EA Responds to Spore DRM Critics



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To me it seems that EA and other publishers might be in the process of creating a self fulfilling prophecy.  i.e. Pirates make it more expensive to publish PC games thus we will make it more difficult for the consumer to play PC games.  People stop buying PC games because of ridiculous DRM crap (hey I own the game why can't I install it on my rig as often as I want to even though I upgrade as often as I can afford to?) Needless to say people quit buying games and only pirates get the game and Voila!  No more pc games are made because only pirates are getting them.  Everyone else quit putting up with the DRM crap and went back to playing old school games that install no matter how many times you change your OS and equipment.  The shirts that sit around whining about pirates will say, "See we told you so!"  DRM go take a flying leap and let me install and reinstall as many times as I want to!



What about folks like me that live far from any internet connection for a large part of the year? I don't have phone or cable or even a good spot for a satlite receiver. My only recreation is computer games for 5 months each year. So it looks like I'll be playing games other than those from EA.



I have reinstalled 5 times on the same machine with no issues.  I don't think it counts if it is still the same hardware.  This is a crappy DRM, but it seems blown out of proportion.  Maybe thats the best way to get a response though.  Hopefully EA will reconsider DRM like this based on the customer response.



This was a game i actually had a reserve on at a local game shop... 2 copies nonetheless... and well they didn't get picked up due to this whole DRM thing.  Plan on getting the missus a new comp in a month, and I upgrade mine a few times a year... yeah... so not really looking to burn all my activations in a few short months. So until they can learn that they can't punish a would-be consumer for piracy's actions... i guess this game will continue to sit on the game store shelf, at least my 2 copies



Your percentages (77%, 23%, and 1%) are correct, based on the article's wording: "23 percent activated on more than one, and just 1 percent of users tried to activate on more than three machines." Obviously, the 1% that activated on more than three must fall also into the 23% that activated on more than one.



...that console gamers get to play that game on exactly one machine at a time. And the DRM is that the game has to be in the drive.

It's sounding like I should just wait for Spore to come to 360. There will be less drama. 



I have just read about this issue now with this article so I may have my facts mixed up. The real question is whether reactivation on a machine after a re-installation of the operating system is considered a new activation. If so then EA's statistics are meaningless, as I and the large majority of MaximumPC readers perform a re-installation at least a couple times a year, not install the game on multiple pc's as the three machine statistics refer to. If this software would allow only 3 activations over the life of the product then it is not a game I would buy. 



Bring back the DONGLE approach!

 When you buy a game, you activate a USB dongle with the game activation code and a PIN number. The PIN number is matched to the game activation code which produces an encrypted SSL verification key that is put onto the USB dongle. Use a system like Verisign to authenticate the SSL key to the user. "The cost of the key should be included in the initial purchase". Perhaps the software can come with a unique voucher number that pairs with the activation code, to use to purchase the SSL key from Verisign.

To play the game, simply insert the USB thumb drive with your unique key the identifies you as the owner of the game and play!

It can even be made so you only have to authenticate your copy once every 5 days by having the USB inserted when you start the game. This will allow the key to have a TTL value of 5 days and then needs to be refreshed anytime before playing after the 5 days is up. So if 10 days or 100 days passes till you next play the game, all you have to do is use the USB key to reauthenticate and then your back to the 5 day period till your next reauthentication.  


bBesides, how cool would it be to have a USB thumb drive with unique SPORE graphics, or unique Warhammer graphics be included when you buy the games?!! ...very cool indeed! 

..your welcome, EA!






This is essentially what they're already doing. If the dongle replaces rather than supplements the online activations and check-ups, it might work. But the fact is, pirates have circumvented every kind of CD based DRM and most types of online-spy DRM, what's going to keep them from circumventing a dongle?


The only way DRM is going to help prevent pirating is if they come up with a solution that does not make it harder forlegitimate customers than for pirates. Otherwise they are just going to push otherwise paying customers into pirating. This should not be, but it is the way it is.


Bad Bob

I've been a gamer since the very early Apple II days. DRM has always made it harder on the Legitimate users! I had the original Castle Wolfenstien (2D) and it took over 2 minutes to boot. I got a pirated version, booted in under 10 seconds. What a great incentive to be an honest user.



How long will this work? What if I purchase the game and 4 years later I want to play it again? Should I have to worry about the company not maintaining the online authentication system? What if they go out of business? Should I not be able to play because I purchased a game from a company that went under? If they want us just to rent the game then they should come out and say so instead of using schemes that in reality make it so.

We all know that after a couple of years, the majority of games are "disgarded". I am one of the few that purchase games when they hit the discount bin (Company of heroes is the exception, they diserved the full price of the game).  Should I worry that a few months after I purchased the game I will not be albe to play because the game was not longer "supported"? Talk about introducing Microsoft schemes for more money into games.

Just a few thoughts




I bought this game from Amazon.

It won't install.

It came up with error 1004.

EA's web site said "re-install."

So I did and ran it again.

It came up with error 1004 again.

Now what?







The consumer dictates what companies can and can not get away with.  I have passed on countless games recently because of this very thing.  Until people stand up to these big software houses, they are going to keep pushing the consumer into a corner.



I wonder if the people who installed the game on more than 3 machines in the first week of playing pirated the game instead or bought additional copies.  You surveys flawed come back in Febuary EA or just go away



...because most of their customers haven't used all three installs within the first week of the game's release, EA feels justified in their disastrous policy? Let's wait and see what the statistics look like six months from now, shall we?

 My installs won't be counted in the stats, as I refuse to buy the game while they use this DRM scheme.



How does a company that spends millions in market research come up with a faulty assumption that all users have completed any installations of the game that they will do in their lifetime in the first week of ownership? 

If they believe in their product, they shouldn't assume consumers will play the game once through and get bored with it.  I'm going through my 3rd OS install this year already.



I'll admit I've downloaded more then my share of games and cracks while I was at college, but something no one seems to relieze is that there are alot of people that are still on dial up. Doing an Activation like the way Steam does takes all night, sometimes days. Yeah there are a few companies out there that are trying to corner the market and bing "highspeed" to the areas in between and the lands forgotten, but in most cases the only option people have is satellite internet which is expensive as hell for a fast connection and has strict download and upload limits on it. I know they need to protect their ideas and make money on it but they can't forget about the people who only have dial-up or country dial-up.





EA has been stomping on its customers since the release of the BF2 expansion pack.  Which they treated like a completely new game but was really just a mod.

I absolutely loathe wanting a game that has the big ole EA on the box.  The last game I bought that had it was BF2142 and that was ONLY because a friend of mine pressured me into it.  Plus it was only 20 bucks when I got around to it.

I won't go tothe trouble of pirating any game.  Its just not worth it to me.  There are other good games out there that do not have the ugly EA logo.  If I cannot find one I like, well it leaves me more time to actually go outside.:)



Quick question: has drm protection ever stopped a game from being pirated-or does it just make torrenters wait a week until it's circumvented or maybe a month if it's an aggressive drm (bioshock)? I partially agree that steam has the right idea with drm, but even then there are ways around steam. I believe that the company has the right to drm as long as it dosen't affect a consumer's legally obtained experince of the game; which has been affecting a few games in the last year...



Call me old fashioned, but I still go back and play games I played 5-10 years ago.  The biggest problem I have with this is the same problem I have with EverQuest, or even Windows XP activitation.

What am I left with when the company decides to stop supporting & enabling activations for the product?  I have a game I paid a good chunk of money for that would be fully playable except that it's been locked out simply because the company thought they could slow down a few pirates, but now it's not convenient leave legacy activations in place for something they released 5 years ago.  In the case of EQ, once those servers go offline, all that money you spent on game + expansions is dust in the wind, never to be recovered or enjoyed years later.



Completly agree!!

If they want us to rent the game in lieu of owning them they should just say. Instead,  they implement schemes that in reality make us renters rather than owners.

We should vote with our wallets and purchase only games without drm schemes or games that are so well done that the company or creator  diserve the FULL price and then some. Company of heroes and opposing front for me are examples. I read most of the reviews, played the demos then bought both games for me and my broter at full price, this from someone who buys games only when they hit the discount bin




DRM is completely pointless, but man are people missing the point here. Nothing that EA has done prevents you from playing the game. Unless EA vanishes overnight, there will always be a way to get new install keys.

And if that is too much of a hassle for you, the same NoCD cracks that the pirates have been using without trouble for years are available to bypass online activation methods. It is perfectly legal even in the US. It doesn't violate the DMCA since it doesn't circumvent copy protection because you are NOT trying to copy anything. EA is not going to sue you for using your own legally purchased game.

No one is stopping you from using your game. No one is going to come and take the disc away from you. It's yours. Do what you want with it, and stop whining about it all the time. I swear that 95% of the people posting on amazon and all over the net have never played the game.

And Starwolf, most consumers will not do what you do, because most consumers will play the game once through, and never play it again. Heck, most consumers probably don't replace their computer more then once ever 5 years. The problems of hardcore gamers have nothing to do with the mass market.



Actually, yes, they are.

I went and bought Spore on release day because it was a game that I was really looking forward to. Three days later, my internet connection died. I was caught with no internet for nearly two weeks, and ten days into that the verifier decided that since it had no contact with EA's servers, it was going to lock me out of the game. Had this situation been permanent instead of temporary, I would have been stuck having paid for a game I couldn't play, even though it was a perfectly legitimate copy.

On top of this, there are the restrictions for number of installs. It is important to note that any significant change to your computer's hardware configuration will burn one activation, so give it a few months or years, and this will start to become a bigger problem.

Honestly, this whole DRM deal leaves a bad taste in my mouth. If it weren't for the fact that I have the program set up and SecuROM is already installed, I would wipe Spore from my computer and install the cracked version to save myself the hassle should this happen again. But I'm already too late for that, and from what I can tell, SecuROM is on there for good, so I guess I'm stuck living with it.



Unfortunately, applying a crack does indeed violate the DMCA.  The law states that taking any action to circumvent copy protection is a violation.  It doesn't matter whether you do or intend to copy the protected content or even if you would have otherwise had the legal right to copy it for personal use.  This is why it raises such a stink with people--it effectively eliminates your right to a legal copy for personal backup

Of course you're not likely to get caught or prosecuted unless EA or whovever is scanning your drive for modified files.  Even then, they'd probably just disable your CD key or whatever they use and be done with it.



I totally agree with the previous comments. I reinstall and reformat my drive a lot! Serisouly like 3-4 times a year at least. Trying new drivers, new beta builds of OSes or whatever comes around. Limiting my activation to 3 is ridiculous! And things happens with computers, 3 times in the span of several years is crap. I still play classic games from 10 years ago, such as Total Anhillation just for kicks. What is stopping me from playing Spore 10 years from now. And most consumers will most likely play games as I do, and in that will most likely have a new computer several times before that hits.

Anyone agree with me?



Yes in the week or so that spore has been out 77% of people only activated it on one machine.  But what happens a few months or years down the line when someone gets a new computer, or reformats/upgrades OS's.  And just how long is EA going to be manning the phone lines for manual spore activation?  Are they still going to support it two or three years from now? Or are they going to take the position that its not cost effective to "support" an old title leave every one who bought spore with a $50 coaster?



Exactly, this game is brand spanking new. I would bet that 99% of spore
owners will have to reinstall it at some point in their life whether it is
because of formatting their computer or spore not working for some reason.

Personally, I format often. My hardware is consistently changing because PC
gaming is a hobby and as such I like to have the latest gear. Sometimes that
gear leaves me the urge to start clean and nothing is more annoying after
formatting than to find out you have to wait for your product to be activated.
Sure, they will give you more licenses but you have to wait for them to get
back to you. In my experience, that can take anywhere from 1 hour to 1 week as
an extreme.

All that is actually beside the point though. What they are doing has more
effect on paying customers than it does pirates. If a pirate wants a game, they
are going to get it and unfortunately there has been no system/method used in today’s
games that has completely stopped those people. Sure, it may reduce their
numbers but include enough protection in your game and you will just be leaving
a challenge for those out there or just pissing them off.

The argument about a company no longer supporting a game or going out of
business is mute. They have already said numerous times that if that were the
case they couldn't simply make a patch available so that DRM is no longer
needed/used. Although, the simplicity with which they seem to imply they would
be able to provide the patch is what contributes to the games being so easy to

EA: Sure, lets include this annoying DRM but a simply patch can disable

Pirate: Geez, that only took me an hour to hack. Feel sorry for all those
suckers paying customers who reinstall more than three times and actually paid
for the game.

Suckers (Me): Why did I pay for this game? :(



I am not buying this game. I reformat all the time. If I ever wanted to play it, I would just make it so that I could install it all the times I needed.



Couldn't agree more with you. Moot is spelled moot, just ask Rick Springfield.



Yeah, I was thinking moot while I was typing mute. Not a word I get to throw into a sentence often. :p

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