EA Admits Spore Launch Botched by DRM

Electronic Arts has owned up to the mess it created with the DRM-heavy launch of Sporelast week, a fracas that may actually have cost the gaming giant as much as $25 million in missed revenue. Gamers angry with the "draconian" content protection features opted out of the $50 a pop for Spore and copped it illegally instead, to the tune of an estimated 500,000 downloads across various BitTorrent sites. In fact, peer-to-peer research firm Big Champagne called the speed at which gamers downloaded pirated copies "extraordinary."

In a statement, Frank Gibeau, EA Games label president, said the company was 'disappointed' by the misunderstanding around its digital-rights-management software and that it would expand the installation limit to five machines. He added that EA is expediting the development of a system that will allow customers to 'deauthorize' computers and move the game to new machines, without needing to call the company.

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We need to make an example out of one of these games. Do a class action law suit for wasted electricity spinning the cd rom, hidden rootkit processes, and burnt out hard drives from constant drm scans. Target the exact drm maker and separate them from the company because they might not be as legally tanky and let them have it in the ass.

Dear god, how can people suggest a Steam-like alternative to this ****? Steam is the reason I will never buy another Valve product again. An average of 2-3 ****ing hours to install Half-Life 2 sent me up the wall. First you must install it, then you have to enter the serial key, then you have to hop online to decrypt the installation files for an offline game!

Steam is no better. All of this anti-piracy bull**** has caused me to stop buying (and playing) games all together. Where the **** is my NES? I'll go back to that **** instead.

Unappealing game. Unappealing publisher. Unappealing DRM.

Yeah, a wonder why I didn't buy it. At least EA acknowledged the DRM drama caused part of their problems. Although I severely doubt it'll change their outlook on DRM, or that they'll leave the pirates out of the blame.

While I agree that the whole concept of limiting your number of installs is asinine and the wrong direction for the industry to go in, it got me thinking...

How many games have I installed more than five times...? I'm not a heavy gamer by any means, so I certainly can't speak for the people who have been complaining. But it's funny for me to think about. Even the games I've enjoyed the most, I think I've installed maybe once every year or two? With harddrive space what it is these days, I haven't had to manage my Add/Remove Programs list nearly as much as I used to. No doubt I'm a minority, though.

Not to mention, I'm a Windows user, so I very rarely have to wipe my system and reinstall everything from scratch.

I hate EA games, and I won't repeat the reasons why here.

All they needed to do is make the game require the CD/DVD to play so that the DCMA (i think) applies. Thinking that this extra DRM is going to prevent piracy is just being naive and frustrating the legitimate purchasers of the game.

If you uninstall the game, you get that 'tick' back on how many times you can install the software. So, as long as you don't keep every game installed on your computer till it dies (you can always re-install it later if you go back to play it. your game saves aren't deleted during uninstall) you wouldn't have a problem. Sounds more like people are looking to complain for the sake of complaining. If you bother to read the manual and information during install, you'd know about the DRM and what all is involved with it.

Perhaps reading directions is beyond the capacity of most people. They don't need instructions to know how to rock. -.-

I don't think these gaming companies will ever "get it". Didn't anyone learn ANYTHING from what happened last year with Bioshock? 2K took a beating because of the measures they took. I for one thing have no problem with activation, activation limits I guess I am ok with as well. However, if you're going to undertake something like this, have the took ready out of the box which allows you to de-authorize computers.

It may be true that a small percentage of game owners will use up their activations, however, that doesn't make it any less important to have something available to de authorize their machines. They are still customers.

I think the Steam model works best, it's a good DRM solution. I had planned on buying Crysis Warhead from Steam, however I am staying away until there is a way to de-authorize machines.

(nytiger73 said @ #22)
I don't think these gaming companies will ever "get it". Didn't anyone learn ANYTHING from what happened last year with Bioshock? 2K took a beating because of the measures they took. I for one thing have no problem with activation, activation limits I guess I am ok with as well. However, if you're going to undertake something like this, have the took ready out of the box which allows you to de-authorize computers.

It may be true that a small percentage of game owners will use up their activations, however, that doesn't make it any less important to have something available to de authorize their machines. They are still customers.

I think the Steam model works best, it's a good DRM solution. I had planned on buying Crysis Warhead from Steam, however I am staying away until there is a way to de-authorize machines.

i dont get how this is considered a rational middle ground. everyone knows that drm on software provide no protection from pirating. not a little, not some, but none. if the DRM that is designed to thwart illegal distribution; but in reality only serves to hinder the paying customer, why is any drm even acceptable?

Nobody wants any kind of ****ing activation system, what we want is to play the game on any machine we want whenever we want.

So 2 extra activations will get you back that $25 million will it? No I dont think so.

EA, wake up and realise that your PAYING CUSTOMERS do not want DRM on the products they buy. Also realise that the pirates are happily playing your games without the inconvenience of DRM and laughing at the ones who paid for a peice of software with draconian limits.

Im glad that E.A know what they have done is really shocking and has lost them a lot of money and people that would have got the game which didnt because of this DRM...

I bought the game personaly and at the time when I got the game I didnt know anything about this DRM until one of my mates told me about it.. cut me deep when I found out about this.

I wonder what Will Write thinks about this, how his idea has turned into this massive flop all because of the dreaded E.A

i dont think the games launch was ruined by DRM..i think the game itself ruined it
The dumbed it down som uch compared to all the demos..its a childrens game now and wow its so boring

I think it was a mixture of both...

However I do agree with you on the dumbing down of the game. When I first saw the tech demos, I raved to my friends about this game. Now that we all have played it, it is just a big disappointment.

I think EA is distracting you about the DRM when then real problem with Spore is the game himself. This games doesn't live up to the hype and the best capability for this game is for free.

Will have a 2009, 2010,2011 or a unlimited number of expansion (spore university, home party and such) ?... i don't think so.

Of course it will.. thats the point of the disappointed buyers. Look up the 2006 "tech" demo of spore, its 20x more expansive, and overall SO much better then the actual game, which sucks balls.

I especially don't like DRM when it's this restrictive, I didn't buy this game because of the DRM when normally I wouldn't have thought twice and just bought it.

The DRM should have had this from the start: "...a system that will allow customers to 'deauthorize' computers and move the game to new machines, without needing to call the company."

Generally though I like the Steam type of authentication; funny thing is I don't consider Steam DRM, I look at it as a convenience. All I need to do is install Steam and all my purchased Steam games become available on the new computer.

And, although I haven't tried this yet, I think I can play a multi-player LAN game offline when my friends comes over and want to use one of my other computers that already have my games downloaded via my Steam account (I think it would work), which is better then passing around a Star Craft CD at a mini LAN for example; there's always the jack ass that forgot his or the bum that never bought it.

(abysal said @ #12)
I especially don't like DRM when it's this restrictive, I didn't buy this game because of the DRM when normally I wouldn't have thought twice and just bought it.

The DRM should have had this from the start: "...a system that will allow customers to 'deauthorize' computers and move the game to new machines, without needing to call the company."

Generally though I like the Steam type of authentication; funny thing is I don't consider Steam DRM, I look at it as a convenience. All I need to do is install Steam and all my purchased Steam games become available on the new computer.

And, although I haven't tried this yet, I think I can play a multi-player LAN game offline when my friends comes over and want to use one of my other computers that already have my games downloaded via my Steam account (I think it would work), which is better then passing around a Star Craft CD at a mini LAN for example; there's always the jack ass that forgot his or the bum that never bought it.

yeah, steam is good for LAN multiplayer, otherwise on most games you just have to use the disk to start the game, and/or on the server.

Think about it from this angle: How many users actually intend to install and uninstall the game 3-5 times?
I can easily understand the circumstance where a system crash from virus or bad HDD resulting in a reformat before you finished the game would use up some of your allotted "licenses".
However, to have this kind of DRM exist in a game is just ridiculous.
Companies have to understand that every attempt they make to crack-proof a game or bloat it with DRM only motivates crackers more.
I loved the single player in CoD4 so much that I bought the game. I have barely touched the multiplayer side since I bought it.
Having said that, if you make a game that people will love then more people will buy it.
I like the latest patch for Diablo 2. With it, if you have all the .MPQ files copied to your HDD you don't even need the CD.

I find your comment asinine. DRM kills digital media (games, music, films) on a long time basis. Imagine, in a dozen years or so you'll be unable to play your old games because of DRM, your neat collection of video games is turned into a pile of junk because of the 3-5 install limit. Ironically, you will DEPEND on internet piracy for such little nostalgic moments.

(RPDL said @ #11.1)
I find your comment asinine. DRM kills digital media (games, music, films) on a long time basis. Imagine, in a dozen years or so you'll be unable to play your old games because of DRM, your neat collection of video games is turned into a pile of junk because of the 3-5 install limit. Ironically, you will DEPEND on internet piracy for such little nostalgic moments.

Did you actually read what he said?

Sorry guys, it's just "too little, too late". I bought my copy of Spore, but I had serious misgivings about it.

Even after owning it now, i'm actually disappointed in it.

+1.

If they hadn't been so retarded and discarded 90% of the original material in order to sell out 50 other expansion packs like they did for Sims, it would've been one hell of a game.

It's never about the game for EA, only the money it makes.

(Swordnyx said @ #10.1)
+1.

If they hadn't been so retarded and discarded 90% of the original material in order to sell out 50 other expansion packs like they did for Sims, it would've been one hell of a game.

It's never about the game for EA, only the money it makes.

This is sad. I remember the days of M.U.L.E., Archon, Realms of Impossibility, Racing Destruction Set, etc.

I have the praise piracy for these kinds of things. If the game couldn't be pirated as an alternative to downloading, then you'de be stuck with a game that could no longer be activated and a company that couldn't care less.

"In a statement, Frank Gibeau, EA Games label president, said the company was 'disappointed' by the misunderstanding around its digital-rights-management software and that it would expand the installation limit to five machines"In a statement, Frank Gibeau, EA Games label president, said the company was 'disappointed' by the misunderstanding around its digital-rights-management software and that it would expand the installation limit to five machines.

Where's the misunderstanding? In the same sentance he directly contradicts himself and says that users were spot on to complain about the three install limits and they are going to upgrade it to five?

Seems they havent learnt anything, From everything ive read.. i havent seen one person say "im not buying this game as it only lets me install it three times, i'd buy it if it let me install it five times". Gamers dont want install limits, it doesnt matter how much you raise the number.

Seriously, what's the point in DRM. You're trying to manage MY rights to install i game I own...

DRM is the worst invention in the history of gaming. The only people who suffer DRM, are the people who actually pay for the game. I challenge you to find a piece of DRM software that couldn't be cracked by pirates... It's the same story every time

Oh, and the 5 activation thing is just taking the mick. Whoo! An extra 2, how gracious of you. How about you remove the PoS, and give us our game. Do you see the pirates having to fuss around with DRM? No! So why make the paying customers suffer it?

Seriously, what's the point in DRM. You're trying to manage MY rights to install i game I own...

That's not entirely accurate. Read the Terms. You are only paying for the media and the exclusive rights to play. You do not own it, EA does, technically. It's not your right to install it, you are paying to install it and be allowed to play. This has been the way of the very unusual beast for a long time.

Hokey I know, but it is the 'technical truth'.

What don't you get? Don't increase the limit. Don't let us decrease the used count. Just DON'T EMPLOY DRM. It's oh-so-simple.

And the bottom line? Spore launch was botched by sucking. It's a tech demo, not a game.

Good call on both points.

I played the game, and once i got to the animal, and then tribal stages i realised... wtf is the point of this game? When I first saw everyone hyping the game (a year ago?) I thought this game was going to be amazing. Instead, i just got bored extremely fast. I (like a lot of people problabaly) chose the carnivore path. Every stage was just kill everything on the map to go to the next stage, repeatedly clicking bite and strike. jesus. No matter what configuration you use, its the same every time. You're so busy hitting the tiny little buttons u cant even watch your creature fight.

They could have done SOOO much more with this game (was there even weather?? I didn't see any). but its ea, and they didn't. So yes, good point about this game being more like a tech demo.

(darkpuma said @ #6.1)
Good call on both points.

I played the game, and once i got to the animal, and then tribal stages i realised... wtf is the point of this game? When I first saw everyone hyping the game (a year ago?) I thought this game was going to be amazing. Instead, i just got bored extremely fast. I (like a lot of people problabaly) chose the carnivore path. Every stage was just kill everything on the map to go to the next stage, repeatedly clicking bite and strike. jesus. No matter what configuration you use, its the same every time. You're so busy hitting the tiny little buttons u cant even watch your creature fight.

They could have done SOOO much more with this game (was there even weather?? I didn't see any). but its ea, and they didn't. So yes, good point about this game being more like a tech demo.


In 2006 I saw a 2 hour demo online about Spore, in which Will Wright did the most AMAZING things, which were probably set to be put in an expansion (which is a bad idea for a game like Spore, which is supposed to be "the game"):

Cell Stage: Had over 60 parts to choose from, and then evolved into "pre-creature" in which your creature is in water and its like a 3D cell stage!
Creature Stage: You could do anything you wanted to, you could drag the monsters you killed back to your base and store it, etc.
Tribal Stage: You didn't have preset areas to "drop" the shops/buildings, and there were nifty features in which you show them the fundamentals of life and such...
Civilization Stage: It was supposed to be that taking over/peace even with ONE city took you a LONG time that actually involved thinking.
Space Stage: Where is "Galactic Stage"? Where is the so called "variance" from different parts of the galaxy, etc? There is so much missing from this mode, but it was kept the most relevant to the 2006 version.

If I didn't beat the first 4 stages in 5 hours ON HARD, maybe I would've enjoyed "developing" my creature, not trading food to different species.

If you think companies will remove DRM entirely, think again. The problem is that gamers seem to think not buying will make a difference - it won't, they'll just assume you pirated instead (which some do). If you are going to not buy it, write a letter of complaint saying that you didn't buy it for that reason. Better still, suggest alternatives that you would prefer (like the Steam method). If everyone does that, companies may actually get the message. Otherwise, they'll think you pirated it and step-up the DRM.

They will, And some already have. Failed projects are a sore to companies. True, Spore will still sell through the roof for hype and other various reasons.

But companies that release DRM free products put emphesis on it, So people talk about that - Both the media and the gamers themselves. It's become a marketing ploy, and so - It matters to companies.

I do agree that complaining to the company is a bit more productive than just not buying or pirating the product.

What companies need to finally figure out - Because it's been written on the wall by pretty much everyone out there already - is that DRM DOES NOT WORK. Every DRM method gets circumvented, And only the legit customers end up being troubled with it. It has been so in EVERY DRM enabled product, And it will remain so as long as companies insist on these stupid, Worthless methods.

The problem is that gamers seem to think not buying will make a difference - it won't, they'll just assume you pirated instead (which some do).

Hmm, obviously that is not true. Even EA admitted that it hurt by $25 million in sales. Apparently, it made a difference to EA to admit that it hurt release.

(Amodin said @ #5.2)

Hmm, obviously that is not true. Even EA admitted that it hurt by $25 million in sales. Apparently, it made a difference to EA to admit that it hurt release.

opted out of the $50 a pop for Spore and copped it illegally instead

They also assume within the same sentence that those who didn't buy it because of DRM pirated. But if they remove the DRM completely and downloads stay the same (or go up even)? What happens then. They add DRM again.

Companies need a working method to protect their software, which is why I think gamers should write and suggest alternatives they'd be happy with, like a Steam system (never used it, but it sounds like a good method - login to play a game, the account confirms it is valid?). EA are big enough and release enough games to do a similar system - they are actually half way there with Spore (disable offline mode, associated the CD key with the login - done).

It's a two way street. You can't expect DRM free games, unless there is piracy free games.

Edit: Regards it working or not - it may not work, but unless piracy drops the DRM will keep getting more and more restrictive until piracy does drop.

(chaosblade said @ #5.4)
Piracy will INCREASE as DRM gets MORE restrictive. It's a given.

Likewise, DRM will get more restrictive as piracy increases. Vicious circle, no-one wins.

It's why I suggest sending suggestions of alternatives to companies - it lets them know that you didn't buy the game because of the DRM, but that you also understand their position (your not just after a free game) and are therefore putting forward an idea that you feel would be better than their current DRM.

An article I read suggested buying the game, cracking it and then informing the company that you have done so due to their DRM... not sure that would go down well though, unless of course you want to be sued.

I don't mind an account based authentication system such as the one Steam uses to manage games, you can install a game on any number of machines, but may only play it and be logged in from one machine simultaneously. Restricting consumers with excessive DRM is only going to give incentive to fringe consumers to explore piracy, EA would be best suited to accommodate their customers and spare themselves the lost revenue and additional expenditure to administrate such a system.

5 Activations is still not enough. I change systems approximately every 3 or so months (sometimes more due to faulty laptops etc). Therefore, by their calculations, if i installed it on both my laptop and desktop (which, in my opinion, I should be able to), I can get at most 9 months of use out of it.

Sorry EA - no activation on games.

They should've put it in Steam or a Steam ripoff.. it's so much better. And since for a game like Spore you need to go online anyway, its alright for it to check when logging in.

Looking around the net it appears that the Steam version of Crysis Warhead does have DRM. It uses SecuROM. However, it only limits the number of computers that the CD key can be active on at one time. It does not limit the number of installs.

In a statement, Frank Gibeau, EA Games label president, said the company was 'disappointed' by the misunderstanding around its digital-rights-management software and that it would expand the installation limit to five machines.

How f**king thoughtful of them!

What that actually means is:
"We haven't learned our lesson, but here's a bit more carrot on the end of your stick."

How about you just lick your wounds and remove the restriction altogether. This will go at least a little towards showing the consumer that we are in-fact valued, and not just Share-inflating statistics.

EA has been getting warned for a long time by the internet that people would start walking with their cash if they didn't start to value their consumer base, and they didn't listen.

that is still not enough change for me to buy a copy, I will buy a copy when the game is 100% DRM free....

and no I didn't pirate the game either....

The will never ever happen. As long as pirates still continue to pirate software, game companies will still insist in using DRM (the ultimate irony is that the DRM doesn't even slow down the pirates, it just annoys the legit customers...)

Personally I don't mind DRM as long as allows the paying customers a little freedom. However, I think those days are gone My next game purchases (Crysis: Warhead and Red Alert 3) are both laden with similar DRM to Spore which is a shame really. If game companies intend to continue this over the top DRM, then I'm shifting to console gaming full-time at least there I don't need to deal with this DRM crap...(yet)

(Xerxes said @ #1.1)
The will never ever happen. As long as pirates still continue to pirate software, game companies will still insist in using DRM (the ultimate irony is that the DRM doesn't even slow down the pirates, it just annoys the legit customers...)

Personally I don't mind DRM as long as allows the paying customers a little freedom. However, I think those days are gone My next game purchases (Crysis: Warhead and Red Alert 3) are both laden with similar DRM to Spore which is a shame really. If game companies intend to continue this over the top DRM, then I'm shifting to console gaming full-time at least there I don't need to deal with this DRM crap...(yet)

which is stupid because pirates are the ones that crack the DRM a day after its released and the consumer that actually pays for it suffers.