Spore's Anti-Piracy Measures Incite...Piracy

Dennis Faas's picture

Electronics Arts is facing an angry backlash from gamers for putting DRM restrictions on its popular game 'Spore'.

The game, based on evolution, has been generally well-reviewed and early sales were strong. It doesn't allow online game-play as such, but there are many official online features, including the ability to upload clips of your character in action directly to YouTube.

Hoping to crack down on piracy, EA set up a system where the game has to be authorised over the Internet, both the first time it is used and the first time a player uses the online features. The firm allowed players to authorise it on up to three machines, after which they had to phone EA and request extra authorisations.

According to EA's figures, this wasn't a problem for most players: only 14% of buyers activated it on more than one machine, and just 0.4% (around 1700 players) attempted to activate it on more than the permitted three machines.

EA believes its restrictions are perfectly reasonable and most honest buyers won't need to use it on multiple machines. Hardcore gamers (or perhaps hardcore anti-DRM fighters) argue that once they buy a game, they should be able to use it anywhere without restrictions, with some saying EA's limits effectively make the act of purchasing Spore an expensive rental.

Despite the game's acknowledged quality, upset consumers flooded Amazon with negative reviews. There's also a hacked version of the game, without the activation requirements, available for illegal download. More than half a million people have done so already, prompting speculation that many buyers of the legal version may be downloading the illegal copy to make a point. (Source: cnet.com)

EA has now changed its rules to allow installation on five machines. It's also working on a way to allow users to deactivate the game on a computer so that they can then reactivate it on another machine without having to phone the company. (Source: arstechnica.com)

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