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Default Mass Effect - Copy Protection Details

May 7th, 2008, 00:19
Although I'm not happy with this kind of copy protection, I don't understand some of the arguments here.

1. In all cases I know so far, the copy protection of games has been removed by a patch within a year or two. The limit on the number of installs only considers the initial launch time of the game. Later on, the company is not really interested anymore, because sales have gone to numbers where pirating doesn't matter.

2. Copy protection is not really meant to prevent software pirates and habitual game downloaders from doing such things. I'm not sure why most people think that those company guys are stupid. They know this. What they want to prevent is that the school kid gives his own DVD and installation key to all his school friends when the game comes out. If it is very convenient to do so, even people who are not computer savvy will do this. It's these "pirates by chance" that copy protection targets.
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May 7th, 2008, 00:53
Yeah, a kid can distribute a game to dozens of his friends at school, some of which might have otherwise purchased it. But a guy who uploads a game someplace where it can be accessed via the Internet is giving everyone online the opportunity to help themselves to it.

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May 7th, 2008, 01:01
I find it interesting that Derek French has been pretty good about answering questions about the copy protection, even answering repeated questions with patience, but has completely ignored any requests about the ability to deactivate to free up an activation "slot", including mine in the Securom FAQ sticky.

I'm hoping that that is because he doesn't know and intends to find out, but I'd prefer him to actually say that rather than evade. While I'm not happy at all about the scheme, I'm willing to tolerate it if deactivation is possible. But everyone has to have their own line in the sand, and the ability to deactivate is where I draw mine.

And it's not at all just about Mass Effect. For PC gamers, like it or not, EA is going to be a potent publishing force for the foreseeable future. So I can only hope that they can be guided away from such draconian measures.
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May 7th, 2008, 01:14
Originally Posted by Squeek View Post
Yeah, a kid can distribute a game to dozens of his friends at school, some of which might have otherwise purchased it. But a guy who uploads a game someplace where it can be accessed via the Internet is giving everyone online the opportunity to help themselves to it.
While this is correct, not everyone downloads current software from illegal sources. Of course, if you reduce my example to literally "one kid", it sounds ridiculous. But nearly everyone who buys a game has friends, siblings, parents, colleagues, who he might want to share his game with. Most of these people don't have high technical skills or habitually download pirated software. But if you get a CD from a friend, why say no?

Software companies don't like to talk about this point. They rather point at the evil warez sites. But in reality, for the company, it's much easier to target the average customer, and it's much more successful for them.
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May 7th, 2008, 01:41
Originally Posted by mogwins View Post
There's also the limit on the number of times you can install this. I don't know about you, but I've got games that I've installed/uninstalled a great number of times on a great number of machines down the years (Fallout, Torment and Wizardry 8 spring to mind), which wouldn't be allowed under this new protection scheme. Screw that. I bought the game, I should be allowed to install/uninstall it as I see fit.
Originally Posted by Guhndahb View Post
I find it interesting that Derek French has been pretty good about answering questions about the copy protection, even answering repeated questions with patience, but has completely ignored any requests about the ability to deactivate to free up an activation "slot", including mine in the Securom FAQ sticky.
Mogwins, there is no limit on the number of installs on the same hardware. Guhndahb, Derek French has answered this:

Originally Posted by "Derek French
There is the misconception that this is based on installation and it is not. You can install and uninstall as many times as you like. It all comes down to when you run the MassEffect.exe program. In the quoted example above, reinstalling on the same computer will not reduce the activation count. Its not based on installation. […]

It doesn't, as we wrote the installer and I have installed and uninstalled MEPC about 5 times a day during normal builds and installer testing for the past 3 months. I have never done anything more than the initial activation and the game has always played for me.

I have also Shift+Delete'd my "C:\games\Mass Effect\" directory a few times.

And I changed my video card out, once.
http://www.quartertothree.com/game-t…t=44278&page=2

You guys can bypass it; I'm going to enjoy not worrying about the DVD, which I'm comfortable trading for an online check every 10 days. I'm a slow player, but even it takes me a couple of months, that's only half a dozen checks - I can live with that.

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May 7th, 2008, 01:58
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Mogwins, there is no limit on the number of installs on the same hardware. Guhndahb, Derek French has answered this:
Well, that's good! I still don't like the idea of having to call home though. In ten years time, will the servers still be there? I doubt it. Will the developers have the, time/money to release a patch to negate the "call home" protection? In the case of EA/Bioware - probably, but my concern is that this becomes industry standard, and I wouldn't be so optimistic of smaller companies who can go under very quickly, with very little warning. What option then? Find an illegal solution? Kind of defeats the point of copy protection!

I still maintain that corporations trying to dictate when/where you can use a product you've paid for is intrinsically wrong and something that shouldn't be encouraged. I'm very glad to see Amazon breaking Apple's DRM stranglehold in the digital music market. Just imagine Apple went under tomorrow (almost inconceivable, I know, but humour me) as soon as your current Ipod finally dies (not that long a period as Apple doesn't allow non-apple servicing even for trivial tasks like battery replacement), your precious itunes collection can't be used on portable music players (unless you reply on hacking of the DRM, which again defeats teh entire purpose). I'd rather the software industry didn't get into this state in the first place.
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May 7th, 2008, 02:22
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Mogwins, there is no limit on the number of installs on the same hardware. Guhndahb, Derek French has answered this:
Then Derek is avoiding the real question. What about the people who are replacing hardware frequently? A graphics card here, CPU & mainboard there … how often can they install?

You guys can bypass it; I'm going to enjoy not worrying about the DVD, which I'm comfortable trading for an online check every 10 days. I'm a slow player, but even it takes me a couple of months, that's only half a dozen checks - I can live with that.
Im still undecided about this. Im not against online activation, but one check every 10 days is too much for my taste.
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May 7th, 2008, 02:23
1. Torrent-class piracy cannot be stopped (outside of collectivist facist state or at least total ban on personal computers). If protection technology becomes too much for idealistic release groups, forces with financial interest step in (people have to sell burners, blankets etc …)

2. "Piracy" (below counter, "asia") cannot be stopped at all. Organised crime has been dealing with things that are actually harmful, disgusting and not accepted by the general population for millenia (human trafficking etc). "Bans", "Crackdowns", "Wars on [SIN]" drive up profits (fundamental principle of supply / demand) and either deliver the killing blow (governments … success … heh) or make them stronger.


So is copy protection about piracy? Not at all, at least not about piracy as we understand it. Its about "casuals" and controll. Not sure wether there is a big conspiracy behind it, but its certainly not rational from a longterm business POV.

Take a look here how evil library pirates have been destroying the printing business since 1455:

http://www.baen.com/library/



Next rant: freeloading ad-blocker piracy punks are ruining the internet.
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May 7th, 2008, 02:34
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Mogwins, there is no limit on the number of installs on the same hardware.
Ah, I hadn't noticed that. That makes a big difference, because I've installed Fallout/Torment on probably a dozen different hardware set-ups over the years (I like to tinker with hardware). I presume I couldn't do that with this form of copy protection - that's an infringement of my rights as a consumer - and a deal-breaker for me buying the game (not that I suspect I'd *want* to play it to the same extent as Fallout/Torment, but that's another story).
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May 7th, 2008, 02:37
Originally Posted by Gorath View Post
Im still undecided about this. Im not against online activation, but one check every 10 days is too much for my taste.
Would I prefer absolutely no CP at all, like, say TotalGaming? Sure. But this won't make any practical difference to me, so I'm not going to avoid a game I was looking for to over it.

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May 7th, 2008, 06:48
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
Guhndahb, Derek French has answered this:
I read all of his posts, including that one, but, at least by my interpretation, it does not have any bearing on my concerns. With activation schemes I insist on the ability to deactivate to free up an activation. There's no good reason for that to be unavailable. I tolerate it with MS with disgust because I have no choice, but refuse to tolerate it with anyone else.

I'm a tinkerer, and I tinker quite a bit on my gaming system. I do not want to worry about hardware (or even software) changes like I already have to with MS products. He tries to trivialize that issue by saying that his changes haven't caused a need for reactivation. But I find that unacceptable. Windows activation has required reactivation for me a number of times when I didn't even make true hardware changes. Do they use a different hardware ID system? Yes, of course. It could be better, it course be worse, but it matters a great deal less if I can just deactivate before making any significant changes to my system.
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May 7th, 2008, 07:20
Not one protection scheme will stop piracy even if you put vital data on a server and make you access the internet to access it. Not even making it like an mmo but single player will work. The first idea will fail since the data needs to go to your computer to use it so can be captured from the internet and then the game would be cracked to check for the data on the local computer. With making it mmo like you do the same thing and make the game look on your computer instead of over the internet.

The only way to lower piracy is to make the games like mmo's and have a monthly fee so that they can hire people to generate content. You would have new content constantly on a timed basis and have special events every so often. This would make it simular to an mmo but in a single player type game.
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May 7th, 2008, 09:57
Great another stupid publisher trick forcing us to get NoCd cracks, due to poorly designed and unnecessary copy protections. Just like any propaganda coming from anyone whom makes a profit off this or the fact that anyone would *ucking trust ea not put spyware in our PCs or not to take our personal data, is quite frankly astonishing.

Even if ME is expected to sell 1 million copies and it sells 2 million ea will still claim piracy is killing their sales. You know, cause ea is SO trust worthy and cares about games and the PC, they are just doing this for our and the industry's own good.

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May 7th, 2008, 10:57
Originally Posted by screeg View Post
Maybe you could fill me in on their need. Is it the need to delay pirates from distributing their game for the first 6 hours after its release, while inconveniencing everyone who pays for the game? Forever?
I was aiming for a little bit of emphasis with those Asterisk, but your comment is on the right track.

Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
What "hoops?"
Not my best analogy (or is that Idiom?). The install limit will hit those that change machines or hardware around (though the same machine appears to be fine).
I'm also soon to be in a situation where I'll have minimal dial-up to access the net, if anything other than what I get at work.

There is that little extra effort here, and potential to have your key revoked or things go wrong that just makes this scenario undesirable.

I'm quite fine with account authorisation solutions like steam though. Much more liberal on what they allow, and (unless it crashes and kills the clientregistry.blog file) okay to go in offline more.

But who knows? They might get it right this time. Either way, they need to do a lot to convince me of my $ to put up with it.
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May 7th, 2008, 11:02
Originally Posted by guenthar View Post
Not one protection scheme will stop piracy even if you put vital data on a server and make you access the internet to access it. Not even making it like an mmo but single player will work. The first idea will fail since the data needs to go to your computer to use it so can be captured from the internet and then the game would be cracked to check for the data on the local computer.

The only way to lower piracy is to make the games like mmo's and have a monthly fee so that they can hire people to generate content.
Guild wars sold 5 million and the game does not have any monthly fees or any noticeable amount of new content every month. Its also very much playable as a single player game and many play it like that too. Also som of its sp content is so good it actually raises above average sp crpg.

Another future protection is naturally hardware one like in the current generation of consoles. Its just a matter of time until the gaming alliance of hardware/software manufactures puts hardware level copyprotection into pc too. In the newest consoles it has worked really well.

I believe firmly that in future pirating of pc games will diminish with these new protections and we will see a new golden era of pc gaming when all that money becomes available to developers.
Last edited by zakhal; May 7th, 2008 at 11:47.
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May 7th, 2008, 11:10
I suspect a big part of the reason to adopt this new system is not so much to combat piracy, but to combat resale of the software - with limited installs and a unique CD-key that is tied to your own personal account, it will be hard to sell on this software. And that means more sales of originals while screwing the right of resale that you should have with something you own.

It's all about the money. EA's influence on Bioware is already starting to shine through it seems.

I've become increasingly disillusioned with gaming over the last few years… the quality of games (at least the type of quality that matters to me - I'm not talking pretty graphics here) has gone right downhill. I play less and less as it is. With the few games I had any real interest in deciding to slap on draconian drm on top… I may just give up altogether.
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May 7th, 2008, 12:03
Originally Posted by zakhal View Post
Another future protection is naturally hardware one like in the current generation of consoles. Its just a matter of time until the gaming alliance of hardware/software manufactures puts hardware level copyprotection into pc too. In the newest consoles it has worked really well.

I believe firmly that in future pirating of pc games will diminish with these new protections and we will see a new golden era of pc gaming when all that money becomes available to developers.
I don't believe hardware protection would happen either, that would mean killing the consoles market. The only reason Nintendo Microsoft and Sony build and sell consoles is because they know they'll be holding software makers by the throat and punction of huge a share of the software revenues in exchange of the "DRM method" (aka "consoles") they're providing. Consoles are just that, a hardware DRM, the controlers, the CPU, the graphic cards, the DVD player are just secondary perks to convince costumers to buy those DRMs.
And the only reason developers make console games and accept to give 30% of their profits to console manufacturers is because they're piracy free.
Why would Sony Microsoft and everyone else ever agree for a hardware DRM protection to install in every computer when that'll totally kill their console sales?
PC manufacturers don't need that to sell their computers anyway. Really that would only benefit software developers, so don't expect hardware companies to do something for them.

What will happen, or at least what should happen, is single player games becoming more like Guild Wars : all the vital information (saves, characters, advancement) is stored server-side and requires a unique account and password.

Any other software DRM added to the game.exe will be cleaned and removed by smarter crackers than the idiots from secuROM and those "fixed exe" will be available anywhere.
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May 7th, 2008, 12:32
I did a quick search and can't find any cracks/third party clients for Guild Wars so currently it looks like there is no way to pirate Guild Wars. Other mmo's do have third party clients and can be pirated. Just remember that not everything gets pirated since it requires people willing to do it.

I would try Guild Wars but I am not intrerested in games in an isometric view. I think the main reasons why Guild Wars became so popular is for one that it is an mmo that people can play without monthly fees; two that it was really hyped; and three that (I guess) it is a really good game.

EDIT
I forgot one other reason why Guild Wars was so popular and that is (like other mmos) that it has low system requirements.
Last edited by guenthar; May 7th, 2008 at 12:38.
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May 7th, 2008, 13:00
Originally Posted by Guhndahb View Post
I'm a tinkerer, and I tinker quite a bit on my gaming system. … But I find that unacceptable. Windows activation has required reactivation for me a number of times when I didn't even make true hardware changes.
We may learn the answer to this when some of the press previews come on line. Some of those sites swap out hardware and try different machines, and if they start getting locked out, it may make for some extra pre-release drama. I believe Bioshock was a bit bruised and bloodied from that before its street date.

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May 7th, 2008, 13:36
Originally Posted by mogwins View Post
But imagine the publisher goes bust (or, less drastically, 10 years from now, no longer supports the game): They're not going to take away my disc, so I can still play the game.
In principle this is right, but if your disk becomes too scratchy, then you won't get any replacement disk from them (like I already wrote in my "A Thought" topic).


One of the far beter copy protections is that of the game called Zanzarah which you most likely might not know:

If the disk isn't in its drive, then the own fairy (you let battle with other fairies) becomes far too weak … Meanwhile the opponent's fairies become too strong …

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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