Monday, September 8, 2008

Spore's DRM causing major backlash

It shouldn't come as a surprise that once again DRM (Digital Rights Management) is causing an uproar within the internet community.  There have been other games which have had the same issues in the past including Mass Effect, and Bioshock.  The game Spore includes DRM from SecuROM which places the following restrictions upon you:

  • 3 Installations of the game*

  • Mandantory online activation to play the game

  • After the 3rd installation, you are required to contact EA and explain why to them you need to reinstall your game

* EA is claiming it's 3 "concurrently active" licenses, however other documentation found online from EA counters these claims.

[caption id="attachment_633" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="SecuROM restricting the legitimate people who fork over the cash to buy this game are ultimately the ones that get screwed over with this copy protection crap."]SecuROM restricting the legimate people who fork over the cash to buy this game are ultimately the ones that get screwed over with this copy protection crap.[/caption]

Because of the DRM included, users were claiming that SecuROM is installing rootkits on their computers.  However no true evidence of a rootkit has ever been found.   This accusation was a result from Microsoft's Rootkit Revealer which gave a false positive because of some folder and registry entries placed by SecuROM.  Ken Fisher from Ars Technica helped clear the air with this rootkit rumor by investigating the issue himself.  The result of his investigation was exactly what SecuROM stated "Those folder and registry entries are only used for storage of license information to assist in activating the game online." (1)

People are pissed off at this DRM because they are essentially "renting" the game from EA since the installations are limited.  I can't blame these people honestly.  The reviewers from Amazon are certainly expressing their frustration.  The average star rating for this game (currently as of 9/8/2008) 1½ of 5 stars.  Reviewer J. Stewart from Amazon gave his opinion of the game:
I have long awaited purchasing this game. I have been slavering and drooling over videos since they were released. NOW I find out that there is simply no option to purchase this game, that it's a $50 rental or nothing else.

I won't rent my video games, EA.

The DRM on this thing is less friendly than my recent colonoscopy- You get three installs. That's it. No install returned for uninstallation, or anything else. You install it three times, then you're out $50.

No, thank you, EA.

When you take your head out of the sand and realize that this DRM prevents MANY more sales than it "saves", (As it doesn't save a single sale. Pirates were passing a cracked version of this game around 5 days PRIOR to release date.) give me a call, won't you? (2)

EA should have learned learned from the mistake 2KGames made.  2KGames, publisher of Bioshock removed their DRM a few months later because of the backlash the game received.  The midnight release of Bioshock was canceled in Austria because of technical issues that stemmed from the activation servers which unlocked the game. This among other issues drove 2KGames to the point where the activation was more trouble then it was worth. (3)

What will it take for these publishing companies like EA to realize that they're doing more harm then good?  It's one thing to put in a product key activation to allow people to play the game online, but limiting users from being able to install the game THEY OWN as many times as they want is not the way to handle the situation.  You're always going to get backlash from your fans, and these stunts are result in people turning to piracy because it removes these restrictions.

Hey game publishers, get it through your heads, DRM hurts nobody but the honest consumer...  Stop screwing them over.


  1. Ars Technica stating no rootkit found from SecuROM on Bioshock

  2. Amazon's reviews of Spore

  3. Bioshock's DRM controversy on Wikipedia