With colossal mega-publishers like EA and Activision, it’s rare to hear a less-than-positive peep from even the company janitor, so we have to applaud EA for keeping the first amendment alive with corporate blogger Jeff Green. But you won’t see any standing ovations from us, because while EA’s taken a big step forward in that regard, its Command & Conquer 4 DRM counts as a few hundred steps back. Don’t believe us? Then just ask EA blogger Jeff Green!
"Booted twice—and progress lost—on my single-player C&C4 game because my DSL connection blinked. DRM fail. We need new solutions," Green tweeted. “Welp. I've tried to be open-minded. But my 'net connection is finicky--and the constant disruption of my C&C4 SP game makes this unplayable."
“Yeah, Steam's ability to have off-line play is the clear, better model when talking about SP games," he added. "However, C&C4 experiments w/what a 'single-player game' is--given it's constantly uploading progress/stats for unlocks. It's complicated. I think if we think of C&C4 as an 'online-only' game--which it basically is--then maybe we'd adjust our expectations accordingly."
For the uninitiated, Command & Conquer 4’s DRM functions similarly to Ubisoft’s recent digital rights management disaster in that it requires a constant Internet connection to function.
So, videogame publishers of the world, do we have this “always-connected DRM” phase out of our systems yet? Because if you’re expecting our anger to cool while we warm up to your DRM over time, it’s not gonna happen. It’s like when little kids are playing, and one of them adds a series of increasingly ridiculous, self-serving rules to the game. You know what the other kids do? They find a new friend.
Command & Conquer 4, recently announced as a PC-exclusive, isn’t an MMO. However, if your PC isn’t connected to the Internet, playing the game’s a no-go. No campaigns, no single-player bot matches – nothing. So what gives? Well, apparently, it’s all part of an ambitious new game feature called “player progression.”
“As of right now, you need to be online all the time to play C&C 4. This is primarily due to our ‘player progression’ feature so everything can be tracked,” the game’s community manager wrote. “C&C 4 is not an MMO in the sense of World of Warcraft, but conceptually it has similar principles for being online all the time. While some may be taken aback by this, we’ve been testing this feature internally with all of our world-wide markets.”
He also added that relative Internet speed won’t throw a wrench into non-multiplayer gameplay, so if your connection’s a dial-up dinosaur, its lackadaisical lumbering won’t cause your game to lag or anything.
And while we’re sure this all-seeing player progression feature has the potential to be the backbone of some ambitious new game mode, we can’t help but notice the light scent of piracy protection wafting from this one. Will gamers complain about it? Probably. But will they finally stop pirating games forever? Nope. We can’t in good conscience, then, sling too much vitriol at EA – especially if the developer’s at least trying to give us an interesting game feature for our troubles.