back to article Amazon flash mob mauls Spore DRM

For software that appeals to a wide audience like EA's latest sim game Spore, it's sometimes the first time the average person gets a good taste of how digital rights management (DRM) puts the screw on legitimate users. Spore's DRM limits customers to only three activations after the game is installed. That number isn't …

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  1. Dave H
    Stop

    Another one to avoid...

    I've already specifically not bought Bioshock and Mass Effect because of the DRM. I re-install windows every six months or so. Sometimes it's a hardware upgrade, sometimes it's just to clear the various glitches and slowdowns XP eventually develops... oh, hang on - why am I explaining? It's my machine, I do what I damn well please with it! Same goes for any software I buy for it.

    Anyone who tries to interfere with that, does not get my money.

  2. Pete Spicer
    Gates Halo

    The weird thing is...

    MS's activation cycle on Windows XP & up is probably worse with Windows Genuine Advantage (for Microsoft sucking on your wallet), but for once the ire and pure wrath is worse on a non-MS than I can ever remember seeing MS getting so quickly after a launch.

    Then again if they made products people actually *wanted* and shipped them on time, maybe it'd happen then too. (I'm wondering if Spore was on time, but it can't have slipped as late as BillG's LongHorn did.)

    BillG with a halo, as this time he's not the bad guy according to the users.

  3. Adam Azarchs

    This was predicted.

    http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20080511

  4. Someone

    Why?

    Can someone please explain to me why this level of DRM is necessary. For a game like BioShock, with no on-line component, I can see the rationale. I can see it, even though BioShock may turn out to be the last game I ever get at release that has DRM. I will now wait for the restrictions to be toned down first. I haven’t been closely following the development of Spore, but my understanding from the reviews is that it’s going to be the content sharing and social networking that will determine whether Spore is a dud or a phenomenon. Those aspects need Internet connectivity. If you need an active Internet connection, why is an install limit necessary?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Personally...

    ...if I have a problem with DRM on a game I buy, I'll download the crack / warez version when it's an issue.

    That said, in this case it's odd that they didn't do what Live For Speed (an indie-developed racing sim - not to be confused with the awful Need For Speed) does: They issue three unlocks, and one more gets issued each month. If you need more, you can ask the devs politely. This gets around the major issues with reinstalls / etc, while allowing EA to keep the pretense of security. :P

  6. Chris Myers
    Coat

    Easy as cake

    "...then swab lighting on the tray.

    Step 4: Place the tray in your EA B10S3CURE Owner Validity Device (Amazon.com - $69.95) and close.

    Note: Remove gloves before using keyboard or mouse again.

    Step 5: Agree to the ULA and wait for your data to be transmitted. Click here to see how EA protects your precious DNA information!

    Step 6: You're almost ready to install your game. Place the tray..."

    The future is so bright I'm putting my own eyes out now.

    Coat because my heart keeps the office 5 degrees colder than the rest of the apartment.

  7. Lupus

    I blame EA entirely.

    Spore is... well, it's good. But for the game I've been waiting so anxiously for, it should be great.

    Methinks EA's involvement has, shall we say, watered down the result.

  8. Anonymous from Mars
    Thumb Up

    Awesome!

    Okay, I lied.

    THIS is the only other Spore article I want to read.

    The Amazon reviews are gold!

  9. AGirlFromVenus

    Problem is, it's quite a tedious game after the first few hours

    Does not live up to the hype and expectation, and turns into a really boring space trader game. Very dissapointed. Had to delete Conan to make space for spore, but think I'll roll back from Spore.

  10. Richard
    Flame

    Outrage not overstated

    We, the consumers, have watched as misguided companies have treated us worse and worse. I think it entirely appropriate that a game have 1000 or 2000+ 1-Star comments to vent the outrage at this practice. Why should downloaders have a superior version whilst the paying customers are treated as suspects?

    Anything that loads software on my computer that can destabilize the system for the purpose of limiting my fair use of it is justly rubbished in the reviews. I just wished it happened more often.

  11. Verscheure
    Paris Hilton

    Game isnt that good to begin with

    To be honest, I got spore and it it has about as much depth as Paris.

    Whatever actions you take, it has little or no effect on the end game.

    Cell fase is a bad rip of flow.

    After playing for about 3 h I was bored.

    Paris, cause she has more depth then spore

  12. MGJ
    Thumb Up

    EA Will Be Loving This

    Gives them every excuse to drop the PC platform as piracy inflicted and to focus on those platforms with the real chokehold on users (Xbox, PS, Wii), which also quite handily allows significant price inflation on games (£40 as opposed to £30 for a new release).

    @Dave H, if you reinstall XP every 6 months, so you would be affected by this in 18 months to 2 years; do you really think that either a) this game will have that lifespan that it will affect you or b) that if it really does still have you addicted, you won't make a two minute phone call...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Please stop this crap EA.

    I want to buy a game, put the dvd in my drive, have it copy the files it needs to run to a directory of my choosing and *nowhere* else and then, when I'm bored of it or I want to free up some space, I want to be able to uninstall the software and have all the files associated with that install to be removed and my PC to be *exactly* the way it was before the install. Then later if I want to install it again or put it on my laptop or a new PC or this PC again after some upgrades I want to be able to do that too. This is not too much to ask.

    A lot of the reviwers on Amazon are saying they don't like the limited install DRM because they reinstall Windows frequently, the irony being that it's backdoor ninja crap like SecuROM that requires one to reinstall Windows frequently because it's buried so deep that's the only reliable way to completely get rid of it.

    I don't want software to stop my DVD burner from working, I don't want it to dial home without permission, I don't want it to bypass any security software on my PC and I don't want a game to install software onto my computer that has more access rights to the thing than I do. Sod EA, I hope this balls up stings them hard and that they learn from this valuable lesson that it is they that serve their customers and not the other way around.

  14. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Flame

    Not a good state of affairs

    So after you have had to install Windows for the 6th time that year, I reckon you'll have blown your 3 install limit on these games in about 2 months!

    Joking aside as usual the only thing these DRM doo-dahs do, is hamper the genuine user. The "pirates" will simply knock it off and put the fruits of their labours up on the torrent trackers. Shouting at Amazon will only make Amazon's rating system look awful, you want change you need lobby the top management at EA with a carefully worded letter.

    Although from what I gather if you only have a 3 install limit I can imagine lots of innocent users will be harranging the EA support line very soon, when it won't install again after little Johnny rebuilt the family machine!

  15. david g

    So outraged they bought it.

    You missed the hypocricy(sp?) angle - just above the comments on Amazon:

    What Do Customers Ultimately Buy After Viewing This Item?

    87% buy the item featured on this page:

    Definitely voting with their feet then.

  16. adnim Silver badge

    Leopards, spots etc. etc.

    "EA has recently been attempting to change its image in the gaming community from a project-killing developer sweat shop to something more positive"

    Instead of trying to change a negative image, how about changing negative practices and letting the image recover itself?

    EA buy up talented and imaginative yet small development teams and appear to fuck them over whilst shitting all over what could have been a good title in a greedy pursuit of cash.

    I don't buy EA. I wish I could bypass them and get some cash to deserving developers directly.

    EA here is a mantra for you, please repeat it until you learn something, it is capitalised for plain and easy reading:

    DRM ONLY HURTS THOSE WHO BUY THE GAME, WHILST RELEASING UNFINISHED WORK HURTS EVERYONE INVOLVED.

  17. Paul Murphy
    Unhappy

    Game is fun but my PC's broken now.

    After installing Spore my PC seems to find it really hard to boot up properly, and I have to boot up from one of my other drives (yes I have installed the same version of XP on my normal drive, my RAID0 (for games) and my spanking SSD (just to see :)) which makes things awkward enough for me to see what I can do about it.

    My question is - if I was to use a cracked version of the software, but use my legitimate account what problems would I have? .. if it means a working PC then it's worth my while giving it a go before I uninstall Spore and try to get of of the Securom rootkit.

    Oh the irony that legitimate customers are driven to the cracking community to get working software that doesn't work properly because of actions taken to stop it being cracked.

    Not impressed EA - especially considering that when I come to sell/give away Spore I am going to have big troubles there as well.

    Anyway, I'm off to Amazon to add another voice.

    ttfn

  18. Stef

    DVDs

    Don't we face similar problems with DVDs? I buy a DVD, and I have to sit through a ridiculous advert telling me not to steal the bloody film. HELLO!!!! I just bought the fecking DVD. I don't recall a policeman stopping me getting into my car this morning telling me that stealing cars is wrong.

    I always download a crack for a game the moment it arrives in the post for the simple reason that I don't want to have to insert the cd/dvd every time I want to play the game. DRM is no different (to me), I just crack it and play away.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well......

    I have the retail game, but downloaded he cracked version.

  20. Paul Buxton

    EA? Who?

    They've had none of my money since they screwed up Ultima Online. They're on my shitlist along with 3, Orange and Pipex. I have a long memory and I hold a grudge forever. As soon as other companies learn this the world will be a better place. Screw your customers and your customers will screw you.

  21. Juillen
    Dead Vulture

    Alas, no negative stars on Amazon.

    Actually, I WANTED to try Spore. When it was being talked about, I'd allocated a little bit of my bank balance to buy it. As far as sure things went, me buying Spore was a "sure thing". Money in the bank for EA.

    Until all the DRM came to light. Then, as the quotes go, I voted with my wallet, and that was another chunk of change that EA wouldn't get (Bioshock, Mass Effect, Spore, how long will this go on for?).

    I subscribe to the "Work hard, play hard" ethic, and when I fancy a night in with a little light entertainment (and I'm not _just_ talking about all the Paris vids and such!), I like something that entertains without giving me grief, and without telling me that I'm a potential thief (I always send messages to the companies that put that "you wouldn't steal a handbag" clip on DVDs, and refuse to buy from them again as that really irritates me no end; They tell you not to do something by actually lying about what it is that other people do and they accuse me of! Bad start.).

    Now, given that Spore was looking to be entertaining, and it seems that I'd get a few hours of entertainment out of it even with all the reviews done by disappointed purchasers (maybe more if I'm one of those people who actively think it's great!), by putting DRM on, EA are actively denying me the ability of playing their game (I won't pirate it, and I certainly won't pay to be treated so badly; I redo windows every 6 months to keep it in good condition, and have a hardware upgrade coming soon anyway, so toast those three installs pretty quickly!).

    Actively denying me the ability to be entertained by something by sheer stupidity (saying yes, we'll take your money, but to do anything you'll need to subscribe to methods you consider deeply unethical, and I won't sell out my ethics just to be entertained!) makes me irritated. Being irritated, it's less than Amazon's 1 star (which is merely atrocious).

    I'd vote a negative 1 for a company that seems actively out to piss people off, not provide entertainment.

    Dead bird, as EA's sense has long since gone the way of the Dodo.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not sure what all the fuss is about.

    I couldn't care less about the DRM. Installed Spore on my Mac, entered the license, played the game.

    I've never had to reinstall the OS and I won't be undertaking hardware upgrades. The DRM makes absolutely no difference to me.

  23. Dave K Silver badge
    Stop

    Will EA listen?

    With Mass Effect, there were threads hundreds of posts long on BioWare's forum complaining, the same happened with Spore, now this.

    Will EA ever remove their silly glasses, look at reality and realise that DRM does sod all to stop piracy and quite a bit more to stop sales? Regrettably, I doubt it.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    EA can take their DRM and shove it where the sun don't shine...

    I was curious about Spore and was considering buying it to see what all the fuss is about, but with DRM like that, I'll be staying well away. I find it hard to believe they can seriously get away with limiting the game to three installations. Three. That's criminal. I would love to see them get taken to court to try to test the legality of such DRM systems. Indeed, does it adequately warn you on the box?

    At the end of the day it's like those 'You wouldn't steal a car' anti-piracy ads that you have to endure when you fire up a (legally purchased) DVD, they're only inconveniencing the legitimate users - the first thing the pirates do is strip that out of their copy!

    I might still try Spore, but I'll not be paying for the priveledge. I wouldn't want to give EA the impression that I endorse their DRM system.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Game has crippling bugs

    A good indication of the problems with the game can be had from the EA Spore forums, where the top item is a 17 page pettition to get the game WORKING!

  26. Greg

    Hmmm, Spore...

    It's always looked like another Black & White to me. And as much as people raved to me about B&W, when I played it it turned out to be nothing but flawed AI and constant micromanagement of some stupid animal. Spore seemed to be...well...deja vu? That, plus DRM, equals no sale.

    That said, I was immune to the last great DRM scourge, Starforce, because it didn't work properly on x64 systems. :-D

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Overhyped

    DRM controversy aside, what you get is a seriously over hyped game that does not revolutionised gaming (like some member of the gaming press seems to think). It is a great toy with plenty of customisation, but as a gaming product it falls far short of great titles like Civilisation or even Maxis's own SimCity.

    5/10 at most.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    CD-checking is annoying but permissable, DRM is not.

    I do understand why games publishers feel the need to put anti-piracy measures on their games. I can permit having to have the CD in the drive (it's annoying but at least it's not intrusive), however these DRM systems do nothing but aggravate the user.

    I know that the initial sales of a game are probably the most important in terms of revenue, and this is why anti-piracy measures are in place to maximise sales. However, over time the anti-piracy measures are not as important. I believe it was one of the Quake or Unreal Tournament games several years ago that initially had CD-checking anti-piracy in place, but after a year or so, the CD-checking was removed as part of a patch by the developers as it wasn't seen as necessary at that point.

    I can see the games industry backing away from such restrictive DRM eventually, but not until it's probably too late and gamers have been driven away.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does it really matter ?

    Granted, DRM (Denial of Rights Manipulation) is a despicable practice but PC games are usually so dire these days that the likelihood of wanting to replay them in the future is extremely remote.

    The publishers should realise that excessive greed is ultimately self-destructive. Blaming consumers for the decline in the market is self-defeating too.

    As for the mass copying of games, well a publisher should be so lucky as to have such a desirable game on the books.

  30. Steven Foster
    Flame

    Bah

    Serves them right. EA are a terrible company. 90% of their games are terrible. This DRM bollocks is a complete backwards step and nobody in their right mind would subject themselves to such nonsense. I only hope those who have been unfortunate enough to have been bitch slapped by this "You're a criminal" system have the sense to not do business with this company again.

  31. Ash

    @AGirlFromVenus

    I sincerely hope you backed up the patches; It takes 4 hours on an 8Mb connection to update from Gold now.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No mention of Amazon.co.uk

    Amazon UK stand accused of fiddling the reviews -- lots of people are complaining that their reviews are being censored or withheld. And this includes people *not* involved in flashmobbing.

    Is this not worthy of inclusion? Any chance you can ask Amazon about this?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Spore: Limited Edition Bundle...

    can you see what they did?

    So treat your customer as a pirate, and they wont be your customer. i'm now a convert. not paying, looking for working pirate version....

  34. Wilco
    Alert

    Amazon.co.uk wiped ALL reviews - five times

    Amazon.co.uk wiped ALL reviews on Spore, five times over. The first time they let 1 positive review stand and blocked all new reviews for a while. Judging from the outrage this created on the forums I think EA will not be the only one suffering from bad PR.

    Right now there are 17 reviews total and a 2,5 star avg rating for Spore.

    Amazon.com started removing a number of reviews (no explanation, and including reviews that had 3000/3300 'positive' ) but apparently decided it wasn't worth it redirecting the outrage to themselves and stopped.

    Problem is, now that the word is out, the damage is done for EA, (and I'm sure EA put a LOT of pressure on Amazon (.co.uk |.com), new (anti DRM biased) reviews will keep popping up. And if they will be deleted, the same users will simply add a 'regular' negative review.

    It was very interesting to follow this development, from the moment I read about it on Boingboing.

  35. Andrew
    Pirate

    Self defeating

    The crack's usually out before the game hits the shelves anyway, so all that happens is legit customers are screwed with half arsed copy protections. They just end up losing sales from people who actually pay for software.

    Pirate flag, innit.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    FFS EA

    The pirated version of Spore, without DRM, was available before launch in most of the world after the Australian release was cracked inside a day.

    Is it really worth annoying all of your paying customers to provide the pirates with a (small) bit of a challenge? Are there really people out there so desperate to play the game that a delay of a couple of hours will make them drive to a store and pay for the game instead of pirating it? If so, how about a simultaneous world release - surely that'd help far far more than restricting legitimate users.

    Isn't the whole point of the game meant to be the online sharing bit? If thats the compelling aspect of the game, then you don't need DRM, just an account key with each boxed copy - none of the MMOs need DRM protection, or disc-in-drive, or any of this annoying crud.

  37. Parax

    DRM... killed Microsoft...

    PC gaming is coming to and end... and with it goes Microsoft...

    Console under an HD TV, and a web browsing media playing PC, like say an iNix. (mac/linux)

    and Microsoft looses the home share. Nice an easy.

    But is it an outcome we want?

  38. Keith_C
    Stop

    @CD-checking is annoying but permissable, DRM is not.

    CD checking is seriously annoying if, like me, you like to play games on the move on a laptop, and have to:

    1) Take the DVD everywhere with you, exposing it to increased risk of damage

    2) Take multiple DVD's with you in case you want to play more than one game - again, increasing the risk of damage and also making your bag heavier

    3) In the case of Take2's Civilization games, the discs were so cheaply made that multiple clips/unclips from the laptop DVD drive caused the disc to crack from the centre outwards within 6 months. Didn't give me a free replacement though - I had to buy another copy of the game!

    4) Use up valuable battery life powering the DVD drive, which in my case *also* prevents me from using the second battery in the modular bay thereby giving me a double whammy on the battery life.

    It was Unreal Tournament that removed the CD check after a few months. An example of how it should be done.

  39. Mark

    re:Not sure what all the fuss is about.

    Not sure how you don't when to not see the fuss you need (in your own words):

    "I've never had to reinstall the OS and I won't be undertaking hardware upgrades. The DRM makes absolutely no difference to me."

    So what if you DO want to reinstall the OS (maybe it's not a Mac)? What if you DO want to upgrade hardware? What if they aren't YOU?

    And you WERE affected: the price of the game was increased to pay for the protection scheme. Unless you think that EA have paid for it out of the profits and executive bonuses dependent thereon...

  40. PsyWulf
    Coat

    DRM schmee-are-em

    First time I installed a game with Starforce. BSOD's ensued and PC-reload followed. Since this lovely happenstance I will NOT install a DRM manipulated game unless on a VM. Crack it and then copy it over.

    Mine's the one with the bugzapper in the backpocket

  41. Mark

    re:EA Will Be Loving This

    MS won't.

    What's the one mom & pop reason for why Linux isn't ready for the home? Games.

    When there are no games, what reason to have that broken piece of shite installed? None.

    This is not good for microsoft.

    It may be why they bought a few companies: not to ensure the XBox gets "must have" titles (Halo. Bungie Bastards) but to ensure there are games that will only run on the Blessed OS.

  42. tempemeaty
    Stop

    Perfect installs...

    Anyone have an install not take on the first try. Ohhhh of course that never ever happens. Computers and software always do EXACTLY what they are supposed to every time...

    When things work all is paradise. When things don't it can take multiples of attempts to install something as you diagnose the possible reasons. DRM is a joke. It's not compatible with the computer world. The arrogance of Corporate Executives is such that they think they can do as they please and ignore the very forces of nature itself never mind their customers needs!

  43. Mark

    re: CD-checking is annoying but permissable, DRM is not.

    But if I have to dig out the game CD to play it, I won't bother. I mostly play either the "game of the moment" that I'm running in the CD (one out of MANY games) or play one of the ones I've got the no-CD crack for.

    Why?

    Because the 500GB hard drive is plenty for a LOT of games to remain installed. However, I only have two DVD drives. So the CD/DVD is left on a shelf and I have to look for the game to pop it in (and maybe remove one of the other ones). So it's not worth it. But just play without the CD? I can change and play a game for a day or an hour. Just clicking the icon will play it.

  44. Fred
    Go

    Just another reason

    Why I won't be using my PC for games. I haven't installed a game on my PC for years (the last one that I installed was a football management game, and I can't even remember its official name). I simply got fed up getting screwed over too many times by DRM \ crappy installs or the need to upgrade all my hardware just to play the damn game.

    If I want to play a game I'll use a dedicated machine such as a console, and until the PC gaming situation changes I have no intention of changing.

    No-one has mentioned whether the number you have to to call to get another activation code is a premium rate number? Now that *would* be low.

  45. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Any advance on three tries? Oh hello Sony!

    The Sony/Waterstones eBook store for the Sony PRS Reader allows you to download a title precisely ONCE. All titles are locking into the horrible Adobe Digital Edition software which makes no allowance for backing titles up on to CD or external disk. If your machine dies, ADE goes tits-up or you upgrade to a new machine you've had it.

  46. David Burton
    Stop

    Resale rights

    As far as I'm concerned, quite apart from limiting your own opportunity to use the software, you're also pretty well refusing the purchaser the right to buy a 2nd-hand copy of the software, because nobody's going to know whether they're going to be able to install it.

    While EA certainly doesn't care about the resale market, I'd have thought the authorities might have something to say about it given that the view seems to be that boxed software IS a product, not a licence to use a product, and as such is not allowed to be restricted from being sold on.

  47. Big Dave

    Whoever keeps convincing EA/etc. to use DRM need sacking

    This is yet another happy tail in the epic. DRM is causing inconvenience to legitimate customers in exchange for a minor hiccough to pirates all over the place.

    Get a grip, EA, etc. DRM is not the way forward. Make good products, hold back on the enormous marketing spend and have a decent pricing policy and everyone, including your shareholders, will be happy.

  48. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Alert

    Puzzled

    Why did'nt they distribute it on a system like Valve's "Steam" platform if they wanted to keep down piracy.

    Install game from DVD, create a user account, tie that DVD to the account , and play

    If I hose this PC, then at the price of downloading a few gigs of data, I get all my games back, no fuss.

    Boris

    except if Steam is playing up again grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

  49. Neil

    Is this legal?

    Ok, I've bought the game and its in a box on my shelf.

    If I download the cracked version, install that and play it as i want am I breaking the law? After all I have bought it. I'd prefer that to installing the DRM (as I dont believe it would go 100% when uninstalling)

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do the publishers not get this?

    Why is it that publishers seem to insist on pissing of their source of revenue? Did no other publisher notice that one of the most successful games of recent times - Oblivion - had *NO* DRM on it at all. DRM for the most part DOES NOT WORK! Pirates - who it is aimed at - take about a day to crack every scheme currently in use on games software and then just go and play the game. In contrast probably 90% of the time legitimate buyers have *issues* in the early days (overloaded servers at release), and an uncertain future (what if the publisher goes tits up?)

    Spore is an OK, game, but that's about it. It's not a *great* game, and it's nowhere near what was originally promised a couple of years ago which looked superb.

  51. regadpellagru
    Thumb Up

    At last !

    "Spore's DRM limits customers to only three activations after the game is installed. That number isn't restored even if the game is uninstalled."

    Eh, seen that ? El Reg discovering DRM are not only on music !

    </sarcasm>

    Serisouly, good to see El Reg at least trying to catch up on what is seen by gamers as a major nuisance, putting them in the "be screwed or apply warez dodgy crack" situation, just after purchase.

    It's to the point it is now frequent to see people ask in forums, before release date "What DRM does it use ?", makeing it a purchase criteria. It certainly is, by the way, for me.

    I'd suggest a further article on the economics of DRM on games, and how the whole story is spinned up so as to make game acquisition more and more a de-facto rent with some expiry period (here, the 3rd time Windows collapses under viruses/malwares, which can be approxed to 6 months for Vista, and 3 years or more on XP).

    That would make for an interesting read.

    PS: by the way, I recall reading here the above was also a tactics on some expensive CAD SW. A SW market trend, maybe ?

  52. rob
    Unhappy

    spare me a thought

    please spare me a thought. i loved the sound of spore when i heard about it, and i thought i read somewhere it was made by someone other than EA (who i vowed never to buy again after they milked bf2 so badly)

    i bought spore. twice. - one for me, and one for the wife. I have mine installed, and im going to install it under linux sometime soon. Imagine my dismay when i saw the EA logo after getting home.

    the game is a bit rubbish too :( - got to the civilization stage and ... and nothing, the game sucked after that point.

    unhappy smilie, cos i got shafted. twice.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @david g

    "87% buy the item featured on this page"

    That's 87% of people who BOUGHT anything after viewing the page, not 87% of the people who VIEWED the page.

    As for this DRM rubbish, it reminds me of the annoying crap that DVD makers put on their discs, accusing all their honest legal-copy-buying customers of being thieves, while those who get a pirate copy can just watch the film without the hassle.

    I'll take the cracked copy every time.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Well done EA

    Once again they've managed to alienate the legitimate users and push more people towards piracy.

    I'm not sure why EA hasn't created a Steam-like app to manage its games (or simply started using steam) if it must assume its users are pirates, rather than using DRM like in spore. But then i guess in order to use a system like steam they really need decent games in the first place......

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    And there's more...

    You can only have one Spore user profile per machine. So if like our family, everyone has their own login, you all pick up the game at the point it was left at by the previous player.

  56. Britt Johnston
    Unhappy

    getting around the 3-strike rule

    Spore-DRM may count uninstalls, but will surely start from 3 again after a refresh of windows.

    While we're at it, games are my main reason for reinstalling, along with viruses. They leave bits around and the whole becomes less stable after a while.

    Anybody out there with experience of a policy of one PC for games and/or internet and one for serious stuff? (I'm tempted, but I only have one working at the moment - and don't really want to get a playstation)

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Crack me up

    I've bought Spore (and was unaware of the DRM - it doesn't say anything on the box about 3 installs, certainly not in an obvious place) and it will sit on my shelf. I'll download a crack like I do for all my other games to avoid having to put DVDs in my one DVD drive every time. One day in the future I'll move house/be on a laptop/brick my router with a firmware upgrade and not have access to the internet but want to play Spore - and I won't be able to because of this stupid DRM. Then I will go back to the store I bought it from and demand a full refund because it didn't say on the box that I only had 3 installs. Having to do this makes me very angry.

  58. Wokstation
    Thumb Down

    As I said in the last article, I'm voting with my wallet.

    No way in hell am I buying a single-player game which requires you activate it online. Not all of my PCs are online, and why do they have to be?

    Single-player game + online activation = Wokstation's wallet staying closed.

  59. Chris Cheale

    it won't last...

    As soon as Spore is a little older, long before most people will need to install it for the third time, the DRM will disappear.

    It happened with X3 and the (even worse) Starfarce copy protection that was built into that - once the game had aged somewhat the DVD requirement (and therefore the Starfarce DRM) was removed and you could just boot the game up.

    Actually time-limited DRM isn't too bad an idea (if DRM there must be at all) since it gracefully allows to game to drift into abandonwarez and the end of it's life-cycle.

  60. Daniel
    IT Angle

    Somethigns a bit fishy

    Amazon.com Sales Rank: #2 in Video Games

    1.2 stars (1,982 customer reviews)

    Something wierds going on there! Number 2 game with 1,854 1 star ratings!

  61. Richard Scott
    Unhappy

    @Britt Johnston

    erm, sadly not - the game calls home after every activation and decrements the amount you're allowed by one - this means uninstalling/ reinstalling doesn't use another one of the three your allowed, but Hardware upgrades (EA won't say what will require another activation), re-install of Windows all will.

    Personally, I upgrade regularly and re-install frequently, and I'm not adverse to buying games (like the new Special Shiny Ed of 'Clear Sky' ), but i'm stearing clear of Spore as well.

  62. Christian Olsson

    DRM can be user friendly and strong...

    This is a terrible story for 2 parties - legitimate users who simply wanted to play Spore and couldn't because the activation servers went down and EA because Spore was cracked even before it was released.

    Often developers walk a tightrope with the tradeoff between protection strength and the degree of impact on legitimate users but this was a failure on both dimensions! Is this really what the publisher wants to 'accomplish'? Why not use a solution which is friendly to honest users, has no impact on development time and the strongest available protection against crackers - see the whitepaper "Is Anti-Piracy/DRM the Cure or the Disease for PC Games?" which can be downloaded here:

    http://www.byteshield.net/byteshield_whitepaper_0005.pdf.

  63. RobP

    Want to get rid of this? Talk to Trading Standards!

    Yup. It's funny how these DRM restricted games don't mention on the boxes or advertising that one is limited to 3 activations. A user can be reasonbly expected to buy a boxed game and install it as often as they want, provided there is only one instance of the install and that they are still the legal owner of the DvDs/CDs.

    What they are doing is mis-representing the merchantable quality of the goods as defined in the 1979 Sale of Goods Act.

    Fine, let the idiots put DRM on their games to make them less valuable than the pirated versions. But at least make sure that they acknowledge on the packaging and advertising (both theirs and the online shops) that the media is limited to only 3 Activations.

    After all how is one to tell the difference between a game that can be installed for as long as the disk holds out and a game that only gives you three activations? Especially as this directly affects the value of the product.

    See you in court EA....

  64. Mycho Silver badge

    There is a good reason for the reviews

    If you consider that Amazon is already advertising used copies of the game, three installs ever makes it a terrible prospect for secondhand buyers.

  65. Sam
    Unhappy

    Another vote - with my wallet

    One more bloke that was planning to buy Spore. One more bloke who will not buy spore - JUST because of DRM. I will not support stupidity. Stardock games has been getting more of my money than any other developer. I actually bought 3 copies of "Sins of a Solar Empire." One for me, one for my son, and one I gave my father as a gift. I COULD have copied the game and all of them could have run it just fine, but I really like their model: no protection on the game, but you have to have a serial number to download updates and "bonus features."

    Why can't other developers be so thoughtful?

  66. Chris

    @ Keith_C

    Keith,

    Not sure if you're in the UK or not but if you are then you should have got a free replacement and if they refused quoted the Sale of Goods act to them by stating the the disc is not fit for the purpose intended (it has to be put into a cd/dvd drive for the game to work so should be upto multiple inserts / removals)

    And if they still tried to fob you off and you paid by credit card, just get a charge back on them.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iPhone version's okay

    Although obviously nothing like the Mac or PC game, and tied to Apple's handset, the iPhone game is great fun for passing the time, and as far as I can tell the application can be installed on unlimited iPhones and iPod Touch(es?). For what it is, however, £5.99 is a bit steep.

    I won't buy the Mac version until and unless the DRM is dropped.

  68. Corin Preston
    Unhappy

    Nice to see a bit of sanity being reported

    and is the first thing I have read on Spore that does not seem to be the rantings of the severely mentally ill.

    No one on the Amazon boards, or elsewhere for that matter, is getting that the 'reviews' they are submitting on the evils of DRM are being deleted as they aren't reviews, as this article has at last said. They are of no use to anyone past 'this has only 3 installations' and most have 'I do not own this game or ever plan to do so' in them. A car review where the car wasn't test driven and only ever seen in a picture, well I'd take it as Gospel.

    The DRM is crap and I hope it dies, but for an activist that is trying to change the world and people's lives in any small way he can every day, these people are hysterical foamers that add nothing to any debate they get involved in, if anything just showing what irrelevant extremists they are who quite simply hate corporations and authority.

    They make me angry that they cannot channel their hatred and anger towards more noble causes such as poverty, famine and environmental degradation, although I suppose I should be thankful they stick to irrelevant gaming issues where they can't cause any major damage to a cause.

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