Spore is most pirated game ever thanks to DRM limitations

September 14, 2008

Spore is most pirated game ever thanks to DRM limitationsSpore, Will Wright’s opus that puts you in control of a whole species from birth the death, is a game that has split opinion right down the middle, at least in terms of the game itself. But while some argue it’s too simple, and their opponents argue it is genius, everyone seems to agree on one thing: the DRM sucks.

In its wisdom, Electronic Arts decided to release Spore with a draconian DRM limit in place which means every purchaser of an official copy of the game is restricted to three activations. This is intended to prevent one copy being shared by friends and installed on multiple computers. In tandem with the disc needing to be in the computer to be playable, and the online activation requirements, this should have made the game piracy-free. Except it hasn’t. In fact, Spore is the most pirated game ever.

The problem that EA faces is that by including such draconian DRM limitations, it gives the pirates an excuse to legitimise their activities. The argument being that with such intrusive DRM included, why the hell shouldn’t we all download the game illegally and stick one to the huge corporate machine.

This virtual punch in the face for EA is made possible by the fact that the DRM is removed from the game when it’s pirated. So rather than harming the pirates and their activities, stupid decisions such as the one taken by EA only harms the customers willing to pay full price for the game, and not the people who want a copy for free.

TorrentFreak reports that Spore has been the most downloaded torrent on The Pirate Bay, the largest and most notorious BitTorrent site, for over a week now. Which is a rarity. The game has been downloaded over 500,000 times over the various torrent sites since it was released on September 2nd.

This backlash to the DRM is in addition to the Amazon review carpet-bombing which saw Spore receive a large majority of one star reviews on the online retailer purely because of the draconian install limits.

If Spore had been released without any of these stupid limitations in place then it would likely be selling in larger numbers on Amazon due to the review scores being more accurate. It would also likely have been pirated much less than it has due to no-one feeling the need to send a message to EA.

Spore DRM = A huge own goal for Electronic Arts. A lesson for other games developers?

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11 Responses to “Spore is most pirated game ever thanks to DRM limitations”

  1. Supernova:

    This argument drives me absolutely nuts. So EA goes way overboard in an attempt to prevent the theft of their product and you believe this legitimizes stealing it. News flash: once you steal software for what ever “noble” reason you happen to use, you lose your right to bitch when that company tries even harder to prevent you from stealing it.

    The point of boycotting a product is not solely to cost them a sale. It is also about making a statement of protest that even though I would like to play the game, I refuse to do so even if I CAN pirate it.

    As soon as you pirate the game, YOU are completely legitimizing their draconian DRM scheme no matter how ineffectual it might be.

    Do you really believe that the “If you don’t remove the anti-piracy measures of your software then I will pirate your software to teach you a lesson” argument is going to be effective to an EA executive? Of course not. He is going to say that you were going to steal it anyway, then use that as as a valid reason to include even worse DRM in the next product.

    To me the answer is simple: reward companies who do DRM right (or better yet use none at all) and avoid companies who do it wrong while giving no company a legitimate reason to put these measures in their product in the first place.

    Granted this occasionally means having to miss out on some things (GASP! What, no instant gratification? OMG! WAAAAAAA!)

    Make no mistake about it, EA’s DRM in this case is ABSOLUTELY appalling. That is why I refuse to buy or pirate the game. But thanks for making sure that I will have to wait even longer to play it, as EA can now rightly claim that they have to take steps to further prevent piracy.

  2. Anon:

    Paying for games with DRM = Idiot tax. ’nuff said. :3

  3. Anon:

    @Supernova:
    Simply put, the more companies try to attack and criminalize their paying customers, the more they lose. It’s called blowback, and EA is feeling the heat both in terms of lost sales and in bad PR (embarrassing failure of the DRM that caused the uproar, Amazon review bombing, major newswires flooded with bad press, etc).

    You mess with the bull, and you get the horns. EA lost.

  4. jedbeetle:

    were the pirates able to put up their own server for creature exchange? so much of the game seems oriented around sharing your creations online with a community. you’d think that fact alone would have prevented rampant piracy. i think the implication is clear that, had EA not gone the DRM route on this one, it would have sold significantly better and been pirated significantly less.
    that’s got to sting.

  5. B Shears:

    Boycott EA. They lost the right to our money many many years before the release of Spore.

  6. Black Lotus:

    I have been watching spore for a long time now, in the beginning we as the players were promised a sandbox game with the universe at our fingertips. Wanting this great idea so much I went out and legally bought a copy as soon as possible.

    Now I simply feel cheated. It is not the game EA promised, it is not a sandbox game and in fact does not put the universe at your fingrtips. Now I learn of the DRM restrictions and it is an outrage. We the paying community who support these games need to have something to make things right. If it means EA loses 25 million + dollars because of their own stupidity then I gladly give a chear to the pirates who stuck it to those idiots at EA.

  7. ChavBoi:

    I remember when I was a kid, i used to love EA, they made awsome games… but now I struggle to remeber the last decent game they came up with… SSX Tricky and that was god knows how many years ago now.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love spore, and I recomend it to people… but after recomending it, I give them the .iso file… EA messed up. So, treat them like a kid. take their ‘pocket’ money, but why should that stop us (the consumer) enjoying one of very few decent games left in the world?

  8. Azkanan:

    Another fact:

    Sims 1 was a good success. They thought, hey, theres some stuff we want to add…lets make an expansion. Good job. Then they made more.

    Time for Sims 2. Released. Expansion packs at the ready.

    Spore, this time, rather than put good stuff in, let’s take good stuff out FIRST. *THEN* add it all back in – PROFIT!

    EA is finally getting an ass raping. Good. Stupid bastards.

  9. Rartemass:

    I think the best thing EA can do to appease the people that bought this legitimately is to:
    1-Increase the install limit to something more reasonable like 15
    2-Publicly announce the upgraded limit, and state they will never limit future products with less than the above amount
    3-Offer all people with a valid copy a discount voucher for future titles of at least 20%
    4-Release content updates so that there are more parts to choose from and more ways to modify existing parts

    That being said there is a propensity for developers to hold back the tide of advanced technology. The music and movie industry also fall into this group. The world is an electronic place and is continually wanting more out of their on-line experience. It saddens me that we still rely on physical media to get most of our entertainment. Rather than thinking up ways to prevent piracy, they should focus on new ways to deliver games, music, and movies to the consumer electronically. Some companies are heading this way which is great, but they are few and far between.
    Forget about bluray discs and work on ways to stream better quality video at higher speeds. Re-design the Internet from scratch with a focus on entertainment, rather than information.

    Create a worldwide group to monitor and control content on the net. I’m not talking about censoring content or squashing peoples rights. I’m suggesting to have an approval process for all content so that it is categorised correctly. Have content denied due to malicious content (viruses/malware/spam/etc). Obviously people in this monitoring group would need to be security and technology savvy so they know what to look for. It would also need to have members from all countries and run globally (by someone like the UN for example). They would need legal rights and authority in all countries.
    We need to stop thinking of ourselves as individual countries and start realising that we are a global community, one race.

    I know I’ve gone a fair bit off track here but I think my points need consideration.

  10. Fiend_85:

    I totally agree, I was really looking forward to Spore, i was on my amazon wishlist and I was all set to buy it, until I heard about DRM… Definitely didn’t buy it after that.

  11. geezus:

    I’m sorry, did a 15 year old write this? Use the word “draconian” one more time, I dare you.

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