Double Buffered

A Programmer’s View of Game Design, Development, and Culture

EA Still Not Doing Things Right

Posted by Ben Zeigler on September 11, 2008

I posted earlier this year about EA’s DRM schemes for Mass Effect and Spore. Originally, it featured a limit of 3 activations and constant online checks. Later, the constant online checks were removed, but the 3 activation limit was left in. At the time, I thought EA was doing a good job of responding to customer/press demands, and that the issue would die down.

I was apparently completely wrong. A lot of PC gamers are apparently still very upset about the 3 activation limit, and have made themselves clear on the Amazon page. Many people have skeptically said that this is a campaign by software pirates, or some sort of stunt started by SA goons or 4chan. I haven’t been able to find any evidence of this (please post if you know what started the protest), and it’s clearly taken on a life of it’s own. The last time I looked there were about 500 1 star reviews, but there are now around 2000 one-star reviews on Amazon that are complaining about the DRM, and 5000 people have positively voted on the highest-ranked one-star review. This is a lot of customers and potential customers that care about the issue, and I don’t think EA should really be ignoring them. This is also a fairly effective method of online protest, and must be having some sort of effect on Spore’s Amazon sales (although it is still selling well).

I can see why the DRM in Spore is getting more of a public outcry than the DRM in Mass Effect was. Mass Effect is a single player, linear experience, with a max of 20-30 hours of gameplay. Once you finish it, there’s no really compelling reason to go back to it a few years later. On the other hand, Spore is designed as a very replayable experience with deep customization. It’s exactly the kind of game you may want to break out in a few years to play through again. With a 3-activation limit, you basically won’t be able to without begging EA. Many players, including me, don’t like the thought of begging a company to let them play a game they paid $50 for. EA’s recent reaction hasn’t been too heartening, but we’ll see if this public protest makes them rethink things.

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3 Responses to “EA Still Not Doing Things Right”

  1. I’m really against the DRM – I actually went online to pick up Spore and Ratchet and Clank: Future, and then found the Amazon page with people talking about the DRM. I am not interested in having EA’s installer decide it doesn’t like my computer (because I have awful things on my computer, like debuggers and debug tools! I must be a hacker) and then be unable to play my game a year or two in the future anyway.

    Ratchet and Clank has been ordered and is on the way. I’ll play Spore at a friend’s house.

  2. Wolfe said

    I get the impression that the real pirates are motivated by the challenges presented by the drm effort and rewarded by fame from conquering them fast and/or good.

    I do think the pirates who cracked Spore gained quite a bit of status recently.

  3. […] by JZig on March 5, 2010 It’s been more than a year since the last time I bitched about DRM, but things sure haven’t gotten better. The latest, and worst to date, offender is now […]

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