BioWare Details SecuROM Copy Protection

BioWare Details SecuROM Copy Protection

BioWare has produced numerous hit games over the years, and as such they’ve probably suffered more than the average company at the hands of pirates. As a result the company has decided to use SecuROM for some of their upcoming titles, and Technical Director Derek French provides some details: 

“Mass Effect uses SecuROM and requires an online activation for the first time that you play it. Each copy of Mass Effect comes with a CD Key which is used for this activation and for registration here at the BioWare Community. Mass Effect does not require the DVD to be in the drive in order to play, it is only for installation.

After the first activation, SecuROM requires that it re-check with the server within ten days (in case the CD Key has become public/warez'd and gets banned). Just so that the 10 day thing doesn't become abrupt, SecuROM tries its first re-check with 5 days remaining in the 10 day window. If it can't contact the server before the 10 days are up, nothing bad happens and the game still runs. After 10 days a re-check is required before the game can run.”

We have a feeling that such a protection scheme might be considered a bit stiff by some and we wouldn’t be shocked if BioWare has scared away a few customers. If hackers manage to crack the games despite the new security, then it is hard to see this as anything but a loss for BioWare.
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"Mass Effect does not require the DVD to be in the drive in order to play" That just made my day.

Still, though, I'd like to see some studies done to show how useless anti-piracy software is. It's going to get cracked in the first week no matter what, and it only hurts the honest gamers. It will get cracked, too; I guarantee it.

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You are right. It will get cracked (as do nearly all games), much to the dismay of the publisher/producer. So let's consider what the game company can do. They could do as they say they will (use SecuROM), and probably lose money to leaving customers.

Or they could acknowledge that some profit is going to be lost and give up on SecuROM, and make more good games so that they're still gaining more than they are losing. Either way, money is probably going to be lost, but if the customer base increases w/o SecuROM then they'll be losing less.

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This SecurROM actually does anger a lot of people.  I know of people who legitimately bough BioShock, but were forced to pirate it because SecurROM did not work for them.  PC game piracy is huge.  It goes with the business, unfortunately.  However, this crap merely punishes the legitimate owners!  Why punish legitimate buyers of the game?  What about those without internet access at home?  I already have heard of people pledging to pirate the game because of this reason.  The game will be cracked within a week or two, and the pirate will pirate and some legitimate owners will suffer.  I believe it can only be installed on 3 unique system configurations at a time.  If someone forgets to uninstall it before a system wipe, there goes one.  I have the game on 360, but this still bothers me.

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These protection schemes are as bad as DRM. Just think about this...let's say you want to play a SecuROM-crippled game again 5 years after buying it. You should have the right to do so, correct? Well, maybe the server that accepts that activation is no longer up and running or that version of SecuROM is no longer supported by your OS...now you can't play the game any more!!! Now, imagine the same thing but change the time from 5 years to 1 year...what promise do we have as consumers that that won't happen? Absolutely none.

This type of practice is unfair to consumers and definitely will result in loss of customers to the companies that choose to use them. The fact of the matter is that if a company puts its bottom line before the customers, that company is choosing a slippery slope that only leads to its own eventual demise. Happy customers will naturally result in a solid bottom line.

I wish I could remember the game and/or company, but there was a game that came out several years ago in which the company did nothing to try to prevent piracy...and guess what!? The game still did pretty well and some people bought it just to support the company's approach.

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