Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Battlefield 2142: this is nuts.

So, I bought Battlefield 2142 a week ago. I bet it's pretty fun, but I haven't played it. As far as I know there's no technical issues. Why can't I play it? insane copy-protection.

See, you're only allowed to register an account if the CD-key currently in use has never made an account. They don't tell you this, anywhere. They also don't tell you that BF2 account names can't be used again for 2142, either as an old account or as a duplicate name. (update: apparently you can sign up as a BF2 "veteran" to get a special icon, a free unlock, and a unique taunt. This was marketed poorly and probably would have prevented my name-guessing issue entirely.) So, the game is 24 hours old, and I'm trying dozens of names, none of which work, and I suspect some error might be at work. I fill the name box with gibberish I'll never be able to remember for the life of me as a "baseline" account I never plan on logging into. It works, which elates me, so I go back to trying names. About 4 more trials and instead of the "already taken" error, I get one that tells me the CD key has already made an account. Crap.

I immediately contact tech support. I still haven't received a response. (update: for the record, it was roughly 5.8 business days before I got an answer - a request for information.)

The Battlefield series has always been known for ridiculous copy-protection but this takes the cake. I'd like to know why on earth I can't make unlimited accounts, even if they are deleted after a period of inactivity. One can make players (with unique unlocks) at will within an account, so why the 2-tier account/player system anyway? One has to connect to the internet to play (well, play the game proper at any rate), so it's not like duping offline installations is possible. Just what the hell are they up to?

What they're up to is growing the market for illegal dealings. EA has a long history of treating game copying like a cold war arms race, but this approach is flawed. Beyond a certain point (and we reached that point about 10 years ago), copy-protection doesn't discourage stealing, it encourages it. The baseline crime only decreases a certain amount based on how easy it is to steal. Beyond that limit, the people who steal games will go to the ends of the earth to steal your game. For many, it's a challenge which must be met; it's fun. It's a purely reactive effect and so the mutual escalation is all coming from EA's side of the table. They look at the correlation and treat it like an ever-looming threat that they have to keep up with, and all it does is cost them time and money.

I'm so fucking tired of being caught in the crossfire. I just want to play my fucking game that I payed $50 for, pretty please.



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