EA Wise Up?

By Alec Meer on October 1st, 2008 at 12:26 pm.

Time to stick my hand into the angry beehive again… The EA/Spore/DRM issue isn’t likely to go away any time soon. In a funny sort of way, the ridiculous DRM on Spore might well turn out to be a good thing for gamers – like it or not, EA’s weight in the industry means they’re trend-setters to some degree. That a company so big attempted the sort of draconian copy-protection that only smaller publishers had hithero dabbled in, and crucially they now seem to realise it was a mistake, may well set a positive precedent for everyone. So, while I initially decried the mass trolling of Amazon reviews, I have to agree now that a game as high-profile as Spore was perhaps an ideal object for protest. I’d still much prefer it was gone about in a smarter way than fevered screaming, though.

Though EA aren’t behaving in terribly gentlemanly fashion towards DRM-complaint posts on their forums, they are gradually backing down from some of the restrictions they unfairly placed upon Spore installs, and it looks like that trend’s set to continue.

They’ve already increased the number of activations allowed, while the next patch will allow more usernames per copy of Spore, which should ease the problems of multiple family members playing the same copy of the game at least a little bit. There’s also talk of iTunes-esque PC activation/deactivation at the user’s end – not much use in the event of a hard drive fail, but will help delay the pleading phonecall to EA’s reauthorisation helpline.

Now they’re even admitting to something that we all know, but some of its developers (helloooooo Crytek) don’t seem to: that a Bitorrented copy of a game doesn’t always equate to lost cash. Via Softpedia, EA corporate communicatiosn bod Mariam Sughayer:

“Stepping aside from the whole issue of DRM, people need to recognize that every BitTorrent download doesn’t represent a successful copy of a game, let alone a lost sale.”

Clearly, there’s so much resentment towards what EA did with Spore that some folk will simply never trust ‘em again, and of course this isn’t anything like the total DRM-removal we’d like to see, so it’s not enough to ease all the hurt. But c’mon, it’s a positive step: even if it’s not an outright admission of failure, it’s one of the biggest game companies in the world realising harsh copy protection is a bad idea, and that can only set a precedent for the wider industry. Softpedia also reckons we can expect more community features from EA to counter-piracy – i.e. the kind of stuff that’s worked out well for Steam and Stardock. O brave new world?

(Waits for EA to do something else really bloody stupid and blow the goodwill all over again).

, , , , .

85 Comments »

Sponsored links by Taboola
  1. Ian says:

    I think it’s a step toward finding a middle ground, but Angry, Uncompromising Internet Man will still label EA as something akin to the SS until they remove DRM altogether.

  2. Dante says:

    If EA lost customers every time they did something tremendously evil they’d be out of business by now.

    I still haven’t forgiven them for killing Bullfrog.

  3. Ed says:

    Having to have the CD in the drive is great for preventing casual piracy. I think that’s enough to be honest, it’s been pretty much categorically proven that preventing ‘hardcore’ piracy is impossible (at least using this kind of DRM)…

    So, use a CD check to stop people lending their CD to their friends and be done with it.

  4. Martin Kingsley says:

    I’m with Dante on this one. Bastards.

  5. AbyssUK says:

    I don’t get EA on one hand they have this rubbish Spore DRM and the other they have Battlefield Heroes coming out soon for free.. I don’t understand what they are trying to tell us all. Please don’t download our games, please download our games… its all a bit schizo

  6. skillian says:

    If EA change their poilicies with future upcoming games, then I might believe that “it’s one of the biggest game companies in the world realising harsh copy protection is a bad idea”.

    Until then, they’re just loosening the handcuffs a little and are hardly deserving of praise.

  7. Ian says:

    @ Ed: I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t get into a frothy rage just because I need my disc in the drive to play a game.

  8. Cataclysm says:

    I’ve got a genius anti piracy idea for PC games.

    Distribute games for FREE.

    You download the game for free from torrent-style sites, setup by the games publishing company.

    You then create an account on the game, with username, email address etc.

    For every hour you spend in the game you pay a set fee (£1 for example).

    You pay this fee until you have paid the full price for the game (£30 for example), after which you can play for free from then on. – Though if this worked, game prices would probably be down to around £20 due to lower publishing and packaging costs.

  9. Urael says:

    “So, while I initially decried the mass trolling of Amazon reviews, I have to agree now that a game as high-profile as Spore was perhaps an ideal object for protest.”

    Don’t worry, Alec. We’ll always be here to gently point out the errors in your thinking, and guide you back to the light. ;)

  10. StupidAsIAm says:

    I want this type of DRM in every PC game from now on! Yes i do because i can`t cope with “piracy is destroying PC gaming” anymore. I want games on my PC 3 – 5 – 7 years from now. I can still buy the game even if i need to authorise every week. If i want to play the game again in 10 years when the hotline will be down i`ll just download the pirate copy. LET COMPANIES GET SALES. THE MORE THE BETTER. Please stop complaining about DRM because thinking of it who would like to invest millions in a game just to have legal battles over it and the fact that they try to make you buy the legit copy ?

  11. Downloads_Plz says:

    @Ed

    6. Don’t require the CD/DVD in the drive to play.

    Again, we’re talking about a PC, a device with hundreds of gigabytes of storage. A game needing to look at a plastic disc entirely external to the game install folder whenever it runs is openly ludicrous. I know it’s for copy protection’s sake (and even so is of debatable effectiveness in this day and age), but the annoyance to legit customers surely outweighs a few extra lost sales before the inevitable no CD crack turns up anyway. Requiring PC gamers to scrabble through a vast pile of discs just to play the game they’ve already installed is contrary to the nature of the platform, and lures people towards less than legal solutions that may ultimately push them further towards piracy. And you wouldn’t want that, would you publishers?

    http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2008/09/29/rps-demands-10-things-all-pc-games-should-do/

  12. Dante says:

    Cataclysm: It’ll never catch on, it’d mean developers would have to actually make a decent game instead of relying on marketing.

  13. Dante says:

    StupidAsIAm: The problem is that DRM or Piracy is not the choice on offer. Once draconian DRM kicks in there’ll still be just as much piracy, and the rest of us will be profoundly irritated.

  14. Jerricho says:

    Did we invoke Godwin’s law by the first post?

    Given that the initial response from EA on this was flat denial and blaming misprints they’ve taken a HUGE step for them to fix it at all. It’s been mentioned on other threads that publishers are terrified about releasing product without copy-protection and that this is entirely divorced from the reality of the situation. It is surely a testament to the great bodies of bad-will that EA have stirred up to make any changes. The restriction on user accounts was by far and away the bigger issue and that’s to be patched.

    I dislike DRM, though I have no major issue with having the disc in the drive to play. Egosoft used Starforce on their X series of games which they patched out after a year on each title and wasn’t included in the GotY edition. Sensible.

    Feckyourom, on the other hand, was the bane of my gaming life. With every release of Neverwinter nights and expansions I’d have to wait until the no-cd crack was released before installing as it would, every time, point it’s accusing digital finger at me and demand I use a genuine disc.

  15. Larington says:

    @ Cataclysm – An interesting idea, but it’d be decried if anyone tried to use it for games where the majority of the content is offline/singleplayer.

    That said, I wonder why subscription games that can be played part-time (casually) such as Planetside, don’t have an alternative subscription method where you pay a months subscription to get say 40/50 hours of game time so if you only have 5 hours a week to play the game you get better value for money.

  16. phuzz says:

    Adobe use an activation/deactivation process for Photoshop/Illustrator CS3. Provided you don’t mind re/deactivating it before each use, you can be installed on a bunch of PC’s at the same time (but only use it on one at once). Seems to work for them, except for the inevitable piracy obviously.

  17. teo says:

    I don’t get what the point of the activation thing is
    1. It doesn’t work (it’s cracked)
    2. Their account system limits the functionality of an illegal version just fine on its own
    3. It’s offensive to the paying customer (it really is, you’re assumed to be a criminal. You have to call them and say you’re not)

  18. Meat Circus says:

    It’s worth pointing out that by any reasonable measure, Spore is THE MOST PIRATED GAME EVER.

    Another resounding success for DRM.

  19. Dante says:

    Medieval: Total War still accuses me of having Daemon Tools installed to this day, despite me having a legitimately bought copy in the drive.

    It still won’t even let me play online.

  20. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    High profile games are always a good target for this kind of thing, as people can take advantage of the awareness around the title to promote their goal of criticizing DRM. As such, Spore or any other AAA game using draconian digital rights management is an excellent target.

    However, it was incredibly juvenile and unfair to attack Spore via Amazon based on the DRM alone. And no one will convince me that a proper campaign launched across a number of media – email, gaming forums, sites and stores – would not have had the same effect, if not more of an impact. For all their cries, “concerned” gamers act like a bunch of wankers instead of smart individuals worth listening to.

  21. n3utr0n says:

    I’m tempted to pirate any games with draconian drm and post the 40 quid or whatever it costs directly to the developer.

  22. Bobsy says:

    Wake me up when it stops demanding online activation. Did I mention that 10 days after I activated it, it started demanding I do it again? Oh, I did? Well it’s worth repeating.

  23. cHeal says:

    Still waiting….

  24. grumpy says:

    LET COMPANIES GET SALES. THE MORE THE BETTER

    Yes, because Spore only turned out to be one of the most heavily pirated games ever. Which is one of the main reasons why this extreme DRM is a lousy idea.

    And to the angry internet man above who frothed at the mouth at the thought of cd checks, yes, they’re a pain, and thye shouldn’t be necessary, but if it’s that or Spore-style DRM giving you three activations and nothing more? Compared to that, I really don’t mind a cd check.

    And Alec, which “smarter way” would you have liked to see? I really don’t think the Amazon thing is “fevered screaming”. Many of the reviews are pretty well put, and they give the game a bad score because the DRM is a dealbreaker. If you buy a car which can’t drive, it doesn’t matter how soft the seats are, does it? It only takes one broken aspect of the product to ruin it.

    I think the Amazon protests are perfect for much the same reason that Spore is a perfect target. Amazon is 1) out of EA’s control, so they can’t silence the protests, and 2) it’s visible. Very visible. And not just to gamers. And it doesn’t rely on someone please forwarding your message to EA. Sure you could go back to the store you bought the game from and say you’d like your money back and could they please tell EA that the DRM is a problem. But that doesn’t get quite the same visibility, does it? And somehow, I doubt mr. store manage is in regular contact with the people at the top who decide about DRM.

    So what is this “better way” of which you speak? Better than publically posting review pointing out precisely what the problem is with the game? Better than letting people know about the problem?

  25. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    @grumpy:

    And it doesn’t rely on someone please forwarding your message to EA.

    How about instead of forwarding messages to EA, why don’t more people create email-based campaigns? Because it doesn’t work? Christ, there are retarded urban myths being forwarded for almost decades and people still buy into those.

    Sure you could go back to the store you bought the game from and say you’d like your money back and could they please tell EA that the DRM is a problem. But that doesn’t get quite the same visibility, does it? And somehow, I doubt mr. store manage is in regular contact with the people at the top who decide about DRM.

    Protesters should address consumers, not store managers.

  26. Flak says:

    I can’t believe people are falling for this again.
    EA : “To play this you’ll need to let us cut off your fingers & toes”
    Game sites : “That is harsh! We protest”
    EA : “OK, we don’t want your toes any more”
    Game sites : “Hurrah! We win! We only need to lose our toes now! We sing EA’s praises”
    EA : “Excellent”

  27. Alec Meer says:

    Grumpy: “So what is this “better way” of which you speak?”

    No-one’s tried one – not on this scale – which is why I found the Amazon thingy a bit objectionable. It defaulted immediately to shouting and trolling, which obfuscated everything else about the game and also caused some of the very valid objections to appear to be nothing more than stereotypical Angry Internet Men, which reduces sympathy. Yeah, a letter-writing campaign or something might well fail (and one of those damn online petitions certainly would) – but it might not. The Amazon protests might well have failed too – the game’s still sold a million copies, after all. I’m possibly reaching here, but to me EA’s response seems more aimed at placating people who already own the game than making it appeal to those who haven’t bought it yet.

    Flak: yeah, no.

  28. Ian says:

    Yes, it’s exactly like the amputation of digits.

  29. Dan Milburn says:

    How about instead of forwarding messages to EA, why don’t more people create email-based campaigns? Because it doesn’t work? Christ, there are retarded urban myths being forwarded for almost decades and people still buy into those.

    Because spam is a worse problem than DRM?

    Protesters should address consumers, not store managers.

    Which, oh look, is exactly what the protests on Amazon did. The reviews are there to be read by other consumers after all.

  30. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    @Dan Milburn:

    Because spam is a worse problem than DRM?

    Context is your friend if you give it a chance.

    Which, oh look, is exactly what the protests on Amazon did. The reviews are there to be read by other consumers after all.

    The reviews were a string of litanies which, in their majority, told nothing about Spore – just their dislike of DRM. That’s not being witty, informative, or striving for anything other than self-aggrandization over a matter that could have been dealt with in a mature, sensible way by going up to actual consumers, actual gamers, actual people – the kind these armchair Guevaras should actually meet – and make themselves heard, not misinterpreted over the internet. If a handful of people protesting in front of Ubisoft because of America’s Army’s violence and questionable content, imagine what dozens, if not hundreds, of gamers protesting, would accomplish. But you don’t get that. And people wonder why videogames aren’t given much consideration from mainstream media. Guess what – it’s because of actually standing up for a medium you believe in, like people have done in the past, all you can do is act like 15 year old Halo players who go “gay!” at everything, only with slightly better punctuation.

  31. GLOWi says:

    Crytek never said that EVERY bittorented copy is a lost sale.
    They said that if every 20th bittorented copy would have been bought, Crysis sales would be doubled. In my opinion that was reasonable enough.

  32. Heliocentric says:

    Okay, about the amazon protest failing. It didnt, I was going to buy it until I read about the amazon noise and read deeper about them threatening customers with bricked games unless they shut up.

    The protests worked, to a degree. Nothing else works, you hit EA in the pocket or you do nothing. Suing them in the countries that offer any protection is one way (canada has some legal scuffle occuring), another is not buying the product.

    In short, unless you can suggest a better idea of how to raise the profile of this issue, i suggest you step off the soap box and leave the protection of your rights to the angry internet men. They might have a terribly ineffective idea but it saved *me* from spending cash on spore and crysis warhead. And not just that all future EA titles will cause me to read up on DRM before paying, not something i would have done. Sims 3 before this was a must buy, now? I’ll watch it closely and I and EA lose out due to EA acting in bad faith.

    I note, the person threatening customers again, they were not publicly fired were they? So EA still feels that way. All I need to know.

    I wont pirate spore, but if in some time in the future they send out a drm freeing patch i guess i’ll decide if i care about the game anymore.

    EA need to make actions not words.

    edit: i need to add, i dont “hate” EA, they are a corporation, they ‘feel’ with their share price. And they will get lots of ‘ad click love’ from me with battlefield heroes. I’m simply saying that i’d sooner the amazonian riots happen, than not happened. Saved me grief.

  33. grumpy says:

    The reviews were a string of litanies which, in their majority, told nothing about Spore – just their dislike of DRM

    And once again, this is wrong how? They say that DRM ruined Spore to extent where, in their opinion, the rest of the game doesn’t matter. Once again, if you buy a car that doesn’t actually work, are you going to care about the color, or how comfy the seats are?
    Would you object if RPS posted a review of a game tomorrow saying “Ok, the installer didn’t work, so I couldn’t actually try the game.” Would you then complain that they say nothing about the game itself, that they only complain about one small aspect of it? No one cares about the installer, after all, it’s the game we’re interested in hearing about. But it just so happens that this small bug in the installer makes everything about the game irrelevant, because you can’t actually play it.
    Sure, not everyone agree with this assessment, and I admit the DRM doesn’t render Spore quite as useless as these examples, but Amazon user reviews are *supposed* to be subjective. they’re *meant* to be “here’s why *I* like or dislike the product. And a few thousand people dislike the product as a whole because of the DRM. And that is what they wrote in their reviews.

    If a handful of people protesting in front of Ubisoft because of America’s Army’s violence and questionable content, imagine what dozens, if not hundreds, of gamers protesting, would accomplish

    Nothing. And I’ll tell you why.
    1: These protests wouldn’t necessarily be seen by other consumers. So from EA’s point of view, their impact is negligible, and can be ignored.
    2: You assume that everyone who dislike DRM happen to live just near EA’s HQ. Guess what, they don’t. I’m not buying a flight to the US just to complain about Spore.
    3: It’d be a one-time event. Now the protesters are here, a few hours later, they’re gone. The Amazon reviews have been around for weeks, and they’ll most likely be around forever.

    And people wonder why videogames aren’t given much consideration from mainstream media

    Ok, I [can’t express myself without resorting to abuse].
    You’re so far off base that I’m not even sure we’re addressing the same game (we are talking about Spore and DRM, right?)
    The Amazon thing got heaps of consideration from mainstream media. More than pretty much any other game-related protest I can think of. More than Jack Thompson has achieved for years. Non-gamers have heard of Spore’s DRM. They haven’t heard of people protesting about America’s Army.

    And of course, you also don’t seem to have read any of the Amazon reviews. Many of them do cover the game as well as the DRM. But please, don’t let mere facts get in way of your righteous fury because gamers for once achieved a small success.
    But I really don’t think you’re one to accuse other of going “gay” with slightly better punctuation.

    why don’t more people create email-based campaigns?

    Visibility? An email is only seen by the sender and the receiver. Sure, such a campaign could in theory get out to millions of users. And then what? EA wouldn’t get to see a single one of them. And non-gamers, or people who hadn’t bought Spore yet would just see it as intrusive spam. So no, it wouldn’t work. It would annoy the people who hadn’t yet bought Spore, and EA wouldn’t even realize it was going on.

  34. Cataclysm says:

    @ Diogo Riberio
    If you actually read the reviews you will realise a good % of them explain why they do not agree with the DRM and some even outline flaws in the game.

    Its not a spam of reviews like “OMG SPORE SUX – DRM IS FAIL” as you seem to make out.

    Using Amazon reviews to get the message across is a good way to go about it. It shows the people who matter (potential buyers) that when buying the game you are getting a product that is extremely limited and not stating so – something a average buyer would not of known.

    Its not spam that litters everyones day, only people who CARE will read the reviews. This to me makes it a good way to protest about something that had been snuck into the game.

  35. Alec Meer says:

    Be civil, Grumpy, or be deleted.

  36. Larington says:

    Does the game box for spore even give mention of the use of a DRM system? Thats the real clincher there.

  37. Bhazor says:

    Oh good, DRM. This is hardly ever talked about anywhere.

  38. Cataclysm says:

    @Larington

    No it doesn’t.

  39. grumpy says:

    Aw, that wasn’t offensive. (or not intended to be anyway). Just meant that if you look at said mainstream media out in the real world, the Amazon thing has gotten more publicity than pretty much anything else.

    Sowwy though :(

    Does the game box for spore even give mention of the use of a DRM system? Thats the real clincher there.

    Define “mention”. It says that online connectivity is required for activation of the game. Nothing about the limit on activations, and nothing about the DRM software. Does that count? (And yeah, that’s one of the big problems I have with the DRM. EA *knows* it’s giving the consumers less value than they’re used to, it *knows* that if this bit of news really got out, they’d be in trouble. So they try to hide it. And of course, with Spore they pretty much failed at that. :)

  40. Ian says:

    @ Larington: No, but then if there was some form of restriction everybody actually agreed to nobody would say “Well they’ve got a fine anti-piracy system but I have a complaint that it wasn’t detailed on the box,” so I don’t know whether that’s relevent.

    In fact, it IS relevent but perhaps game boxes should all have, as standard (like with specs, ratings, whatever), a very brief blurb or some numbers regarding copy protection. “1 account per copy, 1 machine per copy,” that sort of thing.

  41. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    @grumpy:

    And once again, this is wrong how?

    Once again, it’s not a review of a product. It’s a – justifiable – rant against one aspect of the product, which is given considerably more importante than anything else.

    They say that DRM ruined Spore to extent where, in their opinion, the rest of the game doesn’t matter. Once again, if you buy a car that doesn’t actually work, are you going to care about the color, or how comfy the seats are?
    Would you object if RPS posted a review of a game tomorrow saying “Ok, the installer didn’t work, so I couldn’t actually try the game.” Would you then complain that they say nothing about the game itself, that they only complain about one small aspect of it? No one cares about the installer, after all, it’s the game we’re interested in hearing about. But it just so happens that this small bug in the installer makes everything about the game irrelevant, because you can’t actually play it.

    No, it doesn’t. That’s an absolute lie. Spore’s DRM prevented no one from playing the game; the problem is that it prevented people from replaying the game, at a later date, after they had spent all of their activations. It’s not comparable to a faulty install when Spore installed just fine if you were installing it the first time – which is how Spore is experienced by the majority of its first-time users. If potentially bad experience with the game in the future displeases a consumer, that’s fine. Warn everyone. I know I would. Just don’t lie about the fact that it will affect everyone else the same way, or that the DRM prevented you from playing. It didn’t.

    Sure, not everyone agree with this assessment, and I admit the DRM doesn’t render Spore quite as useless as these examples, but Amazon user reviews are *supposed* to be subjective. they’re *meant* to be “here’s why *I* like or dislike the product. And a few thousand people dislike the product as a whole because of the DRM. And that is what they wrote in their reviews.

    The ability to be subjective is no excuse for a biased or self-serving exposition of their opinion, especially when it has to place people’s jobs at Maxis in stake – and let’s be honest, how many of them actually played the game, as opposed to making blanket statements just to be part of the attack against the “evil” that is EA? As I’ve said in the first newsbit right after the protest, this does nothing more than lead Amazon costumers the wrong way by not telling them the whole angle because, as is usual with ratings based sites, most people either ignore reviews and go for the absolute rating or skim over a review’s text. And what are the reasons they find in the majority of the reviews? DRM. DRM. D. R. M.

    Nothing. And I’ll tell you why.
    1: These protests wouldn’t necessarily be seen by other consumers. So from EA’s point of view, their impact is negligible, and can be ignored.

    Then make themselves be seen. Pull a reverse Jack Thompson and go on national TV with examples of EA’s dubious promotion of the game, as well as their costumer support and treatment by treating them, as some have said, as “criminals”.

    2: You assume that everyone who dislike DRM happen to live just near EA’s HQ. Guess what, they don’t. I’m not buying a flight to the US just to complain about Spore.

    Which pretty much describes “concerned gamers” – concerned enough that their let out howls of outrage against the raping of their consumer rights and of videogame rights, but – gosh darn it – just not enough to stage a campaign, and to give all of them to raise awareness of videogamers as someone worth listening to, or even fighting against DRM in a more public way.

    3: It’d be a one-time event. Now the protesters are here, a few hours later, they’re gone. The Amazon reviews have been around for weeks, and they’ll most likely be around forever.

    Than stage multiple events across the country over the following months. Gather people, raise awareness, pay random passers-by so they’ll hold posters above their head instead of buying the latest hi-tech low-fun flavour of the month FPS for 50 bucks, and go to major outlets where Spore is sold. I mean, most coup d’etats in South America only take like three guys, duct tape and a machette. In North America, where there are thousands of gamers, in an age where communication is literally at one’s fingertips, people can’t meet one another or gather somewhere?

    “Ooh, but they have lives, and jobs, and families…” yes, which doesn’t prevent them from coming here and defend their “rights” behind a keyboard every single day, multiple hours per day.

    You’re so far off base that I’m not even sure we’re addressing the same game (we are talking about Spore and DRM, right?)
    The Amazon thing got heaps of consideration from mainstream media. More than pretty much any other game-related protest I can think of. More than Jack Thompson has achieved for years. Non-gamers have heard of Spore’s DRM. They haven’t heard of people protesting about America’s Army.

    Yet, they have heard more about Jack Thompson and violence in videogames than Spore. They’ve heard more about Lieberman, Hilary and – of all things – “Dr.” Phil going off on videogames. By comparison, they heard about Spore how many times? How frequently? Debated how strongly? Even old Jackie was better at galvanizing crowds than whatever you think the Amazon whinefest did.

    And of course, you also don’t seem to have read any of the Amazon reviews. Many of them do cover the game as well as the DRM. But please, don’t let mere facts get in way of your righteous fury because gamers for once achieved a small success.

    What facts? Can you tell me with a straight face that many reviews there only talk about DRM? Your “accusation” would be spot on, if I had not read about 500 of them at the time – close to half of the ones estimated there. There’s something for everybody, sure: bits about the game, bits about the hype, 15 year old rants, educated rants. But most of what I’ve read falls squarely in attacking the game for something that it’s the publisher’s fault.

    Visibility? An email is only seen by the sender and the receiver. Sure, such a campaign could in theory get out to millions of users. And then what? EA wouldn’t get to see a single one of them. And non-gamers, or people who hadn’t bought Spore yet would just see it as intrusive spam. So no, it wouldn’t work.

    Because you say so? Because you can divine how people would react to such an email? Hit people where it hits. “Today it’s about videogames. Tomorrow may be about your favorite software, your hardware, your rights as a person” is much more convincing than “hmm spore drm bad, mmmkay?”

  42. Turin Turambar says:

    The whole problem for me was the lack of a deactivation tool for Spore. If it is true they are going to realease it, it will be much better than now. Of course it could have been still better if that function were present in the retail game, instead of “in the future, in a patch” as it is now.

  43. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    @Cataclysm:

    If you actually read the reviews you will realise a good % of them explain why they do not agree with the DRM and some even outline flaws in the game.

    Newsflash. I read many of the reviews. Thanks for assuming I didn’t. But as I’ve told grumpy, most of them are not “reviews” about the game, they’re “reviews” of Spore’s DRM. And Spore’s DRM, once again – does not hinder or cripple your ability to play the game out of the box nor does it screw you over with its installation unless you were installing it for the third time (now gone). And once again, because saying it only a couple of times never seems to get the job done, I agree people should tell others about the potential problems of DRM, as well as why and how DRM influenced Spore. But they were going off on the basic premise of what the DRM could do. It was immoral, draconian, crippling, whatever. What about the game? Choice quotations:

    “It was fun but DRM sucked the life out of it”
    “Good game, shame about DRM tough”
    “Didn’t touch the game, returned it as soon as I found out about DRM”

    This isn’t criticism of the game. This isn’t “people have their right to express their dislikes with the game and if DRM had a part in that, all the reason they should mention it”. It’s exposing DRM and treating Spore like a bastard child.

    Its not a spam of reviews like “OMG SPORE SUX – DRM IS FAIL” as you seem to make out.

    It’s not the Shakespearean drama most of you are trying to make it sound, either.

    Using Amazon reviews to get the message across is a good way to go about it. It shows the people who matter (potential buyers) that when buying the game you are getting a product that is extremely limited and not stating so – something a average buyer would not of known.

    Which must sound absolutely dreamy for consumers who want to know very little about the product they want to buy, and actually prefer sweaty nerd rage to be the decisive factor in a purchase.

    Once *again*, I’m pro-criticism but against trying to bury a studio’s 4-year investment over something the designers had no say about. Most reviews at Amazon bury Spore because of EA. They pick up a game that took around 4 years to develop, completely crap all over its developer by showing no sign of respect to his work, then rampage against the DRM. Bravo.

    Are these people trying to defend their right to gaming, or their right to complain? Possibly the most important piece of videogaming in the 21st century comes out, and what gets scrutinized is DRM. Which, *again*, did not influence how the game played out. Christ, even gaming sites which people criticize were often more eloquent about it, reviewing the game and pointing out the flaws of DRM without it being 3 pages filled with angst.

    Once again, “average consumers” on Amazon either go for the ratings or pay little attention to reviews. When they do read them, they generally go for the ones chosen to be featured on the product’s main page and even then, do not necessarily read everything.

    Its not spam that litters everyones day, only people who CARE will read the reviews. This to me makes it a good way to protest about something that had been snuck into the game.

    I care, and even I didn’t had the will to go beyond five hundred reviews. Who’s to say the average gamer will have more patience and care than me? Who’s to say Average Joe, who only wants to know how good the game is, will read over one thousand reviews which all revolve around the same premise – that DRM is bad? People defending the staged assault on Amazon are also forgetting something – at about 20 to 50 reviews later, even the most dull witted consumer already realized it was a staged attack and has little patience to keep reading the same people prattling on about the same thing for 9950 other reviews. They’ll care little about whether DRM screwed you over or not – they’ll check somewhere else for opinions.

  44. grumpy says:

    No, it doesn’t. That’s an absolute lie. Spore’s DRM prevented no one from playing the game; the problem is that it prevented people from replaying the game, at a later date, after they had spent all of their activations. It’s not comparable to a faulty install

    Sure it’s comparable. That is exactly what it is. It’s not the same, no, and I did say that it’s not as bad as if the product hadn’t worked at all. I was making the point that a review doesn’t necessarily have to describe the entire product. Not if there’s one single aspect of it that is so bad that it makes all the rest of the product irrelevant. And some people feel this is the case for DRM.

    The ability to be subjective is no excuse for a biased or self-serving exposition of their opinion

    Self-serving? Warning others of a potential problem with the game is self-serving? But tell me, why would other forms of protests be better then? They’d be just as self-serving and biased.

    especially when it has to place people’s jobs at Maxis in stake

    It doesn’t. Maxis are not the one being affected by this. They get paid no matter what. That’s kinda why you have a publisher. They give you money, and hope that they can make it back when the game is released.
    And once again, would other forms of protests be better then? Wouldn’t any form of (effective) criticism put their jobs at stake?

    and let’s be honest, how many of them actually played the game, as opposed to making blanket statements just to be part of the attack against the “evil” that is EA?

    Most, I’d guess. But it doesn’t occur to you that you are the one making blanket statements, both about the contents of the Amazon reviews, and about whether they have played the game.

    And what are the reasons they find in the majority of the reviews? DRM. DRM. D. R. M.

    Exactly. So they see that a lot of people dislike the game for the DRM. And that’s all. If they don’t care about the DRM, then they’ll know they can safely ignore the bad reivews. Once again, I fail to see the problem. It’d be worse if people posted reviews saying Spore is a bad game for spurious reasons. They dont. The reviews are honest. They say the DRM in particular makes it unacceptable.

    Then make themselves be seen. Pull a reverse Jack Thompson and go on national TV with examples of EA’s dubious promotion of the game, as well as their costumer support and treatment by treating them, as some have said, as “criminals”.

    Sure, I’ll just call CNN and ask them to book me for 17:30?
    No, once again, it amazes me that you can’t see that this is precisely what the Amazon reviews *are*. They have made themselves seen. They have shown even the mainstream media that here is a phenomenon worth reporting about.

    Which pretty much describes “concerned gamers” – concerned enough that their let out howls of outrage against the raping of their consumer rights and of videogame rights, but – gosh darn it – just not enough to stage a campaign, and to give all of them to raise awareness of videogamers as someone worth listening to, or even fighting against DRM in a more public way.

    What? I thought the Amazon thing *was* a campaign, it *did* raise awareness, and it *does* fight DRM in a “more public way”. I’m sorry, but you’re making absolutely no sense. You’re saying that instead of posting these reviews on Amazon.com, people should….. do the exact same thing. Instead of staging a campaign to raise awareness in a public way, people should…. stage a campaign to raise awareness in a public way. Well done.
    And I’m sorry, are you seriously suggesting that I should fork out $500 for a plane ticket just to go visit EA so I could participate in some protest? Am I dismissed as a “concerned gamer” if I’m not willing to do that?

    go to major outlets where Spore is sold. I mean, most coup d’etats in South America only take like three guys, duct tape and a machette. In North America, where there are thousands of gamers, in an age where communication is literally at one’s fingertips, people can’t meet one another or gather somewhere?

    And again, you suggest people do exactly what they’ve already done. People *are* gathering. At Amazon. And they’re being more visible there than they would at any real-world physical protest. People *are* going to *the* “major outlet where Spore is sold”. Exactly as you suggest.

    “Ooh, but they have lives, and jobs, and families…” yes, which doesn’t prevent them from coming here and defend their “rights” behind a keyboard every single day, multiple hours per day.

    That’s right. A return trip to the US takes just around 24 hours. Writing a review on Amazon takes… less than that.

    Yet, they have heard more about Jack Thompson and violence in videogames than Spore.</blockquote<
    I doubt it. I know several non-gamers who have heard about the Spore DRM debacle, and who have no clue who Thompson is. Once again, the Amazon “whinefest” did get reported in most major media. And it seems that *something* even got through to EA. Sure, it could be your email to their support. But it could also be the Amazon protest, which actually threatens their bottom line.

    But most of what I’ve read falls squarely in attacking the game for something that it’s the publisher’s fault.

    Yes, and? Are you saying that this is somehow off-limits? Regardless of whose fault it is, it still affects people who buy the game. I bought Alone in the Dark. Sure, it’s probably the publishers fault that it was released too early, but that doesn’t mean I can’t say it sucks in its current state. Yes, it’s EA’s fault. That’s the entire point. And so far, it has made EA react, because EA is precisely who this “campaign” targets. Once again, I fail to see the problem.

    Because you say so? Because you can divine how people would react to such an email?

    Yes. I can. People don’t generally like getting mail about something they have no interest in. That’s called spam.
    I hate it when I get emails from people trying to get me to care about something I don’t care about.
    The Amazon thing is visible to those who *are* interested. It doesn’t target people who don’t care, it targets precisely the demographic where it’s relevant. Those who consider buying the game.

    “Today it’s about videogames. Tomorrow may be about your favorite software, your hardware, your rights as a person” is much more convincing than “hmm spore drm bad, mmmkay?”

    lol, no, not really. DRM in spore has nothing to do with “your rights as a person”.
    It’s also a hell of a lot more misleading. because DRM in Spore *is* what this is about. Not your rights as a person. So what should we inform people about, if not DRM in Spore?

    Oh well, if you want to be guilty of everything you accuse these Amazon posters of, while denying the fact that it has actually had a very positive effect so far, and the obvious flaws in most of your “superior alternatives”, that’s your choice. It’s pretty obvious that nothing anyone else can do is going to shake that belief.

    But I still don’t understand how anyone can object to a campaign which:
    1: achieves visibility for the “cause”
    2: doesn’t intrude on other people’s time or privacy
    3: is primarily visible to those for whom it’s relevant (someone who don’t even own a computer won’t see this or care, and we don’t *need* that person to care. But people at EA see this, which is good, and people who consider buying Spore see it.
    4: Make it clear precisely what the problem is (It’s not “Spore is a bad game”, or “Your rights as a person” or any other rubbish like that. It’s plain and simple “We give Spore a bad spore because of the DRM limitations”.

    It seems to me to be an example of the perfect campaign, pretty much. Doesn’t block roads or prevent people from getting to work, doesn’t clutter people’s mailboxes or take their time. And yet, it is visible to everyone involved, and anyone who may be interested. And of course, it has turned out to work.

  45. DosFreak says:

    Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Once again, it’s not a review of a product. It’s a – justifiable – rant against one aspect of the product, which is given considerably more importante than anything else.

    As opposed to not getting mentioned EVER in any reviews. I know which one I prefer.

    Just don’t lie about the fact that it will affect everyone else the same way, or that the DRM prevented you from playing. It didn’t.

    So the game doesn’t have any issues with Daemon Tools or the like? No problems with process explorer? It doesn’t cause your explorer to crash or right-click to take forever to load up or the inability to delete 16bit files due to the SECUROM shell extension? This is all part of the game and as such should be reviewed right along with it. (I don’t know if the above affects SPORE like it did with all of the other SECUROM infected games)

    And what are the reasons they find in the majority of the reviews? DRM. DRM. D. R. M.

    Which should tell them something. The potential customers (oopps, [b]Consumers[/b]) or ex-consumers are complaining about DRM because it affects them. The copyright infringers don’t give a crap about the DRM. The “casual” users don’t give a crap about the DRM (yet). The enthusiasts are the ones who give a crap about DRM which is why they commented on it.

    Then make themselves be seen. Pull a reverse Jack Thompson and go on national TV with examples of EA’s dubious promotion of the game, as well as their costumer support and treatment by treating them, as some have said, as “criminals”.

    Good luck with that. FOX news may accept Joe Blow off the street to bash EA. MABYE.

    Which pretty much describes “concerned gamers” – concerned enough that their let out howls of outrage against the raping of their consumer rights and of videogame rights, but – gosh darn it – just not enough to stage a campaign, and to give all of them to raise awareness of videogamers as someone worth listening to, or even fighting against DRM in a more public way.

    Yes, that’s just the way to do it. Spend a huge assload of money to fight DRM whereas before you’d spend a potentially smaller amount of money on DRM infected games (that you would then crack) but you kept your mouth shut. It’s not suprising that people would go for the latter option.

    “Ooh, but they have lives, and jobs, and families…” yes, which doesn’t prevent them from coming here and defend their “rights” behind a keyboard every single day, multiple hours per day.

    Are you serious? This is the internet age. Internet sales are taking over from retail. Protesting at your local Best Buy isn’t going to do jack except get you arrested.

    Yet, they have heard more about Jack Thompson and violence in videogames than Spore. They’ve heard more about Lieberman, Hilary and – of all things – “Dr.” Phil going off on videogames. By comparison, they heard about Spore how many times? How frequently? Debated how strongly? Even old Jackie was better at galvanizing crowds than whatever you think the Amazon whinefest did.

    Spore just came out. Your above examples have been around for YEARS. ALOT of people have heard about Amazon and Spore in a very small amount of time.

    What facts? Can you tell me with a straight face that many reviews there only talk about DRM? Your “accusation” would be spot on, if I had not read about 500 of them at the time – close to half of the ones estimated there. There’s something for everybody, sure: bits about the game, bits about the hype, 15 year old rants, educated rants. But most of what I’ve read falls squarely in attacking the game for something that it’s the publisher’s fault.

    Not sure where your going with this one. It’s a good thing that there is “something for everybody” in reviews. The publisher AND the developer should be negatively reviewed for crippling their product.

    Because you say so? Because you can divine how people would react to such an email? Hit people where it hits. “Today it’s about videogames. Tomorrow may be about your favorite software, your hardware, your rights as a person” is much more convincing than “hmm spore drm bad, mmmkay?”

    None of that will get people to do jack. The only way to get people interested is to hit them where it hurts. Family/Money/Time. That’s about it.
    Since the average users is lazy as hell then they aren’t going to take the TIME to research a product. TIME=MONEY. Now if they did research the product and realized the MONEYTIME involved in calling EA then perhaps they wouldn’t purchase the product. As for FAMILY there isn’t much you can do for this as far as games are concerned unless when your purchasing a game you realize the pain and frustration that DRM would cause them.

  46. Smurfy says:

    I think the reason EA isn’t happy with “insert CD” anymore is that a quick Google will find a no CD patch for just about any game ever.

  47. Damien says:

    I tried to buy it on the EA Direct2Drive or whatever it’s called. As I was checking out it was made clear that I’d only be able to re-download the game for 6 months and after that my copy disappeared. If I got a new computer or my HD crashes and I don’t have a back-up, too bad.

    They told me, however, that I could upgrade to a 2 year download option for only $4.99 more (or whatever it was, it was extra). This is like that game insurance crap at EB: making me pay for something that really should be included in the price.

    Therefore I refused to buy it, mainly on principle. Steam can keep my games in perpetuity, why can’t EA?

  48. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    @grumpy:

    I was making the point that a review doesn’t necessarily have to describe the entire product. Not if there’s one single aspect of it that is so bad that it makes all the rest of the product irrelevant. And some people feel this is the case for DRM.

    And my point is that what they “feel” in this case is irrelevant, because it did not ruin the game. If it did, it was for them alone. Not for other costumers. Except the kiddies were trying to make it so everyone else would feel just as emo as they did. And that’s not about subjectivity, it’s not about fighting for one’s rights – it’s plain lying.

    Self-serving? Warning others of a potential problem with the game is self-serving? But tell me, why would other forms of protests be better then? They’d be just as self-serving and biased.

    Self-serving in the context in which I believe the Amazon reviews were more about the act of protesting than the object of protest. No, I can’t guess their motivations. But I can tell you I’ve seen enough of these staged attacks to know most of the time, these people just look for a fight without having any reason to join it. And seriously, who are they serving by completely neglecting the game and only mentioning DRM? Gamers? Wouldn’t gamers want to know about the game? I learned scant information about the game by reading those reviews, and what little I learned could have been found in previews.

    It doesn’t. Maxis are not the one being affected by this. They get paid no matter what. That’s kinda why you have a publisher. They give you money, and hope that they can make it back when the game is released.

    Maxis aren’t independent, and EA aren’t exactly known for being lenient towards acquired studios which did not conform to their standards of quality.

    And once again, would other forms of protests be better then? Wouldn’t any form of (effective) criticism put their jobs at stake?

    Any form of criticism that actually distinguishes between Maxis’ game and EA’s DRM is alright in my book. And, you guessed it, most reviews in Amazon that I read were particularly inept at telling folks just what they were criticizing – Spore or EA.

    Most, I’d guess. But it doesn’t occur to you that you are the one making blanket statements, both about the contents of the Amazon reviews, and about whether they have played the game.

    So, would you require me to flood the RPS comment section with actual quotes from the reviews? Or can you take a couple of hours – like I did – and read those reviews carefully? It’s also pretty amusing that, to you, I’m making blanket statements when I’ve repeatedly agreed that people should criticize DRM and that there are reviews over there that actually address this (just not all); while meanwhile, some of the reviews that still remain there are absolutely vague and simply mimic the mantra of DRM being bad.

    Irony.

    Besides, you’re also forgetting that review hierarchy is usually changed over there – the first review I read back then might be the 325th by now.

    They say the DRM in particular makes it unacceptable.

    Yes. Some. Others clearly say it makes the game unplayable. Others claim the game is bad without the slightlest bits of opinion – even subjective. While you’re defending the “enlightment” this move brought, all it takes is for consumers to read a string of poor excuses for a review to get the wrong idea and potentially gloss over future Maxis products, but still lining up to buy the latest EA Sports title. Is it really hard to accept that someone would take issue against a poorly created protest, even if that someone agrees with the premise behind it?

    Sure, I’ll just call CNN and ask them to book me for 17:30?

    You’ll never know if all you do is spew sarcasm at someone who’s basically on your side, but simply suggesting there’s more profit to be had outside than behind the keyboard.

    No, once again, it amazes me that you can’t see that this is precisely what the Amazon reviews *are*. They have made themselves seen. They have shown even the mainstream media that here is a phenomenon worth reporting about.

    Great then. So did the lot of you managed to convince everyone that DRM is bad, to the point where none of us will have to deal with it in the future?

    I’m sorry, but you’re making absolutely no sense. You’re saying that instead of posting these reviews on Amazon.com, people should….. do the exact same thing. Instead of staging a campaign to raise awareness in a public way, people should…. stage a campaign to raise awareness in a public way. Well done.

    I’ll assume your sarcasm is not a hint you cannot read, because I’ve been making myself perfectly clear on the differences between bashing a game online – even if on a reputed site like Amazon – and performing various campaign actions across game stores and company offices over several months.

    And I’m sorry, are you seriously suggesting that I should fork out $500 for a plane ticket just to go visit EA so I could participate in some protest? Am I dismissed as a “concerned gamer” if I’m not willing to do that?

    I think the better question is – am *I* dismissed as a concerned gamer because I propose less online whining and more real world intervention? Because that seems to be what you’re getting at.

    And again, you suggest people do exactly what they’ve already done. People *are* gathering. At Amazon. And they’re being more visible there than they would at any real-world physical protest.

    Again, you know this *how*? There was never any “real-world physical protest” about Spore so that you could compare and determine that online whining was fore more successful.

    Seriously, am I the one that’s not making sense? Because that’s not what it seems from where I’m standing. I’ve repeatedly stated that I’m in favor of protests, while you suggest I’m not. I’ve repeatedly stated real-world manifestations and attention gathering are far more effective and gave examples such as all those who parade against videogames, whose fanaticism ends being more influential for discussion; discussion that lasts for months – and all you’re doing is claiming that the Amazon stunt is what people should do, because being covered by most news agencies only once in a couple of days is far better than everlasting exposure to media attention.

    That’s right. A return trip to the US takes just around 24 hours. Writing a review on Amazon takes… less than that.

    Well, don’t let me prevent concerned gamers from fetching another Doritos pack. Roll on the verbal abuse, keyboard jockeys united. But don’t go outside for fear of actual contact with reality – it bites!

    Yes, and? Are you saying that this is somehow off-limits?

    So you’d have no qualms with seeing what could possibly be your life’s work ignored by critics because your publisher screwed up? Criticized by something that was beyond your control?

    I doubt it. I know several non-gamers who have heard about the Spore DRM debacle, and who have no clue who Thompson is.

    Is this a “I win because I know people” style of debate? Actually, let’s focus on something else. Which is more debated on the media – Jack Thompson and anti-violent videogame crusades or Spore’s DRM? It sure ain’t the latter. And DRM has been in videogames for longer than Jackie boys’ been rampaging against GTA titles – yet, where’s the concerned gamer talking about his rights on national media?

    Once again, the Amazon “whinefest” did get reported in most major media. And it seems that *something* even got through to EA. Sure, it could be your email to their support. But it could also be the Amazon protest, which actually threatens their bottom line.

    I love it that EA backing down could be “either the protest… Or the emails”. Riveting stuff.

    Yes. I can. People don’t generally like getting mail about something they have no interest in. That’s called spam.

    Again, try to have a look at these characters I leave behind. They need attention and love, good sir, lest they die. I’ve very clearly suggested a headline or subject matter that could appeal to people. DRM, by large, can affect customers and it is in their interest that it does not harm them even more. It’s not exactly Viagra advertisement.

    The Amazon thing is visible to those who *are* interested. It doesn’t target people who don’t care, it targets precisely the demographic where it’s relevant. Those who consider buying the game.

    Those who consider buying the game are likely to come from very diverse backgrounds. For the most part, there are few types of demographics at work here, and these are generally “casual” gamer, interested gamer, and “hardcore” gamer. The first is the most likely to have heard little of Spore’s DRM and the one that, potentially, may learn something about the whole deal trough Amazon (but then, there’s the anciliary discussion about piss poor reviews, emo feelings over DRM, and how these reviews and ratings are actually perceived by consumers – the ones you insist are ludicrous). The “hardcore” gamer has probably gleaned more about the game from discussion in forums and word of mouth than Amazon reviews; and the interested gamer – curious but not savvy – has a 50% chance of not caring one iota of your crusade against DRM.

    Telling someone the campaign is effective is about the same as saying carpet-bombing a country is effective in taking out terrorists. It doesn’t account for civilians and those that get away.

    Oh well, if you want to be guilty of everything you accuse these Amazon posters of, while denying the fact that it has actually had a very positive effect so far, and the obvious flaws in most of your “superior alternatives”, that’s your choice.

    Problem #1: No one can say whether it was because of the Amazon protest that they’ve changed their attitude.

    Problem #2: You’ve yet to point out any flaw whatsoever in my suggestion.

    Problem #3: The following just about explains why my points have been flying over your head.

    But I still don’t understand how anyone can object to a campaign which:
    1: achieves visibility for the “cause”

    So do my suggestions.

    2: doesn’t intrude on other people’s time or privacy

    Neither does mine. You could argue that chatting up people in stores takes away precious time, but so does an Amazon protest that muddles the truth.

    3: is primarily visible to those for whom it’s relevant (someone who don’t even own a computer won’t see this or care, and we don’t *need* that person to care. But people at EA see this, which is good, and people who consider buying Spore see it.

    Surprisingly, the same people affected if one protests in stores and company offices.

    4: Make it clear precisely what the problem is (It’s not “Spore is a bad game”, or “Your rights as a person” or any other rubbish like that. It’s plain and simple “We give Spore a bad spore because of the DRM limitations”.

    The latter was a suggestion, not how I’d go about it. It was meant to point out how your assumption of what an email campaign of mine (or any other, for that matter) would amount to spam.

  49. Pod says:

    I think RPS will crash if two more of these exponentially-growing,-already-massive-o-posts carries on.

  50. dhex says:

    Problem #1: No one can say whether it was because of the Amazon protest that they’ve changed their attitude.

    it seems like it certainly contributed, no?