Spore: Five Activations?

I hadn’t tried activating Spore more than three times, but reader roBurky did. It happened like this:

roBurky: EA apparently changed the Spore DRM from 3 to 5 initial activations without telling anyone.
Jim: did you discover this yourself?
roBurky: Yeh. I installed on three computers, then contacted support to get more ready for when I’d need them
roBurky: Was told I still had two left. I pointed out that their support page said we only got three, and they thanked me for pointing it out and said they’d update it.
Jim: huh

Anyone else made the same discovery? (Extended RPS Spore discussion due next week!)


  1. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    “You’re still renting it!” /AIM

  2. Heliocentric says:

    X (where X is a integer) is not enough activations when Y (where Y is more than 0) is how much the extra activation call costs.

  3. rekki says:

    i still dont agree with it.
    this is why i have not purchased* an EA game since BF2

    *read rented

  4. roBurky says:

    Heliocentric: I couldn’t find a phone number to call, so I used the support website’s support ticket thingy.

  5. Thermal Ions says:

    Not that I agree with the whole number of install thing anyway, but it’s a tiny positive improvement I guess.

    Now they just need to pull their heads in and fix the multiple accounts per registered game issue. If they do that I might then seriously consider purchasing the game.

  6. Esha says:

    I haven’t discovered this because as you all know by now, my personal opinion is that I trust (so much) Reloaded more than SecuROM. Everything’s gone topsy-turvy, and the viruses are coming from the big, shiny companies and the fixes are coming from the shady people on the Internet. Next up: Rabbit eats Coyote.

    So… no. I hadn’t noticed. Doesn’t really make that much of a difference.

  7. Esha says:

    Addendum: Come to think of it, in Spore, a carnivorous Rabbit variant actually could eat a Coyote. Total trip.

    Addendum II: O’course, some might not have seen my opinions before. I don’t promote piracy, because that gets people in trouble. But what I’m all for is buying a game and then cracking it and removing all traces of the DRM. That leads to a happier gamer and a computer that won’t subject me to laser death when it becomes sentient and machines take over the World.

  8. no says:

    This is interesting only inasmuch as it shows that the backlash by customers like myself may have had a very minor effect in some way at EA (or maybe not). However, they are still violating the principal. I don’t care if there are two, ten or ten thousand limits. I should never have to call and beg for the right to install something I own.

    If you hate software that “calls home” needlessly, then how can you not hate YOU having to “call home” just to install a product?

    And why even bother at this point? The cracked copies have no such limitations and if that’s what someone wants to do, those are the copies they’ll use. Besides, isn’t this a bit redundant? They limit you to one account per copy. So who cares if you install it eight million times when only your one single account can ever use any of them?

    I will never buy a game that requires me to buy multiple copies just so each person in my household can play and I won’t buy a game that limits my number of installations. Period.

  9. Ragnar says:

    This only means that they want to ease the burden on the support staff a little bit. Nothing more.

  10. Esha says:


    That isn’t actually as much of a problem as you may think, in fact it can even be a blessing.

    Primarily, I play the game offline. Whenever “the account” goes online, it’s either to grab a handful of the latest sporecast updates, or to upload a monster. What I’m trying to get at here is that I don’t want everything from the Sporepedia in my game.

    By doing things this way, I can play offline with an incredibly diverse selection of creatures that I’ve gathered myself. And as long as nobody on my home network is on “the account” at the same time, then there are no problems.

    Basically, on every computer the same copy of Spore is installed, same serial key and such. Then the game is cracked before it’s run the first time and that gets around the installation limitations. Finally, the household’s global account is shared around but not actively used all of the time.

    This is the way I’d suggest for anyone to play the game. There’s no reason really to buy more than one copy of the game per household. The only reason to do so would be to have the entire collection of Spore within one’s own game, and since that would be like playing That Distasteful Internet Game, I don’t see it as a huge problem.

    EA will implement some kind of sub-account system eventually, it’s an inevitability really due to all the bad press they’re getting. But until then, this system works. I heartily recommend it to everyone, and I recommend that the information is passed along too.

    Chasing after multiple copies for one household is a fool’s game.

  11. cliffski says:

    The game has been out a week. why on earth have people installed it five times?

  12. The_B says:

    @cliffski – You’d be suprised. I know people that exceeded the Bioshock limit on the first day.

  13. Tei says:

    I think this thing is designed to stop people share a game with friends, but actually hurts people with faulty computers, that need to reinstall because his installation break, or something alike.
    Maybe the protection sould work that way:
    You hare given a CD-Key, you register that CD-Key online. And you can’t login in more than 1 account. That way, only one computer is online with the game. Thats how stuff like WoW work. With infinite number of installations, and stuff… maybe EA can even share the game online with his own Torrent server, and just buy the CD-Key. I don’t see a reason to sell CD’s anymore, just CD-Keys.

  14. rocketman71 says:

    3, 5 or 50, the bullshit is still the same

    BTW, in that press release, EA said they had got it right since only 1% of buyers had needed 3 or more installations. FFS, 1% in the first week?. What will happen in a year?. In 2?. 5?.

  15. Aftershock says:

    @Tei: Thats effectively what digital distribution is. Only some people don’t have a big enough download limit, and some people just like to buy something concrete and physical.

  16. Po0py says:

    If this is the case then you’d think that after the amazon fiasco they’d be falling over themselves to point out it has five installs and not three.

  17. cliffski says:

    “I know people that exceeded the Bioshock limit on the first day.”

    How? What requires you to reinstall the same game 3 times in one day?

  18. Theory says:

    BTW, in that press release, EA said they had got it right since only 1% of buyers had needed 3 or more installations. FFS, 1% in the first week?. What will happen in a year?. In 2?. 5?.

    I think you’ll find they were talking about their experiences with Mass Effect.

  19. RichPowers says:

    Good thing Spore’s DRM scheme totally stopped the pirates!

    Oh wait.

    EA’s lost about $150 from me, since I won’t be purchasing Mass Effect, Spore, or Red Alert 3 as long as their DRM schemes exist.

  20. malkav11 says:

    Meh. The number of activations is irrelevant to me. It could be a thousand, for all I care. I probably wouldn’t ever run out, but the point is that it’s finite. And my use of a product I’ve purchased should be infinite.

  21. yutt says:


    Are you honestly struggling with this? I can understand if you personally haven’t had this problem, but really. You can’t think of any series of unfortunate events that would leave an occasional person installing 3 times in a day?

    I had completely forgotten that Bioshock had this system and I wonder now if my legit copy will even be able to install without me calling and asking for permission. I don’t know how many times I’ve reformatted, but I certainly don’t uninstall every program on my PC before doing so.

    I’m definitely never buying a game with SecuROM again. I’m tired of having to jump through hoops when I bought the damned game. For what it is worth, I also won’t pirate them, because that sends the wrong message.

  22. Alex says:

    I have had problems in the past where I have had to install a game several times in a row – something gets messed up during the install, something goes wrong, etc.

    It’s a PC thing and I don’t actually mind. People have this idea that PC gaming is ‘hard’ because there are so many factors that can go wrong – system incompatability, drivers, etc. So then publishers come up with DRM that actually creates extra hurdles and complications!

    If all of this had actually stopped pirates from cracking the game early on.. to paraphrase mr. Blackadder, life with DRM like this is like a broken pencil.. pointless.

  23. Esha says:


    I’m not surprised they did this, they’ve been trimming the rude entries out of the Sporepedia for a while. But the jarring factor is that they didn’t even offer a warning, they just hit the bloke over the head heavy-handedly with the Banhammer.

    I see this kind of thing from many a big company though, and some are really very known for it even where it isn’t deserved (I’m looking at you, Blizzard). The thing is though, as long as people keep throwing money at any given company then things are going to be a-okay for them, because it’s what I think of as a Hydra scenario. Cut off one customer, two more will jump up and down with their checque-books in their place.

    The grand faceless army isn’t quite as ubiquitously present with EA’s product though as it is with Blizzard’s, so perhaps eventually they’ll sit up and take note. I do wonder though – will this eventually result in a Ramparts scenario? By this, I imply a future wherein there will be two types of companies; those that employ draconian DRM and supremely heavy handed tactics and those that do the exact opposite becuase they don’t want to be them, they’re fiscally afraid of being them.

    There are still companies these days that have a middle-ground, they use DRM that isn’t as bad as it could be, and they’re slightly too heavy handed in situations where they could’ve shown more grace even if they meant well. This could be taken to either extreme though, and we might see companies deciding which camp they want to be a part of.

    A clear cut future like that would be particularly interesting to see and experience, and I’d be quite happy to buy those games from more respectful and DRM free companies. And such a future is likely because people like EA are becoming more and more known as “Teh Bad Guyz!”, and this is cementing itself more and more within the collective social subconcious by the day. It’s one of those things where even I share an opinion with the masses, and that’s rare.

    It might get to a point where it’s dangerous for smaller companies to be like EA, and perhaps that’s why we’re seeing the smaller/indie companies showing that attitude. I happily cite 2D Boy and Stardock as examples. So it’s probably safe enough to predict that more will choose to become “Teh Good Guyz!” because that’s the safest route to profit.

    Of course, if I do see this happening I’m so going to create a site that separates companies between one of the aforementioned two categories, based upon their actions in regards to DRM and customer services. If I had the inclination, I might even do that today, but I don’t… not yet. It’s not pronounced enough yet. But I’ll be watching.

  24. I don't understand this comment system says:

    The inherent problem with this is that I can go and pirate (hypothetically) Spore on the internet at this very moment. So all the DRM achieves is annoying paying customers. Not only that, but assuming the pirated version does away with the securom software, I can install it without rootkiting my system (alleged I know, it still seems really shady to me). Plus I won’t have to put the CD in the drive whenever I want to play.

    I understand publishers and developers wanting to protect their product, it’s a legitimate agenda to protect revenue. Current DRM schemes simply do not work. Not only that, they are inconvenient for your paying customers AND you have to spend extra time and capitol implementing in your software.

    The whole situation doesn’t make any sense to me, but I guess I am not as smart as the people over at EA.

    Also the mass protest on Amazon is crazy. Hopefully that has some kind of postive impact.

  25. Shadowmancer says:

    @ cliffski “The game has been out a week. why on earth have people installed it five times?”

    Numerous reasons, 1. Benchmarking games checking if they work on legacy computers and high end ones, 2. Multiple computers in a house for multiple users who save money buying one copy, 3. replacing old hardware with new hardware, 4. updating new software, 5. re-installling due to an error in installation, 6. internets are b0rked, 7. game is already registered by a person in the shop and used an activation (it has happened), 7. drm is being crappy, 8. support is being crappy, 8. internet security firewall is blocking the drm thus not letting you register thus activate and play, 9. patching the said game.

  26. subedii says:

    A large number of people ran foul of Bioshock’s 3 install limit on the first day because the authentication servers were swamped (fancy that). They install, game doesn’t verify. They re-install. Game still doesn’t verify. Tech support recommends a complete format of Windows and trying again. Guess what? This made worse by the fact that uninstalling it didn’t release the install token (they only released a program to do that several months after release)

    And there you have three installs. There were plenty of news articles at the time of Bioshock’s “birthing pains”. Really it’s not an entirely dissimilar scenario to when Half-Life 2 launched and the Steam servers couldn’t hold up either. Fortunately in the case of Steam users though, Valve didn’t care how many times you re-installed the thing. With Bioshock, you were stuck phoning tech support to get them to understand WHY you were complaining, and then finally get them to free up your tokens (which they started doing freely once they realised how badly their system had mucked on the initial run).

  27. DSX says:

    There was an anecdote that struck me, “DRM is being forced to sit through a lecture on not pirating films in the theater just before you watch a movie.”

    The only possible outcome is annoying the audience who actually paid to see it.

  28. Daniel Purvis says:

    I’m curious to know, how many people here are playing Spore on Windows and how many are playing on Mac OSX, and what are the differences in the DRM authentication, if there are any at all?

    I’ve not run into any issues with my copy of Spore – except for the above mentioned banning – and I was wondering if this DRM stuff only affects the PC version? Is the DRM active on Macs? Do I also only have 3 or 5 installs, or have I got free run?

    I’ve never understood the issues faced, having only played the 360 versions of BioShock and Mass Effect.

  29. Esha says:


    It does indeed still rootkit the system, but there are ways to remove SecuROM once it’s been installed, and the cracked copy won’t give a damn about the absence of those draconian security measures. It is annoying to have to install the game, then slice out SecuROM and crack the game, but that’s still better than any alternative at the moment.

    One of these days I’m so going to write up some kind of informative for the net denizens to know how to properly deal with their bought version of Spore without having to put up with things that could potentially make them angry and very miserable. Maybe in the morning I’ll finally get around to doing that and slap it up on Google Docs or somesuch.

  30. Esha says:

    @My Post Above

    That’s… interesting. It seems as though the installer doesn’t actually create the SecuROM instance, but running the game does. If that’s the case, then simply cracking the game before running it will take SecuROM out of the loop entirely. I must’ve had it there from something else.

    And this is after a reinstall of Spore (original DVD) and reboot, too.

    I’ll look into this a bit more, but if it’s only running the game that installs the DRM… well, that makes writing my guide a lot less complex. I’ll still throw a section in there for removing SecuROM for the unfortunate sods who already have it, though.

  31. Esha says:

    link to docs.google.com

    I said I’d do it, a number of times. And now I’ve done it. There, I feel better. As the disclaimer states, it is not a bloody piracy guide. It exists just to make the lives of people in general less painful, because I abhor suffering.

  32. Daniel Purvis says:

    You’re a humanitarian Esha! Now, to spread the link.

  33. Parthon says:

    DRX: and irony is the pirated movies don’t have the warning. ;)

    I bought and installed Spore and haven’t had a problem with it. I must be in the minority after listening to all the stories all over the internet.

    While I don’t condone piracy I agree that it’s a good idea to do whatever it takes to make EA realise what a bad idea it’s harsh DRM is. Let your wallet do the talking and complain loudly. The suprising thing is that EA, or at least the people in charge, won’t even consider releasing a game without DRM. They can’t tell just how many sales they are losing. It doesn’t stop piracy, but it certainly prevents customers.

    As for the upside down world comment:
    Here’s a rabbit attacking a snake: link to youtube.com

  34. Jigglybean says:

    who cares? The game is a waste of money and time.

  35. MasterBoo says:

    Jigglybean: Ding ding, we have a winner.

  36. Paul Moloney says:

    To balance out all the hysteria, I just gave Spore a 5/5 rating on Amazon. I haven’t played it, but then since many of those who rated it 1/5 didn’t either, I don’t think that matters too much.

  37. Matt says:

    This seems like kind of a stupid move on EA’s part (As is lifting it to 5 installs on RA3). The backlash was never about how many installs you get. Nobody has actually reached the 3 install limit in the week since the game has been on shelves. The backlash is about that there is a limit on installs at all. It’s completely about the principle of things. In lifting the limit from 3 to 5, EA effectively admits that they will cave to enough pressure but doesn’t actually appease any of the people who were putting that pressure in the first place, in effect they’re just asking for people to put more pressure on them in the future.

  38. Barrett says:

    The install limit is not imposed to prevent you copying or distributing the game. That’s what CD copy protection is for. The install limit is designed to prevent resale.

  39. Daniel Purvis says:

    You’re only allowed to assign each copy of the game to only one EA Account, though, which already limits the potential for resale.

  40. Cataclysmyk says:

    Something I thought would be of interest:


    Maybe worth a post of its own on RPS :)