New SecuROM DRM on all upcoming EA titles.

Whiniest Man On EarthWhiniest Man On Earth Registered User
edited May 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
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.

NEWS UPDATES:

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 here
http://kotaku.com/5008454/spore-removes-10+day-reauthentication and here.

Whiniest Man On Earth on
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Posts

  • MedopineMedopine __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2008
    I have a feeling this will backfire.

    Your sig is a joke right?

    Medopine on
  • deadonthestreetdeadonthestreet Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    So it's basically Steam?

    deadonthestreet on
  • Whiniest Man On EarthWhiniest Man On Earth Registered User
    edited May 2008
    So it's basically Steam?

    Except for missing the demo releases, the friends lists, the centralized server listings... yeah, totally just like Steam. Oh, and the offline mode. The way that you can play the games that you've legally purchased without an internet connection.

    EDIT: The point being that Steam adds a ton of features for having an internet connection and has in-system ways to play the games without that internet connection. It's a DRM scheme that requires an internet connection but gives tangible benefits to paying customers.

    And yes, my sig is a joke.

    Whiniest Man On Earth on
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    We've all been through this rigamarole before, and the only option we really have, other than complaining about it on an internet forum, is to just not buy those games. It sucks, I know, but economic boycotts can work if everybody does it. What I think will most likely happen is that people will whine until release, buy the game, continue whining but yet still play the game they want.

    DoctorArch on
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  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    My position is that no protection is going to offset the cost of pissing off your legitimate users. Because seriously, if the pirated version is actually easier to use then you're doing something wrong. An example is Relic's service. Last night I wanted to try out Opposing Fronts on my newly reformatted computer. Oh wait, though! I fucking can't because I need 4-5 patches to "play online".

    Dammit, EA's making some nice stuff, too.

    durandal4532 on
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  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    defrag wrote: »

    And yes, my sig is a joke.

    Careful, she's going to be a lawyer. Maybe you'll get served. :winky:

    DoctorArch on
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  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2008
    I've already decided against buying EA games. Their support for PC titles is shit.

    Doc on
  • BubbaTBubbaT Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    defrag wrote: »
    It's a DRM scheme that requires an internet connection but gives tangible benefits to paying customers.

    Such as?

    This pretty much rules out those games being purchased for me. I travel, and play games on the plane/train. The idea that the games are going to stop running if I don't find a hotspot every 10 days makes them fairly unuseable for me.

    BubbaT on
  • Whiniest Man On EarthWhiniest Man On Earth Registered User
    edited May 2008
    Archgarth wrote: »
    We've all been through this rigamarole before, and the only option we really have, other than complaining about it on an internet forum, is to just not buy those games. It sucks, I know, but economic boycotts can work if everybody does it. What I think will most likely happen is that people will whine until release, buy the game, continue whining but yet still play the game they want.

    See, just not buying the game doesn't really work. If you don't buy it without complaining, usually via the internet, as it is the easiest way to get access to both the companies and their demographic, EA won't have any idea why you're not buying it. It's not like they look at their sales vs. projected and invent reasons on their own. The thread on the Bioware forums is immense, and it makes a lot of good sense for people to clearly state to them why they won't be buying it.

    Whiniest Man On Earth on
  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Archgarth wrote: »
    defrag wrote: »

    And yes, my sig is a joke.

    Careful, she's going to be a lawyer. Maybe you'll get served. :winky:

    Like the coming-of-age faux reality dance film or legally?

    Drez on
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  • kildykildy Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    This will backfire mainly if SecuROM has as many issues as it's prior incarnations (and StarForce is so much worse) on a technical "fucks with your machine" level.

    If it's passive and you barely notice it, combined with solid tech support. Whatever.

    It murders the resale market though, I could see EB and Gamestop barely stocking EA titles beyond preorders as a protest.

    kildy on
  • Whiniest Man On EarthWhiniest Man On Earth Registered User
    edited May 2008
    BubbaT wrote: »
    defrag wrote: »
    It's a DRM scheme that requires an internet connection but gives tangible benefits to paying customers.

    Such as?

    This pretty much rules out those games being purchased for me. I travel, and play games on the plane/train. The idea that the games are going to stop running if I don't find a hotspot every 10 days makes them fairly unuseable for me.

    Such as all of the ones I listed right before the quote you snipped?

    Whiniest Man On Earth on
  • CabezoneCabezone Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I was going to be purchasing those games at release, now I will wait for a crack before doing so. Hopefully the crack is out before the games.

    As for the steam issue. I see steam as more of a digital distribution system. If you buy a hard copy of their game you are not forced to use steam. You can also re download your game for as long as Valve remains in business. If you buy a game at the digital EA store you have to pay 5 bucks extra for the privilege of being able to redownload your game for a whopping two more years. This is because EA uses Digital River....they're basically the EA of the digital distribution world, so it's fitting that they're working together.

    Cabezone on
  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    BubbaT wrote: »
    defrag wrote: »
    It's a DRM scheme that requires an internet connection but gives tangible benefits to paying customers.

    Such as?

    This pretty much rules out those games being purchased for me. I travel, and play games on the plane/train. The idea that the games are going to stop running if I don't find a hotspot every 10 days makes them fairly unuseable for me.

    Something like Steam meets you halfway with that, they require online authentication, but only once. After that, you can just say "I'm offline" and they say "oh okay no prob". The idea of a service that checks constantly is maddening.

    durandal4532 on
    Take a moment to donate what you can to Critical Resistance and Black Lives Matter.
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    defrag wrote: »
    Archgarth wrote: »
    We've all been through this rigamarole before, and the only option we really have, other than complaining about it on an internet forum, is to just not buy those games. It sucks, I know, but economic boycotts can work if everybody does it. What I think will most likely happen is that people will whine until release, buy the game, continue whining but yet still play the game they want.

    See, just not buying the game doesn't really work. If you don't buy it without complaining, usually via the internet, as it is the easiest way to get access to both the companies and their demographic, EA won't have any idea why you're not buying it. It's not like they look at their sales vs. projected and invent reasons on their own. The thread on the Bioware forums is immense, and it makes a lot of good sense for people to clearly state to them why they won't be buying it.

    I just think the majority of gamers lack the will to not buy the game. It's one thing to state an intent now, it's another thing to translate that into willfully withholding your purchase. Here on a gaming webforum, yes, we are more likely to not purchase a game based on this criteria because it obviously matters more to us, but that hardcore market is shrinking and I don't know if we're statistically relevant to their sales. Perhaps more so on the PC side than the console side, but I don't know what the impact would be unless more people boycott.

    DoctorArch on
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  • kildykildy Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Steam gets away with it because it adds value that goes past the mental irritation of the auth service.

    Ingame steam friends list? Check.
    Shopping/Downloading via the service? Check.

    Downside: patches can take a while for steam versions of a game.

    Mostly I'm just concerned about performance. SecuROM used to make games unGodly slow. As in running the no-cd warez patch was advised by the developer's tech support forums.

    kildy on
  • Whiniest Man On EarthWhiniest Man On Earth Registered User
    edited May 2008
    BubbaT wrote: »
    defrag wrote: »
    It's a DRM scheme that requires an internet connection but gives tangible benefits to paying customers.

    Such as?

    This pretty much rules out those games being purchased for me. I travel, and play games on the plane/train. The idea that the games are going to stop running if I don't find a hotspot every 10 days makes them fairly unuseable for me.

    Something like Steam meets you halfway with that, they require online authentication, but only once. After that, you can just say "I'm offline" and they say "oh okay no prob". The idea of a service that checks constantly is maddening.

    And not only that, Steam adds a fuckton of features that make their games better through their servers.

    Whiniest Man On Earth on
  • TelMarineTelMarine Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    this scheme is just so worthless, didn't they learn from other people's mistakes from all that BioShock backlash? And that scheme didn't deter pirates at all, I mean snippet from one of the countless torrents for that game: "This is Bioshock 1.1 no Internet needed to install, no activation required, already patched." This stuff does not deter pirates in the slightest. You should not have to contact their support lines to play a game or be online to play a single player game. It just boggles the mind that they think people will keep accepting this.

    I thought the blacklisting stuff was getting bad (X game wouldn't run because you had CloneCD or equivalent installed), but this is getting wrose imo.

    TelMarine on
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  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2008
    It must be really frustrating to the developers to see their hard work get less success because the publisher pins on horrible DRM schemes on the way out the door.

    Doc on
  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    The issue with draconian protection measures is that they can only protect your earnings until the game has been pirated once. After that, no customer has any particular need to buy the game from you. The more draconian your measures are, the more likely that customers will see the illegitimate copy of the game as essentially adding features (no nag screens, no online check, no CD check, whatever), making it so that you essentially have a better opening weekend followed by a couple years of more people pirating than you would have normally.

    durandal4532 on
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  • Whiniest Man On EarthWhiniest Man On Earth Registered User
    edited May 2008
    Another interesting thing to consider is how this relates to First Sale rights:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_sale

    This essentially interferes with your ability to resell your purchase should you choose to, because of the limited number of authorizations. How would EA ask for proof of purchase from someone who bought the game second hand once their activations were used up?

    Telmarine, you bring up another good point. This won't deter piracy, even 0-day piracy, much if at all. The DRM will still be cracked, and the pirates will still have a better product than the publishers.

    Whiniest Man On Earth on
  • TelMarineTelMarine Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Doc wrote: »
    It must be really frustrating to the developers to see their hard work get less success because the publisher pins on horrible DRM schemes on the way out the door.

    it does. I remember when Painkiller was first released, there were so many problems with the copy protection not letting the game run (I couldn't because I had cloneCD installed). A bunch of people blasted the developers on the forums, but it turned out the publisher DreamCatcher added it in without People Can Fly's knowledge and they had a hard time trying to get that message out on the forums. They eventually got rid of the problems with a patch.

    TelMarine on
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  • Whiniest Man On EarthWhiniest Man On Earth Registered User
    edited May 2008
    Doc wrote: »
    It must be really frustrating to the developers to see their hard work get less success because the publisher pins on horrible DRM schemes on the way out the door.

    Actually, so far, Bioware has stood behind EA 100% on this for some reason. They are allowing a rather lengthy discussion on their forums here:

    http://masseffect.bioware.com/forums/viewtopic.html?topic=628724&forum=125

    But for the most part, they are standing behind EA on this one.

    Whiniest Man On Earth on
  • chamberlainchamberlain Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Enjoy this while it lasts, Tube locked like three of this thread in G&T.

    I do not understand the complaints. It requires net access to install and then checks once every 10 days. So does WoW, at least this (imagined) inconveniance is free.

    chamberlain on
  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo We are only now beginning to understand the full power and ramifications of sexual intercourse Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Enjoy this while it lasts, Tube locked like three of this thread in G&T.

    And then the OP asked if he could make a D&D one and CT said yes.

    Mojo_Jojo on
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  • TelMarineTelMarine Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Enjoy this while it lasts, Tube locked like three of this thread in G&T.

    I do not understand the complaints. It requires net access to install and then checks once every 10 days. So does WoW, at least this (imagined) inconveniance is free.

    WoW is an online only game, the entire game is online. These games are not.

    TelMarine on
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  • MedopineMedopine __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2008
    Enjoy this while it lasts, Tube locked like three of this thread in G&T.

    I do not understand the complaints. It requires net access to install and then checks once every 10 days. So does WoW, at least this (imagined) inconveniance is free.

    Um...WoW REQUIRES an internet connection to actually play it, being, y'know, an MMO

    Medopine on
  • Whiniest Man On EarthWhiniest Man On Earth Registered User
    edited May 2008
    There's a reason this thread was re-made in D&D. It's like you didn't even read the entire thread before you posted.

    Whiniest Man On Earth on
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2008
    As far as I know, companies are allowed to interfere with first sale as much as they want by making the product harder to sell. They just won't be able to win a court case over it if they try to sue you for selling the game.

    Doc on
  • Fuzzy Cumulonimbus CloudFuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Will this setup allow me to install the game without the discs? Because, I fucking love that, as I always inevitably lose my discs.

    Fuzzy Cumulonimbus Cloud on
    no no no no noo no no no no no
  • MikeMcSomethingMikeMcSomething Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I imagine "Frequent business travelers that want to play Spore from their hotel room" and people who mod their computers to include more than a video card every now and then make up a pretty small percentage of their market. Obviously it's stupid that these people will have a hard time playing, and it's not really going to stop piracy, but seriously an auth check every 5 days for a game you purchased (and are most likely playing online anyway) is not worth getting a case of the vapors.

    MikeMcSomething on
  • chamberlainchamberlain Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    defrag wrote: »
    There's a reason this thread was re-made in D&D. It's like you didn't even read the entire thread before you posted.

    I did, and I see the same arguments, granted they are more polite.

    Yes, WoW is an online only game, and now Spore and Mass Effect are as well. But only once every 10 days. And for free after the inital purchase. I don't understand the uproar.

    chamberlain on
  • an_altan_alt Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Archgarth wrote: »
    I just think the majority of gamers lack the will to not buy the game. It's one thing to state an intent now, it's another thing to translate that into willfully withholding your purchase. <snip>

    I don't know about you, but it doesn't take a lot for me to not buy a game. Gamers are generally in one of two camps - lots of time to play, but little money to buy games or lots of money, but no time to play. There are very, very few games that will get me to buy a new video card, console, etc just to play. Piss Me Off DRM (R) is enough to spend my time and money on another title.

    Spore and Mass Effect might be enough to overcome the resistance of the PMO DRM for some gamers, others will just get something else or say screw it and find a torrent.

    an_alt on
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  • jotjot Registered User
    edited May 2008
    I don't get why they don't just go ahead and put their games on steam. What's stopping them?

    jot on
  • Whiniest Man On EarthWhiniest Man On Earth Registered User
    edited May 2008
    defrag wrote: »
    There's a reason this thread was re-made in D&D. It's like you didn't even read the entire thread before you posted.

    I did, and I see the same arguments, granted they are more polite.

    Yes, WoW is an online only game, and now Spore and Mass Effect are as well. But only once every 10 days. And for free after the inital purchase. I don't understand the uproar.

    Maybe if you read the thread, you'd understand the uproar.

    The point is that WoW is designed from the ground up as an online only game and it gets, y'know, benefits from being such. All EA games are now designed with a component that presumably adds no value to the game and at the same time makes it more difficult to play. Read the thread.

    Whiniest Man On Earth on
  • kildykildy Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    defrag wrote: »
    There's a reason this thread was re-made in D&D. It's like you didn't even read the entire thread before you posted.

    I did, and I see the same arguments, granted they are more polite.

    Yes, WoW is an online only game, and now Spore and Mass Effect are as well. But only once every 10 days. And for free after the inital purchase. I don't understand the uproar.

    WoW also doesn't care where I play it from, I've changed what computer it's running on 5 times at this point. My account matters, not the hardware. Not even sort of the same issue.

    kildy on
  • Whiniest Man On EarthWhiniest Man On Earth Registered User
    edited May 2008
    Doc wrote: »
    As far as I know, companies are allowed to interfere with first sale as much as they want by making the product harder to sell. They just won't be able to win a court case over it if they try to sue you for selling the game.

    This is interesting. Could you theoretically sue them for interfering with your first sale rights?

    Whiniest Man On Earth on
  • Whiniest Man On EarthWhiniest Man On Earth Registered User
    edited May 2008
    Will this setup allow me to install the game without the discs? Because, I fucking love that, as I always inevitably lose my discs.

    No. If you buy the game direct download, actually, you have to pay for the privilege of re-downloading it, because EA's digital download service is so terrible.

    Whiniest Man On Earth on
  • chamberlainchamberlain Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    defrag wrote: »
    defrag wrote: »
    There's a reason this thread was re-made in D&D. It's like you didn't even read the entire thread before you posted.

    I did, and I see the same arguments, granted they are more polite.

    Yes, WoW is an online only game, and now Spore and Mass Effect are as well. But only once every 10 days. And for free after the inital purchase. I don't understand the uproar.

    Maybe if you read the thread, you'd understand the uproar.

    The point is that WoW is designed from the ground up as an online only game and it gets, y'know, benefits from being such. All EA games are now designed with a component that presumably adds no value to the game and at the same time makes it more difficult to play. Read the thread.

    Makes it more difficult to play for who, people who don't have net access? Somehow I doubt that the 'no-isp-having' crowd is the one making all the noise on internet based forums. Perhaps they will picket EA.

    chamberlain on
  • Whiniest Man On EarthWhiniest Man On Earth Registered User
    edited May 2008
    defrag wrote: »
    defrag wrote: »
    There's a reason this thread was re-made in D&D. It's like you didn't even read the entire thread before you posted.

    I did, and I see the same arguments, granted they are more polite.

    Yes, WoW is an online only game, and now Spore and Mass Effect are as well. But only once every 10 days. And for free after the inital purchase. I don't understand the uproar.

    Maybe if you read the thread, you'd understand the uproar.

    The point is that WoW is designed from the ground up as an online only game and it gets, y'know, benefits from being such. All EA games are now designed with a component that presumably adds no value to the game and at the same time makes it more difficult to play. Read the thread.

    Makes it more difficult to play for who, people who don't have net access? Somehow I doubt that the 'no-isp-having' crowd is the one making all the noise on internet based forums. Perhaps they will picket EA.

    Seriously. This thread is full of legitimate reasons that people don't want to purchase a game with this kind of DRM, and it's not just because it requires internet access. You just don't get it.

    Whiniest Man On Earth on
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