Users Report Mass Effect PC DRM Issues, Apparently Limited to 3 Lifetime Installations

By Aaron Linde, Jun 18, 2008 2:50pm PDT Several gamers have complained that the digital rights management software built into the PC version of BioWare's Mass Effect (PC, 360) only allows three lifetime installations, regardless of whether the user uninstalls the game.

According to consumer advocacy website The Consumerist, a tech support representative at publisher Electronic Arts confirmed to a user on the official Mass Effect forums that no additional activations are earned by uninstalling the game.

Those gamers who have reached their three install limit must contact EA technical support to request additional activations. Though the protocol is meant to guard against piracy, many affected users claim that hardware issues, operating system reformats and other technical problems led to a swift exhaustion of activation credits.

The Demiurge-developed port was originally planned to ship with a DRM scheme requiring users to reactivate the game every ten days via an internet connection, which was later revised into the current setup following an uproar of angry consumers. Another EA-published title, EA Maxis' life sim Spore, will hit PCs with a similar DRM package.

The PC edition of 2K Boston and Australia's BioShock features a similar system which allows only five installations of the game at any given time. The developer released a pre-uninstallation utility two months after the game's debut to refund activation slots to the user.

However, that software is not able to revoke a BioShock activation if the installation is rendered inaccessible by circumstances such as hard disk failures.

As with Mass Effect, BioShock owners who wish to exceed the limit must contact 2K Games to request more installations, which are handled on a case-by-case basis.

Shacknews has contacted an Electronic Arts representative for comment, but has not heard back as of this writing.

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  • Pay $50 for a limited full game 'demo'.

    So when will the lawsuits start flying that game companies cannot control the number of installs of a game when done in a legitimate manor? EA has their pants in a wad about piracy while Valve is wearing moneyhats with their Steam service. DRM should not be allowed to be any more inconvenient than login online all the time like Steam. That's GOOD ENOUGH. Or update Steam to 'deactivate' all games just like iTunes does for music, movies, oh and games too.

    This whole bullshit with Bioshock adding extra DRM to the Steam version is what forced me to never buy the damn game. Period.

    Publishers cannot control the number of INSTALLS. They must respect the 'open' environment that the PC was designed for. Hell I reinstall my OS for hardware or software (service packs) a few times a year.

    It's amusing to see this issue only on the PC platform. You never see this on the consoles at all and those folks can enjoy playing the same game as many times as they feel like.

    The game publishers aren't going to give a shit unless they see a serious lawsuit in their face. So will somebody hurry it up so this thing can be done and over with already? Consumers are the ones losing out here.