EA has relented and given up on the 10-day re-authentication thing, instead “only” insisting on online activation. They caved on the details and held firm on their support for intrusive and restrictive DRM. They have now backed off to the point where their system is “only” as bad as the one in BioShock.
As I feared, this has fragmented the fans. Some hold firm, and others are running back to the game, full of forgiveness. Looks to be roughly 50 / 50 now. I’m happy that lots of people “get” the implications of this, that it’s still wrong even if the system works for you personally, but I doubt the numbers are there to get EA to budge again. Worse, 2KGames promised that “at some point” the need for activation would be removed, and we have no such promise from EA.
The poison pill:
- This solution allows gamers to authenticate their game on three different computers with the purchase of one disc. EA Customer Service is on hand to supply any additional authorizations that are warranted. This will be done on a case-by-case basis by contacting customer support.
The language here makes it very clear what they want. I buy a disc, and I can install it on any three computers I like, after which the game is “used up”. If I want to install again, I have to email EA, hat in hand, and ask them if maybe it would be okay if I installed the game again. This is a deal-breaker for me.
Sigh. I just installed Deus Ex a couple of weeks ago so I could write this post about it. That’s probably the sixth time I’ve had it on my machine, over the course of four computers. I can only imagine how angry I would have been if I’d popped in that disc at sometime after midnight on a weekend, and then had to go to EIDOS and wait for them to let me in. I’d end up trading emails with some tech support flunky who was ten years old when the game was new. Assuming I had whatever proof of purchase he wanted (all I have is the case and disc, the box and its accoutrements are long gone) I’d still have to wait for the response, get the code, go through the activation, and sometime on Monday I would have been ready to launch the game and take my screenshots.
This is, of course, even assuming the validation servers would still exist. Microsoft “Plays for Sure” system came and went in just four years, leaving customers without a way to access their purchased music. If you can’t trust a behemoth like Microsoft to last four years, then what chance is there that the EA servers will last a decade? Or forever, which is how long I’m used to owning things I buy.
No news on Spore, but we can assume that it will be similarly encumbered. I don’t think EA is going to move again.
A Lack of Vision and Leadership
People fault EA for being greedy, but their real sin is just how terrible they are at it.
Fixing Match 3
For one of the most popular casual games in existence, Match 3 is actually really broken. Until one developer fixed it.
Quakecon Keynote 2013 Annotated
An interesting but technically dense talk about gaming technology. I translate it for the non-coders.
Even allegedly smart people can make life-changing blunders that seem very, very obvious in retrospect.
The Best of 2011
My picks for what was important, awesome, or worth talking about in 2011.