Last week, gamers got rather angry when they found out that EA is implementing the controversial SecuROM DRM system in their upcoming PC games such as Mass Effect and Spore. EA’s plan was to use this DRM system to carry out online verification of the CD key every 5 to 10 days to ensure the key has not been published online or used in some form of piracy. If the key cannot be verified, the software will try again over the next 10 days, after which the user will be prevented from using the software until it can successfully authenticate the key again. The key is registered to the PC during installation to limit the number of installations to three.
After an overwhelmingly negative response from the gaming community, EA and BioWare have decided to relax the anti-piracy system to just requiring authentication during the first play and again when ever the user downloads new content for their game. The CD key will still be registered with the user’s PC and the online authentication server will only permit up to three installations. Should a user need to activate their title a 4th time, they will need to get in touch with EA’s support.
We have yet to see what will happen during the first few days of these games’ launches, such as whether we will see more examples of what happened with “BioShock” where users were unable to activate their title due to the overloaded activation servers. On the other hand, it is quite likely that EA’s support team are going to get overwhelmed with calls about the online activation, particularly where customers try playing their new game at their various friends’ places without realising the restriction on the number of installations they are allowed.