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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.

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Same old story.......
By Domicinator on 9/25/2008 11:51:02 PM , Rating: 2
Console gamers and PC gamers alike have been dealing with in-game ads for a long time. I was really pissed when PC Gamer Magazine called out 2142 for in game ads, but didn't call out F.E.A.R. for splattering Dell ads all over the subways and streets. Ubisoft does it too. They all do it. It happens on all other media, including right in the middle of movies. I can't believe people were so naive to think that it would never come to the gaming world or that they could some how stop it.

However, I do not blame PC developers for using DRM. And this is coming from someone who had Starforce completely ruin a DVD ROM drive back when they were still really expensive. Piracy is one of the main culprits contributing to the dumbing down of PC gaming. Notice I didn't say the death of PC gaming. PC gaming is not dying, it's just shifting more and more toward casual games and MMOs. This is because AAA titles like Crysis are not money makers on the PC anymore. The few copies they do get out from purchases are dwarfed by the number of pirated copies. What are these companies supposed to do? Pirates aren't going to change their attitude about piracy if every game is DRM free. They're just going to find it easier and easier to pirate.

This subject is a slippery slope. I get very angry at EA for being lazy about bug fixes. As a lover of the entire BF series, I thought the 2142 ads were very disappointing. However, I am never going to condone piracy, whether you're doing it just to crack the DRM on your purchased copy or just getting the bit torrent and not paying at all. You are breaking the law.

If you buy a PC game, especially an EA one, these days without thinking about DRM first, then you're an idiot. Expect DRM. Expect ads. That's about all there is to it. These frivolous lawsuits are started by rainmaker lawyers, and they almost never pan out to anything.

RE: Same old story.......
By wempa on 9/26/2008 12:25:10 PM , Rating: 2
I don't blame software companies for trying to protect their games from casual copying either. However, apply a copy protection system that does not hamper our enjoyment and freedom of playing the game. As many others have mentioned, a CD key for online play and/or CD check would accomplish the same thing. There are a number of reasonable ways to accomplish this. Granted, no scheme would prevent pirating but at least the paying customers aren't put through such nonsense as this.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates
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