Thursday, September 25, 2008

EA changes spore DRM, misses point entirely

Anybody interested in gaming that hasn't spent the last two weeks (give or take) under a rock will by now be familiar with the fact that the game Spore has come out. And if you've been reading gaming news sites your probably also aware that 1) it's nowhere near as fun as it was supposed to be and 2) the DRM on the game is insanely restrictive.

EA has now seen fit to loosen the DRM configuration it originally put in place. Originally you were allowed 3 re-activations of the software on 3 separate computers after which the game went into the aether unless you called tech support at EA and could talk them into giving you a new CD-Key. This has now been expanded to a total of 5 activations on 5 separate computers, with the added guarantee that if the servers ever go off line a patch will be released. Feel patronized yet? Well at least they let you deauthorize computers you don't plan to use anymore, assuming your computer gave you that option. If your like me you probobly didn't have tha option because the compter just self destructed.

I will grant, 5 activations will allow but the most destructive users to continue gaming for the conceivable future. However I (like many) still have misgivings about the very idea of being required to have Secu-ROM on my computer. The company doesn't have a reputation for reliable behavior and makes a business out of crippling computers and telling you how you can and can't use the computer at a given point in time. This isn't terribly surprising since that's pretty much what they advertise, it's basically the point. The whole idea is to prevent you from running virtual disk drives while the Secu-ROM protected software is running as well as interferring with the ability of other software to run with it (trainers, no-CD hacks and the like). The problem is when it bleeds out to the rest of the system, which happens more often then I'd like.

Blue Pill:
As I've said before, for many people the DRM will never be a problem. This is made further true by the fact that EA doesn't make games you want to come back and play again in 6 years, by then they've replaced it with the program it should have been when it came out initially. Then they've usually gone and gutted the whole concept and beaten the IP to death with it's own innards. So in reality this probobly won't be as much of a problem as people are making it out to be since in a few years we will all look back, realize the game has been butchered and it's just not worth thinking about it.

Red Pill:
For the rest of us this a generally principaled arguement. We'd rather not have to dig thru the individual game sites for Secu-Rom unistall utilities or how-to guides online once we've unistalled a peice of software from the system (Secu-ROM doesn't go out the door with spore if you uninstall spore for example). It's a pretty straight forward complaint, people don't want to be told how or what they can run on their computer or when they can do it. People also like owning their software, consumers unlike businesses aren't particularly thrilled with the idea of 'Software as a Service'. My take is that they shouldn't be either, businesses pay crazy amounts of money to solve very specific problems with SaS solutions, consumers on the other hand are using up disposible income on something and don't like being told what to do with it once it's in their hands.

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