Back in July, I wrote about the plans EA had to include the SecuROM “Digital Rights Management” rootkit with Spore when it shipped. I was not the only one who wrote about this to be sure, but the voices of the masses got EA to back down. A little bit. In the end, they went ahead and limited you to 3 installs of the game and included SecuROM.
Well the gaming community has spoken with one voice on how it feels about EA and SecurROM. In spite of Spore being, by all accounts, a wonderful product it now has a user rating of 1 out of 5 stars on amazon.com. Looking at the Spore review page, it appears that over 1000 people have rated the game with 1 star due to the included DRM. A cursory view of some of the reviews found them to be thoughtful and well-reasoned. Some examples;
First of all, the game incorporates a draconian DRM system that requires you to activate over the internet, and limits you to a grand total of 3 activations. If you reach that limit, then you’ll have to call EA in order to add one extra activation. That’s not as simple as it sounds, since when you reach that point EA will assume that you, the paying customer, are a filthy pirating thief. You will need to provide proof of purchase, reasons why the limit was reached, etc, etc (it has all happened before with another recent EA product, Mass Effect). EA, of course, is not obligated to grant you that extra activation or even provide that service. In a couple of years they might very well even shut down the general activation servers, because “it’s not financially feasible” to keep them running. What you will be left with is a nice, colorful $50 coaster. And you will be required to pay for another copy/license if you want to continue playing.
Also, another reviewer writes;
I just got through a massive headache dealing with DRM for Adobe Photoshop CS3. I’ve dealt with massive headaches from DRM from Civ3 gold. All of this is on a very high end vista PC. Thanks, but no thanks. I was excited about the concept of this game for many months. That is until I found out about the DRM it uses. I will not buy software with DRM ever again, particularly if they limit the installs to something ridiculous like 3.
I’m not unsympathetic to the game industry’s piracy problem. I believe it’s overstated, but they deserve to be paid for their work. The fact is that it’s easier to get a cracked copy of the SecuROM version than it is to secure a licensed copy of the game. EA has actually disincented me to buy the game by making it riskier to do so than to pirate it.
As long as companies treat their paying customers as criminals, they will continue to lose real money, not imaginary “lost sales to piracy.” They have alienated people like me and my 1000 friends over on Amazon who say “we’re sick and tired and we’re not going to take it any more!” One other point on this. People who pirate software NEVER buy it, especially if it has copy protection. I have been in and around the software business since 1987 so I know of what I speak.
I’m going to have to live Spore vicariously through the bloggers that I read.
As long as Spore includes SecuROM, they aren’t getting my money for it. And I’d encourage you to vote with your wallet on this subject as well.