Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Spore. securom again…

My copy of spore isn’t here yet, but a friend has his copy, which he can’t validate on-line because the servers have died apparently. Another huge victory for DRM it seems. Apparently, there are rumoured to be pirate copies already (although that does mean they work, or are easy to get). In any case, it’s yet another example of things going badly in the whole DRM thing.

Unless you are 100% sure your DRM is flawless and convenient, you run the risk of upsetting your customers. How many frustrated spore buyers are currently whining to friends? friends who may be tempted now to warez it instead?

I hate piracy and warez, but if EA want to sell spore online for MORE than the stores, and include DRM not backed up by stable servers, they are only encouraging people to pirate. Madness. When people buy Kudos 2 (please buy it!) in a month or so, it will download, install and run with no fuss. Even I can see that this makes more sense.

13 thoughts on Spore. securom again…

  1. The pirate copies have been out for a few days now, with the DRM disabled. The more effective method EA has for fighting piracy is by controlling downloads with CD Keys. You need a valid CD Key to download extra content, and Spore is all about extra content, and that’s reasonable. This type of copy protection doesn’t get in the way of re-installs and it doesn’t have extra software running scanning your PC.

    On top of the pirate version having Secure ROM completely disabled, they also managed to beat out the release date. As much as I’ve been looking forward to Spore, I just can’t support Secure ROM.

    Can’t wait for Kudos 2, I’ll be buying that one. I just bought Kudos during the week, and I love it.

  2. First time poster, long time reader (even before your Piracy post)

    Spore’s getting alot of flack for that DRM… they referred to it as a “Necessary Evil”. While I disagree with DRM (love that Stardock, which I see you’re on now… good job!), I understand the purpose behind it.

    What I don’t get is that registering a game, keycode, etc, under my own name gives a hint or cheat code from EA. But if I want to activate the game because I formatted a few times (a thing I do often, much to the dismay of my electronic girlfriend who validates my Windows copy regularly… which is ALSO REGISTERED!), and have registered, they should be able to look up all my information and go “Oh, that IS you… and you’re calling from your phone number… well lets just let you activate.”

    DRM isn’t broken because it keeps you from pirating games so easily… DRM is broken because after I register all my legitimate games, it doesn’t keep track of the “My Game” system. Steam does, so the system is possible… but apparently out of mental capacity for everybody else.

    On a side note from this rant:
    I wish I could reactivate my Windows copy without a song and dance… why register if the registration will mean nothing?

  3. I too am having the same issues.

    The silver lining to the epic grey cloud is that at least I can play, it’s just online that is disabled.

  4. “I hate piracy and warez, but if EA want to sell spore online for MORE than the stores, and include DRM not backed up by stable servers, they are only encouraging people to pirate. Madness.”

    It’s funny because if your past self could time-travel to now, you’d be in for a flame war with yourself for promoting piracy. B-)

    As for Spore, it was one game I was looking forward to, even though there will never be a Gnu/Linux version available. Since it comes with crappy DRM, it looks like I’ll look elsewhere for my entertainment. So-called Digital Rights Management isn’t meant to prevent paying customers from using their purchased goods, but it seems like most people who implement it prefer to shoot first and ask questions later.

  5. I just figured I’d pop in and give a minor update on this one since you’ve become one of the ‘good guys’ as far as computer software goes, as of this post there are currently 1,148 rating of spore on 1,065 are 1 star and the vast majority cite the drm.

    I wonder how many sales that will cost them compared to how many pirates it stopped from getting the game?

    Also, I really like both your bill of rights and stardocks. Good stuff that more developers and distributors should subscribe to, hopefully see the same thing on steam someday.

  6. “how many pirates it stopped from getting the game?”

    Answer – None. Anybody who wants the pirate version, even those who dont know where to look are less than a minute from finding it. It only hurts the honest end-consumer who purchases the game. These companies never learn.

  7. I’ve really only just discovered your posts and blog in the past day. The short version of my position is that I pirated games when I was a kid and had no money. I then pirated some games when I got a bit older and was studying in University. Often I ended up buying the originals later, when they got cheaper.

    Nowadays, I make good money, and don’t pirate games at all any more. I buy tons of games as well. I won’t be buying Spore, or Mass Effect, or Bioshock. DRM is the only reason why the three of them aren’t getting purchased. I may pirate them though, more out of a “FU” kind of principle.

    I don’t mind serial numbers, or CD checks, or Steam, but this kind of intrusive DRM is welcome to Die In A Fire. I’m not familiar with your games, but after reading your post, I’ll probably buy at least one of them, again, out of principle more than anything else. I might give the demo of Kudos a try now.

    Oh yeah. I live in Australia and also suffer that same issue that we get gouged badly. To me, US$20 or under is a sweet spot for small, downloadable games. I bought that entire X-Com collection off Steam the other day for that reason + nostalgia more than being likely to actually get around to playing ’em..

  8. I have to agree, once I got out of college and got a job, I stopped pirating games.

    One small point to all the people who are bashing DRM and praising Steam, though. Steam is a particularly intrusive piece of DRM software, its DRM turned from a small addendum for a game into a platform. I can remember when HL2 came out and they forced you to install Steam as part of the game, people were outraged, Steam was buggy, it was crashing systems, and forcing updates that were breaking people’s software, and it probably hurt the sales of HL2. But now, a couple of years later and many,many patches later, people praise Steam as an alternate to DRM. The DRM in Spore is nonexistent compared to the intrusiveness of Steam.

    What Steam showed the game industry is that DRM can work if you can do it right. The companies that don’t have something like Steam are going to keep trying until they get a system that works and they’ll force it on you, because they know people have short memories and the controversy will quickly disappear.

  9. One additional note, I just checked the bit torrent networks and it appears there are at least 70,000 people pirating the game via bit torrent.

  10. I got so pissed when i tried validating spore and it didnt work, especially when your friends already play it… YES the pirated version was out days before and is better than the legal version, that is just horrible.

  11. I wan´t to congratulate you on taking the right road and respecting the customer. I already sent a e-mail to Stardock saying I will buy a game from them. I migth the same from you if I like them. This is the best way to “avoid piracy”. BTW in that matter, I migth give you my reason:
    I have some 60 games, half legal, half pirate. I usually buy them pirate because of the price. Here in Brazil they cost a lot given th minimum wage : $60 to a wage of $250. The best games I make a point about actually buying from store, to support the Dev. But others I wouldn´t buy they otherwise.
    So my point is: pirates are not a lost customer per say. They can be gainned? Yes, but only on their terms e.g. low price, good content, replayability and being easily avaiable. So it´s wrong when devs look at pirates playing their games and say – There goes a lost sale. It wasn´t going to be a sale anyway. Now, by doing waht you´re doing, you gather good will and loyalty from the gamers and thus attention to your games. The cd-key is enough and not that pain in the ass like EA try to imply (I take their statements as jokes). It prevents you distributing your game to everyone but don´t hurt your use of the product. Since you distribute your games on-line, make easy to pay for it and DON`T restrict it to any region, the others you get you game by any means necessary. I just won´t buy the games rigth now for lack of time to play, but wait I ´ll give a feedback.

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