Gaming Steve

May 9, 2008

Maxis Responds to the Spore DRM Controversy

Spore

There has been a small firestorm concerning the Spore Digital Rights Management system. Well Maxis has been listening and Caryl Shaw, Online Producer for Spore, sent me a note about these concerns:

Hey Spore Fans -

We wanted to let you know that we've been hearing your concerns about the online authentication mentioned earlier this week. I didn't want to head into the weekend without getting back to you with some information about how Spore is planning on using this new system.

A few things we wanted you to know:

  • We authenticate your game online when you install and launch it the first time.
  • We'll re-authenticate when a player uses online features, downloads new content or a patch for their game.
  • The new system means you don't have to play with the disc in your computer. And if you are like me, always losing discs, this will be a huge benefit.
  • You'll still be able to install and play on multiple computers.
  • You can play offline.

We do hope that players will play online - sharing creatures, buildings and vehicles with other players is something that is unique to Spore and one of the coolest features of the game. Every day, when I play the Creature Stage, I get to see wacky and awesome new creatures from my Buddies on the team coming over the hill at me and I can't wait to see what happens when our creative, passionate community starts sharing their creations.

I'd love to write more - but I need to get back to work. We've got a game to finish. :-)

-caryl

Personally I don't see the big deal about the online DRM, especially for a game such as Spore which all but requires you to play online and communicate regularly with EA's servers. Heck, Spore is almost an MMORPG in considering all the online content that will be available for the game once it's released.

Oh yes, and if you think EA's DRM is harsh wait until you see the new DRM that Blizzard is working on for S2 and D3....

Posted by Gaming Steve at 3:00 PM | Comments (67) | Posted to PC | Spore |  Add this story to del.icio.us  Stumble It!  Submit this story to Digg!
Comments

At least is isn't StarForce.

Posted by PatMan33 at May 9, 2008 3:46 PM

It didn't seem that big of deal to me but with spore having to be online all the time anyway. I didn't know about the no disk thing, that's sweet.

Posted by ilikesanta at May 9, 2008 3:57 PM

Ironicly Securom is even getting more bashing than than starforce did receive in it's "glory time", when some people 's drives seemed to be disabled due to early drives and conflicting firmware that wasnt really ready for this they were right to be a bit disturbed, but I see the same thing repeating. All kinds of wild assumptions of hassle and panic football is being played now because everyone doesn't quite know what to expect. Sites giving miscommunication doesn't help because everyon jumps on the wrong bandwagon.

Posted by CosmicD at May 9, 2008 4:03 PM

Thank you very, very much. Anger at a form of DRM that could terminate the private use of a lawfully purchased piece of software should internet service or verification server fail, truly would have reduced such purchases to expensive rentals. That was the issue.

Nobody wants to pay full price to effectively 'rent' their software.

Many people like to be able to play their games years down the road, for nostalgia, because they loved them, or just to enjoy them again. Nobody wants their full-price game to become useless should EA arbitrarily decide that verifying it is no longer worthwhile. A similar issue recently happened to users of Microsoft's music service.

In short - if we buy something, we want to own it enough that we can use it indefinitely. We do not want to rent for full price, and depend on a being given permission every ten days to play our single-player game. Some of us go on trips, have poor internet connections, or simply find needing constant, nagging permission to use our own property deeply offensive.

So I thank you, your marketing division, and everyone else who came to reassure us all. This information truly shows us that Electronic Arts cares about its consumer base. We can now look forward once again to purchasing Spore, and any expansions that are released for it.

Posted by Jennifer Diane Reitz at May 9, 2008 4:19 PM

Truly, this brings joy to my heart and ease to my mind. This is the system that it should be. Authenticate only when using online content and upon initial install and leave the offliners alone. I have absolutely no problem supporting this system. I will definitely be getting Spore now and have no problem supporting EA products in the future so long as they dont take the crazy DRM schemes.

As for blizzards products, I dont play them anyway, so their DRM is of no concern to me. I hated SC and WoW is overhyped IMO. Never played Diablo and probably wont due to the ancientness of it.

Thank you so much for clarifying the DRM. I hope you understand that all of my posts were intended as a preemptive strike in case EA was actually considering using the 10 day reset. I just dont think a system like that is necessary or effective at what its meant to do. Spore will do outstanding without it!

Thanks again. I really am glad to hear that you guys are listening and care about what we (consumers) think and feel. I can once again look forward to Spore, CnC:RA3, CnC:Tiberium, Sims3, and a few other titles that caught my eye :)

Latah!

Posted by Verkinix at May 9, 2008 4:30 PM

The big deal about the online DRM is that we will be paying for the game, and the (rumored) form of the DRM was, as stated in an earlier reply, a form of post-purchase rental.

As laid out in caryl's note, it makes a lot more sense, and if it lets me play without the disc in the drive, so much the better!

Lastly:
"Oh yes, and if you think EA's DRM is harsh wait until you see the new DRM that Blizzard is working on for S2 and D3...."

If this is bull, it's a bad way to end an otherwise good post. If it's fact, let's see a link.

Posted by Steve (not Gaming Steve) at May 9, 2008 4:40 PM

Wait, what's that about Blizzard? Please don't tell me my favourite game developer is going to use some awful DRM-scheme...

I've bought every game since Warcraft 2 and love them all, but if they decide my own games will no longer be mine unless I pirate... Blizzard, anyone but you!

Posted by Sonny at May 9, 2008 4:45 PM

Steve, thank you very much for clearing up this issue. Game's gonna be great, and I still intend to buy it. Don't know why people wouldn't just because of an exaggerated report of DRM.

Posted by Gungnir at May 9, 2008 5:01 PM

Good, we don't need to have the disk inside to play. That's always a bonus.

Posted by Paroxysm at May 9, 2008 6:05 PM

Thank you very much.
Didn't notice this 'til LadyM posted it on the forum.
When I posted further questions (to nobody in particular), Caryl answered them!

:O

Thank you too, Caryl. It really does mean a lot.

*glares at EA*

Posted by Gauphastus at May 9, 2008 6:13 PM

The method for Spore's validation doesn't bother me, it's what they're using as DRM. SecuROM.

I'm sorry, but SecuROM's company, Sony DADC, has had 3 class action lawsuits filed against them, settled out of court with the Federal Trade Commission regarding rootkits in SecuROM. This was done in January of 2007, then SecuROM was at it again, installing rootkit software in August of 2007.

I love Maxis, I grew up with them, SimEarth, SimAnt, SimCity, The Sims, they essentially were an integral part of my childhood, it's sad to say the big hinderance for me, is SecuROM DRM.

Thanks but no thanks, I don't like being treated like a thief. SecuROM is essentialy the epitome of that.

Posted by Iron Raptor at May 9, 2008 7:27 PM

Don't worry, I'm ready to get outraged and red in the face about StarCraft 2's draconian garbage also. I am, however, intrigued with the implication there is ANY truth to D3 ever really getting made/realease.

Posted by Daniel at May 9, 2008 9:44 PM

@ Iron Raptor:

I think people like you make waaaaaaay too much of a big deal out of it. If you haven't been reading carefully, Maxis isn't using traditional SecuROM, but a modified version of it that doesn't use the 10-day periodic authentication. Small background checks are performed as you play online without it interrupting your game so you don't even notice it.

Posted by Gec at May 10, 2008 12:04 AM

"Oh yes, and if you think EA's DRM is harsh wait until you see the new DRM that Blizzard is working on for S2 and D3...."
So, it's ok for EA to deliver a game with some crappy DRM because someone else will deliver a game with even a crappier DRM... Just because someone else may deliver games with even crappier DRM that doesn't mean it's ok to deliver a game with crappy DRM. Sins of the Solar Empire did just GREAT without ANY DRM! How do you explain that?

Posted by Q at May 10, 2008 6:48 AM

"Sins of the Solar Empire did just GREAT without ANY DRM! How do you explain that?"

It did well because a) it was a good game that got a lot of great reviews, b) it had a great distribution deal and could be found at places like Walmart easily (a rare thing for PC games nowadays), c) finally what having no DRM have to do with the game doing well?

I have heard this argument many times, but it is a classically flawed argument. According to this argument Sins of the Solar Empire did well BECAUSE it had no DRM ... and no other reason. This is a classically flawed argument that people like Jack Thompson like to use when they make statements.

The two have nothing to do with one another, the correct statement is that Sins did well AND it had no DRM. There is no proof that having no DRM was the reason for Sins's success, and perhaps if it had strong DRM the game could have been even MORE successful as less people would have been able to easily download and play the game.

I can also say that I like to eat carrots and I bought Sins, hence people who like carrots bought Sins. It's the same argument -- you take two true statements and link them together presuming that two statements are responsible for each other's truth. Jack does this ALL the time and it's the same argument.

Once again, Sins did well AND it had no DRM. There is no direct evidence that having DRM was the sole item responsible for the success of Sins. Only that a game with no DRM COULD be successful. (also note that a game selling 300k like Sins would not be considered a success in the eyes of EA, anything less than a million would be a huge failure.)

Posted by Stephen Glicker at May 10, 2008 9:08 AM

There are plenty of games that have sold over a million copies with a DRM systems. C&C3, Bioshock, World in Conflict, Heroes of Might and Magic V, The Sims 2, etc. have all either sold a million copies or have are decently close to hitting that number.

DRM to me is what ppl use an an excuse to pirate. Most of the the time DRM systems are never noticable, however there are a few issues especially with things like Starforce. Overall DRM systems are there because they are protecting their property.

I think you would be a little paranoid if you and your team spent hundreds of thousands of man hours developing a game over the course of four years, only to have your hard work go to waste because little Timmy down the street would rather spend xyz since he knows he can get the game for free online.

It is an inconvenience that we have airport security because of a few rogue individuals out of billions of people decided to bomb us, it sucks at school when gangs wear there hate backwards and childs are no longer allowed to do the same... bottom line people, it reality deal with it. The actions of others are going to influence what we do and do not do. So next time you friend decides to pirate a game, maybe...just maybe you should try and convince him to actually spend his money on it.

Posted by Lurker at May 10, 2008 1:08 PM

I just want to comment on what Steve and Lurker were pointing out.

'Games did well inspite of having security or not...'
This is somewhat true, but if you know the community of stardocks products, you also know that they are a nitch group for a nitch type of game. They support stardock because of their business practices. I've purchased several products myself simply on merit to support the company inspite of having no interest in the product itself. Would I do the same for EA? Nope.

I have no problem with companies protecting their products. But it comes down to, 'do I really want my system infringed upon to the degree the rumor was suggesting?' The answer was No. And had Maxis come out and said that was the way it was, I would have said, the game, as fantastic as it is, isnt worth the security hassles and I will no longer be purchasing EA products in general (long history of mediocre EA games, almost not worth the price or security measures). It is a GAME afterall.

Further, the fact that it is for a general market rather then a nitch market, the majority of users dont have the expertise or know how to crack or pirate the game. This is the difference between EA's success and Stardocks success views. Most of stardocks' game users have some idea of cracking or obtaining pirated copies of a game. EA's products are geared to the masses. So 300k copies sold would be successful to a company production 1/20th the size of EA's. And therefore, EA's idea of success would be far greater. But the difference in market size is due to the "casual" players. And that is what EA is geared toward. The people who cant/wont crack the game anyway. Whether it be a simple NOCD exe or a login every 10 seconds until the end of eternity or until they are tired of being controlled by the parent company.

But I've gotten away from my point. Most games dont do well because of or inspite of security. Pirates will pirate, would-be pirates would be more likely to not deal with security and just find an easily obtainable copy. Would-be customers will typically be turned off by intrusive security measures and therefore just not buy the product (I fall into this group). And the vast majority will buy the game either way. So I dont see the point of restricting security measures.

On a side note, Oblivion for PC had a basic CD check and sold significant amounts of copies. It was one of my deciding factors to purchase it upon release (I also purchased Sins of a Solar Empire upon release to support Stardock and was happy when the product was premium quality; but how can you go wrong with stardock products?!). If the game is good, people will diverge from stealing it to buying it. The 1% of true pirates out there should not be the most significant factor in security decisions because they are either going to obtain the product illegally either way or they will just not play it. There is no real gain in revenues by adding harsh security.

(Further, I am all about companies protecting their assets. But dont do it at the expense of the customer. I dont know anyone who wants to be implicated as being a criminal directly.)

I, personally, want to see more business practices like Stardock (and to a lesser extent Steam). Be able to buy a game, add it to my account, not have to worry about using a disk in the drive anymore, and be treated like a worthy customer. An example of this is the fact that GalCiv2's latest expansion came out last week and is simply wonderful. There are a few things that need fixing, but SD rep came right out and said, here is the plan for the next 5-6 months. Two Major patches that add an amazing amount of stuff to the game at no further cost. I think to myself, maybe I'll buy a second copy just to support these guys. I dunno, I like to think that others think that way too. Support those who support us.

And to all, I say, Stop Pirating if you do. It's just senseless. If you try the game, you like it, support it! If you like the company that makes it, support them! Lets get more quality ports on the PC and enjoy them for years to come. The quality of future products can only go up if we support the good ones and let the bad ones die off. Lets encourage companies to want to spend more time and resources on the game itself and less time on setting up security that will be broken anyway.

Latah!

Posted by Verkinix at May 10, 2008 2:42 PM

Won't Blizzard use Steam since Valve is part of the same collective now?

Posted by Aybraus at May 10, 2008 5:32 PM

i, much like verkinix, fall into the "would-be customers will typically be turned off by intrusive security measures and therefore just not buy the product." if i find that a piece of software will infringe on my experience beyond the use of that software, then why support it?

i am a person who has never bought from starbucks or walmart because i don't support practices those companies are involved in; chinese sweat-shop outsourcing, canabalistic growth, and the clear destruction of community.
i have stopped purchasing from corporations like mcdonalds and coca-cola, who fully support the "high fructose corn syrup and other corn derived products" empire. i feel that these only support the fuel economy that's clearly affecting our way of life.

which leads me to a new dilemma. i know my computer pumps out horrid heavy metals and chemicals. that's why i have my spider plants growing near the machine to absorb and filter most of those. they seem to enjoy it too, they are growing briskly. but i am growing more and more away from the constant use of my pc.

sure, i love the internet and games as much as anyone else does. but i also love gardening, cooking, hanging out with friends, and enjoying the real world too. games, more and more, seem like a luxury i can't afford. i don't know if anyone else is going through with this, but i know i am.


where does this lead? i only am willing to spend money on products that i feel are worth spending on. i love what the spore team has created (even though i've not yet played it) and i will assuredly purchase this product. but i also know that my money tells them that choices they made were ok with me. much like if i bought that starbucks latte they'd feel i'm ok with their expansionist growth. so buying a game that has a DRM associated with it is basically me telling the manufacturer that i'm ok with that. i'm not though. i don't like the idea of a DRM associated with any software, to me it's a message that the manufacturers don't trust their community.

i don't know too much of software design, but i can't imagine that we don't have an alternative technology that would let us play games on our pc without loading the physical disk onto the drive. so i don't see how a DRM is needed to do this.

and what exactly does authentication of the game i purchased do for me? sure, it tells the manufacturer that the deal is legit, but what benefit am i assured? will the servers always be up if we're all authenticated? can i get authentication from the company on my product? if not, why doesn't this go both ways?


basically, we are consumers, and it seems the only way our voice can be heard is by directly affecting the economy. sure, they read what we have to say on forums and the like, that's great. but they haven't done much to assuage my worries. don't get me wrong, this info is nice to have, but when we let one path open, it only opens more. hence i like open source. but that's my other problem, i use ubuntu, and i loathe the idea of dual boxing my system just to play these great games. oh well, i guess someone has to feed the monkey.

realize that not everything is black and white, and not everyone feels comfortable with what you feel is comfortable. this message is more for people in the organizations that do read these boards. maybe they can get a sense of what one of their future consumers is like, and why they might stop being a future consumer.

and gamingsteve, that ending wasn't cool. please keep the fluff to a minimum unless you are going to back it up with concrete info. i liked your post years ago about D3, we haven't heard anything about it sense. and i know blizzard is all hush hush about projects, but what fun is that if the rumor mill isn't working. do they not know how hype works? look at what your site alone did for spore. tell blizz what it could do for D3, not like their community wouldn't be rabid about it anyway, i wish i could accurately tell them why i stopped playing WoW, and why i won't go back. glad to see a post from you though!

Posted by nicesocks at May 10, 2008 10:27 PM

@Gec.

A modified version of SecuROM is STILL SecuROM. Clearly you have forgotten the rootkit dilemma that got the Federal Trade Commission involved.

Here's my issue with SecuROM, it's not made by Maxis, or E.A., it's licensed by Sony DADC to E.A. to protect their games. So then I have to blindly believe on E.A.'s word that SecuROM won't install a rootkit or null bytes in my registry.

I know how Spore's going to behave, it's a game. SecuROM, I do not. I can swallow registering once online, and re-validation in order to download content / patches / updates. That I can deal with, however I will NOT have SecuROM on my system, which has a proven track record of failure. Don't believe me? Google SecuROM and you'll see.

SecuROM is saying "I think you're a dirty dirty thief, so I'm going to keep watching you." Sorry, but I don't pay people to treat me like crap, that's what taxes and dominatrixes are for.

Posted by Iron Raptor at May 11, 2008 2:42 AM

Is "install and play on multiple computers" still 3? before you have to phone customer services and ask politely if they can activate the game you paid for?

Posted by swerv at May 11, 2008 2:48 AM

"I have heard this argument many times, but it is a classically flawed argument. According to this argument Sins of the Solar Empire did well BECAUSE it had no DRM ... and no other reason"
Except that I did NOT say that it did well BECAUSE it has no DRM! My point was exactly that it did well AND it has no DRM. This is a counterexample of that DRM is not needed for a good game to do well.

Posted by Q at May 11, 2008 5:59 AM

I meant to say: "This is a counterexample of that DRM is needed for a good game to do well."

Posted by Q at May 11, 2008 6:01 AM

I'm glad they backed down on this. I wouldn't buy ME if they released it with that crap. Having to continually validate a singleplayer game online in order to run it is offensive. All this DRM _ONLY_ hurts the people who actually pay for the games. It's a fundamentally flawed thing to do

And I hope to god that D3's DRM isn't this intrusive. I'll be playing that online anyway

Posted by teo at May 11, 2008 9:45 AM

People are still going to pirate it despite this new fancy-pants DRM scheme...

The question is, will EA get more sales with DRM or without it?

(Whether or not there is more piracy is irrelevant, what matters is sales!)

Obviously EA thinks that adding DRM will increase their sales numbers (otherwise they wouldn't use it). This is only a guess though, not a factual truth...

Unfortunately, no publisher is willing to do a controlled trial to see if DRM actually increases sales or not, so for the time being DRM is just corporate snake-oil... EA's CEO may as well go and get a new-age magnetic hot-stone energy massage palm-reading session and hope that it will increase sales!

Posted by Asdf at May 11, 2008 9:51 PM

I have no problem with online verification, in fact it's far preferable to me than any other but Stardock's system. Company of Heroes has a similar verification process.

I did have a problem with Securom (sp?) because of a history of games not working because of it. I've had to crack legally purchased games before because I couldn't play any other way. (Or, in one case, had to reboot before every play.) I don't want to do that with Spore, the online part of the game is key, to me, to what I'll enjoy about it. Thankfully, that won't be an issue since we'll be able to play without the CD. I hope Sims 3 uses this same system.

Posted by Fobok at May 13, 2008 10:38 AM

I have to say I agree with Q on this front. The typical view among publishers seems to be that if they release without DRM, the pirates will eat all their sales. A valid worry, one might well think, but the relative success of games released without DRM (such as SoaSE, everyone's favourite example) shows that this is not so.

The pirates will always find a way around copy protection. The more draconian DRMs simply drive legitimate consumers into their arms.

Posted by Biscuitry at May 15, 2008 6:59 AM

I really DON'T care about the DRM. I have an internet connection and i'm not afraid to use it :)

What's REALLY the point in this article is the word "D3" !!!
Steve, pleeeeeeease tell me more

Posted by Gabriel at May 15, 2008 5:45 PM

I will not buy anything with secure rom or starforce on it. Those I do not want on my pc ever. If that is used the game sits on the shelf...games from Stardock I buy. I support devs who treat customers like customers not pirates.

Screw anyone who in this day and age do not get it. Pirates are not destroying the market...the publishers are by destroying the games.

Posted by Dave at May 16, 2008 10:27 PM

What about people who don't have internet? I don't want to go to an internet cafe to play Spore. Is there a way to activate without an internet connection? Since internet is VERY expensive where i live.The internet here is EXTREMELY slow also so i don't really think it's worth the money.

Posted by Roualeyn at May 18, 2008 2:14 PM

Remember, HoMM V did have starforce that was to be used on it. Ubi decided to drop Starforce support on their games just prior as there was a similar outcry when HoMM V was going to be ruined using that drm scheme.

Secure rom crapola is going the starforce route imo. I will not buy Spore and I am passing on Bioware's game as well. I paid for the game..I want to play it anytime..any year as many times as I want.

It is my game on my pc period.

Posted by Dave at May 19, 2008 10:22 PM

"At least is isn't StarForce."

Amen!

Posted by Holiace at May 27, 2008 8:11 AM

Well I've been in Iraq for the last 10 months and I haven't been keeping up with this sight or the latest Spore news. I did get the newsletter telling about the creator creator release last week. I finally got it in the mail the other day and was horrified to see the internet connection required to play label. Internet access around here requires an hour wait in line at an internet cafe. I have no way to get my copy registered on the computer I actually have access to play during my little bit of downtime out here. So I guess I just bought a $15 frisbee. Thanks EA!!

Posted by Flendon at June 27, 2008 5:58 PM

I will just wait for the game to be offered on the steam powered network where they don't use DRM instead they validate user accounts.

Already attempted to install the creature creator that I bought for $10.. it doesn't install and doesn't actually play. Lucky me that I bought it as a direct download from EA.. Which by the way doesn't provide refunds for direct downloaded software. (that doesn't work).

Now I get to enjoy days of work trying to remove securom from my computer.

Thanks so much.

Here is a tip don't user Securom instead use a non-invasive solution similar to how steam works.. I have been using it for almost five years now with no problems what so ever.

Posted by Gamer without a cause at July 1, 2008 6:41 PM

Apparently the new DRM scheme will allow only 3 activations, period, like the DRM on the game Mass Effect. Check this link on the Consumerist to find out how well THAT is working for people. One guy was having OS troubles and had to reinstall his os, change a vid card, and there went his three, and now EA tells him to buy another copy.

http://consumerist.com/tag/mass-effect-DRM/?i=5016980&t=ea-allows-3-activations-of-mass-effect-and-thats-it-period

Posted by Gambit at July 11, 2008 5:12 PM

I think its a lot of bull... to force you to have to go on line just to play the game spore. It needs to be written bigger on the case, and advertised that way... If I only Knew, I would not have bought the game. I didn't see the almost fine print at the bottom of the case front. I will be looking at the manufacturer differently from now on... since I feel they screwed me. It's going on line that screws computers up. I've had three on liners go bad so far, and one thats lasted four years(never been on line).

Posted by Steve Paczer at July 20, 2008 1:41 AM

Just thought I'd check on the comment I put in the other day. Had a feeling you might not put my comment up... the truth hurts. The manufacturer intentionally tried to miss lead... thats why they wrote "internet access required" so small, and never mentioned it in any of their advertisements. I bought the game only to find out I can't use it.

Posted by Steve Paczer at July 22, 2008 2:10 AM

Why are you sheep praising this? The 3 install limit is still in effect and it can triggered just by upgrading your computer! Requiring an authentication before you can play means that EA can pull the plug when they decide the game isn't profitable anymore (see 2-3 years from now to force you buy the sequel). You won't be able to play your game 10 years down the road.

Posted by Wyn at July 27, 2008 6:43 PM

So what happens if someone steals my cd-key? Like when they use a key-gen, and it just happens to come up with mine.
Does the game go "sorry, someone stole this key so now you can't play anymore"?

Posted by Hakar at August 8, 2008 6:26 AM

maxis should stick to consol games and leave making pc games for the big boys.

Posted by ik at August 9, 2008 5:21 PM

I have been buying games legitimately for years, but the Spore DRM is practically forcing me into piracy. I am a professional developer, so I have Process Explorer, Visual Studio and other development tools on my computer, and it conflicts with SecuROM or whatever DRMy thingy Spore uses. Ironically *I* feel treated like a criminal.

I made the mistake to buy BioShock and not be able to play it. I am not doing it again with Spore.

Posted by Jules at August 11, 2008 4:54 PM

Cool. I heard about how awful the DRM for this game was, but I wanted to see for myself. Luckily I ran across this post. The only concerns I have are if somehow an activation is used unintentionally and it can't be taken back. Is there some global reset for these (like the iTunes music store that allows you to reset a certain number of times per year, requiring all users of the music to reauthenticate)? If that's possible, then this system will be great. I do like the no CD idea. I used to crack games just so I could run them completely off my hard drive (yes, I paid for the full game first) rather than switching out CDs whenever I wanted to play a game.

Posted by dan at August 11, 2008 8:53 PM

No way will I pay for a game I can only install three times. It's a joke.

And Spore is not almost an MMORPG. It's a SP game.

Posted by Darren at August 29, 2008 5:25 AM

Im not buying this game, which is sad since I have been waiting for it for a long time. I will not shell out 50$ for a game that quite possibly will not be able to play 3 years from now becuase it is no longer making money.

As for pirating I think there full of it, Bioshock had the crap pirated out of it, and to a large extent it was BECAUSE of of its DRM.

Oh well I guess I take my 50$ to another game

Posted by Eron at September 1, 2008 7:01 PM

I dont mind the DRM if it was done fairly. 3 activations for the first 6 months of release, increased to 6 after a year, then normally titles slow and drop in price at this point, release a revoke tool so you can manage your activations from there. This would be fair, it would protect EA or whomever, it would be fair to the consumer everyone wins, everyones happy. By just allowing 3 activations period, you assume every customer is a pirate, and hence punish everyone regardless, well not the pirates, they enjoy the game minus the headaches. My system above would at least allow for maximum profit for EA or whomever, and also give the honest user a product they no doubt would enjoy for years. 3 activations can be used up in one year, I upgrade at least once a year, then you have OS upgrades, heaven forbid you have any type of hardware failure. Make it fair, and EA you can have it both ways and with happy customers.

Posted by Gerald Tee at September 5, 2008 2:55 AM

I believe SPORE took the tittle of the years. That's why they launch creator before that.. I am going to buy this product because its funny and i allready have my spore :).. But i have a small fear about the online thing.. Some times EA servers ban you by mistake or a re-sold banned cd key (i had this experience with Lotr the return of the witch king) Thank God customer support is good and they gave me a brand new cd key after i send them the reciept..

Posted by Atlandis at September 5, 2008 3:29 AM

Yeah, this entire authentication thing is a smoke screen to keep people from noticing that you only get the three installs mentioned by Gambit. It amazes me how few reports there have been on this in the media. You'd think that any journalist worth his/her salt would be all over EA, but so far I've barely heard a peep.

The truly disturbing part in my opinion is that there is no indication on the box itself (about either the authentication OR the limited installs) so that the average consumer will only find out once they've already opened the box and read the EULA (because of course everyone reads those things...). I'm guessing most people won't even find out about the three installs until they've hit their limit and have to call EA to beg for a new one.

And EA won't tell people what hardware changes will trigger a new install activation or what the requirements are for being able to get a new one outside of your first three. Consider for a moment that the immediate solution offered for software problems is to reinstall or upgrade your system...yeah, people who hit problems are going to go through those installations like a hot knife through butter.

If there isn't anything wrong with what they're doing, then why is there all this secrecy about this stuff? Why isn't it on the box? Why don't they tell us what will trigger a new activation...etc, etc. This whole thing has very scary implications for consumer rights in the software industry and the fact that so many people are oblivious or just don't care terrifies me.

Posted by Matt at September 6, 2008 4:53 PM

Well I'm glad you don't see the big deal. But I'll tell you what is a big deal for me.

THREE INSTALLATIONS.

Screw you. I'll install it as many times as I want. It's my game. They're my machines. I paid for it.

I'm happy to authenticate every time i login. I don't care. Just don't restrict me to how many installations I can perform over the life othe product. That's just idiotic.

They lost a sale here. And by that, I don't mean "I decided I wont' be going out and buying it". I mean, THEY HAD ME until the SecuROM. In fact, I already ordered it. And it has already been processed. I will be returning the UPS delivery, unopened.

DO NOT WANT

And for those who say it doesn't matter or that you don't care? Well, good for you. I DO care. Just like I care about other things like the fourth amendment that others so frivolously piss away because *they* don't care about it. (Not that this is quite on the same level, though in a way it's similar).

Posted by no at September 8, 2008 3:22 AM

For those of you that think DRM doesn't matter, or that it's a good thing: You are sorely mistaken for many of the reasons already stated here. I have modified my purchasing behavior in response to this new, heavy-handed DRM. I used to buy ALL games that I play. I now purchase only those that have minimal or no DRM. My system has been torn apart enough times that I won't deal with it any more. If a game I want has abhorrent DRM, the parent company gets a nasty email and nothing more. I absolutely will NOT be buying spore until it is release without this DRM virus that has infected the thoughts of the head execs. This goes for any other piece of software, and I encourage others to do the same.

Posted by Opticron at September 8, 2008 9:55 AM

I was disgusted to find out I can only install my copy of Spore 3 times.
Since nobody else can use my copy can I return it and demand a refund?
I intend to pirate a copy of this game so I can play it several years down the line well after my 3 activations has come and gone.
I will never buy another Ea or Maxis game untill I have double checked that this disgusting practice is no longer in effect.
Ea and Maxis, You disgust me!
all this great online content??
It's just other peoples creations. Sounds a lot like the completly free Mii channel

Posted by phase at September 8, 2008 6:19 PM

The three activations limit is simply not acceptable. That's without even mentioning the other potential problems SecuROM can bring. The only think that could get me to buy this game at this point is the removal of the DRM.

If Blizzard are planning something even worse then they had better be ready for an even bigger backlash and a lot of lost sales. It would be a shame, I'm looking forward to D3 especially, but if the DRM is as bad as this or worse then I for one will not be buying it or pirating it.

Posted by Matt Browne at September 8, 2008 6:59 PM

What would have happened if EA released Spore without DRM, keeping the activation online process. Nothing !! EA would have gotten great publicity and an improvement to their current satanic corporate image.

The current Spore DRM is ENCOURAGING people to go to the pirate sites who would not have even considered it in the past. The pirated version of Spore is being referred to as the IMPROVED DRM-free version. Websites are catering to the lack of online content in the DRM-free version by offering alternatives to Sporepedia.

I purchase my copy of Spore but after learning of the DRM limitations I wish I could return it under principle. For example: I loved BF2 but refused to buy BF2142 because of the inline advertising. I spend at least $350 in gaming software a year. I am also very suspicious of certain Internet connection problems I am having after installing Spore's SecuRom. I had never had any problems in the past.

EA and Maxis need major damage control and better offer customer's more than just a simple press release.

Posted by Robert at September 8, 2008 9:00 PM

There was a pirate copy of Spore out a week before retail hit the stores. It included a patch that bypassed the DRM, and unless you were stupid enough to try to use the online servers (and a week before you could legally have the game) then you would never get flagged.

I don't promote piracy, and in fact I have reported several people I caught doing it. However, I make the initial statement to point out that DRM doesn't work. It isn't stopping the pirates, in most cases it is only stopping the legit customers.

I bought Mass Effect the day it released and still to this day it won't work without a "crack". Why? Because I am in the military, and quite often I am posted in a place where I can't get online.

Does that mean I should be unable to play a game I paid for? I don't think it should. All this "stopping piracy" stuff is fine, but only if it works. As I pointed out, it doesn't work.

There are business models out there that work better, Stardock being one of the best. A game like SPORE promotes legal purchases anyway, just to use the online features. That is what makes a player buy a legit copy, content and features they can't get/use without doing so.

Punishing real purchasers with a shady DRM to stop pirates is foolish...and sadly, it doesn't even work.

Cheers.

Posted by Staalker at September 8, 2008 9:05 PM

"You'll still be able to install and play on multiple computers."

How many times? Infinite? Or are we stuck at the 3 or 4 installs? For those of us that wipe our machines to clean them off, 3 or 4 installs isn't going to cut it.

Posted by BobBob at September 9, 2008 12:59 PM

Bringing up the fact that Blizzard is going to have even more harsh DRM doesn't remove the fact the DRM is bad for the end users.

I hope Maxis, Blizzard and other game/content producers realize DRM will hinder their own development. The more DRM that is built into products, the less of those products I will buy/avoid. Hence, developers will have less money.

I am perfectly happy not buying products laden with DRM.

Posted by Phing Chov at September 9, 2008 5:35 PM

3 activations for a game I'm supposedly purchasing?
I'm not talking about purchase at a reasonable price.

No, the customers have the choice of being gouged for $50 bucks to rent the standard edition or gouged for $80 if they "rent" the collectors edition.

The real irony is the draconian DRM pushed many more people to simply pirate the game, rather than pay for a malware infested installation that will stop working if they change a few components in their system and burn the activations.

Nice work EA.

Posted by Rahn at September 9, 2008 5:52 PM

It absolutely amazes me how many people can say "what's the big deal?" I just can't believe there are so many humans on this planet that can actually be that clueless. Seriously, I'm speechless.... and you all scare the hell out of me.

Here's the big deal, though I'd probably have better luck reasoning with a hunk of petrified wood.

1) DRM doesn't stop pirating. Period. End of story. Fat lady has sung. If it stops you, then you're an idiot... plain and simple, and probably shouldn't be using a computer that you've no doubt loaded up with trojans and spyware, because you don't have a clue about how to use it. In a few hours anyone could download Spore, Bioshock, Mass Effect, etc.... all the DRM shackled games. So the main purpose of the DRM, right away, is absolutely defeated.

2) Not sure why there has to be any more reasons than number 1, but here goes. YOU DON"T "LICENSE" GAMES THAT YOU BUY. Whew, that felt good. Despite what every software shop in the world would like you to believe, when you purchase that game, it's yours. You do own it. Courts have ruled on this. They can't revoke your "license" to install and play the game. They can disable online features, but it ends there. Unfortunately, it's going to take more lawsuits to stop this behavior, and EA has deep pockets.

Bioshock had 3 activations, and many people had issues with the game crashing, had to do reinstalls, la la la... and used them up. People complained then, and again, the dim bulbs came out of the woodwork and said "duh, duur, what's the big deal, I play this game fine, and it's only this game with this serious DRM, what's the harm, I've no problems, you overreact." Then along came Mass Effect. Whoa! Deja Vu! Now here we are at Spore. Same story, again... and I've had it. I'm putting my foot down. I'm not buying this game. I would have, but DRM killed it for me. I can't support this... and unlike when I pump gas into my car and hate myself supporting the oil industry... I can do something about this. I can NOT buy this game. It's really too bad. All those people worked so hard on it, and made something wonderful. And it does hurt me to not support them, and to not encourage more innovative and unique games to be developed buy purchasing this title. The truth remains that DRM is wrong. It is just 100% wrong. Like taxation without representation. It's unjustified, useless, and needs to become a footnote in history.

So that's the big deal.

Posted by Pip at September 9, 2008 8:25 PM

The responce, while nice, doesn't at all address the issues brought up regarding the DRM in Spore and other games. It doesn't even really address the activation issues either. The issue is that the DRM only allows 3 activations, then you have to call a TOLL number and pay again to install a game you already bought! That is just the price issue. There is also the mad and crazy issue of the way SecureROM works in and of itself. There are HUGE legal concerns regarding this kind of DRM. I am in wonder as to why no one has bothered to take EA and others to court over their use of such software. It falls very cleanly into the catigory of "malware". It isn't anounced in the EULA, it there is no notification of its presence when installing the game and there is NO WAY TO REMOVE IT and no uninstaller provided (to uninstall it requires a full reinstall and reformat of the computer. For the consumer that can run around $500 after your OS is installed, updated, your data moved over and your apps installed). In addition it phones home and collects information on the user which it transmits back to EA. That is clearly malware and is illegal under US law.

I am hardly going to get into a deeply technical discussion here (I can if you like), but it is suficient to say that should a user act on a server the way SecureROM acts on your PC they would be fired and probibly charged and would likly face jail time. I still play games I bought 5, 6 years ago. In some cases the games I play are considerably older. I buy new hardware every couple of months so I would be constantly "activating" my game and having to pay each and every time I did so after the third time. In addition, after buying Bioshock and going through the nightmare of SecureROM once, I will NEVER repeat the experience. I was going to go out and buy TWO copies of this game as I have two gaming computers, already bought two copies of the creature creator I was so stoked on this game. Now I am just going to pirate the game and wait, and pray that the DRM is removed. When it is, I will be the first in line for my copy. Until then, thank god for torrents!

Posted by Mathew Edlund at September 10, 2008 2:27 AM

Thats the way jus publish the spin BECAUSE THE GAME COMPANYS OWN THE JOURNOS JOBS. remember you can be fired for neg reviewing the wrong companys game. DRM is somthing that pirates dont care about they jus Krckit and keep playing. its only honest peaple that complain. I dont spend that much money to jus rent a game. I WANT TO MOD LAN AND CONFIG MY PC without restrictions from third partys. I dont play WoW because I will only pay for a game once. Downloadable content -ITS A TRAP!

Posted by LoBi at September 10, 2008 4:45 AM

All the times spores authenticates why does this game need the DRM?

DRM didn't work for music or movies so why do they think it will work for video games.

I will skip SC2 and D3 if it has the same type of DRM in it.
The head developer for D3 doesn't care what diablo fans think, hes making the game he wants and doesn't care about sticking to what made D2:LoD a huge hit.

Posted by Matt at September 10, 2008 4:51 PM

Grrrrr... My objection with Securom is not that it is copy protection, I have no problems with people and companies protecting their copyrights. My problem is that it interferes with normal operations of my computer. Rootkit is installed in the -root- of the computer and if you uninstall Spore, you haven't -completely- uninstalled it, and the part of it that you can't get rid of is buried like a parasite deep in your OS. That's what makes them illegal, that's what makes Sony's Securom a monster. You could sell your machine to someone but the rootkit is still there holding your personal data unless you totally wipe the hard-drive.

Posted by Dauric at September 11, 2008 10:49 AM

One thing I think most people have overlooked is the fact that people who are against installing this crap on their computer, and don't want to be treated as theives, will often wait until the pirating community comes out with a work-around to their security measures (as they always have) and then download it anyway... It seems like the more they fill games with DRM, the more people seem to download it once the pirating community has found a way around it, as the pirated copy has less 3rd party crap-ware that could potentially cause problems on their computers. I personally won't bother with Spore, just because of this whole thing... It's just not worth it.

When you think about it, the majority of games released these days appeal to people wanting to play it online. That's where you stop piracy, not people playing the game offline. I think a lot of companies have learned that. When you purchase the game legally, you get the ability to register an online account, and play online. If you pirate the game, you don't have the ability to create an online account, and as such cannot play online. Sure people will still pirate it, however the majority of people who want to play the game, will likely want to play it online anyway, receive patches, new content, etc...

Stop looking at the install as the point of piracy prevention, and maybe start looking more toward the point of online features as the piracy prevention point, as that's often among the biggest selling points of any game these days. I can understand if the game is offline only, but honestly, how many games in the past 5 years have not had any online features in them?? Give legit purchasers of a game a username/password to get online, or the ability to create one, and force them to login whenever they go to access any online features. I would much rather have to log in to play online, than be forced to suffer SecuROM or any other form of DRM... Meanwhile everyone can enjoy a rootkit-free PC, with games that actually work, and developpers can enjoy more money, as their game's security measures won't turn so many people off from buying it... Piracy is inevitable, rather than punishing everyone, punish those who pirate by denying them access to the one of the biggest selling points of your game. A perfect way, IMO, to treat your customers fairly, and treat the theives as such. A happy medium I think.

Posted by Marklar at September 11, 2008 2:59 PM

Yeah, that sucks Gambit.

A friend of mine just laid out the big bucks for the Galactic version of the game and installed it last night for the first time.

He was informed that he has used all his activations on the software. It is right out of the freaking box and he can't use it!

The DRM is not so much my concern, it is the limited "activations" of the software.

Asshats.

Posted by Lordomatic at September 12, 2008 11:07 AM

Caryl your post is extra-ordinarily miss-leading. Why cant you state the complete story behind your implementation of SecuROM instead of the half truth you have presented here.

The response provided, addresses nothing and re-affirms an already low opinion of what is being done. I will start of by saying the following... There is a reason why EMI, Warner Music, and others are dropping DRM from their products. It doesnt work.

DRM is a reversal of the value proposition. Instead of rewarding paying customers it punishes them with a system that guarantees that should they upgrade any unspecified component(s) in their computer (a fantastic feature of SecuROM)the game will de-activate and require re-activation.

If your OS gets corrupted and you need to re-install that’s another activation. If you needed the space and un-install the game only to install it at a later point well that’s another activation.

Upgrade your OS to Windows 7 when its released (next year)? Well that’s an activation right there.

Here’s the facts, PC gamers constantly upgrade their PC’s to stay on top of the performance trend. Frequent hardware upgrades require OS re-installs. The computer I use today will be upgraded at some point in the future. PC’s aren’t consoles, they are not static and they change, their OS changes, the hardware inside them changes. PC’s are open systems and the owner is free to do whatever the hell he/she wants/needs to in order to get what he/she wants from their system.

Why should we have to pay again for the same product I already have installed and activated if I change my computer’s memory/Graphics card? EA cant even tell me what hardware changes will de-activat the games I buy from them just a memory upgrade or a memory and CPU?

How about this scenario... I buy spore and a few weeks later buy crysis warhead, and activate those two games... I buy a video card and some extra memory and maybe a new CPU. Those two games de-activate and need to be re-activated. Then I buy Red Alert 3. Red Alert 3 has 5 activations whilst the other 2 have 2 left. What fun the future is going to be after an upgrade path, are you going to know what will and wont stop working because most people dont track what they install.

And to all those who have no problems with DRM and its imposition, I say this... Coome back here in 12 months time. Come back after you've upgraded your computer, come back here after you've upgraded your O/S to the next version of windows and tell us all how happy you are about the DRM. Tell us how happy you are after spending 30mins-1hr on the phone to EA pleading with them to give you an extra activation token. Tell me how great it feels to be treated like a criminal for legitmately buying your software.

I owned Mass effect for the PC. I owned it until EA decided that I'd had enough fun with it after I upgraded my computer and experienced one too many driver issues under vista. The price I pay for buying my games is the fact that ultimately I wont be allowed to play them.

Apathy will get you nowhere.

Posted by kosmos at September 12, 2008 2:24 PM

I don't care what kind of DRM program is used. I don't care how little it accesses my drive or connects to the server. The fact is that it still does and I have no control over it. Furthermore, Caryl may lose disks all the time, but I don't lose disks that I've paid $50.00 for.

Customers who are paying $50.00 for a game don't want to be made to feel like they are under suspicion for pirating. I don't appreciate a company using my drive space and bandwidth for a pirate hunt that is useless anyway since the game has already been pirated before release.

In fact, I think the DRM encourages those who really wanted to play the game to seek pirated copies that don't contain the DRM. This hurts everybody but the anti virus developers.

Additionally, Glicker makes Q's point above when Q asked, "Sins of the Solar Empire did just GREAT without ANY DRM! How do you explain that?"

Glickers answer:
It did well because a) it was a good game that got a lot of great reviews, b) it had a great distribution deal and could be found at places like Walmart easily (a rare thing for PC games nowadays), c) finally what having no DRM have to do with the game doing well?

Huh? It WAS a great game with great reviews. Plenty of games are found at WalMart, KMart, BestBuy, Amazon, etc. I don't think it is so rare and it is certainly not the case with SPORE. As for your last point, the answer is: NOTHING, and Q's argument is NOT weak. The game did well, not because people said, "It has no DRM, let's go buy it!" It did well for all the reasons a game should do well. It sold well on it's own merit.

I believe Q's point was, here was a game released with no DRM at all and where was the downfall of the developer from piracy?

SPORE has been pirated and, despite the pirated copies floating around and the DRM controversy, EA is selling copies. I think they'd be selling more copies though if they got rid of the DRM. They would have at least sold one more because I was ready to buy it on release day.

Stop making your honest customers prove they are not thieves. That's the lesson here. I have been a gamer since my first text-based game on the Commodore 64. As games become more popular, gamers increase in numbers. and gamers are starting to unite against the rude treatment and greediness of the software companies. I'm hoping the boycott is a wake-up call for EA. If it isn't, maybe we'll make progress with the next game and the next company.

Posted by Atomics Super Robot at September 12, 2008 2:46 PM

Well, Verkinix pretty much took the word right out of my mouth; I too think that those who create something nice should be rewarded, with some green. So here I am all set to buy a copy of Spore the moment I've heard of it, being a skeptical person I also check it's background and stuff. At that point my only concern is with the SecuRom, but the problem could be avoided if I bought a copy but use the pirated version; but as nicesocks had pointed out, that is send out the wrong message telling EA that what they're doing is okay, which is exactly the opposite to what I think of their security measures.

So, regrettably, to the creator of Spore: you had made a very nice game; I wouldn't say that it's top notch, but it certainly had some innovative ideas to it. It's shameful, buying the game would go against my beliefs, therefore buying is totally out of the question.

P.S: nice touch at your closing statement Iron Raptor, I could almost see a non-living character SecuRom dancing lively infront of me, mocking me.

Posted by Memory at September 12, 2008 3:42 PM

I came late to this party, but I wanted to address a few things.

You siad "Personally I don't see the big deal about the online DRM"

Spore, probably the most innovative game to come along in 30 years. I was excited, my gaming buddies were excited. Did we buy it? No. Not at one - as of this writing (2010) none of us have played it. We've been burned by DRM. I have games that i have paid for and never installed - why? Because I found out after purchase that the DRM software was in there. You don't seem to notice what a big deal it is, but the market sure does.

You also said: "if you think EA's DRM is harsh wait until you see the new DRM that Blizzard is working on for S2 and D3...."

as if that's some kind of argument (it's not). We won't be buying that either.

You cannot punish paying users for being legit. But I'll tell you this: if EA rereleased SPORE today, stating specifically that the DRM was removed, I'd run right out and buy it. I understand and appreciate the need to protect intellectual property. But not at my expense.

Posted by Michael at June 27, 2010 5:44 PM
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