Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
PC Games (Games) Entertainment Games

EA Loosens Spore, Mass Effect DRM 249

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the actually-listening-to-your-constituency dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In response to recent criticism, EA has decided to eliminate the periodic validation of Mass Effect and Spore. 'Specifically, EA's plan to dial in to game owner's computers every ten days to check whether they were running a legitimate version of their software has been scrapped, ShackNews reports. EA had planned to use the validation method for upcoming titles Mass Effect and Spore. EA now says that validation will now only occur when a user attempts to download new content for either game. Chief among the voices in opposition to this measure were members of the armed forces, who pointed out that they could not rely on having an internet connection every ten days.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

EA Loosens Spore, Mass Effect DRM

Comments Filter:
  • by thealsir (927362) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:29PM (#23358132) Homepage
    of common sense?
    • by DittoBox (978894) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:48PM (#23358252) Homepage
      Something like that, sure.

      http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2008/5/9/ [penny-arcade.com]
      • by Skylinux (942824) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @02:53AM (#23358940) Homepage
        Nice, if I had a mod points I would give one to you. http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2008/5/9/ [penny-arcade.com] is very funny ... still laughing

        The DRM still only allows three total installs for the lifetime of the game
        How is this better then constant validation? So if I install it on my Desktop, Laptop and maybe at work ... I would only play it on one computer at a time.
        Now if one of the machines crashes, I am thinking about my Gaming (win XP) Desktop here, it has become unstable and needs a reload soon .... I would have to beg to get one more install.... keep your game!
        • by hedwards (940851)
          It's really unfortunate that they chose to take this path. I for another will not be paying for a game which I will have to buy multiple times because it doesn't run under cxgames and on Windows I'll end up having to reinstall it at least 3 times the first year due to Windows unreliability.

          DRM is ultimately the number 1 reason why I don't buy various games. The only other reason that I don't is when my ancient computer won't run them, but I tend to wait until games are in the bargain bin anyways, a good gam
          • by Asmor (775910)
            Yeah, I know, this is Slashdot and that's to be expected, but still.

            I'll end up having to reinstall it at least 3 times the first year due to Windows unreliability.

            Really, man? My last computer had Windows XP pre-installed on it, and that same install of XP lasted me for around 5 years, and that includes lots of monkeying around (such as changing the partition size with GPartEd, installing various Linux distros and Vista side-by-side, daily use with a reboot only when necessary, installing anything that seemed remotely interesting to me).

            Complaining about Windows's stability is like complaining that

        • by Doppleganger (66109) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:14PM (#23361508) Journal

          The DRM still only allows three total installs for the lifetime of the game
          This is exactly why I'm not going to buy the PC version of Mass Effect right away, even though I was previously thinking of getting it as soon as it came out. I'll be holding out until my future use of the game is no longer dependent on the whims of EA/Bioware. Whether that is due to an official patch or piracy, I really don't care.

          I have tons of games that came from companies that are no longer around, or companies that have completely changed since those games came out. I've reinstalled my OS or upgraded my computer countless times since those games came out. They still work fine for me, and I don't have to jump through hoops every time I need to reinstall the software I paid money for.

          I seriously doubt EA/Bioware will be quick to release a patch to fix this once the game is out. So, even though I fully intend to buy the game, I'm stuck with cheering for the pirates.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Barny (103770)
      Yeah, are we sure this is:

      a. EA
      b. Worded correctly

      Just doesn't sound like EA....

      I'm scared ;(
    • by arthurpaliden (939626) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:29AM (#23358434)
      No, more like reacting to bad publicity. Sort of like what our elected officials do. Float a trial balloon and then act according to the poll results.
    • More like, trial balloon didn't blow over so well this time around.

      It'll be back. Don't you worry. Just not this year.
    • by Spacejock (727523)
      Yes, and good on them for listening. Of course, over time publishers will try and slip in more and more net-based checks, but it's great to see a huge amount of bad publicity can have an effect on their decisions.
    • by rob1980 (941751) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:49AM (#23358514)
      - Announce heavy-handed DRM
      - "Listen" to backlash from fans
      - Announce less heavy-handed DRM
      - Pat yourself on the back when the fans lavish praise on you, knowing you still got your foot in the door anyway

      Sudden outbreak of common sense, my foot!
      • by chrisb33 (964639) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @02:03AM (#23358776) Homepage
        I was thinking the same thing - could they really have been serious about the 10-day DRM? It wasn't as if people's reactions were unpredictable, so I find it hard to believe that they honestly thought people wouldn't complain. As you pointed out, this seems more like a conscious "Door-in-the-face" technique [wikipedia.org] than a legitimate retraction.
        • by Digital_Quartz (75366) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @05:37PM (#23364174) Homepage
          The 10-day thing is required. Here's where it comes from.

          BioShock released with an earlier version of this system; SecuROM with Product Activation. After outcry from people then, publisher 2K Games promised a "deactivation" tool (which isn't enough for me to rent their game, but I guess it was enough for some). The problem with this tool goes a little something like this:

          Step 1: Install BioShock
          Step 2: Activate BioShock. SecuROM server now thinks you have "n-1" activations left. Your game is activated, and BioShock will never phone home again.
          Step 3: Ghost/clone your hard drive image.
          Step 4: Deactivate BioShock. SecuROM server goes back up to "n" activations left. Your game is deactivated.
          Step 5: Restore your harddrive from the image you created in step 3. Now your game is activated again, but the server doesn't know that, and still thinks you have "n" activations left.

          This is obviously a bit of an onerous process to go through, but it isn't hard to imagine someone automating this process (or even just automating the important part; finding where the activation is stored on your drive, backing it up, and then restoring it after the deactivation process is finished updating the server).

          I strongly suspect the "phone home every 10 days" was an attempt to "fix" this. If 30 different machines are all phoning home every few days with the same key, then you know people are using this (or a similar technique) to pirate the game, so you can ban the key and kill all those installs. Without the phone home part, this activation scheme is essentially worthless.

          The CORRECT fix, of course, is to get rid of product activation, because it's stupid, invasive, and is pushing your formerly paying customers into circumventing your copy protection.
      • by gozu (541069)
        Indeed, it's sad how quickly some people lose sight of the big picture.

        DRM is bad. Less DRM is still bad. No DRM is the only good. Let companies know they should stop acting like greedy paranoid entities and make DRM a feature if you must (like WoW and xbox live so). Just make sure your game is worth playing and a good value and you'll be successful.

        Do the right thing. Good things happen.
  • Pictured? (Score:5, Funny)

    by WK2 (1072560) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:31PM (#23358140) Homepage
    > EA had planned to use the validation method for upcoming titles Mass Effect and Spore (pictured).

    Those games look a lot like a joystick.
  • Publicity (Score:5, Informative)

    by Emb3rz (1210286) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:32PM (#23358144) Homepage
    The original story on this garnered attention from quite a large crowd (even just in the scope of Slashdot). It would have been foolish on their part to plug ahead when, as was pointed out by a poster on the original thread, their customer service was already trained with what to tell people who didn't like the model: 'complain so that we don't make the same mistake with our next game release.'
  • Phew! (Score:5, Funny)

    by kaos07 (1113443) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:33PM (#23358148)
    I was worried I'd have to actually buy Spore.
    • Re:Phew! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Perseid (660451) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:42PM (#23358204)
      I don't know about everyone else, but protection like this makes me MUCH less likely to buy a game.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by alvinrod (889928)
        I'm not sure I undestand why you're less likely to buy it after the changes. There's no regularily set phone-home-and-authenticate functionality so after the intial install an online registration you never have to bother validating your copy of the game if you don't want to get new patches or play online (both of which require you to have an internet connection in order to accomplish.) so I fail to see what the fuss is about.

        I suppose it sucks if you don't have internet access (but then how are you posting
        • Re:Phew! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by statemachine (840641) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:32AM (#23358446)
          ...after the intial install an online registration you never have to bother validating your copy of the game if you don't want to get new patches or play online... they dropped the overly silly requirement of having the CD/DVD in the drive while playing the game

          Shelving the new requirement of needing a connection every few days, and then dumping the old requirement of occupying my DVD drive with a disk, is excellent news. Alcohol 120% will be out of business, but I'm glad I won't need them.

          This is a win for both sides. Company saves money on non-game related development and infrastructure; customers' frustration level drops.
        • by Perseid (660451)
          I meant the protection they were going to use before they changed their minds. Sorry for being confusing.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Alsee (515537)
          Either I've completely misunderstood you or I can't even comprehend what you're objections to the new scheme that they've developed are.

          I think you misunderstood him.
          He said "protection like this makes me MUCH less likely to buy a game", I believe "protection like" referred to the DRM malware itself. I believe his position is that the "new and improved" malware is absolutely no different than the the original malware that the company just got publicly spanked for.

          The one and only change announced here is no
    • Re:Phew! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Clockwork Apple (64497) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:43PM (#23358210) Homepage
      I was more worried I would have to boycott Spore. Checking in when I DL content is ok cause then I am connected, but if the game is going to stop working due to extended lack of access to a connection, well... fuck em.

    • Re:Phew! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kingrames (858416) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:55PM (#23358296)
      I was worried I'd have to pirate it.
  • The Horror (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nick_davison (217681) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:35PM (#23358168)

    Chief among the voices in opposition to this measure were members of the armed forces, who pointed out that they could not rely on having an internet connection every ten days.
    1914/18... Trenchfoot becomes rife due to lack of access to dry footwear/socks.

    1939/45... Troops freeze through the Battle of the Bulge, across Russia.

    2008... Access to certain videogames sometimes limited in certain situations for a few days until net access can be resecured.

    I know "Won't anybody think of the troops!" is second only to "Won't anybody think of the children!" and can thus never be questioned unless you're a terrorist as well as a paedophile.. but there comes a point where the rallying cry is used for such ludicrously trivial things that it just devalues everyone involved.
    • Re:The Horror (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:39PM (#23358182)
      Um, what? Nobody is comparing it to trench foot or freezing in the winter because you're stuck outdoors and people are shooting at you. However there is a large class of people who go without internet connections for long periods of time, and that class of people doesn't appreciate this kind of DRM scheme. It says nothing about other bad things they may experience.

      Your argument could be used to justify almost any bad treatment.

      "Sarge, this stew tastes like horse meat!"

      "Shut up and eat your stew, Private. Just be glad you don't have trench foot!"

      Or, what the hell, I guess I shouldn't ever complain about anything, because some of my ancestors had to live through famines.
      • Horse meat is great (Score:5, Informative)

        by patio11 (857072) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @06:34AM (#23359734)
        Don't knock it until you've tried it. Cooked it is really quite similar to a very lean cut of beef, but raw and with just a dash of soy sauce it is really, really good.

        Please don't all go PETA (OMG think of the ponies!) at once. They're dumber than pigs and pigs are delicious, too.
    • by Perseid (660451)
      Here's where your analogies fall down: What EA was planning to do was pure choice, a choice based on greed and the fact that EA hasn't actually cared about video games for many years.
    • How about? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ArchieBunker (132337) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:44PM (#23358220) Homepage
      You don't like their policies or practices then don't fucking buy it. Thats the loudest thing you can say.
      • Re:How about? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rasit (967850) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @03:58AM (#23359152)

        You don't like their policies or practices then don't fucking buy it.

        You need to start thinking like a Suit guy.

        Most of them seems to think they have a God given right to sell as many games as their marketing department projected, if they don't meet the projections then it s clearly due to Piracy and weak DRM.

        If we don't make sure to tell them why we are boycoting them then we will eventually end up with something like this [penny-arcade.com].

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 88NoSoup4U88 (721233)
        Well, apparently there seems to be some sort of middleground here too.

        Whereas I agree that boycotting a certain product can be a very good tactic, I also think that if it's possible (with minimal effort) to let the producer know beforehand that you have problems with some aspects of their product, it can accomplish the same thing where you still get to play their product, and them realising that this time, they took it a bit too far.

        I'd pretty much call that a win-win situation.

        I was btw in the camp
      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by TheLink (130905)
        Why not complain beforehand so that they change their minds? Then you can buy it instead of not buying it because of some stupid DRM?

        After all it actually seems to have worked in this case.

        Your suggested approach has the following disadvantages:
        1) Buyer and Seller lose out
        2) Higher latency/lag in the feedback loop.
      • If you don't buy it, then all they know is that their sales are low. If you don't buy it and tell them it's because of the DRM then they know that their sales are low and they know why their sales are low. If a lot of you don't buy it and publicly tell them you didn't buy it then their shareholders know why their sales are low and will hold the board accountable and they, in turn, will hold whoever put the DRM in there accountable.

        In theory, at least.

    • Uhhhhh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:51PM (#23358264)
      I think that the real reason is because military personnel are non-trivial consumers of entertainment products. When you have a bunch of young people, with a good deal of free money on their hands (if you are deployed in a combat zone you get more pay, and generally have few expenses since everything is handled), and a situation that sucks, well that's a good target for entertainment goods. I know when one of my ex roommates graduated and was getting ready to go off he got a nice laptop and plenty of games and movies. The guys who do Red vs Blue said Iraq was one of the top countries ordering their DVDs. Wasn't Iraqis ordering, it was troops.

      Thus it would be dumb for EA to shut out a large market. Especially since both of these games have strong single player components, and thus are of interest when you aren't going to have net access.

      It isn't being used as a rallying cry, it is that the soldiers were honestly concerned they wouldn't be able to get their game on.
      • by XorNand (517466) *
        combat pay == "good deal of free money?" Weird... I can relate. I play with computers all day and mysteriously some company keeps depositing a lot of free money into my back account twice a month.
        • Free as in "Money which can be spent on whatever one wishes."

          This isn't hard, and if you are an OSS advocate as you seem to be you ought to know the word has more than one definition.

          When you are living in a crap tent that the military provides for you, eating crap food that the military provides for you, and doing the jobs the military tells you to in their equipment, you discover that your living, dining, and transport expenses are rather low. Thus the money that they pay you is free to be used for pretty
    • by db32 (862117)
      The depressing thing is that for all of the "Think of the troops" that has gotten waved around this is about the only time it actually worked. The Bush administration has managed to start a 2 front war while saber rattling about a 3rd, DRASTICALLY cut funding to an already suffering VA system, hack and slash on housing through the privitization crap and lowered BAH rates, ever increasing deployment lengths, and then to top it all off Congress coming out and saying that rather military wages are comparible
  • by raving griff (1157645) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:39PM (#23358184)
    EA now says that validation will now only occur when a user attempts to download new content for either game. Spore is built on downloadable content. Throughout the game, the creatures you encounter, the worlds you visit, the buildings you see--they are all player-created objects and will all be downloaded in the background while the game is running. Spore is a game that only works well with downloadable content, and if I have to enter a validation code every time the game decides to download a creature or a planet, I'm not sure the promising gameplay will be worth the hassle.
    • by MBGMorden (803437) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:06AM (#23358336)
      Except that by definition, if you're downloading new content, you have an active net connection. The 10 day thing was arbitrary. A user might be without net connection at that time, at which point they wouldn't be accessing such content but would still be barred from playing the single player game.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by alvinrod (889928)
      My understanding from my following of the game since it was first announced is that due to the way in which the various creatures that inhabit a universe are defined, it's possible to download thousands of them with relatively little effort. I forget which conference or event it was at, but Will Wright explained that due the fact that everything in the game is proceedurally generated, it is possible to express a creature design not in terms of graphics skins and other large files, but as something very simi
    • by Taelron (1046946)
      I was thinking the same Damn thing and checking the forum first to see if anyone else said it...

      So now instead of evey 10 days looking to verify you, its going to check anytime you need some new tidbit of data... Which could be multiple times a day...
    • by Utoxin (26011)

      Spore is a game that only works well with downloadable content, and if I have to enter a validation code every time the game decides to download a creature or a planet, I'm not sure the promising gameplay will be worth the hassle.
      Who said anything about entering a validation code? All it does is take the serial number and machine ID that it generated and both of which are stored internally, and phone home, to make sure that the central server still says they're okay.
  • by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:40PM (#23358190)
    DRM has no right to exist, and anyone who implements it should be severely punished. DRM should be resisted by any and all means necessary. We deserve a DRM free future, but we will have to fight for it. Do everything you can to end DRM today.
    • by alvinrod (889928) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:32AM (#23358452)
      I don't want to come of as pro-DRM, but I have a simple question for you?

      Do you plan to purchase or play this game?

      Considering that it's a heavily anticipated game and generally recognized as being one of the more creative and innovative titles to come in in a while, it's probably reasonable for me to expect that you want to play Spore. Your stated hate for DRM leads me to believe that you couldn't bring yourself to actually pay for any product that comes with any type of DRM. Assuming that you both want to play this game and don't want to deal with the DRM, would you pirate it?

      If so, you're contributing to the reason why these companies think they need to have DRM. I can understand why people will pirate things when cost is a factor since I did it myself once upon a time, but if you pirate this game simply to spite the paid version which has DRM you're probably not doing the cause any help.

      I appologize in advance for potentially mislabeling you or constructing a situation involving you from so little information, but I have a feeling that there are a few people who will pirate the game just because they dislike the notion of DRM despite the fact that they're going to play the hell out of it and had the money to easily purchase it.
      • I would buy this game even if it were closed source. I'm not RMS. But the DRM is where I draw the line. I am a Linux user yes, but I have closed source software on my Linux boxes including Windows programs that run under Wine. But those programs don't have DRM.
      • by sweatyboatman (457800) <sweatyboatman AT hotmail DOT com> on Saturday May 10, 2008 @01:53AM (#23358732) Homepage Journal

        Assuming that you both want to play this game and don't want to deal with the DRM, would you pirate it?
        The DRM is meant to prevent people from pirating the game, but he's going to pirate the game to avoid the DRM, which justifies EA's use of DRM, even though without the DRM he would buy the game.

        Actually, you know, that's probably exactly how the execs over at EA think.
      • by totally bogus dude (1040246) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @02:14AM (#23358822)

        Honestly, I think you have it a bit backwards. This might be how The Industry thinks, but the lessening of DRM suggests that they've actually realised it's not quite so simple as that.

        You state it yourself: Assuming that you both want to play this game and don't want to deal with the DRM, would you pirate it?

        The answer to that is clearly "yes", which means "I would have bought if it weren't for the DRM". Publishers are realising that not only do most copy protection schemes not hugely inconvenience pirates, but it actively inconveniences your paying customers.

        if you pirate this game simply to spite the paid version which has DRM you're probably not doing the cause any help.

        If you buy it regardless of the DRM, what incentive does that give the publishers to stop using it?

        I think it's more accurate to say that this is the ONLY thing* you can do to help, but it only helps if you make sure they know that they are losing sales specifically because of the DRM measures. Mentioning it on forums is a good and semi-anonymous way to get the point across. If they're reading "yeah I love the game, the copy protection is annoying but it's worth the hassle" then they'll get the message that ... their paying customers think it's worth the hassle, and they'll keep using it so long as they think it helps reduce piracy*. If they're constantly reading "I would've bought it, but the protection was too invasive" then their attitude toward it will change.

        What it comes down to is that they make a list of pros and cons for and against their protection schemes. In the pros list, they have "might reduce piracy, for a little while". In the cons list they have "increases development and support costs, inconveniences users".

        So, make sure they add "reduces sales" to the cons list, and it starts looking like a very poor return on investment.

        * - since nobody knows how many people have pirated a game, not buying it is effectively the same as pirating it. The fact that any piracy figures are (by necessity) made up means that it gets the blame any time sales are lower than hoped.

        • If you buy it regardless of the DRM, what incentive does that give the publishers to stop using it?

          You've now become a customer. While it is, indeed, true that these companies do anything but listen to paying customers, there's certainly more incentive for them to listen to your suggestions rather than the suggestions of a pirate.

          I personally don't like DRM in the way that it exists today. In most circumstances it's too restrictive. However, I'm all for protecting intellectual property with it if used

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          That's a strange justification for theft:

          I think it's more accurate to say that this is the ONLY thing* you can do to help

          Have you ever thought of... just NOT playing the game. As in, at all? I understand I'll probably be modded troll because I'm talking crazy talk, but seriously. If there is something that you don't like, you could always:
          * Complain to the company. (Obviously, in this case it worked! Shock!)
          * Boycott it. Don't buy it. Don't play it. Don't buy their other games, even used. Even if corporate won't listen to you, they will listen to retailers. Find other creative

          • Have you ever thought of... just NOT playing the game. As in, at all?

            Sure, and sometimes I don't. But tell me: what difference does it make to the publisher/developer of the game if I choose to never ever play it, rather than to pirate it? The obvious answer is nothing, as they don't make a sale to me either way. That's not entirely accurate though, as a person who plays the game will at least be more aware of the company and their previous products. They might even find themselves pleasantly surprised by the quality of the game, as I was with Portal, and decide to buy it.

          • by Alsee (515537)
            Complain to the company. (Obviously, in this case it worked! Shock!)

            No, it didn't.

            One day a company announces they plan to put lead and mercury in the milk they sell.
            The next day the company announces that they will only put lead in their milk.

            And I supposed to feel grateful?

            Hell no, I'm just as pissed off as I was yesterday.

            Either I'm going to skip the milk entirely, or I'll get the milk from the Good Samaritan who volunteers to do the work filtering the lead out himself. And if that Good Samaritan then o
      • by aztektum (170569)
        To paraphrase my quote on the Mass Effect forum:

        If you stick with this DRM scheme, I will only buy your game when I CANNOT find a hacked/cracked copy for download on the Internet (which I also promised I would not download :)).

        This is better, or at least good enough for me to buy a copy now (which is cool I really wanted to play but have no plan to buy a 360 right now). So yea, I at least plan to buy it and follow through.
      • by Chemisor (97276)
        > Your stated hate for DRM leads me to believe that you couldn't bring yourself to actually
        > pay for any product that comes with any type of DRM. Assuming that you both want to play
        > this game and don't want to deal with the DRM, would you pirate it?

        Actually, I do both. I preordered Bioshock and got to play it on the release date, which was fun. I also cracked it as soon as the crack was available, because I don't want the CD in the drive. It will be the same with Spore. I have it on preorder right
      • by Alsee (515537)
        If so, you're contributing to the reason why these companies think they need to have DRM.

        With enough people publicly talking about it, maybe.... just maybe.... they will start to get the clue applying DRM schemes will block some non-trivial number of people from pirating the game (who then may or may not buy it instead) AND it will run off some paying customers AND it will ALSO convert a non-trivial number of paying customers into pirates.

        -
    • Ok, since you're taking it upon yourself to arbitrarily declare "rights," and you clearly want to control people's actions in this way (morality police!), I have a question: you say DRM has no right to exist. What about CD checks? License keys? etc? because it seems that you're complaining about all of those things?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dreamchaser (49529)
      I understand your sentiment, but then again a company has a right to do whatever they want with regards to DRM, just as I have every right to choose not to purchase any of their products if they do.
  • Life goes on (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alvinrod (889928) on Friday May 09, 2008 @11:42PM (#23358206)
    There probably isn't a lot of love for EA around here (or many parts of the internet in general) but you do have to admit that they responded fairly well to the situation. From what I've read the approach that they're planning to take now is actually pretty good, if not better than what most of us are probably used to dealing with. The fact that I don't need to have the CD in the drive while playing the game [kotaku.com] is a nice touch, especially for anyone who likes to switch between games frequently.

    The only thing that you could really complain about is the necessity of an internet connection to validate on install. The only other time it bothers to validate is if you're downloading an update or using some other online feature which means you're already connected to the internet.

    As someone who was a little put off by the overly encumbering DRM that was originally planned to be included, I'd like to tip my hat to EA for listening to their customers and making a wise decision.
    • The only thing that you could really complain about is the necessity of an internet connection to validate on install.
      As with any complicated software system (especially one acting over the internet), there's a lot that can go wrong. If it doesn't work for any reason, they'll have spent a lot of money turning happy customers into angry returners.

      A wise decision would be to forgo the DRM altogether, and apply the savings to reducing the retail price of the games. I guarantee that will have a far greater effect on sales than any DRM scheme ever would.
    • by arkhan_jg (618674)
      The thing I object to most of the installation restrictions as stands at the moment is a lifetime install limit. On mass effect, this is 3 installs before you have to make an expensive phone call to EA tech support to plead on a 'case-by-case basis' to be allowed to install your game for a 4th time. Yes, uninstalling and reinstalling into the same copy of windows on the same pc will be 'free' but upgrade the hardware or reinstall windows, and it's another activation gone forever.

      Far, far too low. I'm not go
  • Piracy (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Armed pirates are always more effective
  • by Aphoxema (1088507) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:09AM (#23358352) Homepage Journal
    In a drunk fit last night I actually sent a rant to them about it, I don't remember what I said exactly but I pointed out that DRM has actually driven me to download games instead of pay for them and if I couldn't expect to defeat the copy protection bullshit then I just wouldn't play the game.

    Nothing no one's thought or said before, but I'm sure if enough gaming curmudgeons drank enough smirnoff ice at the same time while listening to EBM then there would surely be a rival to the mass mailing botnets that don't actually have anything useful to tell anyone.

    It's freaking hot in here and Qwerty pisses me off. I'm going to drink some vinegar and go to bed.
  • One time I suffered from loose spore. There was a mass effect then too. Not a pretty sight.
  • by Mark McGann (570684) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @12:51AM (#23358526)
    One of the things about being god awful bad at something is you can improve a lot and still stink.

    The DRM still only allows three total installs for the lifetime of the game (although you can call EA tech support and ask for more, no guarantee though). I have many games that have existed on more than three of my personal computers. Just glancing at my shelf I see 1830, Star Fleet Command, Transport Tycoon, Starcraft, Rome Total War and the list goes on. I don't want to have to beg tech support every time I upgrade my game machine, many of these companies don't even exist anymore.

    The fact of the matter is that DRM that limits the total number of times you can install the game is unacceptable. They may have fixed other problems with the DRM, but this issue remains.
    • by IKnwThePiecesFt (693955) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @02:19AM (#23358844) Homepage
      I think a good compromise for this would be if they limited installs within a given period of time. Like three within a month. That would massively curb a cd key being shared online in a large pirate ring but would effect very few customers.
      • by Mascot (120795) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @06:23AM (#23359710)
        Until they turn off the activation server. And eventually, they will.

        This has bitten consumers in the ass when it comes to music, don't let it get a foothold in gaming.
      • by mgiuca (1040724)
        Yeah, that would make sense. (Again, NO DRM AT ALL would make the most sense, but that is a fairer compromise).

        Is the 3-installs thing just for Mass Effect or Spore as well? If I am limited to 3 installs then I'm pretty sure I won't buy it. Limited installs is one of the most serious defects in a product. Far far worse than phoning home every 10 days.
    • by Mascot (120795)
      Indeed. I was unlucky enough to not realize Bioshock did this sort of thing until past release date, or I would've cancelled my preorder.

      Getting rid of the 10 day idiocy was pretty much a given. But the deal breaker is still in place for me. Hardware lock-in.

      At least this time I know about it in advance and can indeed vote with my wallet.
    • If downloadable content is such a big part of the game, why do they need install activation anyway? Treat it like a MMOG - create an account, use the account key that comes with game, ban accounts that get shared.

      Pirates are going to crack the install activation eventually, but an account system is completely under their control, and it's far less onerous (people create accounts for trivial things on teh Intarweb all the time).

    • by malkavian (9512)
      Out of interest, I wonder where they place that information.
      If it's on the box in big bright letters, then I'm simply not buying.
      If it's inside the box (or on an EULA click through), then things get more interesting.
      I'd be likely to buy it if on EULA (using credit card, for insurance purposes), then return it to the store as not fit for purpose. I know most stores don't allow returns, but with the weight of a credit card company behind you, things get more interesting.
      Personally, I'd relish the fight on so
  • MIA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Whiteox (919863) <htcstech.gmail@com> on Saturday May 10, 2008 @01:14AM (#23358590) Journal
    I know I'm missing something here. Whatever brain cells I have left aren't firing properly, BUT:
    WTF are US troops playing video games on? Laptops?
    Pay a few $ at an Iraqi internet cafe?
    Also, what kind of minimal system requirement do these new EA games need to run and can military issue hardware cope with it all? Are they running XP or Vista or their own custom OS?
    The reason for why EA is doing this as reported seems to be a con. Just doesn't make sense

    Chief among the voices in opposition to this measure were members of the armed forces
    ???
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Yes, laptops. And it's not military issue hardware. Soldiers are allowed personal possessions. A lot of soldiers these days choose to bring their own computer to give them some entertainment in their off hours. In this respect they're little different than you or I, except that their housing is provided by their employer and often doesn't come with net access, or with extremely limited access.
  • Who in the DOD with a few stars on his shoulder called up EA and said

    "I like this game very much and I'd really hate it if a B-52 was to accidently drop "training ordnance" [noquarterusa.net] whilst over your HQ because I was angsting over a save lost because the game failed to contact the mothership after some terrorists took out a sat-dish."
  • The fact that because of outside pressure EA has changed their mind about constantly invading users' computers means nothing. You can count on a company that has this mindset to do whatever it thinks it can get away with to maximize its profits. Considerations like common decency or respect for the customer just aren't part of its world view.

    I'm not advocating a boycott or anything, but I would strongly suggest that a common sense approach to any dealings you have with EA is to treat them as you would

  • Now can there be some way to get the armed forces to deal with some of EA's slave-labor policies?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by night_flyer (453866)
      At least the "slaves" at EA have a choice as to whether they work there or not... Im more concerned about the real slaves, and children building all the gizmos and other crap we get from China...
  • Just an illusion (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dupont54 (857462) on Saturday May 10, 2008 @01:31PM (#23362048)
    This "loosening" is just to make people accept, even praised, "online activation/harware tying", which is in my mind the worst kind of DRM for purchased content (though it is a perfect fit for renting).
    By accepting this DRM, you agree to have you ability to play a single player offline game controlled by an online server. There is no such thing as a one time only activation, as each time the system detect your computer has changed (which can be triggered by simply using a different windows account with crappy DRM), it will ask for activation again, eating your previous activation credit.
    Nothing guarantee the auth server will be there when you want to play. Even if it is there, nothing guarantee it will give you the right to play because of some "normal usage" rules implemented on it (and which can change over time). And don't expect too much competence and generosity from a consumer service, especially a few months after launch.
    The software, music and video industries are full of horror histories about activation servers going down or being simply dumb and rigid.

Never trust an operating system.

Working...