Spore, Mass Effect PC to Require Online Validation Every Ten Days to Function

By Nick Breckon, May 06, 2008 1:28pm PDT Update: Electronic Arts has relented to the pressure.

Original story: BioWare technical producer Derek French has said that the PC versions of both Mass Effect and Spore will make use of copy protection that will require online validation every ten days in order for the games to continue working.

"After the first activation, SecuROM requires that [Mass Effect PC] re-check with the server within ten days (in case the CD Key has become public/warez'd and gets banned)," said French in a post on the BioWare forums.

If customers do not come online after ten days, the game will cease to function.

"After 10 days a re-check is required before the game can run," added French. "..An internet connection is not required to install, just to activate the first time, and every 10 days after."

The check is run when users activate the game's executable file, with the first re-check coming within "5 days remaining in the 10 day window."

According to French, Maxis' Spore will also make use of the same scheme: "[Electronic Arts] is ready for us and getting ready for Spore, which will use the same system."

French also noted that the online requirement will be clearly labeled on the games' packaging.

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  • I think this will be good. Here is a "intrusive copy-protection" that the publishers think is un-crackable. And they put it on two "blockbuster" PC games. Ok, now we will really see just why console to PC ports and Innovative PC games don't see that well (as I expect to hear from the publishers after release). IF (and I know this is a big IF) this does work and is not hacked (lol) then developers can finally stop blaming Piracy for low PC game sales. I am so sick of game resources going into Anti-piracy when the product and distribution does not meet the needs of the consumer.

    I am all for the growth of the PC game market but I do not think Piracy is the problem with PC game sales. I think it is a scape-goat and the solutions to it are punishing regular users and poor people who can't afford your game (probably the majority of pirates).

    If some rich kid who could afford your game decides he wants to pirate your game, he is going to do it. His motivation is probably that he has several consoles and is just not that interested in your game. And your game had no built in reason NOT to pirate. If your game was the gift-that-keeps-giving and has value long after a one-time play-through, then its worth a purchase. Instead, he plays Crysis through once, deletes it, and goes back to playing COD4 online on his 360 with an extra $50 in his pocket. Of course his console games are pirated, too, so don't blame pirates for the success of consoles.

    Encourage people not to pirate. Pack in more value. Give people a reason not buy into your product/company. No more crappy, < 20 hours, "by the formula" video games to sell to the masses and pay for your money hats. If you do not have an innovative product or something people WANT to support, then they will not.

    Same problem with music. I stopped buying CD albums for $20 long before it was cool to download them because it is stupid to pay $20 for a CD that gets scratched/lost and that I can listen to on the radio / just don't need to LEASE the RIGHTS to the IP. Stupid, I just wanted to listen to a song, shouldn't need to be that hard/expensive.

    Do I cry at night that super-mega-pop stars get a few less millions of $$ to blow in dramatic ways and make the cover of gossip mags? No, I do not. Do I cry for big game publishers who can't ride the wave of Video game popularity into fortune 500 companies? Not a chance. Do I want good, creative game developers to make a living making video games that they believe in and enjoy making? Yes. I will continue to buy every Blizzard/Relic/Valve game that comes out. But I'm not spending any money on soulless games made by EA for $$. Not a chance.

    For games. Make it easy. Make it worth the money. Price it appropriately for value and distribution. Lower distribution and advertising costs by going to online distribution/torrents and market to the community, not the masses. PC games are niche, they don't have mass appeal like a Console. But we will support our industry, we will buy games that are good, and we will support hard working, creative developers.

    AND we will be here when that console looks AGED and everyone still has a PC. And we will be here when that Console is just a PC that plays games....(duh i think....)

    Thread Truncated. Click to see all 5 replies.

    • Not sure we're entirely on different pages, but some thoughts..

      "I do not think Piracy is the problem with PC game sales. "

      Last online game I worked on.. we had about 190k valid online registrations. We had 800k invalid/cracked registrations (that were not allowed online because they were using a hacked/public warez key). The still could play the 40+ hours of offline content or lan multiplay because we didn't force them to authenticate periodically. We didn't force any offline players to authenticate or ever register online, so this is a subset of total numbers.

      "Encourage people not to pirate. Pack in more value."

      Great thought, very idealistic, people will still priate it.

      "Stupid, I just wanted to listen to a song, shouldn't need to be that hard/expensive. "

      So.. you're getting the value of listening to the song, yet you're very willing to pirate it? Or are you saying you used pay download services? If you didn't want the song badly enough to own it, presumably when you hear it on the radio would be enough?

      "Do I want good, creative game developers to make a living making video games that they believe in and enjoy making?"

      See above. Pirating hurts the industry far more than you think. Valve is stingy with numbers, but the number of games sold over Steam (And REQUIRE periodic validation with the Steam servers to play) are already growing far beyond brick and mortar sales, just from the tiny amount of data that does leak out. Almost everyone has an internet connection, almost no one wants to go to best buy to buy the latest PC game, and publishers and developers are going to permanently move to a system, like Steam, and like this, where the ability to commit casual piracy is greatly limited. Yes, this system will be hacked, but it will be too much effort for most people.

      The one thing the industry needs more of is what Xbox Live has done.. give meaningful demos of every game that comes out. You should never have to make an uninformed $50 to $60 purchase decision.