Thursday, September 11, 2008

DRM Kills Spore (for me)

Four days after it was released in my area, the much anticipated game Spore has, in my opinion, failed due to its draconian DRM.

I purchased a copy after returning from France (where it had been released already), how could I not - my ten year-old son had been counting down to this date for 126 days. And in all respects, sounds like a great game that interests my son as well as mine. Little did I realize the DRM issue that was flaming rapidly on numerous sites or how a bug in that system would limit my use of my legally purchased game.

Googling 'spore drm' will give you a large amount of hits. Focus on the ones simply in the last week. Interesting reading - the one star comments on Amazon itself are very good. Abet, its mostly about politics right not the game itself? Keep reading.

For those still not in the know, Spore requires activation online with a limit of 3 times.

My son and I installed the game on a 24" iMac, installed and started up effortlessly (the fact that it supported the Mac was a part of the excitement of this release). I had to use the serial number on startup and then create a EA account (not sure if this last part is mandatory or not). Then my son logged in and tried to start the game - asked for the serial number again then tried to connect to the license server - failed miserably. Another Google, seems we are not alone - seems to have hit Mac as well as Windows users of the game. Might be a bug, but who knows - the EA representative would only state 'we are looking into it'. Thank you very much, purchased the game and can't fucking play it!

So when you read the articles about how bad DRM is and specifically how negative the press is for Spore - consider what happens when there is a bug in that system, the game you purchased is useless, and you can only play the game for as long as EA has a license server for it (they retire online support regarily for what they call old titles). Will you re-install more than 3 times in the lifetime of the game? Any way you look at it, DRM is bad.

In all repects EA Games chose to implement a DRM strategy that hurts legitimate purchasers of their product. While those that are willing to break the rules (and the laws) have been able to download and play the game (except the online experience) since the first day it was released - without the restrictions I must endure. How is this fair?

I hope Will Wright, who in all respects designed a fantastic game is rethinking his relationship with EA. (what I am really hoping is that Will Wright is not the driving force behind their DRM decisions, and perhaps he considers legal action)

I'm not sure where this leaves me - a great game killed by the licensing limitations and politics of a large company (read: the ties). I do know that I won't be giving anyone the game for Christmas this year, nor will I be recommending the game to anyone. When someone asks if they should download the game rather than purchase it, how shall I answer?

You have to make your own decisions.