Print 90 comment(s) - last by Pavelyoung.. on Oct 5 at 9:48 AM

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.

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RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By Mitch101 on 9/25/2008 10:30:41 AM , Rating: 5
Sorry I am for the attorneys on this one.

I haven't examined the box but looking on places that sell the game I didn't find anything describing the DRM/Malware on the activation limitations. I checked amazon and gogamer no mention of DRM except in the customer reviews on amazon.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By tedrodai on 9/25/2008 10:58:08 AM , Rating: 5
Agreed. Even if the lawyers are the only ones benefitting directly (monetarily), at least EA may face some sort of consequence for their ridiculous choices. The worse the consequences, the more likely they'll avoid choices like that again.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By breathlesstao on 9/25/2008 11:08:26 AM , Rating: 3
Um, if it was anyone else, I'd agree. But EA? Gimme a break - how many years have they been around for exactly? And Spore and its so-called protection wasn't the first to create such a commotion. One would think that a company as old (and big) as EA would already know what and how (not) to do; sad as it may seem, it doesn't seem like they were learning from such mistakes, their own or others'.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By Pavelyoung on 10/5/2008 9:48:07 AM , Rating: 2
You forget that EA doesn't care what its customers think. They know people will still buy the games they publish.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By mmntech on 9/25/2008 11:00:41 AM , Rating: 5
It's deceptive marketing. Game publishers should disclose DRM restrictions on the games package. They don't because they know that if people saw the restrictions before buying the game, they probably wouldn't buy it. This is a landmark case in the sense since it's the casual gamer's first introduction to the intrusive DRM we've been dealing with for years. I hope the plaintiffs with the suit (though I'm not optimistic about that). I also hope this suit brings meaningful changes to gaming that makes it more friendly to legitimate consumers.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By SiN on 9/25/2008 1:15:50 PM , Rating: 4
Totally disagree with you and others on this.

Publishers, under no circumstances, and regardless of which publisher, should never be allowed to limit the ammount of times you can install the product rendering it usless without hacking after "x" number of installs.

EA have been battling publicly the second hand market, and they chose to use this technique to prevent or limit said market.

I wouldnt be wrong in saying they thought they could inadvertantly get more revenue from the type of first hand buyers who wouldn't contact EA support to get extensions on their install limit after it was reached. But rather buy a new copy of the game for simplicty.

EA should be sued for these reasons alone. If only it teaches them a lesson. which it hardly will.

Unfortunatly, i could possibly predict that EA will be sucesfully sued, but they will be allowed to continue to use this practice of DRM as long as they have appropriate labeling on their packages or it is included in the terms and conditions in the install process.

EA sucks.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By ebakke on 9/25/2008 5:20:45 PM , Rating: 5
...or it is included in the terms and conditions in the install process
That's one thing that really gets to me. The terms are presented during installation, but if you don't agree, you can't return the product because you've opened it already!

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By WikiChici on 9/25/2008 7:28:23 PM , Rating: 4
I thought this would happen.

EA is just bringing all of it down over its own head, they took the risk with the public by using DRM technology in their latest games, their going to cop the well deserved flak for it.

Get rid of DRM, ban it not the posters

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By omnicronx on 9/26/2008 11:32:01 AM , Rating: 1

The purpose of a contract (such as a EULA) is to create exceptions to rights otherwise held. If you contractually disavow your rights under US Code 17.117 (which you are required to do in order to install the game), then you cannot claim that those rights are being violated.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By OttifantSir on 9/30/2008 3:19:15 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't know capitalism in America had gotten to the point where companies would be allowed to create a contract which gives the contractee less rights than that person has by law.

I live in Norway, and our laws clearly states that noone can be pressured, or are in any way obliged to accept a contract that gives them less rights than stated by law. The law says you can return a product for 30 days after purchase. ANY product, unless it is a perishable like fruits and groceries. And if a product is advertised to do something, it better well do that, because as a customer you have a legal right to get your money back if it doesn't. Law trumps any EULA. as it should be.

If I were to buy Spore (before I knew about the DRM), and then my machine crashed, the seller of that product would be obliged by law to refund the cost of the game and to repair the damages done by it. If need be, they would even be obliged by law to buy me a new machine with same specs. If the rootkit installed by Spore wouldn't be possible to remove, they would have to buy me a new machine.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By bighairycamel on 9/25/2008 11:08:02 AM , Rating: 5
Agreed. Apparently EA has never heard of the Sony/BMG DRM fiasco. Sony eventually had to recall all unsold CDs and offer a new CD without the DRM to the customers. And considering the game costs more than 3 times a music CD, it's easy to see where these people would be pissed.

Glad I didn't buy the game. Even more glad I decided about a year ago never to buy another EA game ever again.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By Ryanman on 9/25/2008 11:19:28 AM , Rating: 5
Amen. Poetic Justice that EA games are the most pirated on the planet.

Then again, it's not just their DRM policies, it's their bug fixing (or lack therof) and ridiculous yearly buisness model.

By StevoLincolnite on 9/25/2008 3:19:18 PM , Rating: 4
A few friends of mine love the game "Spore" but when they purchased the game for $99 Australian, and realized they couldn't install it on there systems because they lack an Internet connection, they were royally pissed off, I came to the rescue and cracked there installs, but I *Should not* have to do that, for them to play the game in single player mode.

Then again, it's not just their DRM policies, it's their bug fixing (or lack therof) and ridiculous yearly buisness model.

Plus Swallowing up Game Franchises and never using them. *Cough* Dungeon Keeper *Cough*. - Plus I would love for them to sell Alpha Centauri to Lion Head or something.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By killerroach on 9/25/2008 11:19:58 AM , Rating: 1
And considering the game costs more than 3 times a music CD, it's easy to see where these people would be pissed.

Although, in terms of costs to EA, it's no more than the costs of Sony's recall. It's quite likely that will be the end result, though, that EA will, once briefs are filed, offer to replace users' DVDs with DRM-free ones.

That being said, by the time that happens, the DRM will make very little economic sense, and they would probably be starting to talk about disabling it anyway.

I agree with the original commenter... the only winners here in the short run are the lawyers.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By afkrotch on 9/25/08, Rating: -1
By Innocent Hawk on 9/25/2008 4:42:32 PM , Rating: 2
No no. People complained. Alot. Especially on Bioshock and Mass Effect. You just weren't paying attention because you were too busy cracking those games.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By PhoenixKnight on 9/25/2008 7:18:46 PM , Rating: 3
You haven't heard many complaints about SecuRom before? You must not have been listening very well.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By afkrotch on 9/26/2008 9:16:52 AM , Rating: 3
I've been listening, but there was hardly a huge uproar over SecuRom on any of those games til Spore. The other complaints were like little drops in the bucket, while this one seems to be a tidal wave for some reason.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By CloudFire on 9/25/2008 9:09:28 PM , Rating: 1
if you know about anything in the gaming community and all its issues, you would know by now that crysis warhead is estimated to be one of the highest pirated games because of the securom.

both sides are pissed, legitimate buyers are mad because they can't install it on other computers that they have, so they could just pirate it for free and install it on whatever they want. games will get cracked sooner or later, it's just a matter of time, and then the publishers will get mad and blame piracy for their lackluster sales when it's the securom that is making people pissed in the first place.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By leexgx on 9/26/2008 12:46:06 AM , Rating: 2
SecuRom is very anoying when certan options are turnd on limited installs , not been able to start the game if disk loading tools are running or think is running on the pc, running process explorer (you have to reboot the pc on that one)

c&c3 was ok as it was only used when you run the game and the nocd DAT file does not even brake online game play (been the same for all c&c games thay used the same protection from red alert onwards just updated it an little) its like the guys who make the game understand not to mess with custmers (i own all of the c&c games or did need to find all my old ones agane or buy them)

did not bother even downloading bioshock (drm free one)
if i got the legit one i likey not even work on my pcs with the disk tools running on my pc

World in Conflict is only needed for single player i think to play it, never needed cd in drive for it on muti player

all the above needs an valid key that you have payed for

still useing the new SecuRom with alot of its options turned on or any DRM (online activation) type of game is poor as once that service stops (game very old) you not be able to install the game that you own

when SecuRom is been used for cd protection only norm not an problem as long as disk loading tools detection option is not used

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By afkrotch on 9/26/2008 9:23:38 AM , Rating: 2
I bought 2 copies of Bioshock. One over Steam. Since I have a German IP, I got a stupid censored copy of the game, so I bought myself the US version. I have to turn off the virtual drives on Alcohol 120%/Daemon Tools, but only takes a sec. After that, I'm good to go.

C&C Tiberium Wars/Kane's Wrath don't seem to care that Alcohol 120% or Daemon Tools is installed or have virtual drives.

World in Conflict also didn't seem to care too much about what was going on, on my computer.

Yes, I did buy the games retail and haven't made any cracks/etc to SecuRom. As for the service's stopping or getting old, exactly what is going to disallow you from installing it? Any company that has gone defunct with such games ends up pushing out a patch or other workarounds. Well, only one Steam like distro company I've seen has gone that way.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By Quiescent on 9/25/2008 11:39:40 AM , Rating: 3
I agree. I remember buying Sony Music CD-Rs in 2004. When I finally got a burner and legitimately burned my music and OC Remix music onto them, I couldn't play it in my Sony walkman, and they were messed up on my computer too. But if I put software/OSes on them, they worked fine.

It was annoying because they were CD-Rs.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By Quiescent on 9/25/2008 11:49:44 AM , Rating: 2
I must add that the burning software (nero) was not at fault, because the music worked fine on other CD brands and did not skip or refuse to play at all on my walkman.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By omnicronx on 9/26/2008 11:27:31 AM , Rating: 2
I haven't examined the box but looking on places that sell the game I didn't find anything describing the DRM/Malware on the activation limitations. I checked amazon and gogamer no mention of DRM except in the customer reviews on amazon.
Ever heard of an EULA that you agree too by either opening the box or installing the game?

This will go nowhere.

p.s not saying EA should not have mentioned it on the box, but legally they are not required too.

RE: EA used underhanded tactics
By elgoliath on 9/29/2008 4:13:07 PM , Rating: 2
I do not know how it was/is in this case, but most EULA's for software I've seen are on the CD- kinda defeats the opening the box argument if you have open it just to see the EULA.

Please, keep defending EA and others like them.... /sigh

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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