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On Mass Effect & Spore Copy Protection

There's a massive thread on the Mass Effect Community Forums about the SecuROM copy-protection scheme planned for Mass Effect, BioWare's upcoming RPG (thanks Wolfox). The game will not need the disk in the drive to play, but will require an internet connection for installation to validate the CD (DVD) key and will need to go online once every ten days in perpetuity for revalidation. BioWare attempts to address all the questions this raises, at one point replying that this will be the same system used in Spore when the evolutionary game is released: "Yes, EA is ready for us and getting ready for Spore, which will use the same system." This thread continues the discussion after the first one was locked for length. Here's the deal:

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.

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283. Re: @Jerykk May 8, 2008, 21:26 Tigger
So stick that in your fucking pipe and smoke it. Dickheads like you are what ruin PC gaming, not pirates. Fuck off.

First, I'm sorry that you feel that way. I don't think you really need to write such filth, but if you feel like thats the best way to express yourself, then OK.

Second, I don't develop games, I develop business software. If YOUR job, house, car payment, health insurance depended on whether people buy your software, you might feel differently. I suspect that most of the people that work in software development understand the position EA has taken, even if they don't agree with it.

Third, the writing is on the wall. 'People like me' aren't killing PC gaming, low sales is killing PC sales. What I haven't seen is any really good *supported* analysis that shows that customer dissatisfaction is the reason why PC gaming isn't doing quite as well as it used to do.

Fourth, all of this said, I wish there was a better solution and I wish people were honest. The sad reality is that quite a few people posting in this thread HAVE stolen software (including myself). I know this makes me a hypocrite, but working in the industry has changed my view on it - so I went from an attitude like yours to an understanding of why software companies do this. Are all people thieves, certainly not. What you are seeing here with EA's decision to force activation in this way is a company first and foremost,to make money and secondly, try to prevent the dishonest people from stealing from them. This ruins the fun for everyone else - but thats the way it is. Maybe if more people bought software way back in the beginning, we wouldn't be where we are today.

Last, at the end, fighting piracy is not a winnable battle. Even when a company owns the platform (Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo), there are always loopholes to be exploited. I had a good teacher in college a number of years ago who said something to the effect of "If it was designed by a human, a human will eventually figure out how to crack it."

Vic Fontaine for President
Edit: Spelling and grammer
This comment was edited on May 8, 23:20.
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Vic Fontaine for President
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