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Spore Buds - EA Backs Down On DRM

Well, to an extent.

The good news is this: EA are taking a big step back on Spore’s DRM. From three installs ever and one account per copy of the game, they’re switching to as many re-installs as you want on a maximum of five computers, with a patch for multiple accounts for one machine on the way. That’s a big change of heart. We hinted that there might have been a change from three to five installs last week. This weekend the LA Times reported that EA have “apologised” to customers for the digital restrictions, when issuing their reprise. They report EA Games’ President Frank Gibeau saying,

“We’ve received complaints from a lot of customers who we recognize and respect. We need to adapt our policy to accommodate our legitimate consumers.”

An impressively humble and reasonable statement. It’s a direct reference to the key issue: DRM only inhibits legitimate customers. It is with a confusing naivety that publishers continue to impose DRM on legally purchased copies, while knowing full well that the restrictions will be cracked on day one – as they were with Spore – making illegally downloaded copies DRM-free. The legitimate customer is treated as a potential criminal, while the actual criminal has a much improved product. It’s perhaps not entirely ideal.

Oddly EA goes on to say the fuss came as a surprise to them. I’m not sure how. In May we were covering the anger that was being generated by the proposed DRM for Spore (and Mass Effect). In response to this they quickly backed down. At that point it was revealed that the games would be limited to three machines. But not that it would be limited to three activations. You’d imagine, since they were planning even more restrictive rights management, they’d have expected people to raise hell.

Anyhow, this is good news from EA. They are a company that has done impressive things to turn their public reputation around in the last couple of years. From being seethed at by all quarters, people are beginning to… like them. The sudden public perception suicide attempt that’s come with recent DRM issues seemed horribly like slipping back into their former ways. It’s great to see a reasonably quick response, albeit only after a ferocious response from their customers.

Via El Reg. Thanks to Stephen.

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John Walker

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