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Lawsuits, banning threats, denials surround Spore DRM fiasco

According to documents obtained by the Courthouse News Service, Electronic Arts is facing a class action lawsuit due to the implementation of SecuROM DRM software in the recently released evolution game Spore. The lawsuit was filed Monday with the Northern California District Court and the plaintiff is Melissa Thomas and "all others similarly situated". Thomas is represented by Alan Himmelfarb and Scott A. Kamber of Vernon, California, and New York.

The suit claims, “Consumers are not warned about the program, which is installed without notice and cannot be uninstalled, even if they uninstall Spore”.  The lawsuit accuses Electronic Arts of deliberately hiding the fact that Spore uses SecuROM and claims the DRM software prevents the computer from operating under certain circumstances and/or disrupting hardware operations. The suit also claims that SecuROM takes over a portion of a PC's processing resources "to transmit information back to EA." The lawsuit is seeking an award for all plaintiffs the $49.99 purchase price plus damages. The details of the lawsuit are available in PDF format.

In addition to the lawsuit, there is more bad press for EA as Shacknews is reporting a poster on The Official Spore Forum was threatened with banning after asking about the DRM situation on the board. They were asked to take any further DRM SecuROM conversations to another forum and any further attempts to discuss the topic may result in a banning so severe the poster may be forced to buy a new copy to play Spore. The forum thread in question can be accessed here. In order to post on the forum, consumers must sign in with the Spore account tied to their game.

The comments appear to be the result of a frustrated forum moderator rather than official Electronic Arts policy as other forum moderators quickly stepped in claiming the inflammatory comments were the result of a miscommunication. They also stated on another forum thread "It is okay to discuss issues on this forum as long as it's done in a respectful manner and there are no personal attacks. This includes the DRM and other controversial issues.

In a message sent to Kotaku, Electronic Arts responded to the incident stating "These comments are absolutely not true or in-line with EA’s moderation policy. They were made by an over-zealous community volunteer who does not work for EA."

Spore has received large amounts of criticism for the way its DRM was implemented. The backlash has caused Electronic Arts to backtrack on some of their decisions with regards to the DRM implemented in Spore. The class action lawsuit and the forum incident are more additions to the public relations disaster that the Spore DRM fiasco has become.

Comments     Threshold

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By Verran on 9/25/2008 10:19:45 AM , Rating: 2
The DRM issues would probably bother me more if the game had been fun enough to keep playing.

Looks like they spent more money on DRM, unnecessary authentication servers and call centers than they did on development.

RE: boring
By afkrotch on 9/25/2008 1:00:01 PM , Rating: 2
Development was done by Maxis, they didn't deal with any of the DRM. EA grabbed the finished product, slapped in the SecuRom, and shipped it out the door.

I personally wouldn't be surprised if Maxis had a large budget for the game simply because of the creator.

The game simply that great because of Maxis. They might know how to make Sim games, but they sure as hell don't know much else beyond that. The tribal and civilization phases were pretty much a clumsily made RTS. The original C&C was better than that crap.

RE: boring
By Maximilian on 9/25/2008 6:53:10 PM , Rating: 2
Uh yeah and maxis is owned by.... thats right! EA!! It is an undeniable fact that EA had maxis dumb this game down and mess it up. Look at simcity, simcity 4 was umm not without its problems but overall it was a decent game, now look at simcity societies... its a piece of trash. Same thing happened here with spore, EA wrecked it.

RE: boring
By afkrotch on 9/26/2008 11:17:03 AM , Rating: 2
Maxis is a subsidiary. Yes, owned by EA, but doesn't mean they fully control Maxis. Simcity Societies wasn't a Maxis game.

Spore is a whole new type of game that Maxis isn't familiar in making. All in all, they failed at it. Probably all Maxis and less EA on that.

EA has done all the different kinds of genres that were combined into Spore. I'd say if they had more control in the process of Spore's creation, it would have been a better game.

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
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