Anyone who knows me (or read the old blog before my host deleted it) knows I hate DRM. I read with interest, then, about the backlash against the heavily-anticipated Will Wright game Spore thanks to EA’s use of DRM. As many of my friends have been raving about Spore and using its online creature designer on the run up to the game’s full release, I thought I’d ask one of the more knowldegable of them about the fiasco.
Being a sensible web-user, unlike me, this fellow protects his online identity, so I shall call him AnonyMaster. Here’s our conversation of this morning:
Bad rumblings on Spore’s DRM http://fredbenenson.com/blog/2008/09/07/spore-drm-and-disorganized-activism/
The Amazon situation seems to have got worse since that post, with the average rating 1.5. I’d be interested to see if this issue bothers you at all, or if you just shrug it off.
The fact is Spore was hacked and made available on Torrent 2 weeks before it was officially released.
I bought Spore instead of downloading it for free because I like Will Wrights games and I wanted to own a copy of it. Same reason I buy DVDs I like instead of just torrenting a pirate.
If I didnt appreciate Will Wrights games I might have torrented this one and played it for a while, then liked it (it is fucking awesome) and then went out and bought a real copy.
Simple fact is DRM doesnt work. I wonder why companies continually spend money using it.
Basically its a bunch of people whining because some skiddie says that DRM software is teh evil man whilst none of them know what it is and what it actually does. Amazon fad will die out in a matter of weeks and they’ll all be playing spore. Most of the one star reviewers are likely already playing it.
That’s makes sense, but what about the 3-install issue. Doesn’t that mean that in real terms you don’t actually own the copy?
The 3 install is just some nonsense people who have no understanding of how SecuROM works have been spreading around.
Spores version of SecuROM validates your system against the EA servers which host Spores content online. To do this it requires matching your system to the installation code. (The old passwords system is shit, just ask Blizzard on WoW accounts get hacked every day, thats why EA chose DRM)
You can install the game as many times as you like on any 3 PC’s you choose. If you install a new operating system however or change your hardware and if you’ve used your 3 different machine installs already, then you wont be able to access the online content, only play offline….
…. But all you have to do is email EA support with the account details and they add to your install count so you can install again on your new/modified machine.
Its not very draconian at all tbh, and much better than having your sporepedia account hacked and not being able to play the game because some guy in Russia is using your account and changed the password.
Cool. Can I quote you (anonymously, of course) on my blog to bring these arguments to the world at large?
Of course you can,
Remember and make clear, when you buy Spore, you are essentially buying 3 licenses to run the game on any 3 machines you choose. You can uninstall and reinstall on any 3 machines as many times as you like.
The only issue is when, you change the hardware and/or OS on one of those machines, if you are already using your other two licenses then you need to contact EA to get them them to un-enable your old license for the PC and enable a replacement license to work for your modified machine. EA will do this as on a case to case basis.
So there you go. My interest in bringing this to you, believe it or not, is to further the case against DRM. When I read the Amazon reviews, it struck me as a bit hysterical. I don’t think the case against DRM will be helped much by arguments that are over-egged. It just makes it easy for people like AnonyMaster here, and by extension companies like EA, to brush aside the issue.
If we keep our head about us we increase our chance of success, surely?
I agree that the DRM on Spore sounds like a bum deal (I’ll never know first hand because it’s really not my kind of game), and I’m glad EA are feeling some heat over it, but if we’re not careful we’re all going to be labeled anti-DRM nuts and won’t be taken seriously anymore. Especially as I suspect that the Amazon thing will not stop Spore being a huge seller, which will in turn discredit the one-star reviewers in the eyes of the industry.
In short, when arguing against DRM, lets simply be right and not succumb to hyperbole.
Disclaimer: I can be hypocritically hyperbolic if I want when discussing Windows, because I’m not trying to win an argument — that ship’s sailed, I’m just pissed off about it.