A few months ago, I had made a post stating that, based on the information presented at the time, it was far too early to assume the Chicken Little position over Mass Effect 3 and EA's digital distribution platform, Origin. Perhaps I was too hopeful, but I stand corrected. Confirmation comes from Chris Priestly this week that, in fact, the final game in Shepard's trilogy will be requiring the platform on PC.
BSN Community Manager shared the following post on the forums yesterday, along with a short, rather vague FAQ on the details:
1) Will Origin be a requirement to play all versions of Mass Effect 3? (Digital and/or from a retail brick and mortar store)
Yes, Origin is required for all PC editions of Mass Effect 3, physical or digital.
2) Is constant Origin connection required or is it a single one off authentication when the game is first installed. Is there also a limit to the number of installations available?
Mass Effect 3 will require a one time, single authorization for the single player game. There is no limit to the number of installs. Playing Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer will require a constant connection.
3) Is Origin required for the retail versions of the game?
Origin is required for the PC versions of Mass Effect 3, both physical and digital.
4) Will ME3 be available on Steam?
During initial release Mass Effect 3 will be available on Origin and a number of other 3rd party digital retailers, but not on Steam at this time. Steam has adopted a set of restrictive terms of service which limit how developers interact with customers to deliver patches and other downloadable content. We are intent on providing Mass Effect to players with the best possible experience no matter where they purchase or play their game, and are happy to partner with any download service that does not restrict our ability to connect directly with our consumers.
5) Is there an opt in or opt out clause for data collection?
Users will be allowed to opt-out of Mass Effect 3 data collection from inside the game.
6) I’ve seen reports that Origin is spyware. Is this true?
Origin is not spyware, and does not use or install spyware on user’s machines. In order to allow Origin to install games and their patches for everyone to use, Origin implements a permission change that results in Windows, not Origin, reviewing the filenames in the ProgramData/Origin folder. This is an ordinary Windows function, not an information-gathering process.
7) Has the Origin EULA been updated following recent questions in Germany?
The German Origin EULA has been updated. For more information, please review the Origin EULA here: http://www.ea.com/1/product-eulas.
8 ) Is there a double-opt in for Mass Effect 3 marketing emails for German residents?
Yes, we always adhere to the German requirement of a double opt-in standard for marketing emails. Mass Effect 3 users must opt-in twice to receive these emails.
So, the most sure thing you can gain from this FAQ is that yes, regardless of where you buy it, if you want to play Mass Effect 3 on PC, you'll need Origin on your hard drive.
Some of the finer details are missing, and no clarification has come yet (for his part, Evil Chris has promised to try and get responses from the rest of the team). Though, unless you're interested in multiplayer, the actual requirements are rather lax. All you need is a one-time activation, and the unlimited number of installs is a nice concession for consumers (though since it'll be tied to a single Origin account, install limits would seem arbitrary).
What we don't know yet are the details of running the game - Does the client need to stay on your hard drive after the install? Do you need to launch through Origin? These are questions we're still waiting on answers for.
Honestly, this won't affect my decision on purchasing the game, I've had no issues with Origin on my desktop for several months now, and I find some of its criticisms, frankly, overblown. However, if you're still considering a purchase, then it's important for you to know the baggage that comes with it. We'll be keeping an eye on developments with this story.