You Can Only Install Mass Effect on PC Three Times

It looks like the controversial DRM for the PC version of Mass Effect is rearing its ugly head once more. Prior to the game‘s release, many gamers were upset when they learned that Mass Effect’s copy protection software essentially required internet re-authentication every ten days. After a fierce outcry from the gaming public, EA dropped the authentication aspect of the copy protection, but did still limit the game from being installed on more than three computers. Many assumed that this would be a similar case to BioShock’s DRM, which would allow you to install the game on another computer, provided you uninstalled it from another first. Apparently though, this is not the case with Mass Effect.

Recently, a few consumers have noticed that simply uninstalling the game doesn’t give you an activation back. A thread on Mass Effect’s forums shows the odd runaround one consumer was given in his efforts to find out if this really was the case. Finally, he received this simple answer:

Unfortunately, you will not gain an activation by uninstalling the game.

So essentially, you get to install the game three times. That’s it. Any more than that is probably going to involve you contacting EA Support line, which is probably inviting unnecessary pain.

Of course, this raises almost as many issues as the previous DRM controversy. For one, it pretty much kills the used market for this game, since the disc is basically worthless after three installs. For another, PC gamers tend to uninstall and re-install programs all the time, so this is something that’s bound to affect a lot of people. Besides all that though, this just comes back to how ridiculous it is to treat legitimate customers like criminals. I’ll bet the people who bought Mass Effect on the PC are real happy to learn all this after the game’s been on store shelves for awhile.

Via The Consumerist

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31 Comments on You Can Only Install Mass Effect on PC Three Times


On June 18, 2008 at 2:28 am

:twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:


On June 18, 2008 at 2:29 am

This is worse than StarForce.
I had planned on getting this game. Now I won’t bother.


On June 18, 2008 at 2:32 am

Oh come off it. This game is good enough that the DRM it contains shouldn’t stop you from buying it. Skipping this game just means you’ll be missing out on one of the greatest games of all time.


On June 18, 2008 at 2:46 am

yea and when we buy this game and idk u have to install it 3 more times aww well cant play it anymore im sry but they wonder why there are so many pirates
when i buy something i want to play it all the time not have to but a fricken new one ever 3 installs


On June 18, 2008 at 2:50 am

They want to prevent piracy, but this would just give me good reason to download it then to buy it.. Some one can choose to buy a game with restrictions, or download a game for free and can do as they please with it unlimited…. hum, the choice seems fairly obvious to me. There is no intensive to buy it when you can get more from a free pirated copy.

need to try something new guys.


On June 18, 2008 at 3:32 am

Svin! If this is news to you then you were not actually interested in the game at all because this has been common knowledge for awhile.

Dem0n. I completely agree with you. I own ME for the PC and have had a ton of fun with it. I also have it on Vista 64 with no problems.

Zaruka. I don’t know what to say.. no really, I don’t know what to say because I can’t read that gibberish..

Uber. Yeah right. You will still pirated it anyway because its free and you think your cool for doing it.

There is a third options too and that is Don’t get the game at all. No one says you have to get the game one way or another…


On June 18, 2008 at 3:36 am

First off, you guys really need to work on your spelling and grammar, if you’re going to type at least spell like you know how to read, it’s a pain to have to make sense of gibberish.

On topic, This whole anti-piracy thing is getting way out of hand. I understand that they have a right to protect their intrests, but seriously, this is just a joke. While people who bought the game legit have to bear the burden of a downright stupid copy protection scheme, the pirates have been happily playing mass effect since the day it hit the PC and installing as many times as they please. The Corporations (EA,MS, UBI, etc.) say the pirates are killing PC games, but if you ask me it’s them who are killing the platform, the “criminals” still operate with impunity, while the customers are treated like theives.

Why would people buy something that’s only going to be a pain in the ass? They’ll just download and play without the BS, which is what’s happening more and more these days.


On June 18, 2008 at 3:49 am

No problem, just wait for the Reloaded No-DVD cracked EXE.


On June 18, 2008 at 4:55 am

Takemaru. You about spelling and grammar but you used the word intrests, which as far as i know isnt a word. It is spelled interests.

Mustikos. Youre an idiot with no life that seemingly jumps on everyone that you dont agree with. People dont pirate games because they think they are cool. They pirate games to get free games. Some, like myself, pirate games as sort of a rental. If I like the game and it runs on my puter i go buy it. If i hate the game or it runs like I delete it. Get off your horse before it kicks you off cuz you aint gonna last long on it. kthxbai


On June 18, 2008 at 5:18 am

spelling insults and saying im a pirate aside it sad where the paying customers have to pay for pirates i rather own my games anyway. plus most game company’s find a way where it has mp u cant play it with out a key. that why i like steam, can download my games anytime i want don’t worry about after 3 installs the stuiped cd protection would not let me play anymore. only problem with steam i have is one day the service disappear my games are gone that about it.

ps thanks BonerTime lol for calling them out


On June 18, 2008 at 5:53 am

I think its not necessary to instal this game more than 1 time. Just copy game folder to another comp and execute reg branch from reestr :roll:


On June 18, 2008 at 6:15 am

If they do this who knows how many other companies would follow its steps. And then we’d just have a very annoying problem.


On June 18, 2008 at 6:35 am

tbh, I doubt your going to switch to 3 different PC’s in the time it takes to become bored with this game.

At best you’ll have played this for 6 months, and unless you buy a completely new pc every couple months, its not a issue.

Its abit of a stretch to say “you can only install it 3 times”

Even taking into account you have a second computer in the house for a brother or sister, that makes 2.

3rd if you had a replacement pc.

Only real reason you’d go over that is if you give it to a friend, and they should just buy their own.


On June 18, 2008 at 6:36 am

Considering how often I end up having to reformat thanks to my superb ability to tear apart Windows to the point of not being able to boot up properly, I think I’ll pass on buying this title. This is the first game I’m pirating thanks to this 3 install crap. I even tolerated Bioshocks DRM once I found out you can gain back activations. That’s not a problem. But to limit it to 3 installs without any sort of way to gain back activations forcing you to call and activate? It’s getting pretty bad. I hate having to do that with Vista as often as I do so I’m not about to start doing that with my games.


On June 18, 2008 at 6:43 am

I love the fact that somebody with the name “bonertime” thinks they have a vaild opinion on something.. or that he has to do the “no life” over used insult. Yes I don’t agree with your pirate ways I there for must have no life. How dare somebody like me who buys products get pissed off that people steal stuff then try to rub it in my face that their better then me. “They pirate games to get free games” NO REALLY? I thought it was because they where trying to be like johnny depp.. I really like how your the type of person who gets pissed when people try to at least spell a word and yet say crap like “kthxbai”, My spelling does suck but I at least try and don’t say lazy things like “u”.

Yeah sure you go buy games that you steal, I steal cars to try them out then go buy them.. Sure you delete them, what ever excuse helps you sleep better at night. Also what the hell is a puter? Some sort of weird golf computer thing? Didn’t know doing the right thing was consider to be riding the high horse… good logic there.

Yes I do hate stuff like the DRM and other things like it. That new bill the idiotic House passed, the pro IP bill pisses me off to no end. Do they need things like that? Sure they do because of idiots like “Bonerinmyass” feel the need to steal crap. Unlike you I either buy the game or I don’t, I don’t take the cheap way out.

My spelling my be horrible but compared to Zaruka..

PS sorry for the text wall of doom.


On June 18, 2008 at 6:52 am

I am all for paying for creative content youenjoy, but the whole industry’s response to piracy as been anti-consumer crap, creating more problems than they’ve failed to solve!
PC games retailers started refusing refunds, citing piracy, so now people have to download games to find out if they will run on their machines (where there is no demo, as with Stalker and Assassins Creed)
Then there’s these increasingly aggressive copy-protection systems. Bioshock is a stunning game, but I had such probs with its copy protection I was tempted to look for a crack. Now Mass Effect has similar problems? I’m going to have to think carefully about whether to get it.
Of course, once you have the game already, where’s the harm in getting a cracked version to get it to run smoothly?


On June 18, 2008 at 8:20 am

I never said this was news to me… :roll: I just say, I would prefer Starforce over this crap.

Ah, well – there’s plenty other games then.


On June 18, 2008 at 8:37 am

First of all, many of you need a lesson in reading comprehension. It doesn’t say you can only install it three times period, it says if you install it more than that you have to contact EA support. Not a pleasant proposition, but also not a finite limit.

Most of you are using this as an excuse to get a pirated copy. “If they’re going to protect themselves I’ll just pirate it then.” Like you would have bought a copy in the first place. What a load of rationalization there.

And all I see here is a bunch of complaining. I haven’t seen anyone post a suggestion as to what they should do to try to protect themselves from pirates while not encumber the honest purchasers. The fact is that we all pay for the bad apples. If you try to write a check, you have to show ID. Wow, they’re treating all the honest check-writers like criminals… how dare they!?


On June 18, 2008 at 9:14 am

What you don’t seem to understand is that on the whole, the means used by publishers to protect their games does more harm to those who buy the game legally than those who download it.

And cheque writing, ha :roll: . Those security measures are rightfully in place to safeguard your identity, your account and the savings within, all very important and persistent details of life which as everyone should know, need constant verification; copy protection is supposed to protect a product’s sales. Mass Effect for the PC isn’t an online game either.

There are no multiplayer profiles, rankings and/or stats to protect and if you wanted to protect those, you would simply have people register accounts to play, not turn the retail disc into a lamp genie. This is a single-player adventure, not an online grindfest. Steam for example, doesn’t give this bull as you need only verify your code once, after which you can use that game anywhere you want, so long as you remember YOUR account details and have Steam and an internet connection readily available. No need to constantly report in just to verify who you are every few days and best of all, no need to ration your installs.

You also seem to have skimmed over valid points: for all the reinstalls, reformats, bugs, patches and/or uninstalls to save disc space, three times is a very strict quota.


Davn Kincade

On June 18, 2008 at 9:28 am

@Spiral…Ever try to contact EA support? if you did you would know why people aren’t very pleased.

It’s a shame that somebody such as yourself with an obvious intellect would throw out the “If you disagree with this tactic you must be a pirate/thief/bad person”..that is usually reserved for people who have run out of sensible arguments.

Spiral, i’ve been a video game consumer for well over 20 years, back in the day’s of the TI-994A and i’ve seen tons of copy protection, anti-piracy programs, you get the jist…and for all my time as a consumer i’ve never seen something this intrusive.

Only being able to install this game a certain number of times before you need to call EA support isn’t was has people upset, it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back though…this is a program that has to ‘phone home’ every 15 days and keep a check on your game…humans generally dislike being checked on in this manner especially when they’ve done nothing to deserve it.

Imagine for one moment Spiral if you decided to go shopping, an employee of the store begins to follow you around as you shop, every ten minutes he/she asks if you need anything but continues to follow you around…when you finally confront them they respond “Oh, well you might be a thief sir…so we have to follow you around the store, oh but don’t worry sir because we do it to everybody”…now can you tell me with complete and utter honesty that you would shop there again??

Davn Kincade

On June 18, 2008 at 9:35 am

Correction: I ment to say “This is a program that EA wanted to ‘phone home’ every 10 days”


On June 18, 2008 at 1:39 pm

Well technically if you uninstall the game and then reinstall it on the same PC (without any changes that would require a re-activation), that won’t use up yet another activation.

I agree though, the 3 activation limit AND the lack of an unactivation tool is just plain retarded. I mean, at least Bioshock had an unactivation tool.


On June 18, 2008 at 1:39 pm

P.S. Not gonna stop me from buying the game once I get the money though.

da soc

On June 18, 2008 at 11:26 pm

I cracked it no problem and am enjoying playing my “free” copy of the game. This isn’t stopping piracy, it’s encouraging it.

I hate copyright limitations

On July 13, 2008 at 12:48 am

If people didn’t buy games with these stupid limitations, the game designers would never use them. So it’s all our own fault.

I think the limit of three times is absolutely ridiculous. First of all I like to periodically reset my computer back to the factory original programing so that I can get rid of all the stuff accumulated that my anti-malware programs can’t seem to find. And I may be getting another computer sometime while I’m still into playing this game. Not to mention I have a laptop that I may want to put the game on so I can bring it with me to places I go.

In short had I not had a brain fart and forgot that online authentication usually means installation limits, then I wouldn’t have bought it. I would have called ea first to make sure there was a way around the 3 installation limits as long as I could prove I bought it. And if they told me no, I wouldn’t have bought it, and I would simply have waited for a friend to buy it and asked if I could use one of his installations after he was done playing it.

I spent $50 for this game, and when I spend that much, I expect to be able to get my money’s worth.

They only use these stupid limitations because they are getting money, and they believe they’ll get more money by using them because it will force some of us to buy the game again, and they get a notion that it will hinder pirating.

As for the piraters of these games, all programs can be manipulated if someone knows programing enough to know what they are reading and how to change it.
So for the people that are actually making money off pirating these types of games, no limitation or copyright is going to prevent them. Just good ole fashioned investigative police work is the only thing that’s going to find and stop them. I mean the only thing that it has any hope of hindering is the non profit “friend letting the other friend borrow thier game for a while” thing.

Maybe they think these limitations will stop friends from letting other friends try the game and cause the other friend to buy a copy of the game, when in reality, limitations like this discourage people from buying games, and actually friends letting other friends try the game only inspires the friend to go and get his own copy so he doesn’t have to keep borrowing his friend’s copy. I’ve done the whole borrow thing, and it’s not fun because often my friends like to play at the same time I do.

So in reality WE, the law abiding citizens, that pay an arm and a leg for these games, are the only ones really being given a hard time. And that’s why I hate, and believe there is no point in buying games with ridiculous copyright limitations.


On July 27, 2008 at 11:20 pm

This is one time where a hacked version of the game would come in handy. Buy game. If you have to reinstall more then 3 times and now you can’t just go download a hacked version that bypassed the drm. Since you have a legit copy I wouldn’t see a problem in that as you own the game. One of the few times when a hacked drm free version would come in handy.

Raj Pet

On October 5, 2008 at 5:12 pm

Hell with that. I’ll just pirate the game like everyone else. It’ll be definitely alot less of a headache that’s for sure.


On October 29, 2008 at 8:01 pm

If they have an atom of conscience left, they will remove it, just like 2k did with Bioshock.

I mean, we all know that DRM doesn’t work, yet they use. I’m starting to think some companies want to do this with PC gamers to push us to consoles they own (cough cough Sony cough cough cough)

I will be buying this one, though, and if they don’t fix this thing by the time I uninstall it three times, well that’s too bad: we’ve got the HaX0Rz to help us… I always buy a game. The only reason to pirate one is if you can’t find it in your country, or if you’ve got big effing idiots such as EA thinking that they can coax us into being treated like animals, while we’re the people supporting them.

Well, **** that!


On June 18, 2009 at 3:15 pm

I’m personally all for protecting software and preventing theft of software, but this kind of extreme move by a game developer is only going to PUSH people into pirating the game.

I personally never steal games online, but only being able to install the game 3 times REALLY puts me off the idea of buying it. I have a habit of uninstalling games if I dont use them for a while and reinstalling later on.

What happens if the game breaks while installed and needs a reinstall? It does happen with most games I have owned. What happens if you buy a new PC because the old one breaks or needs updating? You may have alread used your previous 3 installs and it now useless.

This kind of restriction is just too extreme and is punishing those who have no intention of stealing a game. It makes people feel like a criminal who has the intention of doing something wrong, despite not intending to.

This would be like telling someone they can only watch a DVD they buy 10 times, before it stops playing because they dont want you copying it.

Its like saying you can only play an MP3 song 100 times before it expires and you have to buy it again.

Its an unrealistic and non-thought out mechanism and I hope they either release a patch to remove it or dont put the same mechanism into ME2. I’m just greatful this game is VERY cheap online to buy, otherwise I wouldn’t be touching it.


On January 14, 2010 at 11:57 pm

so what if your pc crashes for whatever reason, can happen quite often what then you paid money for a worthless frisbee?


On January 14, 2010 at 11:59 pm

this drm garbage only promotes piracy and hacking, as well as hurts sales.