UPDATE: Electronic Arts And Bioware Back Down On Mass Effect DRM

The backlash against Bioware/EA’s Mass Effect DRM has resulted in a successful conclusion, it seems. Bioware has announced that they have reworked the DRM and will no longer require reauthorization every 10 days.

From the Mass Effect forum:

There has been a lot of discussion in the past few days on how the security requirements for Mass Effect for PC will work. BioWare, a division of EA, wants to let fans know that Mass Effect will not require 10- day periodic re-authentication.

BioWare has always listened very closely to its fans and we made this decision to ensure we are delivering the best possible experience to them. To all the fans including our many friends in the armed services and internationally who expressed concerns that they would not be able re-authenticate as often as required, EA and BioWare want you to know that your feedback is important to us.

The solution being implemented for Mass Effect for the PC changes copy protection from being key disc based, which requires authentication every time you play the game by requiring a disc in the drive, to a one time online authentication.

In the end, it gamers in the armed forces and in areas with sketchy internet access had their voices heard:

Q: Did BioWare and EA change their mind on requiring that the game be re-authorized every 10 days?

A: BioWare has always listened very closely to its fans and we made this decision to ensure we are delivering the best possible experience to them. To all the fans including our many friends in the armed services and internationally who expressed concerns that they would not be able re-authenticate as often as required, EA and BioWare want you to know that your feedback is important to us.

Good work!

Official BioWare/EA Response to DRM Discussion (Thanks, Thief!)

Comments

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  1. ThunderRoad says:

    Guess EA was “taking it seriously”. I mean, that seemed to be the only buzz-phrase missing from their statement.

  2. chrisjames says:

    @ThunderRoad: “Is important to us” is synonymous with “taking it seriously.”

  3. EyeHeartPie says:

    @ThunderRoad:
    That’s because they actually did something about it. They would only “take it seriously” if they didn’t intend to do anything about it :p

  4. catskyfire says:

    At least they figured out that it doesn’t really matter. Most people will gladly check back in for updates and patches, and that’s when you do a re-authenticate.

  5. 44 in a Row says:

    This is, in all seriousness, really great news.

  6. selectman says:

    @44 in a Row: Absolutely. A rare occurrence of a company actually listening to customer feedback and taking swift action. This will serve as a great example both for DRM solutions themselves and public behavior of game publishers.

  7. savvy9999 says:

    i missed the original discussion. How was this any different from Punkbuster, which required online re-verification just about every time you wanted to play America’s Army on a PB-enabled server?

    I never heard gripes about that (other than when it didn’t work to stop cheats/hax/etc).

  8. GodzillaDad says:

    “The solution being … a one time online authentication.” – 10 to 1 odds the first version of the game installs a rootkit that keeps verifying itself online without letting the user know its doing it. Aaaah the Sony model of corporate solutions, what a life eh ;)

    Also I say first version because they will quickly be releasing a new version after the backlash and possible lawsuits. See also Sony.

  9. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @savvy9999:

    Punkbuster is a free 3rd party add on for various games.

  10. Saboth says:

    So it still has DRM, still installs invasive software on your computer that is in no way required to play the game (like say DX10 might be). Sorry, I am a legit customer, paying money for your product. I won’t have spyware and other crap installed on my computer as if I needed to be monitored like some file sharer. Can we go back to the old days of “Look on page 11 of the manual and enter in the 3 symbols found on the wheel of power”? I didn’t buy bioshock due to DRM, and I guess I won’t be buying Mass Effect either (no I didn’t pirate them, I just simply won’t play them). I hear Spore will have DRM software too…ah well I was excited for awhile.

  11. lemur says:

    It is a step in the right direction but not total victory. The game is still DRM’ed.

  12. Firstborn Dragon says:

    Say I notice people say they heard about the DRM for spore. Can anyone fill me in on where I can find out more?

    I have a copy pre-ordered, and I’m gonna cancle it if the DRM is bad. Too many stories of bad DRMs messing up PCs.

  13. Brain.wav says:

    @savvy9999: Punkbuster isn’t an online authentication system for a single-player game. PB is made to try and curb cheating in online games, the two things are totally different.

  14. Geekybiker says:

    News flash: Nearly every game made has DRM and has for decades.

  15. 44 in a Row says:

    Say I notice people say they heard about the DRM for spore. Can anyone fill me in on where I can find out more?

    Last we heard, it was supposed to use the same DRM as Mass Effect, complete with reauthorization every 10 days. EA only announced they’re ditching that for Mass Effect; as far as I know, there’s no news on Spore.

  16. lemur says:

    @Geekybiker: So?

  17. johnva says:

    @savvy9999: Well, one big difference is that that was generally for online games, and was NOT for purposes of copyright enforcement. If you’re playing an online game already, online authentication is a bit less onerous than for a single-player game where you may not have Internet access. And with PB, people were supposedly getting an actual benefit (the control of cheaters). With DRM, you’re just punishing the legitimate customers only.

  18. Kraki says:

    what about the 3 install limit? i reformat my pc 3 times a year. does this mean i’ll only be able to play for one year?

  19. delphi_ote says:

    The fact that they keep sneaking stuff like this in their games and only take it out if there’s an uproar makes me leery of purchasing games with their logo on them.

  20. The_Mhor says:

    I’m surprised there’s so little mention of the big debate in gaming circles:

    You can still only install Mass Effect (and Spore) three times.

    After that you’ll have to phone EA and argue your case, and they might let you install it again. If you regularly upgrade or replace your PC you’ll run out of installs fairly quickly.

    It’s like EA have overpitched the DRM, so they can “back down” to what they actually wanted, and people are praising them.

    It’s still a no sale for me; pirates will be able to reinstall their copy as often as they like, why restrict your legitimate customer so?

  21. Anto103 says:

    So Mass Effect and Spore won’t suffer through this but what happens when it comes down to Sims 3 and every other PC game EA releases to the wild?

  22. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @The_Mhor:

    Holy crap.

    You’ve got to be kidding me. I’ve never heard of a company that is so willing to shoot themselves in the head to retain control over a bunch of bits.

    I was fully intending to buy Spore the day it came out. Then I heard about the invasive DRM & decided I didn’t want to play Spore that badly. You just changed my mind, but I promise you I won’t be playing the $49.99 version from EA Games. This is coming from someone who hasn’t pirated a game since highschool & literally spends several hundreds of dollars a year on gaming purchases. I hope someone from EA Games reads this blog, because I *will* be pirating Spore as soon as it’s cracked (& it will be cracked) & furthermore, I’ll be making physical copies for all of my less savvy friends & co-workers.

    All for spite.

    Fuck you EA Games.

  23. uberbucket says:

    I’ll download a cracked version of Spore and then find a way to make sure Maxis and Will Wright get my cash.

    EA can suck a dick.

  24. alstein says:

    What EA is doing is making something completely outrageous, letting the consumer rage, then put in something mostly outrageous in its place, and look good in the process. This is exact same thing they did with Bioshock, and people raged over that. This is just all an attempt to get consumers used to buying the same game over and over- which is pure profit for EA.

    The game should still be boycotted.

    If you don’t like EA’s corporate tactics, support smaller game companies like Stardock or Paradox instead.

  25. neost says:

    EA already does something like this with their “download manager”. My daughter plays the sims on my vista box and that loads every time she runs the Sims. It does not unload when you leave the game. I started having issues with ftp and a couple of other services and tracked it down to the EA “download manager”. I uninstalled it and The Sims no longer worked for my daughter. I contacted EA and asked if it were really a download manager or an online DRM and the support guy admitted it was DRM. I next asked why they couldn’t unload it when the game unloads and he wouldn’t even respond to that. So I’m guessing if it runs all the time it will report home if you did run another EA game, regardless of it’s authenticity.

  26. mussorgsky112 says:

    As much as I like that they’re “looking out for” us or whatever, I hate that it has to come down to “doing it for the troops.”

  27. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @arstal:

    Amen to the Stardock / Paradox props.

    If you like Sci-Fi, RTS games & haven’t played Sins of a Solar Empire, you are missing out on a great game.

  28. uberbucket says:

    EDIT:

    I forgot Maxis is a subsidiary of EA so I guess I’ll just donate to Child’s Play and write Will Wright a nice letter.

  29. glitterpig says:

    Yeah… still not acceptable. Still not buying Spore, despite having eagerly awaited its release since it was very first announced. Will get a cracked copy ASAP. Congratulations, EA, you’ve turned me into a pirate! (Have never, ever used non-legitimately purchased software in my life, and usually buy 5-6 games a year. Now sounds like a good time to start, though.)

  30. The_Mhor says:

    I totally agree with the support Stardock line. Their games are superb and their ideas about their customer’s rights of use are bang on.

  31. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @Geekybiker:

    A CD check isn’t really DRM. Neither is a CD-Key.

  32. Kajj says:

    @neost: I have The Sims installed and I didn’t know about the download manager. Do you remember what it was called in task manager?

  33. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @The_Mhor:

    Oh yeah, don’t forget to give Bethesda Softworks (The Elder Scrolls) some props too, they don’t use DRM either, just a simple CD check.

  34. Saboth says:

    What gets me is there are so few games out that I actually want to buy, and the few that interest me come with DRM crap, preventing me from buying them out of principle….if PC gaming is on the way out, it is because of this crap.

  35. mavrc says:

    This is better how exactly?

    Years from now, when I think “Hey, you know what would be fun? Playing through X game again, it was really fun…” I dig out my old computer, dust it off, install the game and it fails because it can’t activate.

    Product activation is stupid, and so is EA. At least Steam is honest: they make no bones about the fact that Steam games are a service, not a licensed product; you retain no rights to use them at any time, for any reason, you’re just paying for the privilege of using them for the moment.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve been waiting for Spore for a long, long time and I won’t be buying it now.

  36. Android8675 says:

    Bullshit, the game still has CD-Check, what’s the difference, one requires Internet, the other requires compatible hardware that 2 out of 10 PCs lack.

    2 steps back, 1 step forward, were still 1 step back.

    I will still buy the games, I don’t care what protection they go with, everyone who says they now won’t buy a game because of all this bologna is lying to themselves.

    freaking addicts.

  37. bnorton says:

    Basically what happens in the pc game industry now is anyone who purchases the game/software legally will has to jump through hoops again and again to get the game to work. While those that steal the software have it easy because all that crap is removed. What I suggest is to buy the game and then get the pirated version to actually play. You aren’t breaking the law and you get to play the game without the hastle.

  38. 44 in a Row says:

    Bullshit, the game still has CD-Check, what’s the difference, one requires Internet, the other requires compatible hardware that 2 out of 10 PCs lack.

    Ah, but the former requires not just internet, but a working activation server, and we’ve all seen recently (with the Microsoft music store) how badly that can go. For me, personally, this is the major difference — the fact that with a CD check, my access to the game isn’t dependent on EA/Bioware’s activation servers remaining online indefinitely. A CD check isn’t exactly desirable, but at least it’s within my control.

  39. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @Android8675:

    No. I have a bit of self control. I will not be buying Spore or Mass Effect at all, if they leave the 3 strikes & you’re out DRM in them. A CD check is not DRM not matter how must you rant & rave that it is.

  40. Apoch says:

    I was going to buy Mass Effect and I’m not kidding myself when I say I won’t due to the 3 Install Limit.

    I just bought Warcraft 3 and installed it yesterday (yeah, I know, late to the game). All I had to do was enter a CD-Key when I installed. There was no online authentication. They did give me the option to register my game/Cd-key online. Which I did because Blizzard allows people who’ve done so to download the game and install it in the future. Amazing, being presented with an actual benefit! For Free! Blizzard rocks.

  41. bunch.of.wackos says:

    this isn’t a triumph
    DRM is not reducing piracy.. you know why?
    Because over 60% of piracy is not even done in the big markets.. US is
    a relative minority of the consuption of bootlegged or pirated games;
    you’ve seen the number of Downloads on MiniNova? those are German,
    Yougoslavian, Vietnamites, Brazilian, and so on…
    EA and many other companies are blind to this… they think screwing us
    legit customers they will reduce the piracy? hell no!, not when there
    are people (over places they might not even know that exist) that can
    crack and post a game for torrent comunity to avoid being screwed in
    the first place , the sad truth is they are willingly loosing a huge
    market because is unknow to them … this is why Steam will eventually
    swallow them all and rule as the one distribution channel that gives
    +value to their customers
    (for those that don’t agree…. remember Ubisoft released Assasins
    creed on Steam but only for US customers, like the $$ of any other
    country are less useful or valuable)

  42. SJActress says:

    The “3 Download” rule is /apparently/ meaning “3 computers”. I think what they’re intending is that you can only install the game on 3 separate machines, and that re-installs would not affect the number.

    This is a hot topic at a Spore forum I’m a member of–the above is not COMPLETELY confirmed, but we’re thinking that that is the case.