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BioWare and EA: Dumbass Effect

By Shamus
on Wednesday May 7, 2008
Filed under:
Video Games


Oh boy! Mass Effect is coming to the PC. I’ve been looking forward to this since February of 2007. And I just upgraded so my machine should be more than up for it.

Mass Effect, Electronic Arts, EA, Contact Poison, SecuROM
Oh, wait. Wasn’t Bioware bought by EA? Does that mean they’re going to tie SecuROM / online activation around the neck of Mass Effect?


SecuROM has been a part of every BioWare release since Neverwinter Nights, but the product activation is something new for them. Worse, this “product activation” isn’t a one-time event, but an ongoing process. I’ve been willing to tolerate SecuROM, DVD checks, and lengthy product keys, (not without complaining, though) but as with BioShock, asking for permission to use a product I allegedly own is where I draw the line.

This is the work of reprehensible vermin. My purchase was certain. I have loved everything Bioware ever made. I would have bought the special edition and filled this blog with articles discussing it until people begged me to stop, just like I did for Jade Empire. As I’m finding out, this is a process which sells games. Conversely, I saw many people avoid BioShock after my writing about the arduous, abusive, and subversive DRM system it contained. My point is not about this particular blog or whatever trivial effect it may have in the PC Gaming world, my point is that real people with real, actual money are walking away from the deal over this futile attempt to get the pirates to pony up.

This game will hit the torrents like all of the games before it. It’s part of the natural order, and there are no exceptions. This new scheme doesn’t even warrant a mention among the great, defeated schemes of the past. SecuROM has been savagely and repeatedly beaten already. This scheme is nothing more than reheated SecuROM with added hassles for (legit) users to endure.

The system as described in Mass Effect is actually substantially worse than the system I lambasted in BioShock last year. The details:

  1. As with BioShock, you only get to activate the game three times. If you reinstall, change some hardware on your PC, upgrade your OS, or move to another computer, you will “consume” one of these installations.
  2. Mass Effect puts every user on a system of permanent probation, where the program needs to “phone home” every ten days or it will refuse to run. That is, not only is there online activation when you install it, but it also requires a silent reauthorization every five to ten days, forever and ever. Just in case, you know, your legit copy ever… what? Becomes pirated?
  3. There is concern over what happens if you run out of activations, or your copy is flagged as a false-positive “pirate” copy. The BioWare guys say you can just “call EA” and they will be happy to resolve your issue. Here is the EA support site. I do not see a phone number. Testimonials in the BioWare forums suggest that EA email support has a turnaround time measured in days. I do not think they would behave that way if anyone could just pick up a phone and demand help, right now.
  4. They have not been forthcoming about what is sent to the mothership during the re-authentication.
  5. Nobody – BioWare guys included – seems to have any idea what sorts of hardware changes will trigger the need for a new registration. (Remember you only get three.) A new disk drive? A windows service pack? New graphics card? Plugging in a USB device? Cleaning the glass on your monitor?

Derek French is manning the forums over at Bioware’s site. He’s certainly nicer and better informed than 2kElizabeth was, but that does not change the fact that the man is a harbinger of the coming idiocy and outrage. The forums look identical to the ones I read during the BioShock debacle: Page after page of fans forswearing the game, cancelling preorders, and asking difficult questions about how this system is supposed to not screw them. Once in a while there is a post from some well-meaning but clueless fanboy suggesting that the publisher has “no choice” but to do this to fight piracy. (Actually, their other choice is this.)

When asked about how long this “phone home” process takes, Derek responded:

[…]when you go to run the game, the re-auth takes mere moments during the game startup. There are no dialogs, no progress bars, nothing for you to enter or confirm. It just goes.

I’ve hammered away at this so often in the past that it now causes physical pain to reiterate – people playing on pirated copies won’t have to endure this check, because the hacker will have removed or disabled it. Every “moment” spent waiting for the game to re-authenticate is a moment senselessly squandered. It is something which will be endured by every single honest paying customer and not one pirate, anywhere, ever. How can anyone attain a place at the helm of EA – where this decision was certainly made – and still wield such septic stupidity? To repeatedly attempt that which is manifestly impotent, and to do so at the expense of one’s own customers, requires a very optimistic yet callous brand of madness.

The game, and your supposed ownership of it, is now a thing which must be maintained. If you find yourself without connectivity when you choose to play your game, your only hope is that you’ve played the game in the last ten days, or you will find out the hard way who really owns the thing.

In any case, the idea that it will take “moments” to re-authenticate ignores the fact that everything on the internet is subject to the pitfalls of latency, routing problems, and downtime. (Derek is all happy at how quick it is, right now, when the only people using the system are the developers and beta testers. This is undoubtedly going to change when the doors open on launch day. This is to say nothing of the classic “everyone tries to register at once and kills the server” problem that BioShock and Half-Life 2 had during launch, a problem that will likely be exacerbated or prolonged by the auto re-authentication every five days.) Despite what Derek says, the fact that there is no dialog or progress bar during the process isn’t a plus, it’s insidious. It means that when it takes the game forever to start you won’t know why. It means if your ‘net connection is down you’ll have to wait until the attempt times out before it will give up and run the game… assuming you’re in the five-to-ten day window. Naturally after day ten you can’t play at all. You thief.

I also read that this new DRM system being rolled out is planned for use in later games as well. Like (wait for it) Spore. A chorus of lamentations. I loved these games, or at least the idea of these games, but I still have too much dignity to pay to be treated like a criminal. I’m determined to abstain from both Mass Effect and Spore. EA and 2kGames can pollute PC gaming with their corrosive nonsense, but I am in no way obliged to fund it. This isn’t a “boycott” or a “protest” or a “message”. This is simply the direct application of principles and reason to my purchasing decisions.

To the senseless captains of Electronic Arts: Fall under a bus and die, you rotten offspring of ignorance and folly. You’ll never get my money. Good luck trying to get some out of the pirates.

Comments (187)

1 2 3

  1. Strangeite says:

    No. No. No. No. No. Noooooooooooooo.


    There has never been a game that I have more looked forward to. I was planning on being one of the silly fan boys that were going to pony up $10 just for the creature creator. Even though I would get it when the game actually comes out.

    Please Shamus, please let their be a God in Heaven and tell me that you are just assuming that this will be included in Spore. Oh please.

    I think I am going to be sick.

  2. MRL says:

    You have to be joking. Please. That can’t be true.
    Spore will have that stupid piece-of-crud junk on it? SPORE?

    THE Spore? The game umpteen years in the making? The one Robin Williams personally crashed?

    …this is all a dream. It’s all a dream, all a dream…

  3. qrter says:

    I was waiting to see what your reaction would be, Shamus. You haven’t disappointed!

    And you’re right, ofcourse. It is beyond ridiculous.

  4. Daktylo says:

    Righteous indignation is great!

    Hopefully after losing money they will begin to learn the lesson. However, the sad thing is that you know the programmers will suffer from the lack of funding, usually in the form of layoffs. Then quality suffers, and the stakeholders are provided with substandard product.

    The ones in charge always screw over the worker bees under the guise of best intentions.

    Hard times for programmers indeed.

  5. They had my money, then they lost it. I think I’ll take that US$120 I was planning on giving them and hand it over to the EFF instead.

  6. Changling bob says:

    If SecuROM or whatever else end up on Spore, I’ll buy a disc, then download a cracked copy. Or just get the cracked copy. Probably the latter actually, it’s a lot like effort to buy it and never use the actual disc.

    So yeah, SecuROM is really good at preventing piracy.

  7. Craig says:

    Why spore? Why? Why taint the beautiful golden ideal that is spore?

  8. sandwiches says:

    Well said. It’s not a question of “if you’re not a pirate, you have nothing to fear.” It’s a simple matter of principle.

  9. Doug Brown says:

    I am so worried that the nice young tech support lady ended the sequence with a bukkake scene. Please asssure me she did not.

  10. Shamus says:

    Yes, it was announced that it is indeed planned for Spore. That wasn’t conjecture on my part. In the announcement thread I linked Derek said as much.

    I mourn with you.

  11. Shamus says:

    The young lady is from here:


    Not to worry, nothing untoward befell her in the pictures.

  12. Primogenitor says:

    As much as I hate to say it, it’s not too crippling to spore. After all, the game is designed to be single-massively-multi-player by uploading/downloading content anyway, so a fractional extra traffic isn’t really significant.
    On the plus side, since spore is so anticipated, there will probably be dozens of not only cracked copies, but cracked content exchange thingies too.

    Oh, and put me in the “will get a cracked version to avoid DRM, and probably then wont buy a real one because its too much effort” category.

  13. MRL says:

    I just called up EA (they make the number pretty damn hard to find – I eventually had to call up their corporate office, and get redirected to customer service from there), and the guy on the phone claimed to be surprised to hear that about Spore, as well.

    If he sends me an email later as he said he would, that’ll be another independent confirmation of the dire news…

    Seriously. Spore. Why? Why taint that, of all that is good? Only a few months to go, and this bombshell drops.

  14. Stark says:

    Ahhh. So, I’m reduced to actually engaging in piracy due to the stupidity of EA.

    I could choose not to play the game… but I won’t. I see no reason to punish myself for EA’s stupidity. I also refuse to support EA fiancially due to this choice – I don’t reward bad behaviour. I lament the passing of BioWare. This move will kill whatever is left of them since sales will be very poor…. and EA will be too dense to see that it was their decision to include completely useless DRM that killed the sales.

    So, in a nutshell… EA is their own worst enemy. They are creating far more pirates by doing these kinds of things. Idiots.

  15. Galenor says:

    Well, looks like to me that Spore: Wii Edition just bagged itself a new customer!
    Again, Shamus, very nice post. Love your arguments, love your stances, and adore your minicomics!

  16. JFargo says:

    I was actually going to buy a new system so that I’d be updated enough to play this game. Forget that now.

  17. pdwalker says:

    Well, that’s another game I wont be buying. I cannot support companies that put that insidious crap into their programs, regardless of how easily it will be cracked afterwards.


  18. Ysabel says:

    I’m starting to wonder if the folks putting out PC games have significant money invested in console gaming, and are actively trying to kill PC gaming.

  19. Kyle says:

    Wow. This technology on the PC is definitely one of the advantages to owning a console.

  20. Rason says:

    Department Manager of electronics at my local wal-mart, After talking about poor customer care with my boss for about a month, this actually managed to convince him that way EA does falls under the clause of ours about not selling electronic products that do not have working customer service, and my district’s stores will not be selling Mass Effect.

  21. Phlux says:

    Nice outrage Shamus. Glad I’m not the only one. I probably popped a few blood vessels when I started reading this, and it doesn’t even really affect me. I already played Mass Effect on my 360. It was amazing, and I’m truly sorry that those of you waiting for PC who now won’t buy it are going to miss out.

    As for Spore…I’m interested in it…but honestly the gameplay looks really boring. There’s a fair chance I would have bought it anyway because I’m impressed/curious about the technology, but it’s no big loss.

    I’m still outraged though because I know this will apply to future EA titles from other developers, and EA owns pretty much all of them now.

    The best thing we all can do is make as much noise as possible to as many media outlets as possible. 99% of EA’s customers don’t know or don’t care about DRM, so the rest of us have to make noise and hurt their bottom line or it will never ever change.

  22. Vextra says:

    EA just lost itself a customer. I think that this move, especially with such beloved and anticipated titles as Spore and Mass Effect, will increase Piracy and Torrenting by a significant degree. It pains me to see de hard-working, creative games-teams deprived of the fruits of their labour, but i don’t see how anything short of casting EA into the Pits of Hell will reverse this inevitable trend.

  23. Zukhramm says:

    Only problem is, it probably won’t kill the sales. The masses will accept the propaganda, they will accept that it’s only to fight the horrible pirates.

  24. bargamer says:

    Spore doesn’t require an internet connection to play, but SecuRom does. Where’s the logic there?

  25. Serdic says:

    I don’t expect it will kill sales. In fact, I don’t expect they’ll notice/care. But, I do. As a result, they’re not going to get my money now or ever again.

  26. Bowmore says:

    I’m with JFargo here — I’ve been planning to build a gaming PC from scratch for a while. I’ve been gathering resources and information and keeping an eye on prices for various parts, specifically so I could play some of the more recent PC games that I’ve been missing out on.

    The combination of friends with nice computers, the Let’s Play forums on Something Awful, and all this SecuROM nonsense, my motivation to continue with this project has been steadily dwindling.

    Now Spore and Mass Effect would be held hostage even after I would have purchased them with my hard-earned cash-moneys? Sorry, EA. I think I’d rather spend my money on console games that I can put into my Wii, or X-Box 360, or PS3, and play instantly and without hassle.

  27. Hanov3r says:

    The BioWare guys say you can just “call EA” and they will be happy to resolve your issue. Here is the EA support site. I do not see a phone number.

    EA’s support site says “If you would like to contact Technical Support over the phone, the correct phone number and hours of availability for your game are listed in your game manual.”

    That said, this sucks. I’ve been looking forward to Spore, well, as long as everyone else has. *sigh*

  28. Phlux says:

    Serdic: You and I are on the same page. Those of us on this thread feeling outrage are in about the .01 percentile of EA customers. This thing will get no major media coverage and zero attention from consumers. Both games will sell very well and the cycle will continue.

    Anyone know any high profile reporters who want to stir up controversy? Primary coverage on the news will start dwindling now that the media is saying there’s a presumptive democractic nominee…something has to fill that airtime.

  29. SiliconScout says:

    too funny.

    I really wanna play mass effect, I only own a wii for a console and AM NOT interested in buying anything else.

    Looks like bittorrent will be my friend and my $$ stays in my pocket.

    Idiots, I actually enjoy paying for good games to support their development but I will not allow myself to be treated like a criminal when I am 100% above board, PLUS right now I am on a farm with dial up… and worse yet it’s limited to 26kbps …. that moment will seem like about 10 minutes to me….

    No thanks, I will DL it at a friends and play it at home happily. BioWare ….. why, I bought jade empire, NWN and all it’s expansions TWICE (so I could play with my wife) I would have happily done the same here.


  30. Michael says:

    This is coming from someone that runs a retail gaming store.

    This SecuROM is so stupid that I refuse to take part in it. Personally, I’m going to download a pirated version of the game and then send EA a cheque for $60. They can be happy with that.

  31. Christian Groff says:

    I can’t wait for all of you guys to start playing Pokemon Mystery Dungeon and I will laugh and laugh and laugh at all the new Pokemon converts because gaming companies got so paranoid that they oppressed their customers while the criminals are laughing all the way to the bank.


    Now you know why I prefer playing Pokemon instead of this half-assed computer game ****. I have a few games for the PC, but I can’t play them anymoer since my CD drive is ruined. *cries*

    After hearing this **** about EA’s computer game lineup, I’m sure that they’ll be hanging by their stupid Madden franchises. Join Nintendo and Pokemon, everyone! Get away from those a-holes and enjoy a REAL game!

    Sure, it has cute creatures, but at least you won’t have to wait ten days to play as Pokemon. *laughs*

    (No, I am not brainwashed by the Nintendo Gods. I just wanted to give my opinions.)

  32. Strangeite says:

    Now that I think about it, we don’t have to worry. A company as large as EA would never ever turn off the servers that would authenticate the game.

    I mean look at how well Plays For Sure has worked for music purchased from the MSM Store by Microsoft.

    Oh wait……

  33. Dreamer says:

    If we could somehow make it so that developpers could publish their own games, I believe that the sun would rise brighter from then on. I would happily pay for something with minimal but useless protection rather than something with maximum but useless and frustrating protection.

    I wonder if we could go to court over this: If we paid for a game but were unable to play it because we “couldn’t” connect to the internet. After all, we gave them the money that they asked for, but they insist that we need permission to play it? We basically paid them for permission to play with one toy out of their toy box, and once time is up, we have to ask permission again or they take the toy away.

    The only thing we’d need is a good lawyer (Who likes games and agrees with us), a solid law that agrees with us, and the money to out-pay EA…

  34. Nihil says:

    Heh, I read the news on Slashdot and immediately thought “This will surely send Shamus over the edge!”. And I was not disappointed.

    Me? I’ve long ago decided that it’s just more sensible to side with the pirates. Not only do your games work anywhere and anytime, you usually get them a few days (sometimes weeks) before official launch, too.

    A couple more interesting scenarios for you to consider:
    1) Malware in the Gestapo program. Maybe EA will put some in, maybe they won’t. But what once this DRM system becomes mainstream, and a good chunk of second-rate producers adopt it? Do you trust Assoftware, Inc. to read unknown data straight from your HD?

    2) Producer goes out of business. Oh boy, I sure wish I could play that nice vintage game that I enjoyed so much when I was a kid in 2008.

  35. xbolt says:

    And here I was, hoping the BioWare/EA merger wouldn’t be so bad…

    I’d really love to be able to sucker punch the idiot that was responsible for this…

  36. Torkell says:

    I wonder how long the DRM servers will be hosted for, and what, if anything, EA plan to do when they eventually pull the plug on those servers.

  37. WoodenTable says:

    Argh. Blagh. Frug argle. Uuuuuuugh.

    Blarg. UGH. Yurk.

    I wanted both Spore and Mass Effect. Now I doubt I’ll ever get them. At least Demigod will be DRM free… of course it’s not an EA game.

  38. MRL says:

    Got a response from EA Customer Support; “Scott” says that he can’t comment on that at this time.

    I guess we all know what that means…looks like it’s TF2 and MMOs for me, and nothing else, for the immediate future.

  39. SiliconScout says:

    I too think they are hoping to kill PC gaming and bring it all to the console.

    But what they aren’t seeing is that getting a console chipped is simplicity itself, many sites show you how to do it and every town / city of reasonable size will have people or even stores that will do it for you.

    Then you can play all the copied games you want. In fact every single “used” console I have ever looked to buy was “chipped”. It happens A LOT out there.

    If you treat your customers as pirates and thieves your customers will become pirates and thieves.

  40. Log082 says:

    Just like someone else who posted, I was planning to build a gaming PC this summer to keep up with new releases. I’m still planning to, but Spore will no longer be one of them. It’s a shame, since I was really looking forward to it.

  41. Crusader Corim says:

    I’m a PC gamer first and foremost, and I’m starting to move my gaming to consoles because of all this trash.

    Guess what the last two new games I bought are?

    Sins of a Solar Empire and GalCiv2.

    Guess what they have in common?


    Hint for game designers: Throwing away young male customers is bad policy.

  42. Zereth says:

    “Department Manager of electronics at my local wal-mart, After talking about poor customer care with my boss for about a month, this actually managed to convince him that way EA does falls under the clause of ours about not selling electronic products that do not have working customer service, and my district's stores will not be selling Mass Effect.”

    Be sure to inform EA of this.

    As for myself, I’ve canceled my pre-order for Mass Effect and am seriously debating pirating a game for the first time ever. (not counting stuff that’s no longer available at retail or that I already own but can’t find the discs for.)

    And I’ve switched over to hoping Spore is _bad_ so I don’t have to debate pirating it vs not playing it. This feels weird.

  43. Blake says:

    What would tech support suggest if you told them you bought one of the games, but didn’t have an internet connection?

    Also, this is shockingly reminiscent of a weblog entry I read just yesterday.

    (I might still get Spore for my iTouch, though. We’ll see.)

  44. MRL says:

    Sour grapes…ugh. I’m still hoping that Spore is awesome. Though I don’t know if I’ll be able to avoid getting it, if it is that good and still has SecuROM…

  45. Jeffrey says:

    Just heard this myself yesterday. Immediately cancelled my Amazon preorder and noted that excessive DRM is the reason. It may not do anything, but it made me feel better.

  46. Freya says:

    I saw this earlier, and in common with the above comments, I am shocked. Mass Effect was a game I was seriously looking forward to. The biggest problem for me at least is that I don’t have an always on internet connection. To require a connection purely to play an off-line game strikes me as sheer idiocy, not to mention a complete waste of my time and money to connect just to keep playing. Oh well, time to start another run through Baldurs Gate.

  47. Annon says:

    About the “havng to ask permission for a product I allregedly own” thing: Have you actually read through an EULA in detail lately? It doesn’t matter what piece of software you buy, you never actually own it, you are just purchasing the rights to use it as long as th company doesn’t see fit to take the rights away. It’s borrowed–there is no ownership. Every EULA I’ve bothered reading has a clause which says so.

    That said, I will still say that it is very disappointing when a company explicitly slaps you in the face with this legal loop, denying your access–which is fully within their right, you confirmed youself as their bitch when you checked “I agree”–because of an arbitrary and ineffectual DRM scheme. Sad, epcecially because in three years (the time when I usually get around to playing new releases) the DRM probably won’t work anymore just like ToEE or Neverwinter Nights won’t run on my systems anymore becused of their screwed up DRMs. Bloody convenient, since the company won’t support the game anymore ny then, just like with NWN and ToEE…

  48. Viktor says:

    Well, I’m getting Spore on my console now. I usually have various programs using my net connection, so online activation will be far slower than I can wait (not to mention this is basically a loading screen, which drive me crazy).

  49. Doug Brown says:

    Thanks for the reassurance, Shamus. I shouldn’t have worried, given that you were the source. It’s just that The Internets have a bad reputation for doing terrible things to attractive young asian women in office settings.

  50. I think one of the things really needed to begin sorting out this problem is an actual definition of what *constitutes* intellectual property. It would certainly expose these DRM schemes for what they are.

    Intellectual property really comes about as a recognition of the source of value: that physical objects *alone* are not valuable to human beings. Real value derives from thought, i.e. from the intellect.

    The only intellectual property crime lies in *distributing* an intellectual product without permission. You ought to be legally able to make ten million copies if you so desire–provided you don’t distribute them. This is legitimate because you can’t personally make use of more than one copy at a time.

    I’m sad, because I was looking forward to Mass Effect; it sounded like the sort of game I would enjoy. But since I don’t have a computer that would run it, anyway, nor any money at present, it’s kind of a moot issue.

  51. Serdic says:

    I think I'll take that US$120 I was planning on giving them and hand it over to the EFF instead.

    I did half of that — the money I was going to spend on Mass Effect for PC.

  52. Bonder says:

    This is indeed bad. Consider this though, the turnitin.com system being used in an increasing number of universities and high schools does essentially the same thing, treats all users (I mean students) like criminals. A program that compares the output of an undergraduate with all available published works, all other works submitted to the service (including everyone else in the class doing the same assignment) is guaranteed to come up with a heck of a lot of false positives. If a sufficiently large number of monkeys (undergrads) with a million typewriters given sufficient time will produce the works of Shakespeare, are they committing plagiarism? Combine that with very stringent (approaching no-tolerance) policies and blacklists intended to punish cheaters, and you have a nightmare and ulcer inducing combination, on top of the nightmares and ulcers produced by the term paper deadline already.

    These systems of electronic verification are being used on software, in education, and in security, and in each case complaining will get you labeled as a pirate, cheater, or terrorist, because the innocent have nothing to fear from the law. OF COURSE THE INNOCENT HAVE SOMETHING TO FEAR FROM THE LAW, what we have to fear is the presumption of guilt combined with the belief in the infallibility of these inherently imperfect systems. And that’s why we wait in endless lines at the airport, swear at bizarre authentication systems with our software, and cower in fear under our desks at the thought that somewhere out there there is a source who said something similar to what we said, and we haven’t found them!

    Final nail, making the turnitin system available to students so that they can use it to check that their work is fair is considered to be a bad idea, on the grounds that it would enable the cheaters to figure out how to beat the system!

  53. Aaron says:

    I think the last purchase I made for a computer game (that wasn’t an MMO) was Warcraft 3. Everything else I play is on a console. With everything that’s gone down with DRM and SecureRom (and thanks to you Shamus for enlightening me) I will only be buying from … well … basically Blizz-avision (so Starcraft 2). Otherwise, it’s console games and MMO’s for me.

    What a horrible way to treat your consumer base.

  54. Oleyo says:

    heheh, “you agreed to the poisoning when you installed the product” Awesome.

    Shamus is like a video game Robin Hood, stealing the money he would have given to a game publisher from them, and paying it back to the poor with amusing cartoons, and Lupins.

    Also, he has a large sack labeled “swag”.


  55. Oleyo says:

    heheh, “you agreed to the poisoning when you installed the product” Awesome.

    Shamus is like a video game Robin Hood, stealing the money he would have given to a game publisher from them, and paying it back to the poor with amusing cartoons, and Lupins.

    Also, he has a large sack labeled “swag”.

  56. =Dan says:

    I won’t be buying either of the games. I hope that Spore is being released on Xbox 360 as I won’t have to worry about DRM at that point. This crap is what is causing PC gaming to shrink and console gaming to grow by leaps and bounds.

  57. […] Shamus Young wrote a post pointing out something similar, but even worse in the upcoming PC port of this year's Mass […]

  58. Heckie says:

    If I went and illegally downloaded a torrented version of Spore, cracked it with an extra illegal crack, and used an even more illegal content distribution network to get all the species and such, then mailed a check to Mr. Wright for say 60$ (or whatever it is for sale at) along with a letter stating that, ‘while I loved his games, I will not be treated as a criminal’, would I be a bad person for doing so?

    Or should I send cash to him directly? A money order?

    I will play his games, but I will not play EA’s game, if you know what I mean.
    Just a thought…

  59. Jeremiah says:

    It’s like a vicious cycle:

    1) Game is pirated by a few people
    2) Big-wigs outraged over loss revenue, implement stupid DRM.
    3) People outraged over stupid DRM; more piracy ensues.
    4) Big-wigs don’t understand what went wrong, implement even worse DRM.
    5) repeat steps 3 & 4 indefinitely.

  60. Alan De Smet says:

    And they always ignore an important question: in 20 years, when I start up XPBox (the inevitable successor to DOSBox) to play some games from the good old days, will the authentication server still be up authenticate me? Will my IPv28 network connection even be able to route the IPv4/v6 packets the game wants to send? This is helping to create a disposable culture, making it extremely difficult to study older works. Greedy, short sighted content creators love the idea as it eliminates competition, but it’s bad for society as a whole.

    Of course even if the backlash leads to lower than expected sales, the idiots running things won’t think, “Maybe our unreasonably draconian authentication system is to blame.” They’re think, “We didn’t sell enough copies. It must be piracy! For out next game, we’ll force players pay $20 per hour for a guy named Guido to watch them and make sure they don’t make any copies. Since Guido isn’t too smart, he’ll just beat up anyone who touches any media other than ours.”

  61. Thad says:

    So, basically, if you buy the game, play it for a while, then leave it for, say… two weeks, and come back, you are screwed? That’s good marketing!

    Reminds me of the (lesser but still overly annoying) anti-piracy bits on DVDs, which only annoy those who aren’t pirating DVDs…

    (To join the others: Not Spore! Be It Not So!)

  62. Deoxy says:


    EULAs are an interesting piece of work, actually – they take your money FIRST, then show you the terms of the agreement (AFTER you money is nonrefundable).

    There are MANY legal problems with the EULA concept as currently incarnated… and, by putting off and serious court cases about it long enough, they may well have won on it, simply by having it be so standard that the courts won’t want to mess with it.

    And thus our rights die by a million paper cuts…

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  1. By Mass Effect DRM « Zukhramm on Wednesday May 7, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    […] Shamus Young wrote a post pointing out something similar, but even worse in the upcoming PC port of this year's Mass […]

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