EA PC title requires constant internet connection

Command and Conquer 4 requirements mirror controversial Ubisoft DRM

EA's new PC title Command & Conquer 4 will require a constant internet connection to play, the company has confirmed, mirroring similar demands in recent Ubisoft titles.

A post on the official Command & Conquer forum, from community manager EA_Apoc, states that the game has "NO DRM" and that players do not need to have the DVD in the drive to play the game. The game can also be installed from the disc an infinite number of times on any machine.

However, to play the game the PC must be connected to the internet at all times. As the review of the game on our sister site Eurogamer makes clear "Just like Ubisoft's contempt-to-the-max DRM system, this will kick you out if your net connection drops for any reason - even in single-player."

Part of EA's justification for the system is that the game constantly updates user statistics, using an experience system similar to first person shooters such as Modern Warfare 2.

However the Eurogamer review suggests that: "There's no reason it can't wait to do that until you're next back online, just like consoles do with their unlocks."

Ubisoft's similar demands for a constant internet connection have come in for severe criticism from PC users, especially after the company's own severs proved highly unreliable - apparently as a result of attacks from hackers.

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Latest comments (16)

Robin Segitz10 years ago
"Epic Fail" again...

First of all, this IS one of the most intrusive DRM systems I've seen (like with Assassin's Creed 2 PC) in recent years and second... EA, UBI, et al... this will NEVER help you battle piracy on PC. It is as SIMPLE as that. Just listen to the current podcast at Giantbomb... Pirating games on PC *IS* as simple as a click of a button. Either people rent the game and get a crack or they simply download it from a torrent site.

EVERY DRM system EVER has been cracked. And most of those system piss of your trusty customers, NOT the pirates. Pirates have LESS problems playing games (see Mass Effect 2s online system not working, so no DLC works, but pirates STILL can play and use it) and those people are NOT who you cater to.

The publishers must see that making purchases more valuable for the customers. I recently bought Dragon Age Origins via EAs download service. The DRM was basically non-existant, worked day one and I don't need to be online to play my game (unless I want the DLC, which is a bit sucky, but it always worked, unlike ME2). Now, why didn't I pirate the game? Because it was WORTH IT. I paid ~28Ä for over 100hrs of gaming! The game wasn't buggy either, unlike MANY other games.

etc. pp... there's too much for me to write here, but you probably get it. Don't piss off your customers, but rather reward them!
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Antony Cain Lecturer, Teesside University10 years ago
I started and deleted 5 or 6 responses to this story but can't find the words to express myself.

zslnf;ane f;oiwenf'ine;knfmpoimfoi!! Will have to do. Scrubbed off my to-buy list
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 10 years ago
I thought EA had learnt their lessons after Mass Effect 1, Spore and so on? As Robin says above in far more detail than I care to, DRM systems like this are counter-productive and more likely then not to make people pirate games in order to avoid these intrusive systems.
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Show all comments (16)
Mark Raymond Functionality Tester, SEGA Europe10 years ago
I saw a couple of bad reviews for the game. So, I thought I'd take the risk when the price goes down. I was then told about the always-online requirement...

Let me put it this way: there is no price low enough for me to ever buy this game.
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Julian G Harding Video Media Editor, SOS Publications10 years ago
I don't think anyone is falling for the "constant update of statistics" excuse. This is the kind of hard-line DRM that big publishers appear to be leaning towards, and we all know it. I'm not too happy about the idea of there being no second-hand games, constant DRM checks and price fixing but it appears to be our destination.
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Mariusz Kowalski 2D/3D artist, researcher 10 years ago
When will they realise that the anti-pirate propaganda and response is self defeating? There is all this talk about how piracy is killing the PC market and that is a joke. The companies like to imagine that all those pirates would have bought the game they pirate if it wasn't crackable. The reality is that pirates, pirate because it's FREE! Most wouldn't buy the game otherwise. Many don't even know what it is they are downloading. I've seen many comments on NFO sites asking what a game is about! How would these people buy a game they know nothing about? In fact, piracy probably evens out a bit as maybe a developer/publisher would lose a bit of revenue but on the other hand, some pirates would BUY the game after trying it out, as many of the well supported or niche games tend to not be cracked after a certain amount of updates, such as with Galactic Civilizations II.

Why did a little known(at the time) game with minor DRM 'The Witcher' still sell over a million copies, despite being easily pirated?

What is killing the PC game industry is shoddy ports, poor childish games and a lack of respect for the PC demographic and variety. The big developers would like to just concentrate on the homogenised, standardised and simple console market(simple as in lack of many niche genres such as wargames, simulators, point and click adventures, HOMM style games etc.)but are still loathe to leave the PC for fear of letting someone else in. The final nail in the coffin will be ridiculous DRM schemes like these which rather than stopping pirates(who wouldn't have bought the game anyway), will stop real customers from buying the games!

I certainly know I'll either avoid these games altogether or pick them up in the bargain bin or from GOG in the future when they are DRM free!

Oh and I agree with the poster who wrote that the way forward is better support, and periodical free benefits in order to make the buyer feel that they have made a long term investment. It's what Galactic Civilizations II has done and Stardock did very well with this niche title with no DRM at all!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Mariusz Kowalski on 18th March 2010 12:59pm

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Dwain Hill10 years ago
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Tom Keresztes Programmer 10 years ago
There is not even a remote possibility of EA shutting down the necessary servers in the future. Just like the entertainment sector in general, they are out of touch with their consumers, and too ignorant to change.
Playing pirated games on a pc gives you a better user experience, for a better price. This just a plain, simple business statement. Maybe the solution is not draconic DRMs to cause even more trouble... Steam with 25 million users is a step in the right direction - but thats just my 5cents.
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Jeff Wayne Technical Architect 10 years ago
Wow. Don't I have egg on my face! There I was singing the praises of EA apparantly listening to the customer and learning from previous DRM debacles only for them to go and bring it back. Not only bring it back, but copying Ubisoft's ridiculous DRM!

DAO and ME2 were two titles I bought due to them being great games and being free of ridiculous DRM. I also had a new found level of respect and support for EA as a result. That, of course, is now in the pan again having seen that they obviously didn't listen to the customer after all and obviously learned absolutely nothing. There appears to be nothing short of a circus in their boardroom making these decisions. I'm waiting for Krusty to become their official mascot any day now.

Much like AC2, I won't be buying this game either due to this anal DRM.

Some people talk that publishers like these are deliberatly trying to kill the PC gaming market so that everyone is forced onto a console platform. I own a high-end Alienware PC, XBox 360, PS3 and a Wii. I prefer gaming on my PC to any console on the vast majority of occasions. I can see a day where the only games I'll be buying for the PC come from proper customer and service driven companies like Valve, Blizzard and various indies!
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Jim Chadwick Buyer, CDS Superstores10 years ago
As a retailer I just cannot understand this approach. It would be the equivalent of having a security guard following every shopper just in case they might shoplift. I don't think that the experience is likely to enamour me with my customers and they would look for alternative places to shop.
There will always be people who will try to get something for nothing but I know from experience that the majority (and the majority do not want to be pirates) of people just want good value, a good retail experience and no hassle. This approach to DRM is one of the reasons I now only game on console myself. (other reasons include constant updates to hardware and too many glitchy releases) so if the strategy is to kill PC gaming it is probably working.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 10 years ago
"The reality is that pirates, pirate because it's FREE!"

Heh. That almost sounds like a justification for theft. In reality, these thieves steal digital media because they can do so and not worry about anyone stopping them (unless they stole the computers they use to download, it's not exactly "free", but I see where you're coming from). To date, no one seems to know how to shut them down without beating up on the poor consumer who wants to legally pay for a new game, install and play it without Big Bother making sure he's jacked in and not doing anything naughty with their product.

As I noted elsewhere, it's like trying to enforce a mandatory curfew in a city to stop burglary, but doing nothing about the thieves roaming the streets. People will complain loudly for ages about being locked in, but some will end up accepting this as normal after a while (which is exactly what EA, UbiSoft and anyone else that inflicts this nonsense on the gaming public is hoping).

Between this latest restriction and the attempts to kill off the used game market (why even sell boxed versions of games like Killing Floor if they can't be resold at all?), I end up ignoring most PC titles and wait for the console versions whenever possible. I'm no graphics whore that needs to upgrade a PC for rent money - hell, I just want to play games with as little hassle as possible.

On another forum, I posted a few reasonable solutions or slowdowns to digital piracy and some idiot responded with a very long winded post defending piracy by stating "It's ONLY DATA" and game companies can't be upset because they can't sell that data in the bits the thieves get it in and other insane nonsense.

Of course, if one goes out and gets some government computer "data" for "free, gets caught and then tries and use that excuse in court, good luck. If your lawyer doesn't keel over from a heart attack as you blurt that out and the judge has no sense of humor, well...
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Lukas Piechulek10 years ago
"The companies like to imagine that all those pirates would have bought the game they pirate if it wasn't crackable."

Maybe DRM is not perfect in reducing piracy but it works quit well in controlling the market concerning who is allowed to produce and sell and whose not. You can't produce disk drives, software and so on which encode the DRM without purchasing the license to do so. One reason for that is for example to regulate the development of "legal" online platforms which offers DLC (not only add-ons, but also complete games) without harming the main market which consist of the traditional selling of material goods in form of CDs and so on.
!This is not a justification for such hardliner methods of DRM but I like to mention that maybe "piracy" is not the only reason for DRM!

On the other hand..
"The reality is that pirates, pirate because it's FREE!"

I agree with Greg that it is a funny justification for piracy if it should be one...

I also agree that many methods like the mentioned one have mostly less to do with "fair use" but I think itís due the lack of power in reducing piracy. The costs for developing games have heavy increased in the last time so therefore the producers are much more depending on outside capital. Big Publisher like Activision or EA, going that way (using outside capital) have therefore to stick to the policy of the Stanley-Oxley-Act, which includes to reduce piracy to so save the cash return(I hope that's the right term, sry it's not my mother tongue). They have, concerning Stanley-Oxley, to reduce the risk of illegal use of their commercial goods.

That's the fact, Games are not just "data" they are produced goods and the need for them is not a natural one like for food or water, it is a cultural one produced by those who gave this product meaning and have use for it!! It is like claiming Paintings are just paint or books just paper and ink.
Of course the price mechanism is far away of being a perfect one but that does not mean that you can take something for free just because you believe the sellers price policy is unfair. If someone thinks he has to set a too high price on his goods or to combine it with unfair terms of use, then don't buy it.
A boycott of those products would be a legal form of showing the publisher his unfairness and causing economical damage which he couldn't ignore. Piracy otherwise is giving the publisher the legitimization for using methods like DRM...

Just my opinion....and as a student, based on theoretical thoughts.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Lukas Piechulek on 18th March 2010 8:40pm

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Sebastian Cardoso Project Manager, Crytek10 years ago
Rather counterproductive, IMHO. This type of DRM can quite likely aggravate customers and further push people towards pirated copies, which are unlikely to take long to appear after release.

There's no DRM solution to the piracy problem. The offering just needs to be interesting enough to sway customers into chosing legit games over pirated ones.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Sebastian Cardoso on 18th March 2010 9:55pm

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Tom Davy10 years ago
The funny thing is if you buy this on Steam you are getting a Double Decker of DRM.

As Sebastien said, someone needs to offer an appealing solution to both consumer and publisher, which Valve have got the hang of with the community/client etc
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Jonatan Crafoord Indie Developer, Really Interactive AB10 years ago
Unlike most people here I actually generally think it is a rather good idea to keep part of the user experience online to incite purchasing rather than pirating. I'm not saying that people should be forced to be connected 24/7 with no benefits and then be kicked out of the game if the publisher's servers drop for a minute. However, having a personal account that you log in to with a good online service for statistics and multiplayer can create a lot of value that users realize they need to pay for to get.

Just look at Blizzard's games for instance, first of all nobody is complaining about having to be online to play World of Warcraft, even though much of the game could arguably be experienced without ever interacting with other people. Also, the services for games like Warcraft III and Diablo II are simply brilliant and have definitely made me buy more than one copy just to play with friends. There are still things like Hamachi (virtual LAN) and pirate WoW servers, but the only ones using them seem to be people who just try it out at LAN parties or couldn't afford to pay even for a single game.
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Mariusz Kowalski 2D/3D artist, researcher 10 years ago
Seems people are easily amused if they think what I wrote about pirates pirating because it's free is some kind of justification. Obviously it's too difficult for some to understand that it's a reality. People download anything and everything just because it's out there. Most don't even play it or even know what it's about. Just visit a torrent site and check out commentaries from pirates asking what game x is about! They still download it, even if it's nothing what they want. But it's 'free' so hey, why not?

As to people not complaining about being online in WOW, well that's the same as stating that people don't complain about being online in Everquest or EVE! You could also suggest those games could be played offline with minor modifications.

I do have a problem being online playing Silent Hunter as missions tend to be long drawn out affairs and any loss of connection is a real pain.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Mariusz Kowalski on 20th March 2010 12:23am

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