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Electronic Arts Responds To  Spore  DRM Criticism
Electronic Arts Responds To Spore DRM Criticism Exclusive
September 12, 2008 | By Leigh Alexander

September 12, 2008 | By Leigh Alexander
Comments
    68 comments
More: Console/PC, Exclusive



Electronic Arts is responding to concerns regarding the SecuROM digital rights management for Spore, aiming to clarify controversial aspects of the copy protection mechanism in the wake of an internet backlash of sorts.

Online retailer Amazon's user ratings for the long-awaited EA Maxis PC title plummeted to a single star, largely based on negative reviews of the DRM, which one user called "draconian." Now, it appears as of press time that all user reviews to date have been removed from Spore's product page and the game's star rating reset, while a special discussion section still remains*.

Before the reviews disappeared, Gamasutra snagged a few quotes. "I don't like being treated like a thief," wrote one user; others said the SecuROM DRM system "seems like malware."

The SecuROM DRM system limits users to three activations per purchase, though EA says users can enable more if they call customer support.

"...Calling up customer support waiting in a queue and then asking for a code that will allow you to play the game you paid for is a real insult to thoes [sic] who bought the game legitimately," said another reviewer.

But EA says that the three-computer limit was designed to address the needs of the largest portion of its user base while still limiting piracy. According to the company's stats, less than 25 percent of its customers across the board activate a PC title on more than one machine -- and the number of EA customers who ask to activate more than three accounts is smaller than one percent.

"EA has not changed our basic DRM copy protection system," said Mariam Sughayer of EA's corporate communications in a statement to Gamasutra. "We simply changed the copy protection method from using the physical media, which requires authentication every time you play the game by requiring a disc in the drive, to one which uses a one-time online authentication."

Of 453,048 activations of the Spore Creature Creator alone, Sughayer says, 77 percent activated on only one machine, 23 percent activated more than one, and only 1 percent of users tried to activate on more than three machines.

Rumors even abounded that Spore's install planted spyware on users' computers. Here on Gamasutra, one commenter wrote that the DRM "...completely screws with [your] PC and plants a listening device for EA. If this is the copy protection of EA's choice for all future games, guess I'm not buying EA anymore."

Sughayer compared Spore's authentication to iTunes, which allows players to install and use their music on a limited number of multiple computers. She also stressed that installing the game doesn't transmit user information any further than as a "fingerprint" required to authenticate a user, and reports that it installs spyware or malware are "absolutely false."

"You can install the game on three computers – at your office, at home or for your family. What you can’t do is make and distribute a thousand copies online," EA Maxis has said in official statements to the community.

[*UPDATE: A few hours after the publication of this article, the reviews were back on Amazon. The online retailer explains to consumer site Kotaku that the feedback removal was a "site glitch." ]


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Comments


Anonymous
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I understand their position here. Really, how many activations do you need. The real question is: Would pirates (and users of their copies) ever buy the game?



I do applaud EA for reducing the price on Crysis Warhead. I pre-ordered due to this.

Anonymous
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boo to Amazon for ignoring customers and selling out to EA. they are ignoring all those valid criticisms and whitewashing the reviews. Amazon has now proven that they HATE their customers.



there are lots of REAL DRM horror stories of causing lockups and complete reinstalls of operating systems after installing Spore.

Gordon Miller
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I don't currently have a big problem with the DRM, but why weren't they asked about the fact that the pirated copy was all over the web before the game even released. It seems superfluous to have the DRM still in effect. Unless they're just not wanting to damage their relationship with Gamestop et al. by saying that the DRM is mostly to stop the second hand market.



One other wee point though, I think Spore is expected to sell in it's initial run 2million copies... say the number of people wanting to install on more than 3 machines is as little as 0.5% (possibly less than they stated) then that's 10,000 people having to phone EA's premium rate line. Of course in a few years as people buy new laptops/desktops and have harddrive crashes, or upgrade their OS, a lot more installs are going to be needed. Nice of EA to have this little extra income.

Dan Supan
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I just have to point out that anyone okay with this three activation - then call us - DRM is only looking at the short term. I still have games I reinstall from ten years ago. There is no way EA is going to spend the money or time keeping the Spore activation line open for that long.



They have fooled thousands of people into buying this hyped up game so that they can sell it to them all again in a few years. They really are punishing the consumer for all of the pirates. It is sad to see a large company with so many resources resorting to such a primitive tactic.



Unacceptable.

Anonymous
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EA thinks that because people didn't really try installing a 10$ glorified demo on multiple systems that they won't install a full game on multiple systems?



That doesn't really make much sense, unless the lifetime of the product is expected to be severely limited. At any rate, I'd prefer the physical media to be required rather than a hard 3-installation limit based on hardware configuration.

Anonymous
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Sometimes I really wish games would just take a big dose of STFU. What the hell is wrong with EA limiting you to three installs? Who really needs more then three installs? Is it that much of a hassle to deal with this? I bet you it's the pirates, the online savvy people, that are posting all over the place online and creating a fuss about this. I hope EA sticks to it's guns and doesn't listen to the jibber jabber.

Anonymous
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To answer the question as to 'what the hell is wrong with EA limiting you to 3 installs' I'll give you a really simple example. On the news that Fallout 3 was coming, I pulled out my retail copies of both Fallout and fallout 2 to play them over again earlier this year. This is probably the fifth time I've played through Fallout, and the third time through Fallout 2.



Now, imagine that Interplay had such a '3 installs only, system must phone home for authorization' in place. Do you really think they'd still be operational today? Of course not. Interplay basically went out of business in 2004-2005, with the current company by that name only vaguely linked to the previous one.



That's why it's an issue. It may not be an issue to you, given today's average, crappy games, but to those of us that like playing the classics it's a big deal.

Roberto Alfonso
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I still install StarCraft from time to time to play, 10 years after its release. Let's see what happens in 10 years when you want to play Spore again.

Anonymous
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There's absolutely nothing wrong with EA limiting installs to 3. To those people who complain they might not be able to install this game in a few years time, I am fairly sure this is not going to be relevant. EA will probably not support a hotline at that point...because they will likely have disabled this limit by that point. This is a technique called 'throttling' and all these drm systems have it in.



I really wish people would just stop whining about people trying to protect their software. I really wish people would stop quoting pirate propaganda claiming such systems to be mal or spyware. While there might indeed be a certain % of technical issues quite frankly this is not mal or spyware.



Most worrying to me are the amount of people in the industry who are believing this stuff. We should no better. Look into SecuROM and the specific features that have been deployed before spewing up all this boycott nonsense.



Even this morning I've had a conversation with Producer who was concerned about sales due to SecuROM being used on a title. I tell you what, let's let the pirates win shall we? Let's stop using things like SecuROM.



Further, why do we all accuse EA of installing Spyware but then go on to tell each other how much we all love Steam, overlooking the fact that it collects machine configuration details.

Anonymous
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Amazon just lost all my future business.

Anonymous
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There are ways to combat piracy without hindering your customer base. Steam has proven that quite successfully. Securom is, as other's have stated, superfluous and intrusive. There's no point in having copy protection that gets broken within hours of a product's release, and then sits around annoying those who legitimately bought the game for the rest of eternity.



Maybe it's just me, but I think EA should think outside the box when it comes to DRM. They're already doing something right with Battlefield Heroes (which is good to see) but the traditional method of copy protection is a dying animal, best put out of it's misery.

Ben Horbul
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Simple solution: They continue with the DRM now, while the game is popular. What is the life expectancy of a standard title? Really good title like starcraft have been out for 10 years. So all they need to do is bump up that number from 3 to something higher as the years go on. I'm sure there will be a few hardcore fans in 5 years, but for the most part, it will be far and few between, and they can ease back their DRM, or completely remove it with a software patch.

Anonymous
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"because they will likely have disabled this"



You mean like they disabled this for the people who bought DRM'd music using PlaysForSure who are going to be SOL here in a bit? If you truly believe this, I have this bridge in San Fransisco to sell you.



EA won't do _anything_ they don't get a monetary return on. They're a business. And there will be zero monetary return at this point.



Now, on the other hand, if they were willing to put this in writing, with code in escrow with a neutral party, guaranteeing this, then maybe we can talk. But if you want to rely on the good will of EA? Fine for you, I'm not nearly that foolish.



"Even this morning I've had a conversation with Producer who was concerned about sales due to SecuROM being used on a title. I tell you what, let's let the pirates win shall we? Let's stop using things like SecuROM."



News flash - things like this _don't_ stop the pirates. They never have and never will. _All_ they do is annoy paying customers. So I hope the conversation you had with the producer went something like "gee, we can get about a 24 hour lead time on the pirates, at the expense of annoying a big chunk of the people who potentially might buy our game. Let's not do that." Because if the advice was anything else it was wrong.

Ben Maher
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"News flash - things like this _don't_ stop the pirates."



Exactly.



The trouble with EA is that they're afraid to drift away from traditional methods. I remember an article a while back where EA was slamming Digital distribution, stating that people would never download 10 gb games (famous last words). And even if they did, Developers would just start making 100 gb games.



If EA were to expand their horizons, take a few small risks, they would stand to gain a better reputation and make more money.

Anonymous
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Thottling is already common so bringing up drm cases associated to an entirely different industry isn't relevant. I am not EA so I can't tell you exactly what they will do but I sure they will follow suit with what they have already done for Mass Effect and what other companies that deploy throttling have been doing for the last couple of years.



EA probably won't do anything they won't have monetary return on, but they also have no business in running loss making call centers to support a product beyond a few years. At this point, they will throttle the installs. There's no good will to rely on here, publishers are already proving they do this.



Here's a 'newsflash' for you...everyone is aware that anti-piracy measures don't stop piracy...100%. The fact that piracy cannot be stopped on all levels is fairly obvious. The reason these methods is deployed is because it is known to be effective against specific levels of piracy.

Anonymous
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Thank god Amazon didn't remove the reviews. It would have been really disappointing, since they're valid concerns of customers and potential customers.



As for me, I'm not giving a single dollar to EA as long as they maintain this kind of DRM. There are a lot of games that I play years after purchase, and EA Tech Support, simply put, sucks.

Anonymous
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BTW, this isn't about piracy. EA is trying to destroy used game sales.

Anonymous
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Used game sales - very good point. This sort of protection is intended to combat specific things - organized piracy simply isn't one of them.

Jason Pineo
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Part of thinks it would be great to turn people playing pirated games into paying customers. But in the real world that's just not possible. There's nothing I (or any piece of DRM) can do to force someone to change how much they think a given game is worth. And that's one root of the problem: when a buyer and a seller can't agree on what the product is worth, the buyer will go elsewhere as long as there are other options. As long as there exists a market where these products exist for less (and there always will), these buyers cannot be made to pay the creators' asking price.



Now, regarding the pirates themselves, they have what I call 'million-monkey power'. That is, they and their resources vastly outnumber the resources set in place to oppose them (the DRM). Whether their motivations are ideological or economic doesn't matter. All that matters is that if they want to be able to sell/give away copies of the product, then they can. EA, big as they are, hasn't a hope of stopping it.



That gives us, on pirate side of things, sellers who will always be able to sell your product, and consumers who will choose the pirated version over your version every time. DRM doesn't change this.



What DRM can do (and it's quite good at it) is burden the legal purchasers of your product. And that's just a shame.

Anonymous
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...all this and Spore was still available, fully unlocked, a week before launch on thepiratebay.



If you want to share content, you will buy a real version and that's why EA still wins. This is irrelevant to their long term plans.

Anonymous
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Like Dan said "I still have games I reinstall from ten years ago". Then people wonder why PC game sales are declining and console sales up. It’s much more convenient to just boot your console play without all these security issues/hassles and ten years from now as long as you console is intact you can still play the game, whereas on the PC, some-one like me upgrades motherboards every 2 years, meaning re-install the OS and there goes my 3 or 5 activations a10 years from now (granted there is still a support line for the particular game).

All I can say is while these sort of acts go on from Companies like EA I can only commend pirates because they at least allow me to play my game 10 years from now:) Vivia The Pirate Bay!!!!!!

Anonymous
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Quote: "All I can say is while these sort of acts go on from Companies like EA I can only commend pirates because they at least allow me to play my game 10 years from now:) Vivia The Pirate Bay!!!!!!"



Serious question: Despite you wanting to take advantage of the services pirates offer to get you a version of the game without drm in it, will you still be paying for the game and buying a retail boxed copy?

Anonymous
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"EA won't do _anything_ they don't get a monetary return on"



2K Games lifted Bioshock's limit very soon after the game shipped. You're just being disingenuous.



"News flash - things like this _don't_ stop the pirates"



That's a specious argument. It's like saying locking your house doesn't stop crime. Nothing STOPS crime. All you can do is reduce it, and it is clear that EA has reduced piracy (the copy you can download can't go online or used shared content).



Copy protection is a necessity.



And Amazon should remove the thousands of three-word (one of which is always 'draconian!!!') reviews because they violate Amazon's policy. Most even say they never bought the game and now never will because of the 'draconian!!!!' DRM. It has nothing to do with being 'in the pocket' of someone, it has to do with Amazon being a business.



Grow up, people.

Maurício Gomes
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Remember what Stardock said about not using DRM results in people not pirating their games?



I made a test, I went to a place with several pirate dealers (here in Brazil this is common), and I asked him about what games he sold most, and what games he sold less...



Intersting that the most sold games are the most expensive ones and the ones with DRM, in fact specially the second, also they said that they LOVE EA, because EA make shovelware, like game 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003... or the-sims and all its expansions, then they make those games expensive and annoying (even asking for CD is annoying), so the EA games sell like water, even when they are crappy.



Stardock games? Well, they even made advertising for it (yes, here the best ads on games are on pirate dealers... the intersting fact is that we have here a EA office that is supposed to handle that...), but the majority sold 0 copies, some sold 2 or 3 copies since Sins of a Solar Empire was launched.



I also asked about Crysis and DMC (since those sparked the piracy discussion), they told me that Crysis do not sell well, it sells, but not well, and they do not count on it to has profits, and that DMC do not sold a single copy until Capcom complained about piracy, when the sales skyrocketed (lesson to Capcom: before complaining the lack of sales and accusing constumers of piracy, DO SOME MARKETING FIRST)





Also I want to know why the people that accuse persons like me of defending pirates or doing pirate propaganda post as anonymous, what is the point? It is not me that is a criminal for even talking with the dealers? Why you guys that defend the law and order post as anon?

Anonymous
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"That's a specious argument. It's like saying locking your house doesn't stop crime. Nothing STOPS crime. All you can do is reduce it, and it is clear that EA has reduced piracy (the copy you can download can't go online or used shared content).



Copy protection is a necessity."



What if it took you 10 minutes to open the door of your house because the lock was "very secure", but thieves could enter whenever they wanted just the same?.



Your house analogy doesn't work, and it doesn't hide the fact that DRM nowadays does NOTHING to curb piracy while being a real hassle to customers. And every time an idiot suit has a happy idea, the DRM ball grows, and more people decide to stop giving money to be treated like that.



But of course, the PC market is "dying" because of the pirates. Sure thing, siree!

Anonymous
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Quote: "Also I want to know why the people that accuse persons like me of defending pirates or doing pirate propaganda post as anonymous"



What difference does it make? I'm sure people have their reasons. For me, I am not authorized to speak in public by my employer due to the risk of my own personal comments being interpreted as their comments. It's purely a public relations conflict issue. Despite not being allowed, I have a voice and will share it and I doubt they care if I speak anonymously anyway.

Anonymous
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'What if it took you 10 minutes to open the door of your house because the lock was "very secure", but thieves could enter whenever they wanted just the same?.'



I'd be very happy if it took 10 minutes for a burglar to enter my house, because as any burglary prevention officer will tell you most burglars would move on from this.



DRM does nothing to curb piracy? What a ridiculous thing to say. Because of my limit of installing it one fewer machines I am less likely to share it with my friends for a start.



I wouldn't say the PC market is dying because of piracy but you only have to go back a few months to debates with people saying they are stopping making PC games because of piracy. Less games available on PC is not good and if they are doing it because they feel piracy is making them unprofitable, then either piracy or their perception of it is an issue.



The fact is that as a developer of games myself I am less motivated to make a PC title, or at least a good one. If it is a really good one, then it is a target for crackers. What's the point? I might as well just not lock my door and invite burglars to take what they want, Wife, kids and all.

Maurício Gomes
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Of course, DRM helps with piracy, spore DRM for example prevented it from being released 1 week BEFORE the legal version.



As you know, Mass Effect DRM also prevented massive piracy of it.



The same goes for some other games.



Oh btw: 70% of the people that I know personally and that played mass effect, played a pirated version (even if they had a original copy), because the original verison do not run on their system.



The people that played a pirated mass effect while having a original copy, knowing that spore do the same, just do not bought spore (and pirated right away)



Also btw: The few people that bought a legal copy of spore (all of them pre-order) are mad at it, because the game does not reach the hype, and more importantly: the DRM do not work on their systems, one of my friends is specially mad that he has to disable SLI to make spore work.

David Delanty
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I've got my own reasons for not wanting to purchase Spore. But it has to do with my preferences in games, and not about any supposed "malware" or limitations on piracy.



I wish people would rate a game fairly, though. So many people are letting the game's piracy protection determine their ultimate opinion, instead of the game's design, presentation, and fun. If I can make a comparison, this would be like saying "Tropic Thunder" was a lame movie because the projector fell off its table.



Give the game a 1-star if the GAME is bad. Not if the game is taking steps to prevent piracy that you, the gamer, may find inconvenient sometime in the future. Not to mention that for the time being, this inconvenience isn't even going to be a factor.



EA has the ability to lift the DRM, increase the number of installs, and I find it ridiculous that just because some reviewer on Amazon ASSUMED that anybody who calls for additional installs is a pirate, everybody else assumes such a thing. Should you guys have first-hand accounts of being called thieves by EA, instead of supposing such a thing would happen, I'd love to hear it.



Then again, I'm not really upset at these people. Seeing as the greater majority don't even have the courage to uncheck the anonymous box when posting, I doubt these naysayers actually have any conviction backing their words. Not to contradict myself, and assume you're all cowards as you all assume EA to view you as thieves. =)

P J
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Mariam Sughayer ... said..." a one-time online authentication."



What is it the retard doesn't get!? I upgrade or change computer yearly, I reinstall windows several times a year. Their "one-time" doesn't work with that.



"You can install the game on three computers – at your office, at home or for your family."



I should be able to install it on ALL COMPUTERS that i chose. Require the disk in the drive you greedy amoral criminals.



"What you can’t do is make and distribute a thousand copies online," EA Maxis has said in official statements to the community."



No, someone else does that - and the rest of us are considering if we shouldn't just get a pirate copy so we don't support your amoral business practices.



What is that you cry? If we don't' support you, you will go out of business? ... GOOD!

Anonymous
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piracy is bad period...however EA's electronic registration as well their downloader are full of ridiculous redundant designs and bugs....but thats what you get with a bunch of rooks.

David Semmelmayer
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Why is it that these discussions always exclude the other half of the feedback loop? PC games are different than almost every console game in that the communities of these games provide content and other materials that contribute to the overall value of the product. Spore is one such program that relies on this very relationship.



EA points out that many users take their IPs without compensation and that this qualifies as theft, but I would argue that it is only because EA has lawyers. EA gains the rights to everything made in spore simply because they have a good legal agreement. Yet, the quality of the product relies on this material and the active participation of each player in the environment. Yet, EA gets all of this for free. Maybe they can justify it with running servers or otehr services, but we all know that this is easily covered by the initial release profits.



Mods and maps for games like Call of Duty and Counter Strike have been an assumption of the gamers that buy them and pirate them. Free content provided by the community that increases the value and lifespan of the original IP. I bought Battlefield 2142 simply so that I could play First Strike Mod for it. Yet, this massive amount of intellectual property donated to the company that makes the game is seldom considered in the piracy debate. Many people will tell you that mods saved S.T.A.L.K.E.R. from its own quality issues. There are groups like Valve who support this free content, recognize their communtiy members and respond to their feedback as with the TF2 Medic, Pyro, and Heavy patches, but these are too few.



Let's not forget that free content flows both ways in the PC gaming world.

Paolo Pace
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You want to hurt piracy? Easy.



Offer two versions of a game:

1. Fully priced commercial release (disk/download)

2. Free with advertising (download)



The more people that d/l the free copy, the more advertisers want in on the business and pay more for it. Once that happens, publishers rake in more cash off the backs of people who weren't likely to buy the game in the first place.

Anonymous
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"What you can’t do is make and distribute a thousand copies online,"



BHAHAHAH yeah... right (not!)

Anonymous
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EA makes the same mistake the music industry did. I am pissed. I bought the game.. and all I get is three installs and then I have to be bothered and call again.. I know from other games that I did countless installs. Pirates just laugh in my face... they download it.. and install it on as many computers as many times as they want. Really it's exactly what the music industry did, screw the customers (they still had) with shitty copy protection, like one filesharer would care.

Anonymous
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"I understand their position here. Really, how many activations do you need."



If I am buying a game, I sort of expect to be able to reinstall it as many times as I want. I own it, after all... don't I? I uninstall and then later go back to games all the time. I have plenty of old favorites that I know that I have installed at least five or six times over the years. And I reinstall Windows at least once a year, which would necessitate at least one reinstall of Spore each year, even if I never take it off my hard drive otherwise.



EA's DRM policy is incredibly consumer-hostile. And it's not going to stop people from pirating Spore, so the honest consumers are the ones that end up getting the short end of the stick.

Anonymous
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It's like prohibition all over again in a way. Of course nobody agrees with it. What can we really expect with the multitude of pirated games now? It's the company's job to take security measures against people who are using their product negatively. Everyone also complains religiously about the new measures taken at airports to prevent terrorist attacks. If nothing had changed, when another one occured, people would have been complaining that security measures weren't put into place to deal with these things. I'm not necessarily a fan of all of the choices that EA has made, but I understand and commend this one as an honest gamer and game developer. I suppose others would as well if they just did nothing.

Terry Greer
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I've bought spore because I want to play it - but I think EA is totally wronfgon the 3 install limit - I only bought Spore because I've been waiting so long for it to come out - and they can say goodbye to any casual purchase- especially online.

I've bought a lot of stuff of steam - and that inckudes impulse buys and casual purchases - why? - ell unlike EA they don't limit your installs - but do ensure that you are leguitamate - this is much preferable. I've installed halflife 2 on about 6 different machines over the years as I've upgraded - and never had to phone up anyone to do it. Many of the games I've bought on steam I've only installed once - but I know I can install them again any time I want. This is the difference - Steam grants you the right - EA doesn't and you'd have to go cap in hand to them. They're worng and they'll pay for it eventually.

Christian Olsson
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This is a terrible story for 2 parties - legitimate users who simply wanted to play Spore and couldn't because the activation servers went down and EA because Spore was cracked even before it was released.



Often developers walk a tightrope with the tradeoff between protection strength and the degree of impact on legitimate users but this was a failure on both dimensions! Is this really what the publisher wants to 'accomplish'? Why not use a solution which is friendly to honest users, has no impact on development time and the strongest available protection against crackers - see the whitepaper "Is Anti-Piracy/DRM the Cure or the Disease for PC Games?" which can be downloaded here http://www.byteshield.net/byteshield_whitepaper_0005.pdf

Sam Bushman
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As far as I am concerned, DRM in the PC game industry more often than not promotes the use of pirated, non-DRMed, copies of "secure" software...at least this is the case among my peers. The fact that users with pirated copies of SPORE cannot take advantage of online content is of no thanks of secureROM, rather the inherite online design of SPORE's user creation trade system. Rather than trying to attempting to validate copies of the game via unsecure DRM software that acn easily be worked around, why not take a page from Steam and Defcon's book. Design the game around communicating with a centralized server in order to take advantage of 100% percent of the content. I've read an article or two on this site suggesting such ideas. Furthermore, secureROM has been proven to be unreliable as an anti-piracy measure, a fact mentioned several times on this comment list. Therefore, there is no real reason to implement any offline DRM measures such as secureROM. The method seems to serve more to provide peace of mind to publishers than actually accomplish anything positive. If we as developers make an honest product, than our audience will respond by purchasing said product with the confidence that the developer cares about them. This situation, along with the many other DRM arguments, serves as proof that something such as "The Gamer's Bill of Rights" (http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=20027) is completely necessary to protect not only our customer's confidence, but our integrity as developers.

Jason Pineo
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"I understand their position here. Really, how many activations do you need."



I expect you included this as a rhetorical question, but if you actually want to know how many *I* need, the answer is "As many as I want, when I want them". It sounds simple, but I guess it's not since EA hasn't figured it out yet.

David Delanty
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UPDATE:

Spore's Amazon rating has dropped back down to a 1/5 star.



Seems that resetting the star rating is about as effective as...well...the DRM's ability to curb piracy. While I'll leave it to game designers to figure out the best way to deal with piracy in a way that still allows them to make money, I'd like to throw a quick suggestion out there for Amazon.



I say previously that a game should be rated on the whole package, and not be blasted with a 1/5 rating just because of a single "inconvenient" feature. While it's clear there are thousands of Amazon users who aren't akin to this ideologue, I think Amazon should (like designers contemplate piracy) figure a way to more accurately show the potential of the packaged software.



Maybe Amazon shouldn't combat its own users, and supply a mirror to a product's Metacritic rating. Just an idea. It could benefit the business of Metacritic, while improving the product information for Amazon (potentially improving consumer confidence on their service).

Anonymous
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"I own it, after all... don't I?"



No, according to EA you don't.

kim Lang
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"BTW, this isn't about piracy. EA is trying to destroy used game sales"



Spot on,

I was really keen to play this game, hell i even bought the full creature creator, but i am no fan of DRM.

what a lot of people are missing here is that this game only installs for 1, repeat One user per computer, Even if all users have Admin permissions, separate installs are req. for each user.

There goes your three installs.

As for stoping piracy

HAHA

as if

Pirates are getting a better deal here so i would argue this is actively encouraging piracy. I don't pirate games but behaviour like this certainly tempts me.



as for;

""I own it, after all... don't I?"



No, according to EA you don't."



No you are hiring their software, Not that it says so on the box, but that is the relationship.

I look forward to EA at somepoint realizing the scale of their error and fixing this so i can buy and play their games again.

Anonymous
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What I don't think EA is realizing is that the game has already been pirated plenty of times. Torrents were available before the American release date.



The 3 install thing is terrible, and they shouldn't limit the amount of times a person can install something they bought. SURE you can call Customer Service, but how long will you wait on hold?



In addition to the limit, it also needs to check in with EA, so no Spore if you don't have an internet connection.

Terry Sznober
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Something that a lot of people forget is that commercial games, and other commercial software for that matter, are licensed, not sold. So you don't own the game, you are only licensing it, and are pretty much at the mercy of what your software license agreement allows you to do. Things would be quite different if you actually owned your copy of your game.



I agree that DRM is annoying, and it's too bad that software piracy has pushed the industry to have to take on these measures.

Anonymous
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"it's too bad that software piracy has pushed the industry to have to take on these measures."



Nobody has "pushed the industry" anywhere. Piracy is NOT the cause, it's the scapegoat.

Maurício Gomes
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I agree with the anon above.

Dean Lingwood
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Shocking, DRM solves absolutely nothing. It gives an illusion of control whilst alienating your target audience.



For example I could have downloaded a cracked version of Spore without any DRM or online activation 'BEFORE' my retail copy arrived in the post. Maybe one day the games companies will wake up and realise that alienating the user base that actually BUYS your games in order to solve NOTHING is a really bad thing to do. But then as anon said above they are using 'piracy' as a scapegoat so they can push the console market and eventually reduce the PC gaming market to crappy ports....apart from the indie developers who rock of course :)



Bar that Spore is actually a disappointment anyway, had so much promise until they dumbed it all down :( six legs are no better than two apparently.

Carlos Cavalcanti
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Don´t pay attention to EA employees posting here!



PLAY PIRATED GAMES!



The music industry is still bashing his head against a concrete wall. They´ll only learn the hard way, and it will take some time. Maybe when their brains are splattered, they´ll understand.



The same will happen to the movies and software industries.



Eventually, all of them will have to grasp that either they treat their customers with respect and attention, and sell their products for a fair price (wich means WAY CHEAPER then they are today), or they´ll be out of business.



Until that, you want to play Spore? DOWNLOAD IT.

Jacek Wesolowski
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That's the spirit! However, I'm one of those standing against the wall when your revolution starts. If my publisher goes bankrupt, then I'll become a homeless designer, and my cats will be hungry. So please reconsider. Do this for the kittens, if nothing else.

Isaac Lanier
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People, everygamer, all of us, we must remember we are talking about EA the company complaining about the sales of used games. its not about copy protection, its about sales of the crap games EA has becomes known for making every-year.

After i install spores on my 3 pc i can play on all 3 at the same time or do i need the cd to play? I havent took the games out since i bought it 9-11-08. I'm about to go answer my own question. brb

Isaac Lanier
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yea it works without the cd.

Björn Nordvall
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The problem i think gamers have is not that they have to download it several times, it's being immediately branded as thieves. that's where gamers start to get pissed off about it. i think that if they would give us a more lenient amount of downloads, the backlash wouldn't be as severe.

Maurício Gomes
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I just remembered after reading that, the game thing happened with Mass Effect, more or less EA is using piracy as a excuse to stop used games retail, so they can make sure that people that do not buy pirated games will buy their games.



But they only do not noticed that using this tactic make more people pirate.

Anonymous
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People keep mentioning this idea that the whole process of DRM and product security is flawed because the game was cracked and available before it was even released. People seem to be accusing EA of not being aware of this and suggesting this fact is a reason why publishers are stupid to deploy such techniques.



What people don't seem to realize is that these techniques are not being deployed in order to combat that sort of piracy. These techniques are deployed to minimize the amount of cracking groups that can create a cracked version and rule out casual copying attempts. While this may not exactly hit people where it hurts, it is legitimate to defend ones software in this way.



As for the DRM limited installs, I really doubt that anyone other than a handful of people will be affected by it. People seem upset just because they don't have the right to install it anytime anywhere, despite the idea that most people don't need that service. People seem upset by the idea that people won't be able to install a game 10 years down the line due to DRM, but don't seem to listen to the facts that the DRM will likely be turned off by that point.



I'm fed up of people whinging needlessly about this. I'm glad I don't develop PC games there is clearly no way of satisfying everyone. I would rather not be involved with PC. But isn't it a shame that game developers feel like it.



I applaud what EA has done to protect their software. None of this is going to affect me, even if I do want to install the damn thing on many machines over the years. I care about what the whiners complain about only because it makes me not want to develop games for you.



As for pirates. I don't care how you quote it or wrap it up, but people who pirate software are thieves, nothing more or nothing less. I've read excuses by people who post on here, complaining that the software is too expensive and not priced correctly. Well, that doesn't justify your actions. If you can't afford something then I am sorry about that. I can't afford a Ferrari but I don't just go and take one because I don't agree on the price of it.



Unfortunately, software thieves often like to use DRM, cost or whatever other reason that can dig up to explain their actions. These people often kid themselves this is okay and it is not theft. It is theft and these people are thieves. Don't convince yourself otherwise and don't try to explain yourself to others. Some of the herd mentality type might agree with you, but that still doesn't change the fact that you are all thieves.



To the guy who was explaining on the other gamasutra thread that you pirated Windows because it was too expensive. You are a thief. You also explain you pirated Vegas and enjoyed better customer service and return policy with your source. Don't kid yourself, you are a thief. You have personally taken money from a friend of mine...I know someone on that team personally. People like you take money away from the families of the people involved in the development of these games.

David Tarris
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Regardless of the moral implications of piracy, DRM seems like a bad idea simply because I doubt it will do anything but hurt EA in the long run. Pirates will still pirate, but now legitimate customers are having to pay the price. Then you have people like me who were on the fence about buying the game any time soon to begin with, but now see DRM as enough of a con to prevent them from buying it at all any time soon.

J L
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Due to the initial hype from years back, I was eager to buy Spore.



I've brought it yesterday finally, and also read at the same time about the DRM, and how the release version is "watered down" so that EA can create lucrative "expansions" like how they're milking The Sims. Thus I've refunded my unopened copy of Spore.



No thanks EA.

Max Nichols
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"Give the game a 1-star if the GAME is bad. Not if the game is taking steps to prevent piracy that you, the gamer, may find inconvenient sometime in the future. Not to mention that for the time being, this inconvenience isn't even going to be a factor."



Why, exactly? Amazon reviews are meant to be a glimpse into the quality of a product as a whole. The whole package, as it were. And if one part of that package has the potential to ruin all the rest - or make it inaccessible - then it is perfectly reasonable to give it the lowest rating based on that.



I am one of those who wrote a 1-star review of Spore, even though I have been enjoying the game for the slightly mediocre gaming experience it is. On my legally purchased copy I might add, although that is something I very much regret. I wish I had pirated it, or simply not bothered with it at all.

Max Nichols
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"As for the DRM limited installs, I really doubt that anyone other than a handful of people will be affected by it."



Are you saying that that handful of people are not legitimate customers then? What about someone like myself, who has more than one computer. A desktop and a laptop, for instance. That's two installs right there, and I can all but guarantee that I'll need to format one of these comps long before EA decides to remove their DRM. And I, the paying customer, am being punished for it, when the pirates suffer no inconvenience.



And to add insult to injury, the customer service line that consumers can call to MAYBE have installs refunded is not even toll-free. So when we're sitting through phone queues waiting to talk to a human being who may or may not acknowledge our legally purchased copy of the game, we're paying for every second of it.



It may not justify piracy, but it sure as hell justifies all the anger and vitriol that has been directed at EA.

Anonymous
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DRM only hurts the legal users. This has been proven time and time again. It is exactly like gun-control laws. The "bad" people will always get guns from somewhere no matter how "illegal" it is, and they will always bring guns into so-called "gun-free" areas no matter how many signs are posted not to do that.



DRM and all forms of copy-protection are a mountain to be climbed for coderz, and climb it we (uhh, they) will. There will *never* be a copy-protection scheme that can not be defeated. Ever. Period. DRM is merely an inconvenience. Blu-Ray DVD is defeated. SecuROM ver 7.xx (the latest being used) has already been defeated.



Once we buy the game or music CD then it is OURS to do with AS WE PLEASE!!! Manufacturers need to learn this simple idea. By making it *easier* for us to purchase DRM-free entertainment they will reap the rewards far more than trying to create a road-bump to stop us. Oh, and too bad about the used-game and used CD market--Congress is on our side of those tracks, live with it.

Jason Pineo
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"I've read excuses by people who post on here, complaining that the software is too expensive and not priced correctly."



I do hope you don't mean me. My comment was not intended as an excuse for software piracy. As I said, I'd *love* it if piracy could be eliminated, as game development is challenging work and deserves fair compensation. I just don't think it ever *can* be eliminated, and find that fighting reality is a bit childish in this case.

Bruce Linton
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I had a really sarcastic post to put up here, but I'll save that for discussions that includes sipping beer or wine.



This really is a tempest in a teapot. Three installations should be enough for anyone, and for the rare occasion when you might need to install a fourth time because of some hardware issue, then contacting EA CS is not all that difficult.

EA has a perfect right to limit the installations this way, as does any vendor of any item have the right to protect itself from fraud and pirating. It's kind of like television and complaining that there's sex or violence on a certain channel. No one is forcing you to watch, and in this case not one is forcing you to play. In this case EA can make the rules and you can choose to live by them or go to something else.



I had another sarcastic remark about what people expect their money to buy them, but I'll save that for the beer and pretzels.

Steve Watkins
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Rewind 25 years. Code Wheels/colored code sheets suck. Disks with sector tricks suck. DRM is the same thing - flawed model. A quarter century and the industry is still using the same model that never, ever worked to prevent piracy. Why? Change the model.



And in the meantime - do NOT buy EA products and send a message to them - Change The Model. Chang to what model? I don't know. I'm not paid to solve that problem, but if someone gives me a million dollars (wait, maybe Euros...), I'll get right to work on it. :) Punishing the legitimate user has never, ever worked. Stop it.





(And by saying "do not buy EA products" I am NOT saying pirate software - I'm saying don't play it.) I've been boycotting EA stuff for years and I'm quite happy with all the other products out there. :) )

Aaron Lutz
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This article is now, apparently a month old - even though I just got the link to it in my GamaDaily article today.



Regardless, I've patiently read through all the rants and raves, rebuttals and counter-arguments, and various defendants' speeches for and against DRM. And I simply have to say that, for myself, I will not purchase a game that in any way hinders my personal ability to play the game on my computer or any computer I may wish to play my game on. DRM hinders my ability to play, whether now or in the future. I do not pirate games because often times they come with viruses, malware and various other destructive software. I'm not saying they are all bad, but I for one will not take the risk. So, to include DRM, limited installs, requiring the CD, or anything else that will hinder my enjoyment and playability of the game I legally purchase, will simply result in me not purchasing it.



I will not pretend to speak for the masses, here, but I believe that DRM does indeed prevent only legitimate buyers from playing the game unhindered; pirates are pirates because they will, sooner or later, hack whatever protective measures you have put in place to keep illegitimate copies of your game from being played, and distribute it to the masses. And I believe that, games that do not possess any form of DRM, and therefore do not generate negative user feedback regarding this feature, are the ones that will ultimately be the LEAST pirated games on the market. Why? Most normal people do not pirate games. And most normal people will not be driven to acquire pirated games UNLESS they have significant fears/reservations/negative reinforcement about what they will be expected to experience when they purchase a game. Personally, I don't feel like I want to ever have to call customer service to install a game - ever. Whether 3 installs or 30.



I do believe that a sound distribution/verification model is that employed by Steam and other similar companies. I recommend that the full game be playable on your computer with or without online access; if it is a multiplayer game, or can benefit from up/downloading content (such as Spore's Trade system), then when the player wish to experience these features, they send a verification to a server that checks its authenticity and then allows access. No limited installs; no disc required; no locks. It's like driving a car; having a fake license may work for the little things, like getting into bars. But when it comes to verifying the license with the police, or the Department of Motor Vehicles, it usually doesn't hold up.



So, that's my two cents. In my opinion, DRM is not the way to go; it only fuels piracy, and inconveniences legitimate buyers.

Aaron Lutz
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Oh, I apparently lied about just receiving the link in my email. I forgot I had come to this article by way of the interview with the EA big-wig.

flv converter for mac
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My comment was not intended as an excuse for software piracy. As I said, I'd *love* it if piracy could be eliminated, as game development is challenging work and deserves fair compensation.

avchd converter
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but I believe that DRM does indeed prevent only legitimate buyers from playing the game unhindered; pirates are pirates because they will, sooner or later, hack whatever protective measures you have put in place to keep illegitimate copies of your game from being played, and distribute it to the masses.


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