Gamers fight back against lackluster Spore gameplay, bad DRM

#1 Posted by brukaoru (5079 posts) -

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080908-gamers-fight-back-against-lackluster-spore-gameplay-bad-drm.html

Spore, after more than 10 years of development time, is finally available for the PC and Mac. The game comes from the mind of the talented Will Wright, the man who gave us The Sims and the original SimCity titles. No matter what people think about the actual game play the story now centers around the DRM scheme EA built into the title, and a grassroots movement has begun to tell gamers just how bad the DRM sucks. The method? Bombing the comments on Amazon.com.

Right now the game has 222 customer reviews, with 194 of them giving the game one star. The game also has nine five-star reviews, two of which were written in 2006, with the others spending significant amounts of time complaining about the one-star reviews. The game's rating sits at 1.5 stars as of this writing.

Do you think there would be as many one-star reviews if DRM wasn't the issue? I don't think there would be as many. DRM seems pretty pointless to me, pirates are going to get around it anyway. I'm all for trying to stop pirates, but it seems pretty clear that DRM is not the solution and it is only making people who actually pay for the game angry.

Your thoughts?

#2 Edited by Vaxadrin (2297 posts) -

People bash the game and don't buy it, or pirate a non-DRM version.

EA releases Spore on consoles to make money.

Spore sells gangbusters on consoles.

Future Maxis games made console-focused, with simplistic interfaces.

PC gamers curse the "consolization" of another PC centric franchise/developer.

#3 Posted by MB (12199 posts) -

It seems to me that the DRM on Spore is really a non-issue...most people are commenting on rumors or what they think the DRM is like, and not how it was actually implemented in the final game.

Moderator
#4 Posted by brukaoru (5079 posts) -
Vaxadrin said:
"Spore sells gangbusters on consoles.."
I believe that will happen, for sure.

MB said:
"It seems to me that the DRM on Spore is really a non-issue...most people are commenting on rumors or what they think the DRM is like, and not how it was actually implemented in the final game."
I do think it is a bit over-exaggerated. Of course, I've never made a phone call to EA before, but I don't imagine it's that difficult to call them up and get new CD keys. I guess just the fact that people have to bother doing that is what makes them so angry.
#5 Edited by HitNRun (344 posts) -
Vaxadrin said:

Spore sells gangbusters on consoles.

Yeah, just like The Sims sold gangbusters on consoles. (Before you look it up, keep in mind you have to compare it to the PC numbers).

12-40 year old women don't own game consoles in anywhere near the numbers needed to turn EA an EA-sized profit from Maxis games.

It really is the principle of the thing. Unlike the usual DRM whining, it's not just angry pirates, because pirates have been happily playing the game for a week now. It's people who really, really want a legit copy who are pissed off at this, which should tell you how wrong EA is on this issue.
#6 Posted by Vaxadrin (2297 posts) -
HitNRun said:
"Yeah, just like The Sims sold gangbusters on consoles. (Before you look it up, keep in mind you have to compare it to the PC numbers)."
I don't have to do anything.  I personally find discussing video game sales numbers as interesting as counting raindrops.
#7 Posted by Kyle (2323 posts) -

NOT. COOL.

Back when Jeff got fired from Gamespot, i thought it was kinda funny and somehow just to see how trashed the review average was for Kane & Lynch until the rest of the then-GS guys pointed out what might not immediately occur to the average person: all you're doing is taking down innocent people.

It takes years for a game to be made, a lot more than usual in the case of Spore. The game designers work tirelessly. They dedicate years of their life, and especially in crunch time, they have to give up sleep and time with their families to finish their game on time. And anyone who does this is spitting in their faces.

Sabotaging a game's reputation, especially on a site as humongous as Amazon, to hurt it's sales for the actions of publishers, or PR teams, or anything else is really just hurting all the people who worked so hard to create a quality title.

The anger may be justified, but tearing down the game itself is not.

I doubt EA will shed many tears over a few lost pennies.

And about the DRM situation itself, I really can't say I care so much, to be honest. I mean, I DO, but I don't. Sure, it's a terrible and evil system, but I wouldn't go as far as not buying Spore just to avoid it. Spore is awesome . . . even if EA isn't.

#8 Posted by PufferFiz (1378 posts) -

just looked. there are over 1000 one star reviews! HOLY SHIT!

#9 Posted by TheGreatGuero (9130 posts) -

Dude, what the heck is DRM? Can someone fill me in?

#10 Edited by Milkman (16618 posts) -

In other words, WHINE WHINE WHINE!

#11 Posted by Hamz (6846 posts) -

I think the main issue people have with DRM is the fact its assuming PC gamers are all pirates (and not the cool kind) who illegally download every new game released. When the reality of it all is that a small minority do it and developers try to use it as a valid excuse to start branching onto consoles and going multiplatform in general. An example being Crytek and the tantrum they had not so long ago regarding piracy on the PC.

But i do think giving a game so many low reviews might be just a tad immature perhaps? Its not going to stop the average gamer from buying the game when they probably have already decided to buy it after reading a review on another website or magazine. However i do think it shows a strong message to EA that PC gamers and perhaps gamers in general are getting sick and tired of the way EA treats them.

A lot of people ask "why the EA hate?" its things like the DRM that cause people to hate on EA and when you sit down and think about it, its justified hate.

#12 Posted by Balls (526 posts) -

It's like the back lash against the Galacti Empire DRm ie it's too late.

#13 Edited by Milkman (16618 posts) -
Hamz said:
"I think the main issue people have with DRM is the fact its assuming PC gamers are all pirates (and not the cool kind) who illegally download every new game released. When the reality of it all is that a small minority do it and developers try to use it as a valid excuse to start branching onto consoles and going multiplatform in general. An example being Crytek and the tantrum they had not so long ago regarding piracy on the PC.

But i do think giving a game so many low reviews might be just a tad immature perhaps? Its not going to stop the average gamer from buying the game when they probably have already decided to buy it after reading a review on another website or magazine. However i do think it shows a strong message to EA that PC gamers and perhaps gamers in general are getting sick and tired of the way EA treats them.

A lot of people ask "why the EA hate?" its things like the DRM that cause people to hate on EA and when you sit down and think about it, its justified hate."
It may not be fair for EA to assume all PC gamers are pirates but to say its only a "small minority" is an understatement. A LOT of people pirate games. Crytek definitely has the right to complain about piracy. The pirate to buy rate for Crysis was about 3 to 1. The point is something needs to be done about pirates. And obviously, this method by EA is not too popular. But its the pirates that create these conditions in the first place. So, instead of the backlash against EA, PC gamers should be angry at pirates for creating these conditions in the first place. If there was no pirates, there would be no DRM-protection.

Besides, these people are overreacting big time. The DRM is a definitely an annoyance and I understand that but is it really something to be this up in arms about?
#14 Posted by mikevanpwn (401 posts) -

Its really sad actually.  Here Maxis spent years making this game, and yes EA implemented this DRM but now Amazon has a 1.5 star rating on the game and may discourage people from buying it.  Who loses here?  Maxis. 

Great job guys!

This is not a proper way to voice your opposition to EA.

#15 Posted by breton (1437 posts) -
Milkman said:
But its the pirates that create these conditions in the first place. So, instead of the backlash against EA, PC gamers should be angry at pirates for creating these conditions in the first place. If there was no pirates, there would be no DRM-protection.
NO! No, no, no. At this point in time, there is no reason to be angry at the pirates. Sure, it may be their fault DRM has sprung up like it has, but it is absolutely no longer a reason for a publisher to include it in a game. RELOADED cracked the game, and it hit public trackers a fucking week before the real release date. It has done nothing to prevent the piracy of Spore. Nothing. It's fucked over legitimate customers, and that is it.

mikevanpwn said:
Its really sad actually.  Here Maxis spent years making this game, and yes EA implemented this DRM but now Amazon has a 1.5 star rating on the game and may discourage people from buying it.  Who loses here?  Maxis.
Yeah, 'cause EA sees no share of the money, it all goes to Maxis, right? And the reviews aren't entirely on DRM, the game has been a reasonable let down for a lot of people. So I honestly feel a low score is in order. One star? Maybe it's too harsh, but still.
#16 Posted by mikevanpwn (401 posts) -
breton said:
mikevanpwn said:
Its really sad actually.  Here Maxis spent years making this game, and yes EA implemented this DRM but now Amazon has a 1.5 star rating on the game and may discourage people from buying it.  Who loses here?  Maxis.
Yeah, 'cause EA sees no share of the money, it all goes to Maxis, right? And the reviews aren't entirely on DRM, the game has been a reasonable let down for a lot of people. So I honestly feel a low score is in order. One star? Maybe it's too harsh, but still.
"
EA may lose some profit but Maxis could lose years of hard work.  Its doubtful that the amazon spam will make a huge dent in Spore's sales but they're attacking the wrong people.  Giving Spore a 1 star?  As your own suggestion goes to an example of an attack on Maxis.  Seriously, its Maxis who loses.
#17 Posted by EvilTwin (3324 posts) -
mikevanpwn said:
"breton said:
mikevanpwn said:
Its really sad actually.  Here Maxis spent years making this game, and yes EA implemented this DRM but now Amazon has a 1.5 star rating on the game and may discourage people from buying it.  Who loses here?  Maxis.
Yeah, 'cause EA sees no share of the money, it all goes to Maxis, right? And the reviews aren't entirely on DRM, the game has been a reasonable let down for a lot of people. So I honestly feel a low score is in order. One star? Maybe it's too harsh, but still.
"
EA may lose some profit but Maxis could lose years of hard work.  Its doubtful that the amazon spam will make a huge dent in Spore's sales but they're attacking the wrong people.  Giving Spore a 1 star?  As your own suggestion goes to an example of an attack on Maxis.  Seriously, its Maxis who loses."
There's nothing they can do to hurt EA that won't hurt a developer as well.  The only thing that will cause EA to change their DRM policy is attacking their wallet.  Even if they circulated their information about DRM in a more mature and responsible fashion, their point would still be to get people to not buy Spore.  They can't say "go ahead and buy Spore to support Maxis, but remember to send EA an angry e-mail too."  EA isn't going to listen unless they feel that the outcry made a sizable dent in their sales.
#18 Posted by WilliamRLBaker (4777 posts) -

I see no problem with DRM as long as its implimented right and works for the legit user and i've not heard too many horror stories about all users not geting spore to work...

#19 Posted by ExtremeJesus (72 posts) -

I think it's actually a bigger deal than some people seem to think on here. Not necessarily the fact you can only activate it 3 times but the fact that it basically installs spyware on your machine and data which you can't delete! DRM is one thing, but screwing over paying customers and making their machines vulnerable to viruses etc is definitely not the way to go imo.

#20 Posted by CarpetRemnant (372 posts) -

I'm not so bothered about the DRM thing, I can see that it's a bad thing but equally not worth ruining a games reputation.
What I am bothered about is that Spore is just not a very good game. So much potential but it's been simplified to the point of childishness. I love the editing tools but the overall game is very disappointing.

#21 Posted by KindGalaxy (429 posts) -

I bought from the EA Store, Digital Download, no DRM, kthx bie!

#22 Posted by Yzzerdd (521 posts) -

This is the most pathetic display of nerd rage I have ever seen.

#23 Posted by Otacon (2209 posts) -

There exists such a thing as customer service. I don't know why people are upset so much by this, the game itself is fantastic.

#24 Posted by keyhunter (3207 posts) -

If you want to buy it and don't like DRM's, get the wii version. And let's face it. PC gamers deserve this shit. It's been made so rediculously easy to pirate things on the PC platform that anything released is automatically doomed to make pretty much no money unless it's an MMO.  Piracy pretty much ruins entire platforms. The only reason the PSX didn't die out was because piracy wasn't big until like1998-2000 and they started making games not useable on modded PSX's. Legit games that people bought such as Legend of Dragoon? Yeah. That one. Anyways, the dreamcast died because of piracy, and it appears the PC too as SPORE is the first notable game to come out in a year or something and it's already been pirated more than bought and now you people are saying copy protection isn't needed? Chances are if you bought SPORE you're a PC gamer of sorts and you deserve this sort of treatment from any game you ever purchase ever.

#25 Posted by Destroyeron (356 posts) -
Milkman said:
The pirate to buy rate for Crysis was about 3 to 1.
Perhaps it wasn't worth buying.
#26 Posted by exfate (354 posts) -

FYI, on Amazon UK the same backlash happened with 1 star reviews, however EA has conspired to have them all pulled down three times now... strange they  haven't been pulled from Amazon US yet though.

Piracy is a minor issue on PC. Don't believe what asshats like Crytek say, they're just trying to cover up the fact that nobody wanted to buy their game. There is no need for limited activations, and no need for disc based DRM either. EA need to quit using SecuROM, it has nothing but a bad reputation. Limited activations are a joke, if I want to continually uninstall and reinstall my game I will, and screw any publisher who says I can't.

Also, the quality of the game has no bearing on the situation. You don't just bend over and take it just so you can play with the shiny new toys when you're done. Who gives a crap if a lot of effort went into it? Who gives a crap if it's fantastic? That's not the point at all.

Amazon is a massive retailer when it comes to selling PC games to casual gamers. Anyone who doesn't really understand the situation and sees that many 1 star reviews is highly unlikely to buy the game. Hopefully the dent from lost Amazon sales in the US is big enough to make publishers, especially EA, wake up and realise that the consumer is their master and not the other way around.

#27 Posted by Yzzerdd (521 posts) -

Stop drinking the kool aid, there is no way this will have a major effect on the sales.

#28 Posted by Jayge_ (10221 posts) -

Oh, the palpable failure dripping from some of you is ridiculous.

And yes, that's directed at people who think that the people are somehow to blame. Take a step back. And another. And if you don't get the big picture by the time you fall off the cliff, you weren't worth it anyway.

Seriously. EA is pulling bullshit. You're renting the game. The servers for authentication are going to be taken down in like 4 or 5 years time, and Spore will either have to completely be republished with a new DRM system, or cease to exist. It's a stupid, stupid business plan.

#29 Edited by HitNRun (344 posts) -
Yzzerdd said:
"Stop drinking the kool aid, there is no way this will have a major effect on the sales."
Considering that it's a game that has lots of online content connected to EA.com, there's a strong incentive to buy the game over pirating it (unlike your FPS-of-the-month). The implementation of the 3-install DRM counters that facet, which otherwise would have driven pirates into the legal sector (as with MMOs).

Instead, legal purchasers are being driven to pirate the game, as the 3-install DRM frames the decision between either ripping EA off or very probably being ripped off by them in the future.

So yes, it very probably will have an impact on sales. A commenter elsewhere reported downloading it and seeing 40,000-50,000 seeders and leechers on his torrent. There's no official records of this kind of thing, but I'm pretty sure that if you extrapolated it over a number of days and weeks, you'd have some kind of piracy record.
#30 Posted by Yzzerdd (521 posts) -
Jayge said:
"Oh, the palpable failure dripping from some of you is ridiculous.

And yes, that's directed at people who think that the people are somehow to blame. Take a step back. And another. And if you don't get the big picture by the time you fall off the cliff, you weren't worth it anyway.

Seriously. EA is pulling bullshit. You're renting the game. The servers for authentication are going to be taken down in like 4 or 5 years time, and Spore will either have to completely be republished with a new DRM system, or cease to exist. It's a stupid, stupid business plan."
The phase "if your not with us your against us" comes to mind.
Do you really think EA would let that happen without releasing a patch that gets rid of the DRM?
Stop overreacting you all sound like Fox News when they find out a game has sex in it.
#31 Posted by Jayge_ (10221 posts) -
Yzzerdd said:
"The phase "if your not with us your against us" comes to mind.
Do you really think EA would let that happen without releasing a patch that gets rid of the DRM?
Stop overreacting you all sound like Fox News when they find out a game has sex in it."
You're kidding, right?
#32 Posted by brukaoru (5079 posts) -

Alright, I'm bumping this because I don't think it's worth making a new thread for this, as it deals with Spore. Here's a new article that details how many people have pirated Spore, I'm not going to copy and paste the whole article, just bits that I find interesting...

Source:
http://www.forbes.com/technology/2008/09/12/spore-drm-piracy-tech-security-cx_ag_mji_0912spore.html?feed=rss_popstories

Spore's Piracy Problem

How do you measure the failure of the copy protections that software companies place on their media products? In the case of Electronic Arts' highly-anticipated game "Spore," just count the pirates.

As of Thursday afternoon, "Spore" had been illegally downloaded on file-sharing networks using BitTorrent peer-to-peer transfer 171,402 times since Sept. 1, according to Big Champagne, a peer-to-peer research firm. That's hardly a record: a popular game often hits those kinds of six-figure piracy numbers, says Big Champagne Chief Executive Eric Garland.

But not usually so quickly. In just the 24-hour period between Wednesday and Thursday, illegal downloaders snagged more than 35,000 copies, and, as of Thursday evening, that rate of downloads was still accelerating. "The numbers are extraordinary," Garland says. "This is a very high level of torrent activity even for an immensely popular game title."

------------------------------------------

The copy protections on "Spore" were equally detested by a less piracy-prone crowd at Amazon.com. By Thursday evening, the game had received more than 2,100 reviews, nearly 2,000 of which had given it a rating of one star out of five. Most negative reviews--including messages titled "No way, no how, no DRM" and "DRM makes me a sad panda"--cited the game's restrictions as a sore spot.

Electronic Arts calls those criticisms unfair. "EA has not changed our basic DRM copy protection system," says corporate communications manager Mariam Sughayer. "We simply changed the copy protection method from using the physical media, which requires authentication every time you play the game by requiring a disc in the drive, to one which uses a one-time online authentication."

Electronic Arts compares its DRM solution to systems in place on services like iTunes that similarly limits the number of computers that can play a particular song. Sughayer also points out that less than 25% of EA users attempt to install the company's games on more than one computer, and less than 1% attempt to install it on more than three.

-----------------------------------------

DRM only limits the ability of consumers who wouldn't typically pirate media to make copies or share it with friends and family, agrees Big Champagne's Garland. But because encryption is so easily broken by savvier--and more morally flexible--users, it does little to stop the flood of intellectual property pirated over the Internet, he contends.

"DRM can encourage the best customers to behave slightly better," he says. "It will never address the masses of non-customers downloading your product."


Lol, of course EA would say the criticisms are unfair. I also don't agree with Garland's last statement there, how does DRM encourage customers to behave? Customers who will buy games would not pirate in the first place, so that claim doesn't make any sense to me.

#33 Posted by DARKIDO07 (876 posts) -
brukaoru said:
"Alright, I'm bumping this because I don't think it's worth making a new thread for this, as it deals with Spore. Here's a new article that details how many people have pirated Spore, I'm not going to copy and paste the whole article, just bits that I find interesting...

Source:
http://www.forbes.com/technology/2008/09/12/spore-drm-piracy-tech-security-cx_ag_mji_0912spore.html?feed=rss_popstories

Spore's Piracy Problem

How do you measure the failure of the copy protections that software companies place on their media products? In the case of Electronic Arts' highly-anticipated game "Spore," just count the pirates.

As of Thursday afternoon, "Spore" had been illegally downloaded on file-sharing networks using BitTorrent peer-to-peer transfer 171,402 times since Sept. 1, according to Big Champagne, a peer-to-peer research firm. That's hardly a record: a popular game often hits those kinds of six-figure piracy numbers, says Big Champagne Chief Executive Eric Garland.

But not usually so quickly. In just the 24-hour period between Wednesday and Thursday, illegal downloaders snagged more than 35,000 copies, and, as of Thursday evening, that rate of downloads was still accelerating. "The numbers are extraordinary," Garland says. "This is a very high level of torrent activity even for an immensely popular game title."

------------------------------------------

The copy protections on "Spore" were equally detested by a less piracy-prone crowd at Amazon.com. By Thursday evening, the game had received more than 2,100 reviews, nearly 2,000 of which had given it a rating of one star out of five. Most negative reviews--including messages titled "No way, no how, no DRM" and "DRM makes me a sad panda"--cited the game's restrictions as a sore spot.

Electronic Arts calls those criticisms unfair. "EA has not changed our basic DRM copy protection system," says corporate communications manager Mariam Sughayer. "We simply changed the copy protection method from using the physical media, which requires authentication every time you play the game by requiring a disc in the drive, to one which uses a one-time online authentication."

Electronic Arts compares its DRM solution to systems in place on services like iTunes that similarly limits the number of computers that can play a particular song. Sughayer also points out that less than 25% of EA users attempt to install the company's games on more than one computer, and less than 1% attempt to install it on more than three.

-----------------------------------------

DRM only limits the ability of consumers who wouldn't typically pirate media to make copies or share it with friends and family, agrees Big Champagne's Garland. But because encryption is so easily broken by savvier--and more morally flexible--users, it does little to stop the flood of intellectual property pirated over the Internet, he contends.

"DRM can encourage the best customers to behave slightly better," he says. "It will never address the masses of non-customers downloading your product."


Lol, of course EA would say the criticisms are unfair. I also don't agree with Garland's last statement there, how does DRM encourage customers to behave? Customers who will buy games would not pirate in the first place, so that claim doesn't make any sense to me.

"
So the game being downloaded  171,402 times has made Maxis/EA lose about $8,570,100. That is a lot of money.
#34 Posted by whackmypinata (941 posts) -

If the DRM actually worked and the game wasn't able to be torrented so easily, I wouldn't be as pissed. Implementing the DRM in this game for 3 uses is ridiculous. I have a laptop and a desktop, using both frequently. I also reformat very very frequently.
This is driving me not to purchase Spore.
Usually the argument is the people pay for it legally, or the people who pirate it illegally; both get the same exact product. However, in this case, the people who buy the game get fucked with the # of activations, and the people who pirate it don't.

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.