Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Spore and the DRM Fiasco!

Luckily, I bought, played, and sold 2K Games' BioShock within a week. I was able to sell it on E-Bay because no one was aware of the DRM restrictions placed on the disk which restricts its user to only three installations before being penalized for the fourth. I feel bad for the uninformed sucker who bought my copy, thus limiting him to only two installations. From that experience I count myself lucky to have rid myself of such a predicament as DRM and its shady use by EA.

Although important, the hidden, underground outrage created by BioShock and Mass Effect garnered little attention to the DRM villainy. It was not until the release of EA and Maxis' Spore did its thousands of potential buyers decide to use Amazon.com, a widely used E-seller to vent their outrage at EA, Sony, and DRM. Again, the DRM found in Spore limits the buyer to only three installs of the game before penalization of the fourth install. It is also reported that a quite install of SecuRom, the Sony DRM program, is made to the users computer to ensure the copy protection of the program. Unlike BioShock and Mass Effect, the use of Amazon.com as a means to vent peoples frustration has garnered global attention by many video game and computer web sites. This, for the first time, brings the DRM question into the direct forefront of the immediate public and will put EA into a very tight spot. How will EA pull out of this poor publicity and trash talking of their business practices with regards to DRM?

DRM and the attempt to stop pirating of EA's Spore software backfired this week. It is reporter that a DRM FREE version of the game can be found on bit-torrent sites in full, nullifying any internet savvy customer from actually paying money for the game. This DRM Free version (DRM free meaning no limit to the amount of installs created) flys in the face of what EA tried so hard to prevent!: Anti-Pirating.

With any luck, EA and other Video Game Publishers will look at the fiasco that DRM has created amongst the PC gaming crowd and see the loss of sales created by implementing such a measure. Business models that should be followed are those of Game Publishers Valve and Stardock, two companies who have sold millions in gaming software, DRM free, with huge success! Instead of DRM to counter pirating tactics, Stardock allows the purchaser to install their game an infinite number of times without penalty on any number of systems. The incentive to buy a legitimate copy of the game stems from the requirement of a legitimate CD-Key to update the game on a regular basis; a necessity if you want to have an improved playing experience as well as to play online. Valve on the other hand allows puchasers of their software to install the game on any number of computer but must have an online account to access and it. This means you may install the game and play it anywhere, so long as your online account can verify that you have have legitimate access to the game.

I hate DRM restricions in any way, shape, or form. They are worthless attempts to prevent pirating which directly affect the buyer. EA has indirectly assumed that all buyers of the game are potential pirates. The fact that Spore has been pirated is makes EA the laughing stock of both sides of the gaming community: the developer and the buyer. We can only hope that these developers will react to the large outcry of potential costumers in the same way 2K Games reacted to it in July of 2008: by removing " all activation restrictions, including install limits... from BioShock PC."

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