Giant Bomb News

4 Comments

Mass Effect? More Like Mass ACTIVATION Effect, Am I Right?

EA and BioWare are cooking up some pretty unsavory copy protection for the PC release of Mass Effect.

Some portions of the Internet are ablaze today, as the news of how the protection schemes used to stop people from bootlegging Mass Effect and Spore on the PC will work has come out. Most of the reporting sites are tracing the news back to Derek French, a technical producer at BioWare, who posted the info on EA's plans to use SecuROM in both releases.


"Mass Effect uses SecuROM and requires an online activation for the first time that you play it. Each copy of Mass Effect comes with a CD Key which is used for this activation and for registration here at the BioWare Community. Mass Effect does not require the DVD to be in the drive in order to play, it is only for installation.

After the first activation, SecuROM requires that it re-check with the server within ten days (in case the CD Key has become public/warez'd and gets banned). Just so that the 10 day thing doesn't become abrupt, SecuROM tries its first re-check with 5 days remaining in the 10 day window. If it can't contact the server before the 10 days are up, nothing bad happens and the game still runs. After 10 days a re-check is required before the game can run."

So not only will you need to be online to activate your copy of the game, you'll also have be online at least once every ten days to prevent your copy from deactivating. Now, I'm sure most of you out there planning to play either game will probably be doing it on machines that are always connected to to the internet, so it's probably not going to be a hassle for most players. But that doesn't exactly make it right, either.

Personally, I'd feel a lot better about protection plans like this if they actually worked. But these days, that stuff doesn't even seem to slow down the cadre of shady dudes looking to crack software and set it free for the bootleggin' masses. So the pirates still win, and all we're left with is a protection scheme that annoys legitimate users. Well... at least they aren't using Starforce, right?

So I put it to you, the people out there actually playing PC games in 2008. You're always complaining when consoles get games first, or bitching about how PC games are getting dumbed down for "the console kids." But can you really blame developers for turning to consoles, when putting out a PC version isn't much different from just releasing your game for free, and your effort to protect your investments with a protection scheme is met with forum posts about how dudes are going to boycott your game?

What would you do to reverse this? How much over-your-shoulder spying are you willing to put up with to stop pirates from torrenting the market for single-player PC games out of existence?

My solution: Everyone who purchases the game must submit a photo containing the person who purchased the game, one photo ID for said person, the receipt for the game, and a newspaper with today's date on it. Every five days. Oh, wait, that's right, I wanted you to try to make this easier. Never mind.
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
4 Comments
Posted by Jeff
Some portions of the Internet are ablaze today, as the news of how the protection schemes used to stop people from bootlegging Mass Effect and Spore on the PC will work has come out. Most of the reporting sites are tracing the news back to Derek French, a technical producer at BioWare, who posted the info on EA's plans to use SecuROM in both releases.


"Mass Effect uses SecuROM and requires an online activation for the first time that you play it. Each copy of Mass Effect comes with a CD Key which is used for this activation and for registration here at the BioWare Community. Mass Effect does not require the DVD to be in the drive in order to play, it is only for installation.

After the first activation, SecuROM requires that it re-check with the server within ten days (in case the CD Key has become public/warez'd and gets banned). Just so that the 10 day thing doesn't become abrupt, SecuROM tries its first re-check with 5 days remaining in the 10 day window. If it can't contact the server before the 10 days are up, nothing bad happens and the game still runs. After 10 days a re-check is required before the game can run."

So not only will you need to be online to activate your copy of the game, you'll also have be online at least once every ten days to prevent your copy from deactivating. Now, I'm sure most of you out there planning to play either game will probably be doing it on machines that are always connected to to the internet, so it's probably not going to be a hassle for most players. But that doesn't exactly make it right, either.

Personally, I'd feel a lot better about protection plans like this if they actually worked. But these days, that stuff doesn't even seem to slow down the cadre of shady dudes looking to crack software and set it free for the bootleggin' masses. So the pirates still win, and all we're left with is a protection scheme that annoys legitimate users. Well... at least they aren't using Starforce, right?

So I put it to you, the people out there actually playing PC games in 2008. You're always complaining when consoles get games first, or bitching about how PC games are getting dumbed down for "the console kids." But can you really blame developers for turning to consoles, when putting out a PC version isn't much different from just releasing your game for free, and your effort to protect your investments with a protection scheme is met with forum posts about how dudes are going to boycott your game?

What would you do to reverse this? How much over-your-shoulder spying are you willing to put up with to stop pirates from torrenting the market for single-player PC games out of existence?

My solution: Everyone who purchases the game must submit a photo containing the person who purchased the game, one photo ID for said person, the receipt for the game, and a newspaper with today's date on it. Every five days. Oh, wait, that's right, I wanted you to try to make this easier. Never mind.
Staff
Posted by xruntime

Releasing your game for free would mean you don't get any profit from it - many games are successful, so I think that remark was a bad analogy. Profits are affected by pirating, but as you said, its going to get cracked either way, so they might as well forget about these protection schemes.

"the people out there actually playing PC games in 2008" <- You say this as if there is no one who does...you're a console guy, aren't you? Your post really sounds like your intent was to knock the PC platform.

Most people don't really care about these pirates because they know the market still exists and they'll still get games. Some do care but are pretty much helpless.

But piracy has been happening for years...it hasn't particularly gotten worse in recent years. PC gaming will survive, maybe even thrive, as will piracy.

Posted by Luffer

I gave up on PC gaming partly due to the anti-piracy measures being employed by games companies. The amount of hassle legitimate users were given while pirates had an easy ride really annoyed me. The only ones being punished for the illegal users were the ones actually paying for the product! It is all so wrong, nothing will stop the pirates, someone will hack the code and make it work - probably before the game is even released. If I were still a PC gamer I would be very tempted to download this game due to the restrictive requirements, I sure games companies lose far more users this way than they think.

I am now a console gamer so have already enjoyed Mass Effect without any problems and weeks before PC gamers even get a chance.

Posted by Bennyishere

I'm not much of a PC gamer, but I am familiar enough with it to know that these methods only slows the pirating and paying users down. This SecuROM, albeit cleverly named, doesn't seem to do anything that can't be bypassed using common piracy methods. Also, with the game's popularity on the console, I'm sure pirates will be competing to crack this first.