Spore, the new evolution game from Electronic Arts, is one of the most anticipated and hyped games to be released in recent memory. Electronic Arts implemented a strict DRM (Digital Rights Management) copyright protection called SecuROM that limits the number of computers the game can be installed on to three. This limit can be increased if a consumer calls customer support.
The fan backlash was very negative and swift as thousands of people rushed to Amazon.com to give the game a one-star ratings causing Amazon to temporarily disable its user review system. Comments such as “Draconian” and “Insult to legitimate customers” flooded the comments section.
Electronic Arts responded to the criticism in a Gamasutra article claiming the three computer limit was designed to address the needs of the majority of consumers while still limiting piracy. According to Electronic Arts own statistics, less than 25 percent have activated Spore on a second PC and less than one percent asked to activate on a third PC. As of September 12 -- when the Gamasutra article was written -- there were 453,048 activations of the Spore Creature Creator alone. 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. These arguments from Electronic Arts appear to miss the point as the backlash is occurring over the fact there is any limit at all and not the number of PCs you are limited to.
Electronic Arts also argues the DRM system saves consumers the hassle of having to have a disc in the drive using a onetime online authentication system as an alternative. In the Gamasutra article, Mariam Sughayer of EA's corporate communications said, "EA has not changed our basic DRM copy protection system. 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."
Sughayer compared Spore's authentication to iTunes, which has a similar DRM system that limits the number of computers content purchased from iTunes can be played. 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."
In addition to Electronic Arts, Maxis also responded to the criticism on game website GamingSteve. Caryl Shaw, online producer for Spore sent GamingSteve a note repeating many of the same points pointed out by Electronic Arts:
One ironic statement released to the gaming community by Electronic Arts stated, "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." This is exactly what is happening as stated in a Torrentfreak article; many would-be buyers have chosen to pirate the game because of the invasive DRM.
On Saturday, Torrentfreak wrote that the game had already been downloaded more than 500,000 times on BitTorrent sites. This download rate exceeds that of any other pirated game in history, and in a week or two from now it will be the most pirated game ever on BitTorrent based on Torrentfreak statistics.
For comparison Crysis, one of the best selling PC games of this year has only been downloaded 420,000 times since it was released in November 2007. Although the record breaking piracy of Spore cannot be attributed solely to consumers rejecting the DRM implemented within it, it most likely helped.
quote: Why can't PC game software publishers adopt USB software keys? Would it be to costly?
quote: Why can't PC game software publishers adopt USB software keys?
quote: This game comes with three activations via the internet. I still play Planescape: Torment which was published in 1999 (9 years ago). Will you be allowed to activate Mass Effect in 2017 (9 years from now)? This system is more about limiting your ability to resell the game you purchased than preventing piracy.
quote: How much did this DRM cost EA to implement?
quote: Probably much less than the 30 million less money they wouldnt have made, had it been pirated as many times as Crysis, which was about two legit users for everyone pirate.(and thats just via torrents)
quote: Problem is, Spore has already been pirated more times than Crysis.
quote: Once again, how does not being able to install the game on more than 3 machines stop piracy, when the game was available for simple download for a week before it came out?
quote: The fun part about debating is if you bring a point forward, it is your responsibility to prove said claim
quote: Numbers do lie, and are twisted in many ways to do so all the time.
quote: People will buy it rather than face the wrath of the DRM? When they can just pirate it and avoid it all?
quote: I can't seem to wrap my head around why everyone thinks that the average persons biggest concern is DRM when buying a game.
quote: When I go to buy a game I care about one thing, going home and playing that game...
quote: not worrying about how many times I can install it.
quote: And to state the quite obvious point, how many sales has EA lost because of it?
quote: The point is DRM only serves to screw legitimate paying customers and absolutely nothing to stop pirates. See how the cracks of the game released before the game is shipped? See the record breaking piracy rate?
quote: According to Electronic Arts own statistics, less than 25 percent have activated Spore on a second PC and less than one percent asked to activate on a third PC. As of September 12 -- when the Gamasutra article was written -- there were 453,048 activations of the Spore Creature Creator alone. 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.
quote: Developers hate EB/Gamestop for selling used games.
quote: That's nothing to do with DRM though.
quote: This limit can be increased if a consumer calls customer support.
quote: DRM that limits "activations" of the software (despite knowing that gamers are frequent re-formatters of their computer and how inconvenient such a scheme is for the legit buyer, especially when a CD key would generally suffice for the supposed problem the activation scheme is claimed to combat.)
quote: Sughayer compared Spore's authentication to iTunes, which has a similar DRM system that limits the number of computers content purchased from iTunes can be played.
quote: Ever wonder why game dev's are focusing what mostly seems like console games?
quote: Don't make EA out to look like the bad guy here, 10 years ago when PC gaming was at its highest, a four year old could download a game and crack it, which resulted in a huge percentage of users merely pirating games.
quote: Crytek, the studio that created the hardware intensive Far Cry and Crysis games exclusively for PC, has repeatedly stated that the upcoming Crysis Warhead will be its last PC-only game due to the abundant piracy of PC games.
quote: Another Fact: Distribution of cracked software is nothing new...sure, it happens on a larger scale now that more people are aware of it and more people have broadband connections, but those people were most likely never going to buy the software in the first place.
quote: A smart game developer will simply acknowledge that any software will be pirated and focus on selling it...perhaps it is better to design software in such a way that the cracked version gives up critical functionality...
quote: how many "cracked" copies of WoW are there? :)
quote: Blah blah blah blah.. are you a gaming dev? Go read what the big developers like Epic and Crytek have to say about PC gaming. What does last PC-only game mean to you? Don't come in here blasting me when you obviously have not done your homework. Developers are jumping ship, this is fact, not merely something I am speculating.
quote: Hardly fact, I see a point, but I don't see proof. I have already shown that a game like Crysis with no DRM is pirated on a scale of 1 download per 2 bought games, meanwhile spore sits around 1 downloaded for every 4 bought.
quote: Yes because gaming devs work with crackers before release just to make sure that the game is crippled when cracked and won't give full functionality. And yes, its smart for a game dev to make a better game, only to have it pirated by more people, when if they made the choice to make a console only game, they could have almost no piracy, a potentially bigger and more lucrative market. Makes sense to me..
quote: Wow is authenticated on logon because its an online game, why would you even try to compare? This is basically a form of DRM, as it limits its users to only paid subscribers. P.S I don't deny that for every piece of software, there will always be those who pirate it, but to say that because of this no counter measures should be put in place is basically shooting PC gaming in the foot, and watching it bleed out. The market will never die, but it won't come close to what it used to be if something is not done about it.
quote: EA and their like need to come up with a system which doesn't punish legitimate users, end of.
quote: Cause last I just checked, this is the most pirated game in history, most likely stemming from the fact that it has the DRM in the first place.
quote: They need to get used to the fact that things will always be pirated, and just make a better product, and people will buy it.
quote: And if you ONLY have time to play the game OR screw around on the phone with them? No thanks ill be bypassing that BS. Have fun on the phone, moron.
quote: Regardless of DRM, I stopped with EA games in the 90's, when I realised that they continually pumped out the EA Sports games so regularly, that they couldn't be any good. Always used to wait for LucasArts to release theirs...
quote: Now correct me if I am wrong but simple math shows me...
quote: EA is 100% in the right here. Draconian or not, allowing their product to be easily copied and distributed on the internet without any protection would be a complete disservice to its own employees.