Tuesday, September 23, 2008

EA keeps SecuRom, eases install limit

I know it seems like Spore's DRM problem is becoming my own personal crusade, but overbearing copyright laws have always gotten me angry. EA has made some very bad decisions with the game and keeps proving that it has no intentions of changing its ways. They should be trying to avoid bad PR. It's certainly not going to help them compete against Activision-Blizzard. What's really frustrating is that Spore doesn't even need DRM controls to fight piracy. EA could easily make it so new creature download/uploads could only be done with a valid copy of the game over the internet. People without an internet connection and pirates could still play the game, but they would be missing half the fun. There would be a major benefit to having a legitimate copy of the game.

Instead EA is sticking with SecuRom which really doesn't make any sense. Some people think EA is trying to fight against the used game market, but I thought that was more of a console problem since most stores don't trade in used PC games. Another theory I've heard is that EA doesn't want the cost of running a server constantly like a MMO without having subscription revenue. If this is true then it hints that they do plan to eventually close the servers which validate new installations of Spore and transfer creatures? If you read through all the EULA information then you know they have the legal right. I'm sure they don't want to anger their customers any further, but a few years down the line they probably figure few people will be playing. The ability to prevent new installations of a game could be their eventual approach to forcing episodic gaming.

I didn't think much about this theory at first, but EA recently lessened some of the restrictions on Spore's DRM controls. EA decided to increase the number of installations up to five and push a patch which would allow multiple accounts on the same copy of Spore. These address most of the issues that casual gamers had with the DRM. However, they are still going to keep SecuRom active on every copy of Spore. This tells me that EA considers keeping SecuRom more important then preventing game sharing or used game sales. Either their shareholders are really out of touch and are insisting on DRM or else EA really does plan on eventually turning off all future installations of Spore. On thing for sure is that with Spore being cracked and available before the commercial release, is that it does not prevent "zero day" piracy as they claim.

Update 9-24-08:
Class Action Lawsuite filed against EA for Spore DRM.


Anonymous said...

I really don't understand how they think DRM really does anything beside cost them money, and annoy users. It only makes sense if the DRM is unbreakable, which isn't the case.

Going without DRM would probably increase sales if anything (not to mention remove any costs associated with adding DRM). People who pirated before just to avoid DRM might buy, and the rest are just going to pirate the game either way (unless you find that unbreakable DRM). Not to mention the people that just didn't play the game at all due to it having DRM.