EA's Spore hit by DRM backlash

Spore, the hotly-anticipated new game from Electronic Arts is facing fierce criticism from consumers over its apparent use of unusually restrictive digital rights management (DRM) technology.

“I basically put down my hard-earned money and get punished for buying the game legally. The gaming industry needs to be sent a message that this is no way to treat their customers”, said one buyer who posted a review at Amazon.com

“[The DRM] means that you are actually renting the game, instead of owning it”, another claims.

EA Spore CreatureThe $50 game has received an overwhelming number of negative reviews on Amazon, many from users who admit that they they have not purchased the game because of its DRM. Numerous potential buyers say they canceled pre-orders or plan to return the game.

Three activations

After it is first installed by the user, the SecuROM Product Activation DRM system used by Spore allows the game to be installed only two more times, users claim. An install is used up each time the game is installed on a different PC – or even in some cases when the user installs new hardware on the original PC. A new or re-installed operating system also forces the user to use up one more of the two remaining installations of the game.

If the game has already been installed three times, the user has to contact EA customer service to explain why he or she wants to install it again.

According to EA's online customer support, the actual limit is three “concurrently active” licenses. This page states that the licenses eventually expire, possibly after ten days, and implies that they can then be re-used. However, this appears to conflict with other statements from EA.

No Warning?

Customers have also complained that the product box contains no warning about the DRM technology used. Others complain that SecuROM is not mentioned in the End User License Agreement (EULA).

In fact, EA's EULA states “You may download the number of copies allowed by the software's digital rights management from an authorized source. However, you may use only one copy of the software on a single computer at any given time.”

EA claims that it does not mention SecuROM in Spore's license agreement because that would force it to create a slightly different version of its two page license agreement for each product.

Resale and rental restriction claims

Other potential buyers charge that EA is using the limit of three product activations to prevent resale or rental of the game.

However, the EULA states: “You may make a permanent transfer [sic] all your rights to install and use the software to another individual or legal entity”.

These terms do appear to forbid rental of the game. While resale appears possible under the EULA, the limited number of activations automatically included could make the game less attractive as a second hand purchase.

SecuROM rootkit allegations

Many have claimed that SecuROM uses 'Root Kit' methods, more commonly used by viruses, trojans and other malware, to hide files from the user.

SecuROM is developed by Sony DADC, a subsidiary of Sony which manufactures optical disks.

“SecuROM does not use any root kit technology in its implementation”, Sony DADC says. Ars Technica's Ken Fisher examined an earlier SecuROM game, BioShock, that was also accused of containing a rootkit, and said he could find no sign of one. SecuROM itself also denies it uses a rootkit.

“SecuROM customers enjoy the benefits of extended shelf life, while maximizing profits through additional product sales”, Sony states.

“With SecuROM Product Activation, Sony DADC offers games and software publishers, plus online distributors, the possibility to apply just one single DRM solution to their content, regardless whether it is distributed via the physical or digital sales channel (e.g. Internet). SecuROM Product Activation enables content owners to apply different business models, such as 'Try & Buy' or 'Subscription' for publishers and online distributors of games and/or software. As a result publishers and online distributors can benefit from increasing customer loyalty and additional revenues”, Sony DADC says in a description of the application.

Links

Bioshock buyer describes how to obtain a refund for game with SecuROM, on the grounds that it actually violates its own user license.

 

 

EA sucks

Why cant I PLAY the game that I paid good money for! I cant login even the server is down!

Ok now queue the whining fan boys

the game isnt for you f**king geeks its for normal people who just like play a little bit not 10 hours every day lol at amazon's reviews from anti-DRM freeks who DID NOT BUY THE GAME

you might want to check your

you might want to check your definition of fan boy...

You might not care about

You might not care about having your rights stripped away from you little by little.
That's fine, but that doesn't mean you have the right to go and belittle them.

F**k you, dude. Sh**bags

F**k you, dude. Sh**bags like you are what allow police states their chance to rise to power.

your really are a f**king

your really are a f**king ignorant idiot arnt you.

When people pay a good 60

When people pay a good 60 bucks for a game, the least the expect is to install it as many times as the want.

Geeks

So, EA designed a game that it doesn't want gamers to buy.

This is like fielding a football that you hope football fans won't watch.

Help spreading the word, help picking up some more momentum!

Help digg the story and get more to notice it :)

http://digg.com/pc_games/Do_you_think_people_hate_Spore_s_DRM_a_little

Simple Solution

As as Sims 2 player, I've dealing with this Securom crap since Bon Voyage came out. Sims 2 players screamed and yelled for months and all EA did was stick it's fingers in it's ears.

As for Spore, I'd love to play it but I decided well over a year ago that the only way to get my message through to EA was to simply stop giving them money. Before doing that, I sent a certified letter to Larry Probst with copies of my reciepts of all the games that I've bought and told him to basically kiss my butt if I was going to allow his company to treat me like a criminal.

If people don't like what they are doing, stop buying their stuff! Some would argue that this won't change anything and they're right, but what's the point of continuing to give them money only so they can to slap the hands of those that legally purchase their stuff with more and more aggressive DRM's. I stopped buying and all my stresses regarding my games stopped.

I really wish Will Wright would get out from the under the bozo's known as EA as this isn't about him. It's about the paranoid, f***ed up company he works for / associates with.

So true

I've bought the game, and it is actually pretty fun. Not saying that this DRM sh** is good or anything. If they could work it so that it could only be on 3 computers at a time and run, not stop running if more than 3 installs are done, then that might make some sense.

As for Will Wright, I agree. If he could make an cool game like Spore, he should get the hell out of EA. He has too much potential to be stuck in the place.

DRM is not a feature I want.

Your story kind of glosses over some points and gives a really favorable view of EA's side. Nonetheless, I am the one paying for the software, and I am not going to pay for software that contains 'features' that actually work against me... even worse, by design.

Mind you, I have been looking forward for this title for years. But now that they've bundled the final product with a DRM, I just can't morally force myself to buy a piece of software that has an anti-consumer product built-in. :(

EA has a reputation of sticking it to paying customers

EA has totally lost all of my respect and I refuse to give them another dime. Check out their own forum for Madden '09

http://forums.ea.com/mboards/thread.jspa?threadID=412691

They have yet to respond to ANY of these complaints and many users are filing complaints with the Better Business Bureau. There is even a class action lawsuit out there against EA.

They continue to be allowed to buy up the competition, i.e. Take Two so they can monopolize the industry. This needs to be stopped!!!

What would you have them do?

After Crysis experienced 30-1 piracy vs paid these companies have to do something. The piracy steals all there money is it really a big deal to be limited to 3 downloads. How many computers are you going to be playing it on anyway?

wtf? crysis sold a million

wtf? crysis sold a million odd copies, do you really think 30 million people torrented crysis? theres no fucking way.

The way I read this article

The way I read this article it's three installs, not three downloads.

As to "How many computers are you going to be playing it on anyway?", I tend to buy games and play them over and over for years. I don't think I'm interested in buying a game that I may or may not be able to play a year from now because of limitations to the number of times I can install it or upgrade my hardware.

Regarding "After Crysis experienced 30-1 piracy vs paid these companies have to do something. The piracy steals all there[sic] money", let me point out that EA reported $236 million in profit in 2007. Total revenue was $3.67 billion. That means that they computed all costs to do business in the year 2007 and had $236 million left in the bank.

I'm not arguing that the piracy is justified by the company's success, I want to point out that those numbers are as high as they are because of the number of people who pay for legitimate copies of their games. Focusing on missed opportunities (i.e. counting the money that they didn't make on pirated copies of their software) instead of generating actual sales (i.e. making their paying customers happy to do business with EA) is a business model that is guaranteed to fail. Always has been, always will be.

Exactly. They are going to

Exactly. They are going to lose a lot more money screwing their honest, paying customers. I'm not buying Spore because of the install limit. EA....You're missing the boat here. I want to see how much you make off of Spore now that your Real, Loyal, Honest, "Cash-Cow" base of customers is walking away.

Please site your source for

Please site your source for the 30-1 pirated vs. paid. I think EA would be better served if they went after pirates more aggressively rather than harming paying customers with DRM. Can you imagine paying for a DVD that you can only watch 3 times? And having to call up the movie company each time you want to watch the movie after that?

Also, the reason that DRM is upsetting isn't because the consumer will be playing on several computers at the same time right now. It's the fact that many people like to play the game several years down the line after they've upgraded their computers. If I install it, get bored and uninstall (surprise, some people uninstall programs to make room for newer applications) and want to play it again a few years down the line, I won't be able to. I am 100% sure that EA will not keep the authentication servers going indefinitely.

I don't mind attempts at

I don't mind attempts at preventing unlawful downloads. If I put years into making a game, I would want the rewards.

However, most games lately have pretty much been the same with the exception of graphics. You can only make so many first person shooter games with slighty more colors and realistic water before people start to feel like it isn't worth paying 50.00 + for a game that is pretty much identical to all the other first person shooters except with different names.

How many games out there just buy the Unreal 3d game engine, slap some of their graphics into it, put some base (boring) war story line, and then sell it for 50.00?

number of installations

Actually, 4 computers here in our home had it installed. we sold 3 of them last year. Now we are short 2 installations (one still has it) for the new ones since they upped the installation to 5, and the new tool that deactivates your installations requires the original machine. Its a shame that piracy has screwed the consumer in the buttox, but at the same time, EA should have forseen this problem happening, as some people change computers like they change their underwear. lol

SMALL CLAIMS COURT

If it wasn't disclosed, everyone needs to go file in small claims court. Sure, you might not win, but having to fight off a few thousand claims would cost quite a bit in time and reputation.

DRM has nothing to do with Rights

I completely agree with your article and the anti-DRM sentiments expressed by the commentators. I would just add that whenever you explain what DRM stands for, do as the EFF does and say it's Digital Restrictions Management.

Malware

DRM is malware that acts the same as a virus. The only difference is that you paid $60 to infect your own computer.

Fighting the tide

The DRM doesn't work, everything is clearly not doing the job they intended and just serving to cheese off certain customers.
I think if stepping it to here doesn't work, they should just take it the step further. Every game sold will come with a FREE man-in-a-suit-with-a-gun.

Pirates don't have this problem.

I find it amusing that pirates had spore game almost a week before release, and had already surpassed the copy protection. DRM protects nothing. And now lots of pirates are playing it with no problems, while people who pay for it, like myself, have to jump thru hoops.

Piareted version sucks

The pirated version runs slow and you can't get to the online stuff with it

Are you sure?

Guess what, I got my first version of spore pirated! And it ran fine. I bought it because of the online stuff... do you want to know whats online? Other creatures, buildings, and vehicles... thats it. The "Online Stuff" is not much of anything. The game ships with 1k+ creatures and 1k+ of each building and vehicle type... Playing the pirated version, you don't miss much to be honest. There is nothing special about the online stuff... I got a refund for my paid version. I told them I thought it was for xbox 360. I am enjoying my "Free" version as we speak.

Wow, I was about to buy it

Wow, I was about to buy it too. Thanks guys. I'll sit it out until they remove the DRM, or just not buy it at all.

Try harder next time.

"After it is first installed by the user, the SecuROM Product Activation DRM system used by Spore allows the game to be installed only two more times, users claim."

This is not a 'claim', it is how the DRM actually works according to EA itself. The game also requires internet activation - no internet, you don't get to play the game you just bought.

"Customers have also complained that the product box contains no warning about the DRM technology used. Others complain that SecuROM is not mentioned in the End User License Agreement (EULA)."

No mention at all about the 3 activation limit in any documentation. Securom installs hidden files, folders, and registry entries when the game executes, yet EA doesn't feel it needs to tell anyone that. Securom also does not uninstall when the game is removed from a computer. Securom is well known to cause software conflicts and recently had to be patched in 2 games when unannounced updates to Securom via patches caused Windows Explorer to crash (see Mass Effect PC and C&C3 Kane's Wrath). Securom causes chronic startup problems for nearly every game it's bundled with - all EA PC games since April 2007.

"...the EULA states: “You may make a permanent transfer [sic] all your rights to install and use the software to another individual or legal entity”.

These terms do appear to forbid rental of the game. While resale appears possible under the EULA, the limited number of activations automatically included could make the game less attractive as a second hand purchase."

Less attractive? Consider it dead and the first sale doctrine dropkicked like all the other consumer rights game publishers don't seem to think apply anymore.

"Ars Technica's Ken Fisher examined an earlier SecuROM game, BioShock, that was also accused of containing a rootkit, and said he could find no sign of one. SecuROM itself also denies it uses a rootkit."

Securom indeed was picked up by rootkit detection software as having the characteristics of a rootkit (see Bioshock forums) but it was determined to be a false positive for being an actual rootkit.

"“SecuROM customers enjoy the benefits of extended shelf life, while maximizing profits through additional product sales”, Sony states."

That's SECUROM customers, NOT end users. Quoting Sony's site, a sales tool to sell Securom to publishers, isn't going to be anything like fair and accurate when it comes to an end user's experience with this mess. And Securom will extend shelf life, alright - more and more people are disgusted and leaving Securom products right where they are: on the shelf.

“"As a result publishers and online distributors can benefit from increasing customer loyalty and additional revenues”, Sony DADC says in a description of the application."

Another laughable quote from securom.com! Securom has done nothing but antagonize customers, inconvenience them with ridiculous restrictions and technical problems (disabled drives or games that won't start because Securom doesn't like your legitimate software amongst other issues, and transmitting who knows what over the internet when you're not looking), it's lost publishers ACTUAL, REAL, LIVE SALES.

Like me - haven't bought a damn thing from EA since Sept. 07 because of Securom and EA's CRAP treatment of people who had problems caused by it.

What you see happening with Spore is due to EA's deaf ears turned to PAYING customers who've been begging them to back off this pointless and damaging DRM. Every 1 star review is richly deserved - EA's reaping what its sown.

If EA ever goes down... It

If EA ever goes down... It is not without casualties...
Imagine a feisty cat refusing to be rescued from the tree it is stuck on.

A user-friendly & strong solution is available

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 trade off 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 our whitepaper
http://www.byteshield.net/byteshield_whitepaper_0005.pdf.

Christian Olsson
ByteShield, Inc.
http://www.byteshield.net

Haha

That's funny. Lets try to sell an alternative DRM solution in the wake of the madness. I can't blame you, smart business, but still.

Spore is a game that should have never needed additional DRM. It needs to phone home to work. This would have been a simple solution of REG codes, noting 30+ people were using the same one, and blacklisting. No complicated sales pitch required.

I am planning to buy a Spore

I am planning to buy a Spore but but after reading about this DRM issue, I will not buy one or any EA game for that matter. Thanks for nothing.

EA claims that it does not

EA claims that it does not mention SecuROM in Spore's license agreement because that would force it to create a slightly different version of its two page license agreement for each product.

Since when is that a valid excuse? I'm pretty sure it's not a legal excuse - "it takes too much time and space to fully disclose the problems with this drug so we just didn't mention them" doesn't fly with the FDA, for example.

Cut and paste, EA. It's not hard. Most five year olds can do it.

Ok a pretty simple question

Ok a pretty simple question here if i use up all of the 3 activations (installations) can i ring up EA games for more and if i can do they cost me anything and how many times can i do this?

One more activation

'If the game has already been installed three times, the user has to contact EA customer service to explain why he or she wants to install it again.'

And you pay for the call and waiting on hold

If only EA had realized that

If only EA had realized that this was the game that a lot of the people who usually pirate were going to buy anyways. Oh well, back to GTA IV.

I'll never buy another EA PC game.

I have a slightly different issue. After playing around with the free Spore Creature Creator demo I decided to buy the full version of the game. So I hopped in my car, went to my local Best Buy and plunked down my 50 bucks.

I came home and installed it. But first it required I delete the demo. Okay, fine. Not a big deal After about 20 minutes it was ready to play. I went to start it and got the following message:

"The Game can not start

The game needs access to the internet in order to verify ownership of this game. Please insure that your computer is online and try again"

What the Hell?! I looked at the box and sure enough in print so tiny the Federal Trade Commision should outlaw it's use, it said internet connection required to activate.

I installed it to a computer that is NOT connected to the internet. And that is on purpose. I use it mostly for work and after losing several hundred dollars of work to a nasty virus a few years back, I've never had my work computer connected. And yes I use anti-virus software on it anyway, but it's not worth going through that head ache again. I'm writing this on a cheap laptop that is too underpowered to play any games.

But getting back to EA's activation scheme. First of all, ownership was VERIFIED when Best Buy accepted my debit card, printed out a reciept and handed me the game! This is nonsense. Actually doubly so since after readiing here that people can get activation even though they are online.

In all the years this program was in development it never occured to the genuises at EA that not every customer would play online or even be connected to the internet?

How did that happen. Was it something like this...

First Guy: "So we're about ready to wrap this up and ship it. Great job by the way, this is going to sell a zillion copies. How do we set up product activation? Just the usual key that goes with each disk?"

Second Guy: "No, too easy. How about that, PLUS you have to go online and do it again. That is if the servers are even on line that day." (Smirk)

First Guy: "Uh, but what about the thousands of customers who don't plan on going online with this, and/or can't because they aren't connected to the internet? Isn't that going to kind of screw them over?

Second Guy: "Who cares. Once we have their money there's nothing they can do. Look I checked with legal and we'll put on a microscopicly tiny disclaimer. Then they won't have a leg to stand on."

First Guy: "I don't know about that. I think it's going to piss a lot of people off".

Second Guy: "Like I said, Who cares? Now lets get lunch".

Great job EA. I'll never buy another PC/Maxis game from you again. You've just lost hundreds of dollars in future revenue. Not much from one guy, but multiply that by the thousands of people your just screwed over.

I understand you need to protect your copyrighted work. But by making a nightmare out of loading and playing a game I LEGALLY PAID FOR you will lose business. And deserve to.

It sucks, but you CAN still

It sucks, but you CAN still play without being connected to the internet. You would have to download the no-cd crack though I think which disables the online activation bit.

This sucks

I am currently deployed to Iraq and bought the game to kill time during slow times. The game appeared perfect, as it was a modern single player game that did not require an internet connection. I buy the game from amazon, only to find that I need an internet connection to activate it. While I have access to internet over here, I don't have internet I can plug my own computer into in order to activate the game, and there is no phone activation method. I am not willing to pay the $100 a month they charge here for personal internet for your computer, and it is very slow internet for that price. Very dissapointed, guess I will have to wait til I get home to play this one.

EA threatens SPORE deactivations via forum bans

http://forum.spore.com/jforum/forums/show/465/2.page

The big stick in action

Join the Anti-DRM cause!

Support the movement of ending these aggressive tactics and make developers EARN money instead of churning out garbage games! Poverty leads to progress. Download an illegal copy of popular software today!

download it as much as you

download it as much as you want. it's a single-player game anyways. i'm sure sites will pop-up eventually for ppl to put their creations on. it's not like you NEED to be connected to the internet to play this game. just give it some time and the really 'talented' fans will get everyone else 'activated'. it always happens. Windows Vista or even XP were supposedly to be activated only through online or phone means and look at all the copies on the net complete with numbers and file replacements to make it work right.

Yar-har fiddle dee-dee...

Simply Wow. I am doing a

Simply Wow.

I am doing a research project on EA and their inclusion of the DRM technology. I also play and own the game. I find it amusing that people get so worked up about having a 3 install limit on their computers. I mean really how many computers do you need to install it on. I have it on my lap top and my home computer.. If you have more that 3 computers isint that a little excessive? It is also interesting to see how people feel so violated when their rights are being violated when those very same people BREAK THE LAW when they download music ILLEGALLY off of limewire or another site. So when you download music or a game off of torrent you are breaking the company's rights of copywrite ect. To make that last point relevant, downloading the game (torrenting) is illegal. The only reason EA has implemented the DRM technology is that there is very little law enforcement when it comes to downloading copied software. Think of this issue from thier perspective. If you were the owner of the company, would you appreciate that huge, huge amounts of sales (and i have done the research to prove it) are lost to the illegal downloading of computer software, and nothing been done. Obviously EA has to work out some of the issues, but i personally dont feel that they are purposly violating anyones rights, they are simply trying to protect their down. Maybe people who casually download music or games ect. should consider who's rights they are breaking, and just because the company's dont blog continuously about how their rights are being violated doesnt mean that they arnt.

the fact is were all

the fact is were all frustrated by this ea hasnt done this before (that im aware of) and theyve been a good gamemaker but now with this game i dont blame them for being mad. ea has given us a headache there supposed to do research and crap. t find out what would and what wouldnt annoy people so i for oe understnd hy these people are mad. if ea gave us better games they would be doin bettetr u tnow? im not sure if im going to buy another ea pc game again. i want to get more content for the game but when i try to connect it gives me a bunch of crap. so while yeah a few people are a little to mad i understand. ea shouldnt have put out a half done game. thats my oppinion anyone agree?

Research project!!! ??

I suggest you leave such trivia to those who have a history of gameplay and could bring something useful to the debate.

"Amused that people might want to install it more than three times" suggests you are either 12 years old or have little experience of gameplay.

Most of my games get re-installed every month, after the obligatory re-installation of XP after it gets trashed by whatever disease is doing the rounds, so that gives me 3 months of play...fair? I think not.

your amused?...well, we're all bemused at that!...please i beg you, go and do a research project on interstellar dust and its impact on non-terestial lifeforms as I'm assuming you're better qualified in that area.

What's the weather like on your planet?

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