Battlefield: Hardline DRM Locks You Out For Hardware Changes

Battlefield: Hardline DRM Locks You Out For Hardware Changes

Feel like testing Battlefield: Hardline on multiple PCs? Be prepared for Origin to lock you out with DRM it hadn't previously mentioned.

Hey, remember when publishers were figuring out that DRM was ineffective and began scaling it back? Wasn't that wonderful? Well, there's still a few more hurdles to sort through. It turns out the recently-released Battlefield: Hardline is bundled with DRM that wasn't explicitly mentioned on its Origin page. And not your run-of-the-mill DRM either - this is the kind from three years ago that locks you out for changing your video card too many times.

Reports from Techspot and Guru3D state that Origin locks players out of Hardline for playing on eight computers in a short span of time - which means it's naturally triggered by changing your PC hardware. While this DRM probably won't be discovered by the average PC player, it's a huge challenge for anyone testing hardware benchmarks.

Techspot discovered this first hand when reviewing Hardline became a slow and painful slog. "We had to cut some testing as EA's platform only allows us to change the CPU/GPU up to eight times per account before locking us out," Techspot writes. "We were forced use four different accounts to produce this article! After eight hardware changes we get hit with 'we're sorry, an error has occurred...too many computers have accessed this account's version of Battlefield Hardline recently. Please try again later.'"

Now that particular phrasing suggests Hardline can be reset eventually - it just depends on what EA means by "recently". But it's still confusing since Battlefield: Hardline's Origin page doesn't mention such a system - let alone how many computers can run the game before it locks. Regardless, Techspot's review notes that Hardline is still locked on multiple accounts, preventing them from doing further testing.

Origin has faced controversy for hardware monitoring in the past, although EA has stated that no personal information is collected with the data.

Source: Techspot, Guru3D

Permalink

"EA LOCKS USERS OUT FOR CHANGING HARDWARE!!!!!"

"but only after 8 times or so in a short period of time"

"oh and then it works again after a while"

Jesus, what happened to you guys?

God damn it EA. I thought everyone was past shit like this. No one liked it when Ubisoft did it with their games (Dust something or other I think) and no one will like it now.

sid:
"EA LOCKS USERS OUT FOR CHANGING HARDWARE!!!!!"

"but only after 8 times or so in a short period of time"

"oh and then it works again after a while"

Jesus, what happened to you guys?

If it does work again after awhile then this is pretty much a non-issue and is actually an interesting non-invasive way to stop mass distribution.

8 times in a short period of time just isn't going to happen to the vast majority of us. It also depends on what a "short time" is. But even if it's not a "short time", 8 hardware changes is quite a bit.

Im guessing now jim and bob are gone they have to resort to click bait headings to force people to read and give views and ad money. This whole article is a non issue for 99.99% of every PC gamer. An even then that 0.01% are barely effected at all.

It doesn't brick the account or the copy... it's just a small lockout when you rapidly change from computer to computer?

Yea... clickbait article. At least update it to show that it is EIGHT changes it has to go through. This entire thing is a virtual non-issue.

Hmm. It's true, most people aren't going to encounter such an issue. But it would be nice to know just how long a "temporary" lock-out lasts, and it was foolish of EA not to consider such an eventuality.

Not, you know, SimCity "we failed to provide enough network space to allow you to use the game you bought due to the obligatory online requirement you didn't want in the first place" foolish, but foolish. And, one would think, fairly easily avoided by providing watermarked copies to reviewers with an interest in hardware benchmarking, without that limitation.

Lightknight:

sid:
"EA LOCKS USERS OUT FOR CHANGING HARDWARE!!!!!"

"but only after 8 times or so in a short period of time"

"oh and then it works again after a while"

Jesus, what happened to you guys?

If it does work again after awhile then this is pretty much a non-issue and is actually an interesting non-invasive way to stop mass distribution.

8 times in a short period of time just isn't going to happen to the vast majority of us. It also depends on what a "short time" is. But even if it's not a "short time", 8 hardware changes is quite a bit.

But...how much are you willing to bet that actual pirates will have ZERO problems with this DRM on account of it probably being cracked?

Even if ONE legitimate customer has a problem with this, thats one too many.

Utter clickbait, Headline that made it seem if you upgrade your PC in anyway you lose your $120 Hardline Premium account and it turns out only if you try to use that account on 8 different PC's in a short period.

The Escapist journalism is quickly becoming either links to other sites or misleading clickbait.

tzimize:

Lightknight:

sid:
"EA LOCKS USERS OUT FOR CHANGING HARDWARE!!!!!"

"but only after 8 times or so in a short period of time"

"oh and then it works again after a while"

Jesus, what happened to you guys?

If it does work again after awhile then this is pretty much a non-issue and is actually an interesting non-invasive way to stop mass distribution.

8 times in a short period of time just isn't going to happen to the vast majority of us. It also depends on what a "short time" is. But even if it's not a "short time", 8 hardware changes is quite a bit.

But...how much are you willing to bet that actual pirates will have ZERO problems with this DRM on account of it probably being cracked?

Even if ONE legitimate customer has a problem with this, thats one too many.

I'm going to agree with this. This DRM seems specifically engineered to inconvenience people that do hardware testing/benchmarking.

Unless your pirates are operating out of one massive shared-use account in Origin, I can't see this impacting anyone that pirates the game. Meaning the only people that MIGHT be affected are legitimate ones.

Given that the story already notes when testing those guys had to burn through several accounts just to finish the article, that's a pretty annoying problem. Not crippling, depending on how long the lockdown is, but annoying all the same. Further in the fact it's not even mentioned by EA anywhere.

My biggest question is when will EA release a Ferguson, Missouri DLC for this game?

OT: It's hard to imagine that EA once made good games. Personally, I found the last game EA made that I liked was Road Rash II for the Sega Genesis. DRM wasn't a big thing back then, especially since the EA cartridges were not Sega approved. My how times have changed.

tzimize:

Lightknight:

sid:
"EA LOCKS USERS OUT FOR CHANGING HARDWARE!!!!!"

"but only after 8 times or so in a short period of time"

"oh and then it works again after a while"

Jesus, what happened to you guys?

If it does work again after awhile then this is pretty much a non-issue and is actually an interesting non-invasive way to stop mass distribution.

8 times in a short period of time just isn't going to happen to the vast majority of us. It also depends on what a "short time" is. But even if it's not a "short time", 8 hardware changes is quite a bit.

But...how much are you willing to bet that actual pirates will have ZERO problems with this DRM on account of it probably being cracked?

Even if ONE legitimate customer has a problem with this, thats one too many.

They won't have any luck playing the game online though. Also, if someone were to lets say have a gaming cafe where they would offer this game up for play, they'd have to actually provide a legal copy of the game for every machine, instead of just switching accounts back and forth.

Sorry, but the "Pirates get everything better" doesn't always apply.

NLS:

tzimize:

Lightknight:
If it does work again after awhile then this is pretty much a non-issue and is actually an interesting non-invasive way to stop mass distribution.

8 times in a short period of time just isn't going to happen to the vast majority of us. It also depends on what a "short time" is. But even if it's not a "short time", 8 hardware changes is quite a bit.

But...how much are you willing to bet that actual pirates will have ZERO problems with this DRM on account of it probably being cracked?

Even if ONE legitimate customer has a problem with this, thats one too many.

They won't have any luck playing the game online though. Also, if someone were to lets say have a gaming cafe where they would offer this game up for play, they'd have to actually provide a legal copy of the game for every machine, instead of just switching accounts back and forth.

Sorry, but the "Pirates get everything better" doesn't always apply.

Well of course, but not being able to play online have nothing to do with this machine-ware drm, so that point is kinda moot.

Also, I dont understand what you are saying about gaming cafe shops. Considering you have to log on to play and you can only use one account at a time, its not like you can just install the game on multiple pcs and use them all at the same time anyway? This has nothing to do with the parts in the PC.

tzimize:

Lightknight:

sid:
"EA LOCKS USERS OUT FOR CHANGING HARDWARE!!!!!"

"but only after 8 times or so in a short period of time"

"oh and then it works again after a while"

Jesus, what happened to you guys?

If it does work again after awhile then this is pretty much a non-issue and is actually an interesting non-invasive way to stop mass distribution.

8 times in a short period of time just isn't going to happen to the vast majority of us. It also depends on what a "short time" is. But even if it's not a "short time", 8 hardware changes is quite a bit.

But...how much are you willing to bet that actual pirates will have ZERO problems with this DRM on account of it probably being cracked?

Don't really care. As long as their silly attempts at DRM don't bother the vast majority of legitimate customers then that's their prerogative to waste their time.

On the other hand, it may also impact so few people as to make hackers not really care about cracking it. See, the amount of time it takes for something to be cracked generally relies on how many people want it cracked. Otherwise it's not worth the hacker's time.

That being said, it seems like EA's server is running the check. It may be something that is impossible to crack because the hardware check is required on the server and that code isn't going to be altered. It's kinda really smart. I'd be interested in seeing what happens if you figure out an adequate hardware response and then just auto-populate that hardware response going forward. My guess is that the server is still just going to look at the real hardware anyways and ruin that.

Even if ONE legitimate customer has a problem with this, thats one too many.

Depends, what kind of time span is required before the lock out is resolved?

This argument is extremely subjective. Let's strip it to the most basic elements. Is any inconvenience at all acceptable? Why is it too many if the smallest percentage would ever see this?

Heck, this is an extreme scenario. Who is going to run through 8 machines on one day or in one week? Who is going to take the time to install the game that many times on that many machines?

It seems like this is something they did that is minimal at the very worst. Something the vast majority of us will never see at all. It was different when everyone had to deal with it. But the extreme cases and pirates?

SonOfVoorhees:
Im guessing now jim and bob are gone they have to resort to click bait headings to force people to read and give views and ad money. This whole article is a non issue for 99.99% of every PC gamer. An even then that 0.01% are barely effected at all.

Yeah, aside from Extra and Zero Punctuation, there's not really much reason for me to visit this place anymore. If Yahtzee leaves, I expect the Escapist to close shortly thereafter.

I wouldn't say that people leaving has caused clickbait articles, they've been a feature on and off the Escapist for years. Though they could trigger another trend of them, I guess.

thaluikhain:
I wouldn't say that people leaving has caused clickbait articles, they've been a feature on and off the Escapist for years. Though they could trigger another trend of them, I guess.

Yeah, clickbait is a dime a dozen on most sites now it seems. I certainly wouldn't blame shifting winds or any other such imagined nonsense.

Honestly, I'd say it's gotten a lot better recently.

Wow now I'm going to avoid buying Battlefield: Hardline even harder than I have been already.

Can it really be considered click-bait since EA is pretty well known for pulling crap like this?

Lightknight:
If it does work again after awhile then this is pretty much a non-issue and is actually an interesting non-invasive way to stop mass distribution.

To what end? I can install and run my Steam games on as many PC's as I want in as short a period of time as I want. Hasn't hurt Valve's or anyone elses business any. So it seems like a solution to a problem that either doesn't exist or is so miniscule it's not worth worrying about.

have to admit that changing your hardware 8 times in a row is not very common but locking down an account is ridicules. good thing i had no issues when my pc had an sudden crash because my older gpu broke on me and after installing my new gpu, i had no issues what so ever playing all my games i have on origin.

Do we really know what counts as a hardware change? In the past things like updating drivers or updating to service pack have triggered issues like this in other DRM systems. Do we even know what pieces of hardware other than CPU and GPU that are used to generate the hashes? So don't be so quick to think this is a non-issue.

EA/Origin already has a perfectly fine account-based drm solution and little need for this. As long as the account is only being used by the owner and on one machine at a time I don't see why EA would care enough to implement this.

Considering it is 8 changes and it will be ok in a few hours, I don't think there is too much to complain about it. Probably the people who are effected most by it would be journalists reporting on it. At least that's my feeling. That being said it's just representative of the philosophy of companies who employ DRM these days that would rather deal with a little back lash from over stepping a bit, rather than take the time to find an acceptable alternative before hand. In EA's case of course they've torched whole franchises to so how invasive they could make DRM. See who buys the next SimCity if one ever gets made.

Vivi22:

Lightknight:
If it does work again after awhile then this is pretty much a non-issue and is actually an interesting non-invasive way to stop mass distribution.

To what end? I can install and run my Steam games on as many PC's as I want in as short a period of time as I want. Hasn't hurt Valve's or anyone elses business any. So it seems like a solution to a problem that either doesn't exist or is so miniscule it's not worth worrying about.

Have you ever installed and played a game on as many as 8 machines in, let's say, one day?

The idea is this, one copy distributed in mass would trigger the flag. One copy distributed to a handful of people wouldn't. So this doesn't even stop minor pirates but it does stop major piracy and the ingenuity of the DRM is not reliant on the game code so it may be one of the first cases of DRM that isn't going to get cracked as fast as the previous ones for a number of reasons unless someone figures out a way to increment the versions of their copy so the server thinks they're different copies. That's also assuming they didn't account for that as well and have created a range of acceptable licenses.

I'm sorry if just the notion that you can't run around and install it on every machine you know about is some kind of evil DRM even if you're not going to ever do that but this is one of the very few times that EA is being really smart and non-invasive in a way we should find acceptable. That is, of course, assuming that the period of time is limited and not done in years or actually eternal.

Don't get me wrong, I hate EA, but this is a significantly positive step in making sure their DRM only harms non-customers in the vast majority of scenarios. You read the article, just to test this they had to create multiple accounts and actually work on making this happen. This isn't the same DRM of old that made me swear off all EA games and especially those specific to Origin. A swear that I am still holding to. For example, still haven't played ME3. Won't unless it drops the Origin requirement. Want to play the game, but not going to deal with their shit.

TheEmissary:
Do we really know what counts as a hardware change? In the past things like updating drivers or updating to service pack have triggered issues like this in other DRM systems. Do we even know what pieces of hardware other than CPU and GPU that are used to generate the hashes? So don't be so quick to think this is a non-issue.

EA/Origin already has a perfectly fine account-based drm solution and little need for this. As long as the account is only being used by the owner and on one machine at a time I don't see why EA would care enough to implement this.

Could just be MAC address. To know for sure I'd need to test it with VMs where I've spoofed the MAC to match. But, I don't really want to...

Kameburger:
Considering it is 8 changes and it will be ok in a few hours, I don't think there is too much to complain about it. Probably the people who are effected most by it would be journalists reporting on it. At least that's my feeling. That being said it's just representative of the philosophy of companies who employ DRM these days that would rather deal with a little back lash from over stepping a bit, rather than take the time to find an acceptable alternative before hand. In EA's case of course they've torched whole franchises to so how invasive they could make DRM. See who buys the next SimCity if one ever gets made.

This simply isn't the sort of DRM we've been upset with in the past. For once, this only impacts rapid installations of the game across multiple machines. It finally doesn't impact single customers that maybe install it on three machines (computer 1, computer 2, gaming laptop).

I get that we've all pitchforked EA on the regular and they have generally been the scummiest of scum. But this simply isn't anything to make a fuss about. Had they limited it to two computers? Sure. But 8? No, that stops mass production. Even journalists shouldn't be affected by that. They send out review copies to various journalists, any one of those journalists shouldn't be handing the copy around to 8 machines or more.

So try again. Who does this actually harm? How does 8 simultaneous machines not more than constitute fair license use? I think we may finally have one of the least invasive forms of DRM that actually does something useful. It took those assholes awhile to get there, but I just hope this is where it ends. This is a really smart way to force two factor authentication. If it's just an MAC spoofing problem then there's an easy work around for techs like me but the average joe just downloading a pirated copy isn't going to have the expertise to spoof their MAC. So this is a long time coming brilliant solution, eloquent even. It's done in a way that doesn't harm people like me. You know, people that actually spend money on games. So this hits all the requirements I've had for DRM to coexist peacefully. Doesn't hinder my ability to play the game and actually serves a purpose that isn't easily crackable.

Trip Hawkins was to Electronic Arts what Jack Tramiel was to Commodore Business Machines. When he left the company, the company just turned to crap and it has been that way ever since. Jack Tramiel might have made sure we would all be using Amigas today and that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs would have been footnotes.

This system is implemented to combat cheating, not piracy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2EeN1JJ5lw

Yozozo:
It doesn't brick the account or the copy... it's just a small lockout when you rapidly change from computer to computer?

Yea... clickbait article. At least update it to show that it is EIGHT changes it has to go through. This entire thing is a virtual non-issue.

I don't know, changing your hardware isn't limited to just your video card. Will it do it if you have to replace RAM chips? Or put more in?
Will it count for two if you upgrade your video card and then find you need to upgrade your power supply as well? What happens with smaller hardware that is still inside your board and is accessed by the game? Like, say, if your CMOS battery goes out? Does that count.

These are real questions we kind of have to ask. A PC that will stand up to three years of hardcore gaming use without needing to be upgraded costs at a minimum of about 1500 USD. I built one for 700, and I can run Witcher 2, with everything turned off, at minimum settings, in windowed 720p at 30 frames per second on a 2gb video card. I have to upgrade this soon if I want to play any games that came out in the last two years.
And who knows what will happen to my RAM by then with all the rendering I do.
And of course with a new video card, I will have to get a new power supply.
Hell, I may even have to just upgrade my mother board while I'm at it. There goes a new processor as well.
Why not just buy a new computer?
Why not just stop slipping in DRM like this? Why not be honest about which position you want to fuck us in?

So.... Overpriced expansion is worst than expected? Ha ha!

Nice job on the journalism guys, The Know's Adam Kovic and Bruce Greene did a better job of investigating this.
https://youtu.be/T2EeN1JJ5lw

sid:
"EA LOCKS USERS OUT FOR CHANGING HARDWARE!!!!!"

"but only after 8 times or so in a short period of time"

"oh and then it works again after a while"

Jesus, what happened to you guys?

I know right? These article titles are getting more and more misleading, and now they're just talking up an issue that very few people are likely to experience. Look I get that tech bloggers and games journalists or whatever need a lot of machines to test, but besides them, who else owns eight computers? Even an advanced user only usually has up to four. Most end-users are only really interested in testing a game until they get it to work. I'm not saying what EA is doing is right, but let's try not to bait people into an unnecessary rage.

I would like to know the time limit before I judge, but this seems reasonable. The only thing I can gripe about is wondering how much money they spent on adding this system to the game when it's obviously not going to thwart piracy.

 

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