As the new comic shows, EA has decided to publish all their upcoming titles with a new, more restrictive DRM than the standard SecuROM fare. This includes titles such as Spore and Mass Effect PC.
Here's what we know about the new SecuROM DRM:
- Your CD-key is checked against an authentication server.
- It requires the user to have an internet connection every 10 days or it locks you out of your game.
- It performs this check automatically, in the background, once at five days, once at ten.
- You are limited to 3 activations before you have to call EA tech support.
- An "activation" is used every time you run the game .exe with a new hardware configuration.
- We are not entirely sure if an activation is used with a reformat or small hardware installs. According to a Bioware employee, a video card swap did not use one up for him, but other cards/pieces of hardware may require it.
- We are still unaware if there is a way to renew an activation through an uninstall.
- Bioware has stated that should anything ever happen to the activation servers, they would patch the activation process out of their games.
Some common arguments in favor of this DRM scheme include:
- It will help stop piracy, at least zero-day piracy, by requiring an auth check.
- Most PC users already have an internet connection, and since the check runs in the background, it's not a big deal.
- In helping to reduce piracy, hopefully it might have a positive effect on the flagging sales of PC gaming.
Some common arguments against this DRM scheme include:
- Requiring an internet connection for singleplayer content is silly.
- Plenty of gamers re-format or buy new hardware often enough that 3 activations isn't good enough.
- Restrictive DRMs like this actually hurt the sales of a game, through treating customers like pirates and further narrowing the demographic of people who can play the game. For an example, people in armed service often go very long periods of time without internet connections, and therefore would not be able to play any game using this DRM scheme.
- Games without DRM schemes this restrictive still do quite well commercially. For example, Sins of a Solar Empire.
- DRM schemes like this make the pirated version of your game an even more desirable version of your product.
- EA's support is less-than-stellar, and it will likely not be as easy as calling an automated phone number and getting new activations.
- SecuROM has a history of slowing down games and not working very well. The technicalities of this DRM may cause issues that wouldn't become clear until it's installed.
- Added hassle to the consumer without any real benefit. Steam is an example of an online authentication system that adds tons of features for customers.
I'll update this OP as I get more time at work today. For now, discuss whether or not you think this will help or hurt the sales of PC gaming.
Bioware has decided to drop the 10-day auth check from this system under pressure from customer feedback, and EA has decided to drop it from Spore, as well. For some details, go:http://kotaku.com/5008452/bioware-backs-down-from-draconian-mass-effect-authentication