EA vs EA’s DRM

By Alec Meer on March 24th, 2010 at 6:47 pm.

I forget what we have and haven’t said about the DRM in Command & Conquer 4, but if you’ve somehow not heard, the long-story-short is that it’s very similar to Ubisoft’s always-online horror-thing. Lose your connection and you get kicked to the menu-based curb. The difference is that there’s a persistent experience rank/unlock system, a la Modern Warfare, so it’s at least trying to use its internetiness for something other than mere restriction. My personal take is that this kind of thinking is the only hope of ever justifing an online requirement, but in this case the unlock system rips half the fun out of the game by keeping the coolest units so distant, so it’s scant justification this time around. Boo. Anyway, there’s been a spot of semi-comedy to this techno-tragedy.

Sometime games journo Jeff Green has been having a good old moan about the DRM on Twitter: “Booted twice–and progress lost–on my single-player C&C4 game because my DSL connection blinked. DRM fail. We need new solutions,” followed by “Welp. I’ve tried to be open-minded. But my ‘net connection is finicky–and the constant disruption of my C&C4 SP game makes this unplayable.”

Jeff Green’s current job is editor-in-chief of EA.com. Whee!

(And an occasional designer – here he is discussing his curious role). Well, good on him for being forthright. Let’s hope high-level protest from within manages to make a dent in the EA managerial omni-mind somewhere. It’s the single most important part of this debate: net connections are not reliable. Even when you’re a rich guy.

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112 Comments »

  1. Stupid Fat Hobbit says:

    Ha! Brilliant.

    It would be nice if something similar happened at Ubisoft, but I’m not convinced anyone at that company above the middle management level has ever actually played a game, they seem so ludicrously out of touch.

    • battles_atlas says:

      I don’t think middle managers exist in modern company structures. They were all culled in ‘efficiency’ savings. Now there are just people that make things, and people that make reasons for awarding themselves 30% pay rises.

    • Discordance says:

      Do some digging, if you go back to Koticks infamous fear speech last year, he said at the same time he brought in people from the canned food industry. Such a wanker

    • aDelicateBalance says:

      @Discordance: wow! I did just check that out. Now I feel guilty that I bought DJ Hero. My cousin works in the games industry, not for Activision, that fuck, but it’s people like him being exploited by people like Kotick in order to make lots of money and derivitive, unadventurous games. YAY!

  2. c-Row says:

    The biggest chance for change is when somebody at executive level is affected.

  3. Heliosicle says:

    Hopefully this will make him encourage them not to try and put this into other games.

    And EA were doing SO well at resisting silly drm…

  4. LionsPhil says:

    Coming up next, a sincere apology from Jeff Green to the community for his outburst, followed by his resignation.

    • Linfosoma says:

      It’s sad because it’ll probably happen.

    • jalf says:

      At least he’s not working for Activision. Can you imagine how they would have reacted to one of their employees saying something like this?

      Did anyone say “insubordination” and “lawsuit”?

    • Stromko says:

      Computer Gaming World (which existed as Games for Windows magazine for its last 11 months sadly) was the best U.S. gaming magazine by far in my opinion, and I have a pretty high opinion of Jeff Green from that. I hope he comes out alright from all this.

  5. iainl says:

    But being unplayable is HIS fault, not EA’s! The box says you need a persistent net connection; if you don’t have one that’s not within the minimum specs and you’re stuffed.

    That’s how PC gaming works, isn’t it?

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Wait. They are just now doing DRM persistent internet connections for the first time, and it’s already a PC Gaming requirement?

      *headshots himself*

    • Feste says:

      Thor help us all when they start putting 50MW Thorium reactors as part of the required specs then, that’s a little out of my upgrade budget.

    • Howl says:

      Sounds like EA’s system needs work as the Ubi system doesn’t boot anything. It just waits until your connection is restored and carries on. If your PC goes down it resumes your game from the last auto-save in their cloud.

      I’ve been playing the Settlers 7 demo and Assassin’s Creed 2 the last week and the DRM hasn’t been the least bit intrusive. Sorry to disappoint the placard wavers but it’s non intrusive and seems to be working. They will all copy it before long.

      Nice to see that EA’s system isn’t so hot though, as they are evil and eat babies.

    • Bret says:

      Thor help us?

      Are we talking Marvel Thor, classic Thor, or Megaten Thor.

      Big difference in helpfulness.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      One hopes it’s Marvel Thor. Though if The DRM Sentry rolls up on us, we’re all hosed. PC Gaming Asgard has fallen. All is lost, unless Indie Gaming Nick Fury has a plan.

    • Mr_Day says:

      @Howl

      Your experiences seems to be the opposite of the first reports on losing your internet connection in a Ubisoft game – I tried looking to see if they have patched or changed it in some way, buy Ubi’s website is as helpful as bucket on the Titanic.

      As for them not eating babies – you clearly haven’t been to the annual Ubi Magic Show!

    • Catastrophe says:

      @Howl

      Meaning you’re forced to stay on the internet to play a single player game. You are bounced to your last Clouded Save point on disconnect, meaning you lose anything since the and also meaning you have to wait for it to reconnect to continue your game.

      You and I have different meanings of the word “intrusive”.

      Regarding the EA idiocy – If they wish for you to have a feature of tracking scores/ranks online, give a simple button on the games launch screen saying “Upload Rank data to Online Ranked ladder” and another button that says “View Online Rank Ladder”. I like for my games to only connect to the outside world when I click “connect to the outside world” and not sitting in the background connecting to whatever the hell it likes while i’m quietly enjoying my game.

      Tinfoil hat please, the interwebs are trying to steal my datas!

  6. SirKicksalot says:

    It’s sad how EA was dragged along in this Ubi DRM scandal. They’ve told us about it since August, and I’ve seen quite a lot of articles and Angry Internet Men claiming now that holy shit, EA stealthily included such a DRM in Tiberium Whatever!

    • Anthony says:

      Added to this is all the noise EA made about BC2 still allowing dedicated servers in response to the Modern Warfare 2 restrictions. The left hand has obviously not met the right hand, or it was only in passing and a bit dark out.

      It’s all a bit schizophrenic with EA these days. They see the reaction to what other studios are doing, make a statement saying “Hey, we’re not like those guys” but then turn around and do something like this.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Maybe they realized the unlock system was stupid and wanted to make it so no one would play the game so it got no reviews instead of bad reviews?

    • Feste says:

      I was generally meaning classic Thor, the vengeance and lightning bolts might be useful; but Marvell Thor would probably more helpful and less likely to make mugs out of our skulls.

      Just as long as it’s not DC Thor. He’s neither bright nor useful and I don’t need any songs about his big hammer

    • Feste says:

      Oops, meant to reply to the thread above.

  7. IncredibleBulk92 says:

    From what I’ve played of C&C4 Jeff should count himself as lucky. That game is terrible. The single player gives off the impression that the game is designed for multiplayer but the multiplayer is just a horrible grind. Don’t even get me started on the ridiculous unlock system that stops you from using essential units until you’ve played for 6+ hours. It’s not worth fighting the DRM for such a badly made game.

  8. Tinus says:

    “My personal take is that this kind of thinking is the only hope of ever justifing an online requirement”

    I do hope you’re joking. Adding those kinds of features is akin to them sugarcoating a gigantic turd before they shove it down your mouth. You might find the taste of it a bit less revolting, heck, you might even not mind it anymore after a while. It’s still a giant turd, though. In your mouth.

    • jsutcliffe says:

      Exactly. Why would I need to record my single-player rank and unlocks online? Keep single-player content playable offline please.

    • Feste says:

      It’s silly but I think your profile is across the board, the same for single and multi-player. So they’ve managed to lock out half the game until you play it for long enough to get with playing it.

      Troy Goodfellow and his guys on Three Moves Ahead have a very good take on the whole. I think the word ‘abomination’ came up. :)

  9. Dante says:

    I think the reason people are more disappointed about this and less angry is that, unlike Ubisoft this seems very much like a flawed system badly implemented in a single game, rather than a company wide policy enacted for no real reason.

  10. Feste says:

    I’m waiting for complaints from their dev teams, mid-way through coding the net-code their internet connection goes down and they’re booted from the development environment.

    It seems the next logical step in DRM, they’ve got their costumers locked out of playing the game now they just need to stop their devs from making the game and they can ensure that no-one will pirate their games.

  11. Illuminatrus says:

    Grindy gameplay forcing you to play for hours to unlock tiers of units + always on net connection requirement = data mining heaven?

  12. Phil says:

    I do love Jeff Green. Hope they don’t revoke his access to the cafeteria for that…

    And I don’t agree that persistent unlocks in any way justify an always-online requirement. If you’re going to require people to be online all the time then the online component has to be an integral part of your game, and it has to be something that couldn’t be achieved offline.

    “Your unlocks stay unlocked wherever you are” doesn’t qualify. When you think about it, that’s just an even more limited version of ubisoft’s cloud saving thingy.

    If EA wanted to do this then the game to try and do it with would have been Spore. If spore had required me to be online at all times and had used that connection to continuously download user generated content into my worlds I honestly believe I’d have been fine with that, it’d have felt to me like there was a genuine reason for it. Of course, they had another exciting DRM scheme in mind for spore, but that was a rant from a more innocent time…

    • Mr_Day says:

      i think you are spot on there – an always on internet connection for Spore would have been a fancy addition, allowing the game to include content from the Spore online database at all times. Roburky has made a new spaceship in the time you have been beating up crazy manimals? Sod it, bung it in!

      Mr_Day made a new house? Put it….oh good lord, take it out! Ban him!

    • Mr_Day says:

      Only just realised I hadn’t added this:

      But would the us of ‘back when Spore was released’ have seen this as good feature with the necessary evil of always on drm added? I think it more likely we would have told them to sod off, viewing it as the wooden badger whose purpose is to get the army of drm-ninjas* into the stronghold of Tortuga.

      * Because the enmies of pirat…ok, I’ll shush.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      I don’t think it’s fair to say Spore was more innocent times. Evils of Starforce aside, Spore was the turning point into mainstream horrific DRM. (Sorry, don’t consider Ubisoft as mainstream as they’ve treated the consumer like shit for years and have been complete off my radar for that reason.)

      Of course you HAVE to be online all the time to play MMORPG’s, which is sadly an argument publishers can use to justify that it’s okay… But for single player there is NO NEED WHATSOEVER.

      Bullshit like this, if I wind up dragged out to my mother in laws and take my Macbook, I flat out can’t play, which is why it’ll be a cold day in hell before I buy a title that has this ridiculous requirement.

      It’s ironic. As a die hard XP user I always figured MS leveraging DX10 would see the demise of my PC gaming (since I don’t fall for snakeoil sales tactics which is what Win 7 is)… But ultimately it may turn out to be DRM that kills my interest in the PC as a platform.

  13. Mario Figueiredo says:

    So. Who’s going to buy or have already bought C&C 4, raise your hands!

    Do I see a lot of hands in the air?

    • mandrill says:

      No. You don’t.

      And not just for this idiotic DRM. Its not Command and Conquer. It has no right to the name. The only thing that is even remotely CnC related is the bald beardy himself. the rest bears no resemblance to a series of games which was responsible for a whole genre being born. This game is an insult to the memory of Westwood and the game they created. I spit on it.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      That’s interesting, the impression I got was that it was the exact same gameplay experience as in all previous C&C titles. It’s a bit faster, since there’s no resource management and you have fewer units so unit management makes me less prone to suicide, but otherwise there’s no real difference. Even though I’m fond of the C&C storyline for some odd reason, I don’t much like C&C titles themselves (other than Generals, and I can’t for the life of me explain why) so I was hoping this one would be different, what with all the talk of drastic changes. It was exactly the same.

      Mind you, I’m hardly an RTS expert.

  14. Pew says:

    I wonder how many people would’ve paid $10 to just get a DRM-less collection of all the cutscenes.

  15. cjlr says:

    It’s because C&C4 was a half-assed mediocrity churned out as a last minute cash-grab by a team of unknowns on a tight deadline. I’m not saying there wasn’t talent and good ideas involved somewhere, but when the team has been disassembled before the game even goes gold what does that tell you about the publisher’s attitude?

    Nobody signing off on this gave a fuck. So what better to spring this horseshit always-online deal on? They’re testing the waters with something that nobody has anything riding on.

    And the conclusion is that it’s fucking terrible. To have been surprised by this sort of thing happening would require things like knowledge and awareness. If the warning signs from every possible quarter didn’t prevent such an insane DRM implementation, I hardly think even the most vociferous complains from the highest quarters are going to have much effect now.

  16. Samuel Bass says:

    …whatever you think of the game, the majority of the on-the-ground people making CNC4 (not the management) were the same people who’ve been making RTS games at EA for the last ten years or so.

    Yeah, we’re not famous, and our deadline was tight, but “team of unknowns” is a bit unfair. Of course, given the amount of Angry Internet Manning going on regarding the game, I’m not surprised.

    • cjlr says:

      My apologies. That was an extremely impulsive response. It was the (unverified, unresearched, ultimately incorrect) claim I heard from various other people who I shouldn’t have taken seriously.

      To take a more neutral tone, I would still say that this game has its moments, but its whole lifecycle is the result of some extremely questionable decisions from upstairs.

    • Samuel Bass says:

      No big deal…just thought I’d have to step up and defend my fellow developers. Ironically enough, all but a few of us have been laid off in the last month or two. Sad end to a team that did some pretty decent-to-good stuff over the years (I’m particularly fond of our work on Battle For Middle Earth2, which remains a bit under appreciated).

    • cjlr says:

      It wasn’t unappreciated from me! I sunk many, many hours into War of the Ring mode on that one…

      I’m sorry to hear about the team’s fate. Recession-proof industry, my ass.

    • Samuel Bass says:

      Thanks, that fills my heart with a little bit of joy.

    • Mr_Day says:

      *puts hand up for BfME 2*

      With the possible exception of Tom Bambodil as a special unit. that was just weird.

    • Samuel Bass says:

      The Tom Bomb!

      He was more a (tongue-in-cheek) reaction to the people complaining that Bombadil wasn’t in the movies than anything. That was a really fun game to work on – especially since I got to do the Evil Shire mission where you could set hobbits on fire;)

    • Collic says:

      @ Howl

      Steam and the Ubisoft thing aren’t nearly the same thing. If you don’t like it then fine, but they really aren’t.

    • Subject 706 says:

      Mr. Bass, I fully understand it if you can’t/don’t want to/aren’t allowed to answer this question;

      With a franchise that had such an established fanbase, what was the reasoning behind changing the formula so radically?

    • KilgoreTrout XL says:

      BFMEII is my favorite RTS of all time- no kidding. Congrats on a job well done.

  17. Vinraith says:

    Anything that undermines this god-awful trend in DRM is a good thing.

  18. WingNutZA says:

    DRM? What DRM? This game doesn’t contain ANY DRM!
    I know this because that’s what C&C’s Community manager Apoc told me, and he’d never lie, right? RIGHT?
    He edited his first post here, but the second forum post still contains a quote from Apoc’s original post.
    Mind boggling!

    • Markoff Chaney says:

      This was my favorite part of this debacle: sidestepping the truth to obscure reality. I knew the game required a persistent on-line connection and to say that there is “NO DRM. Zip, zero, zilch, none.” is quite hilarious. At least he changed the first post to more accurately reflect reality.

  19. One f Jef says:

    Look, I don’t mean to JUST play devils advocate here, but, regarding the “techno-tragedy” of needing to be online to play a game, I must ask: Where is your outrage against Steam? Hm? Must you not log in to Steam to play your own purchased and owned games? When Half-Life 2 came out I bought it … And then my internet went down and I could not play for a week.

    Why the gross doublestandard? I’m not saying it it okay, just, shouldn’t it at least be ALWAYS wrong and not just wrong when the company doing it is also pure evil?

    • subedii says:

      When my net connection goes offline, or even when Steam itself goes offline, I can take my client into offline mode and crucially, still play my games. So far I haven’t had problems with that, and trust me, my connection used to go down a LOT.

    • cjlr says:

      False equivocation.

      Steam requires thirty seconds of internet access at intervals of several days. That’s not even comparable.

      And the thing is, some of us complained about that back in the day. I’m not usually one for overwrought ‘slippery slope’ arguments, but…

    • LionsPhil says:

      @Jef: Because Valve are the chosen can-do-no-wrong saviour of PC gaming, and at the time “Steam is just an autopatching tool, right? And I’m not missing out on Half-Life 2!”; now it’s part of the landscape and almost everyone’s got used to their daily breakfast of DRM-flavoured fecal matter, to use Tinus’ similie above.

      It *does* at least have chance that maybe, just maybe, offline mode may work for you sometimes. Ergo it is not merely sugarcoated gigantic turd, but also one with sprinkles.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Steams offline mode is good for a week. This drm will crap in your cereal if your net drops for even a few seconds.

      Thats about 5 powers of magnitude in difference.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Heliocentric

      It’s a big difference, but not so big as the difference between games that are independent of an internet connection and those that require one. The concern, at root, is that if people got used to occasionally needing an internet connection to play their games, it won’t be hard for them to get used to needing a constant internet connection to play their games. Steam was an object of outrage and horror when it first came about, just like this “online all the time” crap. Now it’s widely accepted and massively financially successful. It’s all too easy to see a pattern at work, and I can’t say as I like where I see the industry going as a result.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Ok, fine, the turd also has a thick layer of chocolate sauce. It’s still a turd.

      It’s nice that Steam has achievements, and “jump into the server your friend just started”, and an online store, and all these gizmos that work some of the time these days. It’s still first-and-foremost an online-authentication DRM system; it’s still spyware (unless you think Valve get those hardware survey results by collecting registration cards in boxed software like it’s still the early ’90s); it’s still a technically unnecessary burden on top of running a game which there for restrictive purposes which has since has had advantages layered on top of it to try to excuse it.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      It’s the difference between weathering a hand grenade, and a full scale orbital bombardment.

    • James G says:

      @LionsPhil

      Don’t the hardware surveys require user participation? I’ve always been asked a few questions on things they can’t auto-detect, and I assumed that if I didn’t fill in those it wouldn’t submit the rest either. Obviously Steam does gather and record some usage data, but I was under the impression that the hardware surveys at least were ‘opt-in.’

    • Wulf says:

      @James G

      Indeed, you are correct.

      I believe (but I’m not one hundred per cent sure on all of this) the options are something lie: allow this once, allow this always, not this time, and never. Which is pretty much how most opt-in data gathering for applications works.

      It’s also a misnomer to call it ‘spyware’, that’s silly, it’s also intentional misinformation if LP all ready knew this because spyware–the whole notion of spyware–runs without the knowledge or consent of the user, at least until it’s discovered. Hence, you know, SPYware. Which Steam is obviously not.

      People might not like Steam, but with its offline mode it’s a damn sight better than pretty much every other DRM system out there, and if we wave our arms and scream like extremists then we’re going to look no better than the big publishers. Steam is a very benign and benevolent form of DRM, and quite kind to the system it’s running on and the user who has to deal with it, compared to the EA/Ubisoft DRM systems which are not.

    • mandrill says:

      The difference between Steam and the EA/UBI crap we’re being fed is that with their turd a la sprinkles Valve got the recipe right. EA and UBI just tacked theirs on without any thought for how it might affect the gamer.

      Gabe himself has said that games are becoming a service that Valve provide, whereas EA and UBI ar stillt hinking in terms of a produc that they have to protect. The difference is one of attitude and implementation. EA and UBI got id dead wrong Valve got it right.

    • Howl says:

      Easy to Gabe to say when Valve abandoned single player games years ago. They have been doing the Ubi thing for years, it’s just that most people don’t realise it until Steam servers go wacky and they suddenly can’t start a game of L4D2.

    • Wulf says:

      @Howl

      Utter nonsense, unless Portal is a single-player game and Portal 2 is going to be single-player.

      What I think it comes down to is that there are only two sorts of players who actually dislike Steam:

      1.) The sort of player who dislikes the very concept of software dialling home, and despite Steam’s offline mode they still have to login occasionally, but they’d rather a game completely operate offline. [I believe Vinraith falls into this group.]

      2.) The sort of player who has no clue about how the software on their computer works, they don’t know about updates, Steam cloud, or offline mode, and what they really get angry at is their lack of understanding. [The vast majority falls into this group.]

      The thing is, when someone points out that Steam can go offline for a couple of months even and that games can still be played without any issue, group 2 go very quiet and feel a little stupid, as well they bloody should. I’ve had Steam run in offline mode for weeks at a time when I simply haven’t felt like having my community page updated, or when I haven’t wanted to be bombarded by IMs on Steam.

      Portal works in offline mode, too, as will Portal 2. That won’t stop group 2 bitching about how they need to be online until someone slowly and carefully walks them through the process of properly using offline mode.

    • Wulf says:

      Bah, I wrote that first line wrong. A bit tired, what I meant was: That’s nonsense, unless Portal doesn’t have single-player and unless Portal 2 isn’t going to have single-player.

      Since Portal is a brilliant single-player game.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I still don’t totally understand why there was a huge uproar over SecureROM 1-time activation/deactivation where it phones home the first time you run it and then you never have to worry about copy protection until you uninstall it. I mean, I understand the uproar prior to deauth tools being available, but as long as there’s an easy way to deauth the thing I vastly prefer that as a copy protection solution to Steam, or even disk checks. I was thrilled to death when BF:BC2 gave you the option to auth it once rather than having it rape your CD-ROM drive everytime you want to acess the 10 gigs it put on your HD.

      I don’t dislike Steam, but I wish it used a solution more like Impulse, where you don’t need to run their TSR app everytime you play a game you’ve purchased/downloaded/installed. I really don’t see why you have to launch their e-commerce/chat/social networking/web browsing client everytime you want to play a game. That’s an area where Impulse (and diskless SecureROM, imho) destroys Steam.

  20. subedii says:

    A note of interest about Jeff Green. The reason he actually comes off as more level headed than your standard corporate PR spokesperson is that before signing up to work for EA, he used to be editor at a PC games magazine called “Computer Gaming World” (which was later rebranded “Games for Windows Magazine” before being dropped, i think it was part of the 1up Network). So before entering the games development side of things he was actually a games critic.

    They used to have a really awesome podcast that ran for about 2 years, I still miss it today. Shawn Elliot’s Second Life reports were ridiculously hilarious (IIRC he also moved on to games development, works at 2K / Irrational / Whatever it’s called now).

    • Adam Bloom says:

      I’m pretty sure the lovely journalists at RPS know who Jeff Green is. :P

    • subedii says:

      It wasn’t mentioned in the article, so I was putting it out there for the benefit of those who might not know. RPS previously covered the shutdown of GFW magazine (and the Brodeo), so yeah, they already knew about it.

    • Sagan says:

      Jeff Green now has a podcast at EA, and Shawn Elliott now has a podcast at Irrational. Ryan Scott also has a podcast, (Geekbox) so Sean Molloy is the only one we don’t get to hear any more.
      But yeah, I also still miss the Brodeo. That group together was just perfect. Insane and silly, but also very smart.

    • subedii says:

      Shawn Elliot, Jeff Green and Robert Ashley still get together for a new podcast (along with N’gai Croal, he has a regular column in EDGE magazine amongst other things) called “out of the game”. I only listened to a bit off it so I can’t really tell whether it’s the same style, I think it was really more industry oriented and less about the hijinks (understandable).

      http://mexicutedbyhepitacos.libsyn.com/

      Seems they haven’t released a new podcast since December.

    • Samuel Bass says:

      Did a really candid interview with Jeff Green for the official EA Podcast, talking about how this weird little game came together. Probably the most candid one I’ve done, even moreso than the RPS interview.

      Should be out in the next day or so.

  21. Heliocentric says:

    Short form, posted this 3 times, keeps getting eaten, think opera mini 5 is screwed.

    Jeff Green =awesome
    Drm=crap when ubi do it, crap when ea do it
    Reviewers=better mark the game down and talk about it in the review
    Ea=will only get a sale from me if they price it like the rental it is

  22. kalidanthepalidan says:

    Are the cacti in those pictures hundreds of feet tall? They look like the tower over the big stompy mechs. Maybe they are actually little stompy mechs? Though they also appear to be larger than the massive building……

  23. James G says:

    I hadn’t heard about this DRM I have to admit. (Mainly because I’m not bothered about C&C4, and also because RPS is my primary source of gaming news, and I don’t believed you’ve mentioned it, at least not buried deep in an unrelated C&C4 post.

    I do hope this isn’t the beginnings of a policy for EA. I was just beginning to get used to new EA, it would be a shame to get ‘evil’ EA back.

  24. Wulf says:

    Nothing I can say here that I haven’t said before, I’m really disappointed in EA though.

    I just hope they’re not going to put this nonsense into future Bioware games, because if they do then Mass Effect 3 is off the list for me.

    /sigh

    I thought you were better than that, EA. You turned over a new leaf, and found that you were making only about three quarters of the profits you used to be making, then greed took over again. I suppose no big publisher is immune to this.

    Live and learn, live and learn.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Wulf

      EA had indeed been doing so well. For now, let’s take this as a blip, rather than the start of a trend. Surely the sales Bioware is seeing should be sufficient to convince them that their current DRM model is working fine? Optimism doesn’t come naturally to me, but let’s not borrow trouble eh?

    • Wulf says:

      You’re right, sorry.

      I’m just feeling really jaded after all the recent nonsense with Activision and Ubisoft, and it’s beginning to feel like all the big names are lining up to have their turn at stabbing the collective PC user-base in the back, and that I find obnoxious. But it’s a feeling fostered by Acti and Ubi, EA thus far have been good… so I should be more fair to them.

      I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and see what their future games are like, if this was just a mistake and they continue to behave then I’ll be willing to see the best in them. The most awesome thing they could do irght now is listen and make this system optional by including an offline mode for people who don’t want the ranking system.

    • subedii says:

      Well Bioware in particular have come out saying that their efforts to distinguish the PC version of Dragon Age (as opposed to, you know, crappy port territory and crappy DRM) paid off for them:

      http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/27543/Dragon_Age_Producer_Dedicating_Resources_To_Distinguishing_PC_Console_Versions_Paid_Off.php

      It’s almost like, making a good product and tailoring it to your userbase, actually increases sales.

      [Joker]
      I know! Crazy!
      [/Joker]

  25. PeopleLikeFrank says:

    Me, I’m just waiting until the industry realizes, like Big Music did, that none of this stuff works, and give up on it. Probably naïve, I know. Pirates would go nuts of course, and that sucks. I’m not convinced on the whole 1 pirated copy equals 1 lost sale bit, though.

    But really, Ubisoft must have sunk a lot of dough into their system. When it is cracked? Then what? I’m pretty sure you can’t make a 100% reliable DRM system that’s not 100% unusable.

  26. Scoteh says:

    Frankly its this kind of crap that makes me WANT to go get a torrented version of the game, just for stability if nothing else.

    Of course I won’t, but more because I’m far too busy playing SupCom2. Y’know, a GOOD rts……

    • Arathain says:

      On the note of good RTSs and DRM, you know what really hurts? I’ve been playing some of the RUSE open beta, and it’s really good. It’s the only RTS I’ve ever played online multiplayer and had a good time with and really felt competitive. It looks good, it’s clever and it feels punchy.

      And I won’t buy it while it has Ubi’s DRM on it. RPS can’t talk about it while it has Ubi’s DRM on it. So one of the more interesting RTSs of this year, very different from the other big ones, will be missed out on.

    • TCM says:

      I agree, and it makes me very sad.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Arathain

      I was under the (perhaps false) impression that RUSE wasn’t going to be saddled with Ubi’s “we hate our customers” DRM. I wasn’t clear on WHY, but I’m sure I read that somewhere. Maybe I misunderstood something or was misinformed, though.

    • Arathain says:

      Hmm, as far as I know it’ll have the DRM of Unpleasant Silliness. I’d be pretty pleased if it didn’t. I shall look into it.

    • Arathain says:

      On the official RUSE forums there’s a fairly large thread about the DRM. No one, official or otherwise, denies that it is not the Ubi DRM of Frustrating Badness.

  27. bleeters says:

    Oh Lord. I had hoped EA’s days of increasingly irksome DRM were behind them.

  28. Vinraith says:

    Why doesn’t someone put together a nice little advertisement about how big game publishers hate our soldiers? It’s not like active duty personnel have access to connections that allow them to play these games, after all, or any connection at all in many cases. Wouldn’t “Ubisoft hates the military” be a pretty effective way to turn this stupidity into bad PR?

  29. bill says:

    I played HL2 for a month or two with NO internet connection when I moved to a new apartment. No problems.

    But even if it didn’t have an offline mode, it’d still only be a check on startup… you wouldn’t have to stop and/or lose your progress if your connection dropped.

    Imagine if typing into the comment box on RPS was cancelled if your connection dropped. It’d be infuriating, and it’d be bad design. That’s why if your web connection drops pages you’ve already loaded stay visible in your browser.

    • Wulf says:

      Indeed, here’s another great point:

      Browser: I can watch a flash film, pause it, hibernate my computer, wake it, and resume watching the film.
      Steam: I can start a Steam game, pause it, hibernate my computer, wake it, and continue playing.
      UbiDRM: I can start a UbiDRM game, pause it, hibernate my computer, wake it, and I’m screwed.

  30. Ravenger says:

    I did have a similar experience with Steam this morning though.

    Starting it up it said ‘Steam is currently unavailable, please try later’, and wouldn’t even let me go into offline mode.

    I managed to fix it by deleting the clientregistry.blob. It didn’t work first time. On the third attempt Steam updated correctly.

    Luckily I knew where to look for a solution, and it turned out that a lot of people were affected. I imagine a casual PC gamer might have been locked out of their games for a lot longer than I was.

    • Wulf says:

      It amazes me but despite my long-term abuse of offline mode, I’ve never actually had that happen to me (needing to delete clientregistry.blob to access offline mode, that is). The only one time I’ve deleted my clientregistry.blob was when I was testing out different Steam content servers.

      Then again, this is the norm for me (and it annoys the snot out of people I know) since I tend to not experience most even commonplace problems. I’m just lucky, I suppose.

  31. Wilson says:

    Yeah, I find Steam a mixed bag. When it works, it’s fine. DRM, but not irritating or overzealous. However, it can break, the servers can go down, and that’s a pain. I’ve been lucky and Steam has always worked fairly well for me, but it’ll only take a change of management style/technology change or whatever and that could all change. I don’t know whether it’s overly paranoid to think about the worst case scenario or just smart. My gut feeling is that Steam will be all right, but what do I know?

    • Wulf says:

      It’s actually logical to think that Steam will continue to work as it does, and that there won’t be any real managerial/system changes to its primary functions. So I’d say your gut is right.

      My basis comes from the stock Valve puts into their reputation. Almost every big publisher out there has a tarnished reputation, “Ah, but we’re not a big publisher!”, says Valve. And that’s true, they’re not, and that’s not the kind of image they want to present. They don’t always succeed at being the good guys of the PC gaming world, but they try very hard to achieve that end and it matters to them that people have a high opinion of them, plus that high opinion and their great PR helps them sell games.

      To change the way Steam works would be disastrous for them. Newell’s not an idiot, he knows that as well as I do, which is why they’ve been putting a lot of effort lately into getting functions that don’t work for some people to work for everyone.

  32. DMJ says:

    Whyy won’t they think of the children?

  33. Ravenger says:

    My problem is that I shouldn’t have to remember to de-authorise all my dozens of installed games using many different deactivation methods in the event I need to re-install windows or upgrade the hardware. I then shouldn’t have to phone a premium rate phone line or wait days for an email response having to prove my ownership of a game to beg permission to re-install it if I run out of activations.
    Which is why I like Steam. One username, one login, instant access to my games. No need to deauthorise when I install new hardware, and I can just back up all my games to a USB hard drive, and copy them back to have them working when re-installing a new OS or hard disk, without even re-installing them.
    Remember that the supposed benefits to the customer of most of these DRM systems are minimal, mainly no need for a disc in the drive, an artifical requirement caused by DRM in the first place!

  34. Duh says:

    The game has been cracked and replaced with a locally hosted “server”, as I expect all of these things will be.
    It’s the obvious solution.

    Shows once more that pirates will receiver a superior experience to paying customers.

    If you buy it, they will DRM..

  35. SQL Training says:

    Awesome, I had heard about this CnC4 DRM but just now coming to know about this funny incident.

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