Does DRM guarantee Spore is destined for extinction?

Does DRM guarantee Spore is destined for extinction?

Summary: Will Wright's long awaited sim game Spore seems to have become the focus of a anti-DRM Internet flash mob who seem determined to sink the game on Amazon.com by dishing out poor ratings.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Security
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Will Wright's long awaited sim game Spore seems to have become the focus of a anti-DRM Internet flash mob who seem determined to sink the game on Amazon.com by dishing out poor ratings.

As things stand right now, the Amazon.com review page for Spore is pretty grim reading for any EA executives keeping an eye on how the game has been received. Out of 135 reviews currently posted to the site, 116 rate the game at 1 star (the lowest rating on Amazon.com), with 6 reviews giving the game 2 stars, another 6 giving it 4 stars and 7 giving it the full 5 stars (however, two of these reviews are from 2006 - dating back to when the game was announced). The average rating now stands at 1.5 stars.

[poll id=349]

Now, I think that it's pretty obvious that if you allow people to post a review relating to a product despite the fact that they haven't actually bought that product through the outlet where they are posting the review, the system is open to all sorts of abuse (if you don't believe me, take a look through the Apple App store at how paid downloads regularly get panned for not being free). However, even where there is an open mike review system, usually things tend to balance out and the negative reviews posted by people who obviously haven't had contact with the product they are reviewing are balanced out by positive reviews from people who are getting ready to buy. This doesn't seem to be happening with Spore, and the negative reviews just seem to keep on pouring in (in just the time it's taken me to write this, the number of 1 star reviews has gone up to 120).

The focus of the negative review campaign is the DRM mechanism that the game employs. I've not bought the game but from what I gather Spore requires online activation and after three activations you have to phone EA and attempt to get activations added (technical note - the system in use is called SecuROM PA). The idea is that this mechanism, combined with the requirement to have the disc in the drive while playing the game (technical note - SecuROM v7), makes it difficult to pirate the game. Ironically, the game was leaked several days before the official released date and a quick search seems to indicate that pirated copies, along with mechanisms for bypassing the copy protection mechanisms, are freely available on the Internet. So it seems that the copy protection schemes only inconveniences legitimate customers.

Over the past few years we've focused a lot on the music industry and how it has attempted to use DRM to control distribution. While DRM in this market segment has been unpopular, anti-DRM campaigns have largely fallen flat when it comes to attracting widespread public attention because of the fragmented nature of music. Games are a much easier target given the monolithic nature of their release - campaigners only need to spread the word on a handful of specific online outlets to reach a wide audience. A quick read through the Amazon reviews of Spore seems to suggest that the negative comments are already putting people off from buying the game.

How long until EA removes the DRM on Spore? Any bets?

1 star reviews now stand at 141 ...

[UPDATE: Over the past few hours the reviews have become even more brutal and the number of 1 star reviews is up to 224 out of a total of 261 reviews.]

Topics: Mobility, Security

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113 comments
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  • I won't install the purchased version....

    Didn't install the purchased copy of Bioshock for exactly the same reason.

    Here's what I do: buy a game, download the cracked version, install cracked version, play DRM free. As far as I am concerned, that's legal. I legally purchased the game, the developers, etc. got their money, and I get to play without having to install crapware like SecuROM - nor do I have to constantly shove the disc into the drive in order to play the game.
    ccrashh2@...
    • Me neither

      Jesus ... I do the exact same thing ...
      andreluiscasteliano@...
    • If I Decide To Try It, I Will Punish Them By Not Paying For It

      I'll just go and use the pirate version. Why inconvenience myself with DRM when the illegal version is better? Denying them revenue is the best way to get their attention. DRM is supposed to stop piracy, it doesn't. All DRM does is hurt legal users. If those selling the game don't care about me as a legal user, than I will simply be an illegal user.
      chessmen
      • thats not punishing anyone thats your stealing and trying to make a lame

        thats not punishing anyone thats your stealing and trying to make a lame excuse about why your not going to by the game. a legit user would buy the game and then download the crack. theres nothing wrong with that.

        but you are the type of person who try's to make others think your just stealing it because i'm doing to punish someone. god dude give it a break. if your going to be a criminal at least have the back bone to say i steal software. i steal music. and nix the lame excuse that your criminal activity is somehow a good thing because your punishing someone.
        SO.CAL Guy
        • It's better to boycott than to steal

          The basic problem is this. Everyone who purchases the
          DRM based material (be it music or games) is sending a
          message that DRM is okay with them, in fact, they're
          saying they like it so much that they're willing to pay for it.
          That's the wrong message to send. Publishers need to
          come to the conclusion that they are going to make fewer
          sales with DRM rather than more sales by using it.
          Purchasing DRM based material, then using a cracked
          version does nothing to solve the problem and does send
          the wrong message to publishers.

          The only way to make your point and not be a criminal is
          to boycott such products - and be vocal about it.
          techconc
          • Perhaps

            [i]Everyone who purchases the DRM based material (be it music or games) is sending a
            message that DRM is okay with them[/i]

            Did it occur to you that it [b]is[/b] okay with them? It may not be okay with you. But it seems pretty clear that those buying it anyway either don't know or don't care.

            Those that do care should boycott, like you said. Maybe send them an email letting them know why you won't buy it. That's all. Those that do have a problem with it, are aware of it, buy it, then feel the need to complain anyway are....I can't think of a polite word, so just fill in the blank as you see fit.
            laura.b
          • I Agree, Don't Pay For It!

            That is why I said I would not buy it. By buying it and then downloading the cracked version; you are sending the message to the company that is ok to include DRM. Therefore, if you can go without it, boycott. If you can not go without it, download the cracked version. Anything is better than buying it and encouraging them to include DRM.

            After all, if DRM is so great, then it should be impossible for me to play the game without paying... Right?
            chessmen
          • I presume you don't use...

            ..iTunes standard?

            Since you have such an aversion to DRM.
            Sleeper Service
          • RE: Its better to boycott than steal

            [b]I agree!!!!!![/b]


            Just remember the old adage:

            [b]MONEY TALKS, BULLS--- WALKS[/B]

            Slap this DRM BULLS---, and my money walks [b]AWAY!!!![/b]
            fatman65535
      • You are the reason for DRM!

        Pirating software is a crime and the reason behind DRM.
        ShadeTree
        • Except...

          "Pirating software is a crime and the reason behind DRM. "
          Except the pirate copies are DRM-free. People who legitimately buy the game are punished with DRM (look at info on SecuROM -- it interferere's with LEGITIMATE use of CD burners for instance, slows down systems even when not playing the game, etc.) while those who pirate the game are not. I play my games under wine -- SecuROM won't run under wine, while most likely a SecuROM-free version would. Games are getting worse about being tied to a SPECIFIC version of Windows due to DRM too. Oh, your game's DRM only supports Win2K or XP? That's a shame. (Or, presently, DRM might support Vista but not the next version? Oh, you're just out of luck in a few years.)
          Down with DRM!
          hwertz
          • There is no "Except"

            I hate DRM as much or more than the next guy. I am old enough to remember the early days of DRM with DOS, and I hated it then, and I hate it now. But no matter how much you want to believe that the pain and inconvenience of DRM makes it ok to steal a copy, it doesn't. You don't own the game. There is no 'fair use' docterine for computer games. If you want to use the game without DRM, fine. Go buy a copy of the game so that you are legal, and download a pirate copy. Be happy that one exists. Don't think you are punishing anyone by illegally using someone else's hard work. If you want to punish them, simply don't buy or play the game.
            always-a-geek
        • Yet DRM is totaly USELESS

          You can state the OBVIOUS as many times you whant, "Pirating software is a crime and the reason behind DRM." blahblahblahblahbla BS BS BS.

          But, let me tell you a secret: DRM IS TOTALY USELESS. IT DOES NOT WORK AND NEVER EVEN WORKED.

          Why wasting money on something that does add nothing to the game?

          And yet there is more, despite the game manual clearly state you can have as many Sporepedia accounts you whant, YOU CAN HAVE ONLY ONE.
          corvou_br
    • Err...

      ...you do realise that if you use SecureROM (hateful as it is) that you don't need to keep the disc in the drive for Spore according to PC Gamer?

      Well obviously not.

      Anyway, I've used a variety of authentication mechanisms for games from CD Keys to Steam through SecuROM and none of them have caused me any problems. The way I see it is that:

      a) I've never had to do a full reinstall more than once in the last two years and that was because I was switching from 32 to 64 bit Vista.
      b) I actually don't have more than one games rig with the juice to play Bioshock or other similar games.
      c) It's a small price to pay if it cuts down piracy and stops people from quitting making PC games and moving to consoles instead.

      As for reviews, I get mine from the likes of PC Gamer and the more reputable gamesites (i.e. the ones that don't fire employees for sayign that some EA Games are crap when they are, indeed, crap). I'm not bothered what a bunch of whining muppets on Amazon think.

      Don't like it? Don't buy it. Fairly simple equation.
      Sleeper Service
      • Um, so?

        So, it works for you. If your PC crashes and you have to reinstall, what then? People install it on one machine, play it for a bit, then uninstall and stick it on their laptop or kid's machine, or whatever. Then what? Soon, you will be over your 3 install limit. Then what will you do? Suck it up and call EA and get treated like a criminal? By your logic, the "equation" becomes:

        Bend over. Get shaft up butt. Smile and ask for another.

        At some point, hopefully, the "whining muppets" will win out and this crap will end. And...it doesn't cut down on piracy at all. Obviously...read the article about the crack.
        ccrashh2@...
        • So just how many people...

          ...is that going to affect then?

          Hmm?

          You must have some pretty big moles where you live.
          Sleeper Service
      • re: Err...

        [i]c) It's a small price to pay if it cuts down piracy...[/i]

        It's a small price for you to pay so EA doesn't get ripped off by pirates?

        Two things:

        1)Why should you bear the costs?

        2)It's cracked already so any cost you've borne on EA's behalf has gone down a rat hole.






        :)
        none none
        • The costs of what?

          A new PC title costs about ?30. That's what Bioshock, Civ IV, Mass Effect, NWN2, Crysis, etc cost.

          So what additional cost am I incurring here exactly? Precisely zero.

          The cost here is that Cervat Yerli is already muttering about pulling future versions of Crysis from the PC because of piracy. Personally I'd rather cough up the money to play a cracking game than not play it at all because some thieving gypo has ballsed the whole thing up.
          Sleeper Service
  • DRM is one of the reasons I left PC gaming

    It's also one of the reasons I left PC. I was going to build a PC for gaming for HL-2, but said "no" to Steam. That was the only thing keeping me intel at the time, so I went Mac.

    What's with requiring internet access for single player games? I will *NEVER* put a personal Windows box on the internet, never more than a LAN where it can download patches from other trusted machines.
    rpmyers1
    • RE: DRM is one of the reasons I left PC gaming

      I agree 100%. I've left PC gaming LONG ago. Bloated software, installing stuff behind-the-scenes that I don't want, changing system settings, etc etc.. I leave it to my XBOX360 or PS3 for my gaming fix. The games don't change my system and they're designed specifically for the system, so there's no worrying about system requirements...
      svc4you