(Updated) Mirror's Edge Catalyst DRM Limits PC Users to 4 Upgrades

By Published June 07, 2016 at 10:15 am
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Update: We have received the following statement from EA Games:

"I checked with our dev team they confirmed that Origin for PC and Mac allows players to activate EA games (including Star Wars Battlefront) five times a day. If you’ve activated a game five times that day, you’ll be able to activate the game again 24 hours after your first activation of the day. This includes installs on new machines and new hardware configurations. If you are encountering something different I’m happy to put you in touch with a dev to remedy the roadblock." (Angella Wong, EA Games Integrated Communications Manager).

Our 24-hour window should tick-over soon and allow us to validate this. If this is the case, the Denuvo DRM limitation on hardware changes would largely be a non-issue -- as stated in the original piece (below), no normal user would be feverishly switching hardware 4-5 times in 24 hours. We will test and report back. Original content follows.

As an aside, here's our Mirror's Edge Catalyst GPU benchmark, now finalized.

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EA's new Mirror's Edge Catalyst uses DRM to impose activation limits on the game, restricting total hardware configuration changes to four. That means that, over your life of ownership, you may have to buy the game multiple times if hoping to return in several years from now. We discovered this previously with Star Wars: Battlefront – another EA Origin title – and actually ended up buying it multiple times just to test GPUs.

We've gotten through four video cards in our GPU suite (which spans more than 10 total devices) and have already encountered the dreaded “We're Sorry. An error has occurred. Too many computers have accessed this account's version of Mirror's Edge Catalyst.”

Great.

Even on the media side, we have no easy way around this. We've already bought the game once – not a press code, but paid access – and will likely be buying it one or two more times for benchmark purposes. That's fine for us, but it's not so great for actual players. If you buy the game today, decide you don't like performance and upgrade the GPU, that's two activations. If you swap the CPU next year – or just install a new board/CPU platform altogether – that's the third activation. One more hardware change, that's it. Buy the game again.

This is an old hymn that we're familiar with in PC gaming – DRM is often draconian and overreaching, and could lock-out legitimate consumers (as with our own copy). Four activations sounds like plenty in some ways – no real-world user will switch cards every few minutes – but the fact of the matter is that down-the-road playability is killed by this DRM. This is especially noteworthy for Mirror's Edge as a single-player-driven game; there's a good chance I'll want to play again in a few years, as I've recently done with the original title, and hardware will definitely change by then.

We're starting to get a little frustrated with EA over this brazen assault on the PC enthusiast culture. The intentions are legitimate: EA hopes to prevent piracy, or something, by attacking its consumers – that's normal. Not great, but normal. We can work with that to some extent. Unfortunately, because EA sees everything as a new computer, the limitations are far more severe than totally new system installations. It'd be reasonable to mark a platform upgrade – a new CPU & motherboard, maybe a new OS – as a new computer. Moving from one video card to the next does not, however, constitute a new computer. We haven't tested if a new OS install (e.g. a re-install after virus infection, which is common) also drains an activation.

Either way, just know going into Mirror's Edge Catalyst that it is outfitted with the same DRM as Battlefront.

The game looks good – we'll review it soon-ish, after our GPU benchmark – but it's just sort of got this unnecessarily irritating leach hanging off of it.

(One note, as an edited add-on: EA Origin still has some of the best customer support when compared against some competitors, like Steam -- this particular issue is just a meandered mess to get resolved. Customer service doesn't seem to understand it, and so it's always easier to re-buy the game.)

- Steve “Lelldorianx” Burke.

Last modified on June 08, 2016 at 10:15 am
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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