I still wonder what sort of mad sparkle in EA’s eye led to the birth of Darkspore, but its ensuing post-launch existence has somehow managed to be even stranger. While the game itself was largely (and sadly) unremarkable, its early DRM server issues have since evolved into an eyeball-and-tendril-flailing monstrosity, rendering the whole thing entirely unplayable for some since May. Recently (possibly as a result), Darkspore was de-listed from Steam, though it’s still available on Origin. EA’s now claiming to have put the offending bugs to bed, but Steam continues to only carry spores of distinctly lighter shades.
“We recently resolved an issue that was causing some players to not be able to connect to the game. If you any encounter any other issues, please contact help.ea.com for customer support. We will continue to support Darkspore, so feel free to continue to discuss the game here. Thanks – Maxis.”
Which, given the circumstances, sounds more like, “We’ve returned to supporting Darkspore now that we realize there will be extremely negative consequences if we don’t,” but it’s tough to complain about the end result. Well, OK, it’s actually pretty easy to gripe about the fact that solo play continues to require the wheezing embrace of EA’s sickly servers, but I doubt that malady will be remedied any time soon.
I’ve reached out to EA and Valve for comment, but I imagine the Steam stuff will be cleared up before too much longer. More pressing are the resulting implications for EA’s long-term support of “always online” games, as this episode doesn’t set a particularly encouraging precedent. I mean, really? Two months of unplayability for many paying customers? That’s beyond unacceptable. That’s pretty much a worst-case scenario.
If any company – EA or otherwise – is going to convince us that the always connected future is anything more than lazy DRM signing its name with different letters, these sorts of debacles simply can’t happen. Well, unless “It’ll change the way you play games!” was originally supposed to be paired with “by not letting you play them at all”.