Bad news for PC gaming fans ahead.
According to Derek French, Mass Effect, scheduled to arrive on the PC this 28th, will employ the same SecuROM online activation system that was initially put into Bioshock, allowing the buyer to activate his copy of Mass Effect for 3 times before politely asking to him / her to go to hell, that is, contact the customer service “helpline” to get it reactivated. And while the game itself wouldn’t require the DVD to be physically present in the drive, it goes one step further and phones home every 10 days and re-authenticates just to make sure legit customers are not the worst form of criminal scum publishers swear we are.
The authentication, which will be initialized every time you run MassEffect.exe, will send the CD Key and a unique machine identifier to the activation servers, which will be cross-referenced with the data that was sent when the game was initially activated. Well, actually, it runs screaming to Mama every 5 days, but if it can’t connect, it will still allow you to save the galaxy and sleep around with Asari consorts for another 5 days, presumably reminding you to re-activate often with the dogged persistence of a James Bond doomsday death clock.
If it becomes prevalent, this sort of copy protection, more odious than any except for Starforce which at one time was the equivalent of a rootkit, is going to finally kill bigtime gaming on the PC. It forces the player to give administrative access to his hard drive, the holy of holies, to Electronic Arts, which has no more motivation than Sony ever did to play fair with its customers.
A few of our friends on this and other forums have stated their desire to play Mass Effect (a fine game, I assure them) on the PC rather than on the Xbox 360. I sympathize. For rpgs I generally find the PC a more congenial platform, particularly when improvement via modding is taken into account. But if doing so means rewarding copy protection this intrusive, I say let the PC die as a platform for this sort of game. You can play Mass Effect the whole way through without an internet connection on the Xbox, and you don't have to worry that EA is going to be more careless with its access to your computer than you would be.
Via Quarter To Three.