Sunday, September 14, 2008

Spore's DRM backlash branches out

I was surprised to see that the backlash against Spore's DRM has spread from Amazon.com to other review sites. Even the famous Metacritic.com is being affected as the user review for the game has gone down to a 5.1 out of 10. Most of the comments are talking about the uselessness of such protection schemes when the game shows up on bit-torrent websites before its even officially released. Even worse some people are claiming that this version of SecuRom still accidentally disables disc-drives and causes computer crashes. This was a problem with an earlier version of the software and it looks like the problem can still occur on some machines.

Such a large number of negative reviews does tend to get noticed and not just by IT and Gaming journals. Both the Motley Fool and Forbes have released articles about EA's decision to continue including the invasive DRM in their games. They look at the issue from a financial point of view in that SecuRom actually seems to be encouraging piracy rather then preventing it. Not only that but it continues to provides bad PR which a imposing company like EA can ill afford. As more mainstream journalists start picking up this story I can only see the decision coming into question more often.

I already noticed that the Washington Post picked up the story on Sunday and highlighted some of the key problems with the DRM scheme. Other news sites have followed and found interesting things like the game not allowing multiple Sporepedia accounts on the same computer. This wouldn't be so bad except that the manual specificaly mentions that you can have multiple accounts so families could keep their creatures separate. What's worse is that common bit-torrent tracking sites have reported that the hacked version of Spore is fast approaching the most illegally downloaded game ever.

Apparently, it has already reached over half a million downloaded copies through different bit-torrent web sites. Most games quickly fall off the top spot of these illegal sites, but it seems as if Spore is bucking the trend and staying at number one. Most people are theorizing that the word has gotten out about SecuRom and its causing tech savy people to risk downloading the dangerous "warez" versions of the game. The thinking seems to be that if they are going to risk their computer crashing from a virus then its best not to pay 50$ for it. Illegal software has always had this risk and normal gamers tend to avoid "warez" because of this reason.

However, the stringent DRM on Spore seems to have created so many issues and worries that it's actually more of a problem then any potential virus. Thus a move to reduce the losses from piracy by EA has actually made them worse. As Spore continues to get negative reviews on Amazon.com the game is slowly dropping down the video game bestseller list. It seems that DRM opponents have finally found a successfully strategy for getting the word out to the average consumer. In the past, such movements for Mass Effect and Bioshock have failed since they were mostly limited to technical forums. EA has to be worried about something similar happening for the release of Red Alert 3 next month though they are raising the install limit to five for that game.

3 comments:

Cow Nose the 50 Pound Cat said...

Good post man!

Heartless_ said...

Absolute garbage. I am probably not buying Spore. I can't believe EA pulls this shit again.

What's sad is that Spore is a great game, probably one of the best I've seen and played in a decade.

Relmstein said...

I'm hoping that EA eventually does what 2K did with Bioshock and take the activation limit off the DRM.