at $15 a month!) And, to top it all off, we're treated like criminals by the very people we support with our hard earned money. Could you imagine what it would be like if other business treated their customers this way? Actually, it's not hard. Just look at the airlines. As for EA: I AM NOT A CRIMINAL... ...but with these policies, I may just become one. Because I won't pay you to treat me this way.

katana18
katana18

Piracy exists. Yes, I know it and you know it. And we all know how to get it. But is it so hard for people to just go out and pay full retail for a game/software that's really worth it? I mean, look at it this way, you've already taken all the mp3s you want for free. What's $50 every other month to buy a new Triple A title that you'll REALLY enjoy?

Last_Spartan
Last_Spartan

Terdog what about my comment actually offends you? Was it that I said that piracy was going to happen anyway, just as it has for thousands of years? I'm sorry if that upsets some people, but that's just a fact of life. There has been piracy for just about as long as there have been humans, its nothing new.

Terdog
Terdog

Last_Spartan, i take big offense to that comment. Its going to happen if we like it or not. I don't download games, i vote with my wallet. As the the 3 installs, you can install the game on 3 pc's at the same time. I got Bioshock on opening day, and i waited for a couple of days before I activated the game. My main problem is, why don't more companies (like Capcom) make their games steam based (retail and online). Its tied to one account and one account only. You lose the disk, no problem, just download it. Hell, to the best of my knowledge, Valve has patches ready in case something major happens (like the servers go down, ect) I'm not a fan of Secure Rom or Starforce. I am i BIG Stardock fan, even though i dont like their games, having no DRM would be nice. Besides, we've going through this before when Ubisoft dumped Starforce....

shazam_lp
shazam_lp

EA and BioWare are full of crap. Just wait for them to release it and in a couple of days all that bloatware will be cracked. Thats why we have the scene guys.

zintarr
zintarr

This is still pure crap. 3 installs and you are out of luck. I will pass on this BioEA. Also, you have to love the "Thou shall not speak of the 3-install-limit-anymore" on the BioScum boards. At one time they were the best but now they are EA all the way.

thedementor360
thedementor360

Is any one else but me gonna make a care bear in spore? i cant wait to make one so it can eat all the creatures. i gonna make a x-wing fighter.

Last_Spartan
Last_Spartan

"All of you you anti-DRM people who say 'piracy will happen anyway' I bet have stolen more than 50% of your games." And on that note you're absolutely wrong. One does not have to be a pirate to realize that it is going to happen anyway, the same way we don't have to be murderers to understand that people are going to be murdered. Its just common sense. People have been stealing from others all throughout human history, this is not something that started with video games. Those of us who say that pirating will happen anyway just know that it will, ANYTHING can be stolen by someone determined enough, that's the way its always been, all throughout history. Now, to address sakurayuri's second point: first of all Crysis is not on consoles, PC only and is very demanding, which means less people have the means to play it and thus it did not sell very well. Second of all more people have 360s and PS3s than PCs that can run those games very well. PC gaming is much more expensive than console gaming, with a console you pay one flat rate, don't have to worry about upgrades, and know that any game you put in there will run fine. Its not like that with PCs. You have to make sure your hardware can handle the game, if it can't then its either time to upgrade (which can be very expensive) or do without the game. Gaming PCs are expensive to buy, expensive to maintain and keep up to date, and unlike consoles which are all almost exactly the same every PC is different, which means if there's a problem a solution that worked for one person might not work for you, there are also viruses/trojans/spyware to worry about that can drain PC performance and make some games unplayable. Most people lack the knowledge/patience/money (or all three) to game on PC, thus they get an Xbox or PS3 instead, and obviously buy games for said systems. Of course more people bought CoD4 on Xbox or PS3, because more people have an Xbox or PS3.

dannyatkinson
dannyatkinson

sakurayuri. Please don't be gullible. Look for online games I actually agree with you. My issue is having to get online with a single player game and having limited installs. I do not play MMO's and I do not like getting online with my gaming rig. That is what my laptop is for. I am no pirate. In fact if anything I am a game collector. I still have my original Warcraft. In fact I am playing Warcraft II and Starcraft again. These are MY games. I did not rent them. I have probably installed and played them on more than a dozen of MY computers. I support game companies that actually make sense. I am a big fan of Stardock right now. I already had SINS OF A SOLAR EMPIRE and I just bought Galactic Civilizations a couple days ago. I vote with my money. I take offense to being called a pirate when I spend my hard earned money on games I love. Another thing I mentioned elswhere is that I have seen way more console games pirated than PC games. Just look at how many are available to download on the net. I don't think it is right but these DRM measures are making things worse and worse. It baffles me why these companies think that DRM will work. All they are doing is making paying customers mad and turning many of them to pirating. How is that helping?

Avenger1324
Avenger1324

DRM only hurts and inconveniences those who actually buy the game, and deters genuine buyers for wanting to get the game. Yes something needs to be done to prevent piracy of software, but it needs to be done in a way that doesn't punish the legal customers paying for the software.

thedementor360
thedementor360

Sakurayuri u are absolutly right I totally agree with you.

sakurayuri
sakurayuri

The best way to implement DRM is the same way Diablo II did it and the same way many MMORPGs do it... make the player have to login to a server service upon launching the game with a user name and password. All of you you anti-DRM people who say "piracy will happen anyway" I bet have stolen more than 50% of your games. Games like Crysis and Call of Duty 4 only sold 70,000 copies last year on the PC while their console counter-parts sold MILLIONS. As a game buyer who wants more titles on the PC to continue so this world doesn't become "console games only", I applaud any type of DRM action companys are willing to take. F' all you piraters.

Kensei_Kitsune
Kensei_Kitsune

I've been looking forward to Spore for a long time now, I am happy they listened to their (potential) customers and dropped the DRM. Requesting the key is one thing, but requiring reactivation every ten days is ludicrous.

thedementor360
thedementor360

EA is only trying to help i am sure no one would want there cd key being used now would they.

Valor54
Valor54

People love the challenge. Putting a DRM only encourages piracy. In the digital age nothing is private, no security is unbeatable, and no DRM will be pirated free. It only takes one copy to be cracked for the whole world to DL free so why put all this money into getting an "anti-pirate" program when it doesnt matter in the end? Limiting the game to 3 computers is just stupid. Again, people will crack it, so what if they wont be able to connect to the official spore DL site to get content. just like emulated MMOG's people will build there own pirated spore community to share content (official and player made) whether you like it or not.

thedementor360
thedementor360

but how can a coconut migrate it could grip it by the husks.

lostn
lostn

DRM is going to backfire on them. Just like with Starforce, what is meant to protect sales is going to reduce them. Legit customers are not going to buy a product that causes this much fuss, just as they wouldn't buy a game that has Starforce on it, if they knew what it did.

sc_ajk29
sc_ajk29

Funny that this was actually a very smart move on EA's part, and yet everyone somehow feels the need to spam "OMG EA SUX!!!!!" all over the place. Oh well, I guess some people just can never be pleased...

CornishRocker
CornishRocker

Good, I wouldn't want to reactivate my key every 10 days, that's unecessary.

thedementor360
thedementor360

i am still gonna buy from ea already paid off spore creature editor and spore. long live EA

Last_Spartan
Last_Spartan

technowiz999 you are a complete tool. You act as though the people who can't get legal games (or won't because the companies treat them like dogs) are the scum of the earth. The consumers are simply fighting back for their rights against the corporate titans, and the consumers will eventually win, its only a question of how much time and how much money needs to be wasted before they realize this. If they would drop this attitude that all of their customers are thieves and hackers and stop treating us like it then I bet a lot more people would buy their games. People boycott EA for several reasons and refuse to buy an EA product and will pirate from them instead, while those same people will actually buy a game from a company that doesn't treat them like some crap stain on the bottom of their shoe.

DanIhjel
DanIhjel

I totally with agree Star_Gem.. DRM only encourages piracy... I'm glad they got rid of the authentication that was supposed to happen every 10 days, now they just need to remove 3 installs limit and the game would be buyable in my eyes. If not? Then it's straight to TPB for this here gamer! YARRRR!! ^^

technowiz999
technowiz999

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

richlockard
richlockard

I'm going to update my original statement, product activation does not need to be in games, period. Its bad enough in applications, but understandable. In games, what happens in a few years when said company goes under and their severs go offline? You can no longer activate the game. I understand when you buy a game you are just licensing it for play, you don't actually own it, but in this aspect its more like a rental. On the other side, I guess they lose a lot of money due to piracy, which is sad. however, most pirates parent people who would purchase anyway. Try a demo, If you like it buy it!

crazyperson2003
crazyperson2003

Another thing that they need to take into account is that English speaking people live overseas. I live in China so the only way to get legal games is to buy them and download them from some tiny server in the US (w00t 1.3kb/s) and then pay obscenely high fees to change the money (75% or something stupid). Even then the download normally gets blocked so my money is wasted. When I do manage to get them, the refuse product support to Chinese IP's because we all use pirated games... On the other hand, get on P2P and I have a game in a day, fully working and cracked with all the bugs taken care of, that the developers were to busy making copy protection to fix + product support from someone who actually cares. Apologies, its not like I don't have the money for games, but if they make it imposable to get legal games then I'm just going to download them. I'm sure that gamers don't mind enough in game ads to make the games free (how cool would it be to take out the goodyear blimp in an FPS?)

btdwn
btdwn

This whole Securrom thing is bull****. EA's always pissed me off and I had a boycott of everything except spore, because despite my hatred of EA, Spore looked like a change in their cruddy business practices, but now it's a complete boycott.

dannyatkinson
dannyatkinson

I have a comment about the 3 install thing. I have a few games that are my favorites. I have probably installed those games 10 or more times on MY COMPUTER. HELLO!!! Computer have problems. There are viruses, spyware, hackers etc etc. Sometimes the only fix is to wipe your pc and start over. This doesn't even take into account that sometimes hard drives go bad. Stupid. Just Stupid. It is like a store treating all their customers like they are all constantly stealing from the store. Like I said Stupid. I am through with Securom. I will not buy any more games with it.

technowiz999
technowiz999

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

technowiz999
technowiz999

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Asgard_82
Asgard_82

I do "pirate" sometimes, I admit. But mostly because it's an easy and comfortable way to get the game, I don't have to drive 60km to buy the game and can still sit in my cozy chair and watch the download. If there would be possible to buy and download more games directly from the internet I think alot of "pirates" would buy the game. And save the environment from all the unwanted plastic.

pukmok
pukmok

You could always buy it then pirate the cracked version to avoid the security issues. Theres nothing wrong with that.

phalluman
phalluman

"want you to know that your feedback is important to us." is what companies say when they don't care

Uberbadassmufuh
Uberbadassmufuh

This was a pretty obvious ploy to make consumers feel good about the using the disasterous Bioshock DRM on Mass Effect and Spore. Now instead of being unthinkably intrusive it's merely the worst and most insulting DRM out there.

ctg867
ctg867

Honestly, as a semi-PC gamer, I couldn't care less if a game required me to connect to the internet to re-input my CD-key by hand, to check it, at a maximum of every 10 days. If it means that more quality games come to the PC, then I think that's perfectly fine. My issue with Mass Effect PC is that they get updates, and free DLC, for a total of $15 cheaper then it would of cost a 360 gamer. It's a dis-service to gamers like me who are Bioware fans, and bought their games on Xbox platforms. I can understand them getting the DLC for free, but I'd like the damn update. It's not even an update, it's a patch. There are issues in the game that need patching. I, as a well paying customer, deserve that much. It's so ****ed up.

vidplayer8
vidplayer8

yeah, having to reaunthenticate it would suck majorly. do you have to re-type in the key every time? cause for those who lose things, me, it would suck even more.

diablusx
diablusx

I like the fact that it is only when I go online that it authenticates. It would have made it a little difficult to play the games when I can barely get a good connection to the net being stationed in Afghanistan.

zero-master
zero-master

I'm glad they changed to when ever you log online. Being in the military does make it difficult to update it every 10 days. Especialy when you deploy for several months at a time.

Star_Gem
Star_Gem

NA3D, how much money EA makes is not an issue. They're a business and, like any business, their purpose in life is to make money, and the more the better, especially when dealing with sponsorships and whatnot. The real problem is HOW they approach problems. They have a typical draconic attitude which makes you wonder, what's next? Explosive discs that blow when you insert an incorrect code? Not only that, but the time and money they waste on these useless systems (useless because they are bound to fail in their purpose) could be used to actually improve game quality, and lower prices, respectively - both of which would attract more gamers into buying their games. Seriously, whoever comes up with these ideas inside EA should be fired or shot - or both. They could use the vacancies to hire people who actually know gaming and gamers.

Icehearted
Icehearted

All I can say is that it's about bloody time they came to their senses. I feel certain that pirates would eventually find a way to circumvent this leaving only the paying customers holding the bag. This has got to be the first time I have ever seen EA actually allow anyone to remove an asinine idea from a game.

DemonI81
DemonI81

PS3_3DO "The pirates always ruin the fun for everyone. " It's not the pirates ruining things. It's the companies for making things so expensive for no good reason. How many games that you buy are really worth the $60? Out of all the games I own, only a few were worth the money. Then you trade in and get 1/5 what you payed. Although I do not pirate or condone it, I'm glad some people are standing up to the companies outrageous prices. And as stated by richlockard, DRM ruins games for the people who actually buy them. ALL DRM can be circumvented, and is regularly. Do companies really think their staff of coders are smarter than the "true" hackers/coders? The biggest problem company at this point with DRM is MS. I went through so much hell to get the licenses transfered to my new console after my old one died that I will NEVER buy anything on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace again. DRM is like a virus... it ruins the lives of the people that have it with no regard, but there are plenty of antibiotics out there.