EA boss on DRM protesters: Half are pirates and the other half are stupid.

The folks over at Gamasutra.com landed an interview with Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello wherein he claims to hate DRM but says it’s necessary due to piracy. He goes on to address the massive online protest over Spore using SecuROM:

“So far, Spore has outsold Sims 2,” he notes. “Commercially, it’s doing very well.”

“Everyone gets that we need some level of protection, or we’re going to be in business for free,” Riccitiello says. But he sees a lack of understanding among “a minority of people that orchestrated a great PR program. They picked the highest-profile game they could find,” he says. “I respect them for the success of their movement.”

“‘I’m guessing that half of them were pirates, and the other half were people caught up in something that they didn’t understand,” he says. “If I’d had a chance to have a conversation with them, they’d have gotten it.”

Thanks John, for telling us you think we’re either thieves or fucking idiots. But let me give you a clue for free: The pirates were all busy downloading your game off of the torrent sites five fucking days before you even put it on store shelves. Why the hell would they bother protesting your game when it was already cracked and on the Net?

And I would absolutely LOVE to have a conversation with you on the topic. Not that I think I could change your mind with my stunningly persuasive argument, but just so you could hear my stance on why I’m not buying your games straight from me. I’d also love to hear you explain how DRM stops piracy on a title that was being pirated before it was ever released? I’d also love to ask you to man up and admit that this is less to do with piracy and more to do with stopping second-hand sales of your titles because you’re upset at how much money GameStop and other companies are making.

This becomes obvious to anyone who reads the Spore EULA which states that there’s no guarantee that you can transfer the activations over to whomever you sell the game to. It’s also clear by the fact that more and more games are coming with features that will only work for the initial purchaser of the title:

Game publishers and developers have long been frustrated by their inability to get a cut of used game sales at retailers such as GameStop.

Rather than just complain, though, game makers are now starting to provide gamers with incentives to not sell their games at all or, at least, not buy used games.

[…] For example, each copy of Gears of War 2 will ship with a unique, one-time-use code for downloading extra multiplayer levels.

Once the code has been used, subsequent owners of that copy of the game will be unable to download the levels.

And NBA Live 09 will include a similar free, one-time code for accessing daily roster and stat updates.

If you buy a used copy of NBA Live 09 and the previous user has already redeemed the code, you’ll have to pay $20 to get the updates.

Isn’t NBA Live 09 one of your company’s titles, John? Why yes, yes it is. At least have the balls to own up to the fact that what you’re attempting to do is to limit what legitimate customers can do with the games they buy from your company rather than stopping piracy. Because we both know that you’re not going to stop the pirates anytime soon and we both know how pissed off you are at all the money GameStop has been making off of second-hand sales.

I am not the fucking idiot you seem to think I am, John.

“Far Cry 2” to use SecuROM DRM.

Well it looks like I won’t be buying Far Cry 2 either seeing as they’re going to use SecuROM:

Some DRM points that will hopefully answer some of your questions and will clarify some misunderstandings about our DRM and SecuROM:

  • You have 5 activations on 3 separate PCs.
  • Uninstalling the game “refunds” an activation. This process is called “revoke”, so as long as you complete proper uninstall you will be able to install the game an unlimited number of times on 3 systems.
  • You can upgrade your computer as many time as you want (using our revoke system)
  • Ubisoft is committed to the support of our games, and additional activations can be provided.
  • Ubisoft is committed to the long term support of our games: you’ll always be able to play Far Cry 2.

Treating your customers like criminals will do more to kill PC gaming than piracy ever will.

Pity. I really like the first game.

[Update]: I felt the need to register on the UBI.com forums and leave a comment so I thought I’d include it here:

    Congratulations! You’ve just guaranteed that I won’t be buying Far Cry 2. Which is a shame as I really loved the first one.

    Why won’t I be buying the game? Specifically because of the presence of the SecuROM DRM. I could list off all the common reasons such as the known hardware incompatibilities and the fact that it interferes with the operation of some legitimate software tools, but the primary reason is this: I don’t see why I should spend between $50 and $60 to be treated like a criminal when the criminals are enjoying your game with no restrictions whatsoever.

    And the pirates will crack your game just like they cracked Spore and every other SecuROM protected title prior to that. If Far Cry 2 follows the current trend then it’ll be cracked and on the torrent sites at least a week before it’s due to be released making the inclusion of SecuROM for anti-piracy reasons moot.

    But then the reason you guys want to use SecuROM over some of the other equally ineffective copy protection schemes that I don’t have a problem with has nothing to do with defeating piracy and everything to do with preventing folks from using the first sale doctrine.

    I haven’t seen your EULA for FC2 yet, but I’m willing to bet there will be a clause in it that’ll state that the transferal of activations to anyone we happen to sell the game to after we’re done playing is non-existent or very limited. The EULA for Spore had such limitations which proved that SecuROM wasn’t about stopping the pirates and was all about stopping the resale of used games.

    GameStop is making a KILLING on buying old games and selling them for close to new prices and the game publishers and even some designers have made it no secret just how much that pisses them off. This isn’t about piracy at all because you guys fully expect it’ll be cracked regardless of what you use, but piracy sure makes for a convenient excuse to justify using SecuROM which will keep your legitimate customers from selling off the game once they get bored with it or move on to the next big release.

“Fallout 3” for the Xbox 360 on torrent sites 3 weeks before release date.

Every now and then you’ll hear some game publisher bemoaning piracy on the PC and threatening to go console only as though that would stop piracy in its tracks. Shame there’s no truth in that claim:

Code of Bethesda’s highly-anticipated follow-up to Oblivion, Fallout 3, has already been leaked onto the internet and is available on various torrent sites.

The official game isn’t due for release until October 28 in the US and October 31 in Europe, but the Xbox 360 version of the game has been hacked and at the time of writing had well over 2000 people downloading the 6.52GB file on one site alone.

The hacked version of the game would only be playable on an illegally modified Xbox 360.

It is true that the number of modded 360s is probably pretty low and acts somewhat as a barrier against the piracy being too extensive, but piracy still happens even on consoles. If you can make it they can break it and they’ll probably do it long before you ship the game.

Just as I speculated: “Spore” DRM is about blocking resales of the game.

Thinking of buying a second-hand copy of Spore? Might want to think twice:

According to the buyer, his copy of the game was purchased from “a crotchety old redneck,” but the buyer didn’t get the necessary information needed to get into the game’s main account, and thus couldn’t play. A call to customer support was no help; sellers have to give the purchaser the account name and password, almost like a World of Warcraft account. Unless buyers get that information from the person or store they get the used game from, nothing can be done. EA will not let you open another account.

The portion of the game’s EULA that deals with sales is interesting; the company technically allows it, but EA won’t make it easy on you. “You may not be able to transfer the right to receive updates, dynamically served content, or the right to use any online service of EA in connection with the Software,” the agreement states. “You may not be able to transfer the Software if you have already exhausted the terms of this License by authenticating the Software on the allowed number machine [sic]. Subsequent recipients of this License may not be able to authenticate the Software on additional machines.”

I speculated about that possibility in a previous entry and I elaborated on it in a comment at the GamerDNA blog. I’m only surprised that it took this long before someone fell victim to it. All the claims that SecuROM is on Spore to prevent piracy are now revealed for the total bullshit they are. It’s not about piracy, it’s about limiting the first-sale doctrine. If you bought it they want you to keep it whether you play it or not. Don’t loan it to a friend, don’t try to resell it, make those fuckers buy their own copy so we get a few more bucks.

Electronic Arts modifies “Spore” DRM again, but still doesn’t address SecuROM controversy.

EA Games Label President Frank Gibeau sent the folks at Kotaku.com a press release about DRM used on Spore which again demonstrates that they just aren’t getting the message. They continue to think the issue is solely about how many installs the game has and they continue to repeat the lie that DRM stops piracy:

Two weeks ago EA launched SPORE – one of the most innovative games in the history of our industry. We’re extremely pleased with the reception SPORE has received from critics and consumers but we’re disappointed by the misunderstanding surrounding the use of DRM software and the limitation on the number of machines that are authorized to play a single a copy of the game.

We felt that limiting the number of machine authorizations to three wouldn’t be a problem.

Let me put this simply: You were wrong, but this is only one of many issues you are wrong about. The limited number of installs may not have been as big an issue had the utility to revoke an authorization been available from the get go, but it would still have been an issue. The claim that the limit is to prevent piracy is ludicrous given that the game was, as has been said many times previously, cracked and on the P2P networks five days before it hit store shelves. Even if you’d managed to keep it under wraps up until launch day the likelihood of it being cracked within a day or so of launch is very high so the DRM and install limit does nothing to prevent piracy.

The only other obvious conclusion to draw from the install limit is that you’re attempting to eliminate the secondhand sale market which the folks at Gamestop have been making millions off of. One of the big draws of digital distribution is that it would effectively negate the ability to turn in a game to Gamespot when you get tired of it and an install limit would seem like the best of both worlds. Sell them a disc, but eliminate the resale possibility.

* We assumed that consumers understand piracy is a huge problem – and that if games that take 1-4 years to develop are effectively stolen the day they launch, developers and publishers will simply stop investing in PC games.

We know it’s a problem, but it’s not one that we – your legitimate paying customers – should be punished for. Which is effectively what you are doing. As a reminder: Spore was effectively stolen five days before launch so your solution to piracy was ineffective. That means the only people being affected by the DRM are those people who paid you for the game. The pirates have already stolen it and will continue to do so.

* We have found that 75 percent of our consumers install and play any particular game on only one machine and less than 1 percent every try to play on more than three different machines.
* We assured consumers that if special circumstances warranted more than three machines, they could contact our customer service team and request additional authorizations.

That’s nice, but it’s irrelevant. Most of us who have concerns over the number of installations we’re allowed are probably part of that 1% that will put it on a single PC. It’s not how many PCs we can put it on so much as how many times we can put it on a particular PC that’s the issue. Some of us restage and upgrade our PCs on a regular basis and could use up a three install limit in the course of a single year. Bumping the installs to five only delays the inevitable. Providing a utility to deauthorize one of the installs helps, but is still a pain in the ass that shouldn’t be necessary. Sure we can call your nice support people and ask for additional authorizations, but we shouldn’t have to be interrogated just to install a game we bought and paid for. I have tons of EA games that I bought years ago that I still install and play every so often, some of them on a computing platform (the Commodore Amiga) that no longer exists as an active platform as far as Electronic Arts is concerned. I don’t have to call your customer service people to install and play those games so why should I have to do it for this or any other game?

But we’ve received complaints from a lot of customers who we recognize and respect. And while it’s easy to discount the noise from those who only want to post or transfer thousands of copies of the game on the Internet, I believe we need to adapt our policy to accommodate our legitimate consumers.

Going forward, we will amend the DRM policy on Spore to:

* Expand the number of eligible machines from three to five.
* Continue to offer channels to request additional activations where warranted.
* Expedite our development of a system that will allow consumers to de-authorize machines and move authorizations to new machines. When this system goes online, it will effectively give players direct control to manage their authorizations between an unlimited number of machines.

Sorry, that’s not good enough to get me to plunk down the $50 you’re asking for. You haven’t addressed the fact that SecuROM itself is part of the problem as it is known to cause issues with some legitimate hardware and software people may have installed in their machines. It’s also known to update itself without notifying or getting consent from the owner of the computer and even if it was working previously those future updates could potentially introduce problems. Additionally it’s known to send encrypted data back to a server without informing the owner of the PC what info it’s sending or why and that falls under the definition of spyware.

We’re willing to evolve our policy to accommodate our consumers. But we’re hoping that everyone understands that DRM policy is essential to the economic structure we use to fund our games and as well as to the rights of people who create them. Without the ability to protect our work from piracy, developers across the entire game industry will eventually stop investing time and money in PC titles.

This argument doesn’t wash because SecuROM hasn’t protected your work from piracy and it’s probably a good bet your insistence on it has less to do with stopping piracy as it does stopping secondhand sales of your game. You’re not stopping the pirates, but you are fomenting a lot of ill will from your long-time dedicated customer base made up of people such as myself. I refuse to spend good money to be treated like a criminal, but that’s what you are insisting you must do for the sake of your “economic structure.” There are plenty of other equally ineffective copy protection schemes out there that you’ve used for years that were less of a problem than SecuROM is so if you insist on putting worthless copy protection into your software at least go back to one that is less of a burden on your legit customers. Otherwise the sales you lose won’t be solely due to piracy.

Electronic Arts still doesn’t get it. Responds to DRM controversy in “Spore.”

On the one hand I suppose I should be impressed that Electronic Arts bothered to respond to all the complaints about the SecuROM DRM at all, but the responses they gave to MTV Multiplayer show they still don’t get it:

Complaint: A legitimately bought copy of “Spore” can’t be activated on more than three different computers — ever.

EA Response: That will be changed, according to the EA spokesperson, who told Multiplayer that the current limit on the number of computers that can be associated with a single copy of “Spore” is “very similar to a solution that iTunes has. The difference is that with iTunes you can de-authorize a computer [that you no longer want associated with your iTunes content]. Right now, with our solution, you can’t. But there is a patch coming for that.” The official timeframe for that patch is “near future.”

*Some stats regarding this issue — EA provided Multiplayer with updated information indicating that it is rare for consumers to perform installations of recent EA PC games on more than one PC, let alone three

They then go on to show that the vast majority of purchases of Mass Effect, Spore Creature Creator, and Spore are only authenticated on one PC and very few ever do three PCs. However this completely misses the point. Very few of us are worried about being able to use Spore, or any other SecuROM protected title, on more than one PC as much as what happens after the third restage or upgrade causes us to hit the three install limit. Yes we can call EA and request a new license and perhaps it’s as easy as pie to do, but we shouldn’t have to do that. I don’t have to do it with Red Alert 2, but I will if I buy Red Alert 3 and there’s no valid justification as to why. It doesn’t stop the pirates in any way as they had Spore five days before it was available in stores.

If your restrictions don’t actually prevent piracy then all they do is inconvenience legitimate customers. If you continue to insist on them after a game has already been broken then I can only assume there is an unstated ulterior motive for requiring the online activation and install limit. My guess would be A) to gather usage information and B) try to squeeze extra sales out of gamer families. The latter of which is likely to purchase multiple copies of the game anyway.

Complaint: Consumers fear there is spyware being installed by the SecurROM copy-protection software incorporated into the game.

EA Response: “There’s no viruses, no spyware and no malware…We have located a download off of one of the Torrent sites that is a virus. The thing I would say to the consumer audience is that, if you’re concerned with a virus on your computer, the chances of that are infinitely higher when you’re downloading off of a hacked version than it would be downloading the authentic game. We would never put any spyware on anyone’s computers. That’s not going to happen.”

This falls to address exactly what it is SecuROM is phoning home about, which it is known to do. Exactly what information is it gathering and sending off across the net? If you refuse to tell us then it’s exactly like Spyware in terms of spying on us without revealing what info it’s communicating. If SecuROM interferes with the operation of legitimate software and hardware, which it has also been known to do, then it also fits the definition of Malware.

Pretty much everyone knows that downloading a hacked copy is risky, but there’s plenty of virus-free hacked copies that don’t spy on folks out there for the taking. The response also assumes that people who don’t buy the legit version will turn to the hacked copy and that’s not necessarily the case. A lot of us will just refuse to buy the game costing you sales because we don’t appreciate being treated like criminals.

Complaint: The “Spore” instruction manual claims that a purchaser of “Spore” can allow multiple users to create online accounts with a single copy of the game. The game does not allow this.

EA Response: The company has already stated this is a misprint in the manual and referred Multiplayer back to a statement issued by “Spore” executive producer Lucy Bradshaw apologizing for “the confusion.” But EA has not replied to Multiplayer follow-up questions regarding why the company implemented this restriction and what EA makes of complaints from households that include multiple people who want to have separate “Spore” accounts associated with a single copy of the game.

Of all the issues raised, this one is probably the lowest concern of most of the complainers, but I can see how it would affect households who only have one PC. It’s telling that EA would choose to address this over some of the more substantial complaints. It also says a lot about the restrictive nature of SecuROM that they had to drop this feature as a result.

Complaint: The requirement for a “Spore” user to have their ownership of the game automatically authenticated every time they access the game’s online features threatens to render the game useless if EA someday turns the “Spore” servers off.

EA Response: “If we were to ever turn off the servers on the game, we would put through a patch before that to basically make the DRM null and void. We’re never walking away from the game and making it into a situation where people aren’t going to be able to play it.”

At last they finally address one of the more meatier complaints. It’s great to hear that they’ll patch the game to remove the DRM if they should ever decide to walk away from it, but the pirates don’t have to worry about that right now. My response to EA is this: Good. Call me when you decide to release that patch and I’ll consider picking up a copy of the game. It’ll probably be quite cheap by that point in time and you’ll likely never see the revenue because it’ll probably be a second-hand sale so you still lose out on getting my money.

Here’s the part, however, that shows just how much Electronic Arts doesn’t get it:

The bottom line shared to me by EA spokesperson Mariam Sughayer today is that “EA has no intentions — nor will they ever — to make it easier for people to play a pirated game… than to play an authentic retail copy.”

You’ve already lost that battle. Legit purchasers of Spore must authenticate the game online at least once before they can play it, the cracked copy doesn’t require authentication, legit owners have an install limit of three PCs max, the cracked copy doesn’t, legit customers may lose the use of legitimate and legal software and hardware on their PCs thanks to SecuROM, the cracked copy doesn’t interfere, legit owners will have to run a special application to “de-authorize” their PCs when they hit the three install limit or they have to call EA and be interrogated by a helpful customer service rep, the cracked copy doesn’t require that, legit customers have to hope EA keeps their promise to release a patch to remove the DRM should they decide to no longer support the game, the cracked copy doesn’t have any such concerns.

Explain to me how it’s not easier to play a pirated game than an authentic retail copy? Better yet, explain to me why I should pay $50 to be treated like a criminal when your DRM doesn’t stop the pirates from getting the game five days before it was officially released?

“Red Alert 3” will also have SecuROM DRM.

It appears the folks at Electronic Arts are doing everything they can to ensure I never purchase one of their PC games again. Word over on the official support forums for Command and Conquer says that the upcoming Red Alert 3, a sequel to my all-time favorite RTS, will use a slightly more lenient SecuROM DRM scheme:

Hi guys—

I’ve been hearing your concerns about the DRM situation and wanted to get back to you with some information about our plans. In the case of Red Alert 3 (and all PC titles coming out of EA), we will use SecuROM – the same copy protection that the EALA RTS group has used on our last three titles. This time around, however, the copy protection will be configured to be more lenient than we’ve supported in the past.

I know this can be somewhat of a polarizing topic, and I thought it would be best to open the lines of communication with some facts:

– We will authenticate your game online when you install and launch it the first time.

– We will never re-authenticate an installation online after the first launch. In other words, no reaching out to a central server post-install to see if you’re “allowed” to play.

– You will be able to install and play on up to five computers.

– This system means you don’t have to play with the disc in your computer. Personally, I think this is a huge improvement over our previous copy protection requirements, which have always required a disk to play.

– Life happens. I know it’s unlikely, but for those unlucky few who install the game and have their machines nuked (virus, OS reinstall, major hardware upgrade, etc.) five times, EA Customer Service will be on hand to supply any additional authorizations that are warranted. This will be done on a case-by-case basis by contacting customer support.

-You can, of course, play offline without impediment or penalty.

Red Alert 3 is shaping up to be a world-class RTS game that will give you many hours of enjoyment. I think it would be a shame if people decided to not play a great game simply because it came with DRM, but I understand that this is a very personal decision for many of you and I respect that. As you might imagine, I’m a lot less respectful of those people who take the position that they will illegally download a game simply because it has DRM.

Either way, we’ re very proud of the hard work our team has put into this game and we hope you will all enjoy it when it launches.

I’m so not happy. So not happy that I took the time to leave the following comment on that thread:

    I’m a 41 year old gamer who has bought numerous titles from Electronic Arts all the way back to the original Archon on the Commodore Amiga back when EA was just a small company run by Trip Hawkins. That was back in 1982 and I was 15 at the time. In the 26 years since I’ve spent countless thousands of dollars on EA games for the Amiga, PC, and various consoles. I’ve watched over the years as the copy protection became more and more intrusive while doing nothing to actually stop the pirates, but the games were good and the copy protection not much more than an annoyance so I spent the money and enjoyed myself. It’s safe to say that I’m a long-standing fan of EA and many of the titles they’ve put out. Red Alert and its sequel remain two of my all-time favorite RTS games and I was eagerly looking forward to playing the latest installment when it is released.

    Electronic Arts, however, has decided to reward my (literally) decades-long loyalty by making use of one of the more problematic DRM systems available. These days I make my living as a PC support specialist and there are various legitimate programs, such as Process Explorer, which may or may not run properly if I have SecuROM installed on my systems. SecuROM said this was an attempt to stop people from hacking their DRM system, but considering that Spore was cracked and on the Bittorrent sites almost a week before its release it doesn’t seem to be stopping the hackers. In fact the only people being inconvenienced by this DRM system are legitimate customers who have paid for the software. You’ve already admitted that even if it works fine without conflict for the vast majority of your customers there’s still likely to be a subsection who run into problems. I believe you called that “Life Happens” in your original post. What a great attitude to take with your paying customers. It was enough to get me to take the time to register an account just so I could let you know how I feel about it.

    I’m done being treated like a criminal in order to use the software I’ve paid for. I did not purchase Bioshock despite being a fan of the original System Shocks because of SecuROM, I did not purchase Mass Effect for the same reason, I also haven’t purchase Spore in spite of following its development since its announcement, and I won’t be purchasing Red Alert 3 for the same reasons. I don’t care how many copies you allow me to install before I need to call your support line. I’m testing software and OS installs all the time which means I’m restaging my PC on a regular basis which means it won’t be long before I have to start calling and explaining why I need a 5th, 6th, 7th… 20th reinstall to some poor sap on the phone. Meanwhile Joe Pirate Boy is able to enjoy his copy as much as he wants and reinstall it as much as he wants without having to call anyone.

    There are three of us in my family who were dieing to play Spore so much so that we would’ve spent $150 for three copies of the game just so we wouldn’t have to wait for one person to stop playing before someone else could start, but now its not going to happen. I still play my copy of Red Alert 2 some eight years after it was released and it still installs just fine without any need for an Internet connection or calling someone up on the phone. Will I be able to do that with Red Alert 3 in 8 years? Will you still have registration servers running for it and someone sitting by a phone ready to grant me my 130th install? Will you release a patch at some point that removes the DRM so that nonsense won’t be necessary?

    In summary: Explain to me why I should spend $50 just so I can be treated like a criminal?

Every now and then some PC developer goes on a rant about how piracy is destroying PC gaming. I say what’s destroying PC gaming is the bullshit DRM schemes. While they whine about how some game they just released has been cracked and downloaded some 10,000 times being the loss of 10,000 sales (which isn’t entirely true) they manage to overlook the loss of sales from people like me who are sick of the pirates having the hassle free version of the game. If the reaction to Spore is any indication then people are starting to get fed up and the publishers risk alienating the few people who are buying their software.

MPAA to court: “Proof? We don’ need no stinkin’ proof!”

Gotta love the MPAA where you are considered guilty and they don’t think they should have to prove it:

The Motion Picture Association of America said Friday intellectual-property holders should have the right to collect damages, perhaps as much as $150,000 per copyright violation, without having to prove infringement.

“Mandating such proof could thus have the pernicious effect of depriving copyright owners of a practical remedy against massive copyright infringement in many instances,” MPAA attorney Marie L. van Uitert wrote Friday to the federal judge overseeing the Jammie Thomas trial.

“It is often very difficult, and in some cases, impossible, to provide such direct proof when confronting modern forms of copyright infringement, whether over P2P networks or otherwise; understandably, copyright infringers typically do not keep records of infringement,” van Uitert wrote on behalf of the movie studios, a position shared with the Recording Industry Association of America, which sued Thomas, the single mother of two.

Burden of proof? What’s that? Sounds like something only a commie pinko liberal would demand. Of course they’re guilty! We wouldn’t be suing them if they weren’t guilty. Now give me my money!

EA to use SecuROM DRM on “Mass Effect” and “Spore.”

Apparently the folks at Electronic Arts want me to become a software pirate. You may recall that I refused to purchase the PC release of Bioshock because the SecuROM DRM it contained would actually disable some perfectly legitimate troubleshooting software on my PC out of fear that I might use it to crack the game. It also limited you to 10 installs before you had to “reactivate” the game over the Internet and, as someone who restages his PC often, that was too much of an intrusion.

Now word comes down that the critically acclaimed RPG Mass Effect will also make use of SecuROM with a limit of 3 installs and a requirement that it phone home every 10 days to reactivate itself. Apparently the same will also be true of Spore:

BioWare technical producer Derek French lit up the Mass Effect forums this past week announcing that both their game and (on page 2) fellow Electronic Arts title Spore come with SecuROM, a DRM system that requires activation the first time you play the game and then a re-check every ten days, with the first check on the fifth day.

French explained that there is no external program installed and the check will be run through MassEffect.exe (or Spore.exe, presumably), the data transfered will be the CD key and a “unique machine identifier of some type” and that he has been told, “there will be clear labeling on the package.”

This is very disappointing news as it guarantees that I won’t even consider purchasing Mass Effect now and it makes my purchase of Spore debatable as well. If I do end up being weak willed enough to buy Spore I can guarantee you that I will be hunting down the crack for it. There’s been a fair amount of talk among developers that piracy is killing the market for games on the PC, but these draconian DRM schemes aren’t helping the situation at all as it pretty much ensures that legitimate customers will either end up turning to pirated copies to get away from the restrictive DRM or just refuse to purchase the game. Given the fact that Spore will contacting servers on a regular basis to download user created content there’s even less of a need for SecuROM as opposed to just using the game’s CD Key.

What’s going to end up killing the PC game market in the long run is treating your customers like criminals, but it appears that’s a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon.

Xbox 360 version of GTA4 already cracked and loose on the net.

Every now and then you’ll see an article about how gaming on the PC is dieing thanks to rampant piracy. Everyone wants to make console games because they’re supposedly harder for the pirates to crack and distribute. So perhaps someone could explain to me how the Asian PAL version of GTA4 is already on the net?

At approximately 1:45AM EST the Xbox 360 version of Grand Theft Auto IV was leaked onto the internet. According to our X3F tipsters, who better plan on actually buying the game, thousands of users are leeching the 6.36 GB potential game of the year candidate. The release is a rip of the PAL version, specifically from the Asian market, and comes a mere six days before retailers place the game on store shelves.

We don’t want to get on our soapbox here but we hope our readers would shy away from downloading a full version of the game, especially considering the team at Rockstar North have garnered near-perfect review scores for the release. Why? Well, it’s illegal kids … actually come to think of it, this leak is deliciously ironic. Isn’t it?

Yeah it really is. Just goes to show that the consoles aren’t all that much more difficult to pirate games for than the PC is.