Protect me, Protect me not

Ever since the announcement that Spore will come packaged with Digital Rights Management (DRM) the whole internet has been a hail storm of abuse, negativity and anger, a bit like a paintballing session with Darth Vader, or how I’d imagine it anyway.

The whole frustration behind DRM is that in Spore’s case it means you can only install the game 3 times before having to contact EA for a new CD key, which means either waiting for an EA support rep to contact you by email or facing a costly telephone call.

Of course in the grand scale of things DRM is supposed to help developers ensure people don’t pirate their software, meaning more sales for them, and in theory, more money to help make better games for us.

Spore - The Boxart

Sadly it doesn’t work out like that, Spore for example was cracked and readily available to download from the internet days before it hit store shelves, clearly the DRM did a great job on that.

I understand a developer wanting to protect their games from software pirates and it’s not something I disagree with. Anyone who creates something, be it film, music or games, all have a right to sell their product, it is after all, how they make their money.

However, I cannot see the understanding of using a system like DRM in games. At the end of the day those who want to pirate it, will pirate it. The DRM software is easily worked around by those that want to. Yet, for the average gamer they are being punished.

This is what I suppose aggravates me the most about it all. The fact that the average gamer, the one who buys their games, is being punished. Yes, you could argue that 3 installs is plenty, but how many people will install Spore not only on their home PC, but their laptop as well? That’s two installs gone right there. What if they upgrade or get a critical hardware failure? Sure there’s the option to go to EA and get a new serial, but why should we have too?

What happens when EA stops support for the game? What will happen then? What about the effect on game shops that have a pre-owned section, not just big retailers but indie stores too?

Doesn’t this add to the development costs of games too? Then there’s 3rd party software that apparently lingers on your computer after the games removal too. Not to mention DRM having random urges to just suddenly stop working on your PC for no reason! When someone buys the game, are they informed there is only a 3 time install on the game?

There are a lot of questions being bandied about and not really many answers.

I understand the reasoning behind it, but I can’t help get the feeling it is one step forward, two steps back. Games will still be pirated with or without a DRM system and any use of one (by today’s means) is simply punishing the regular, game buying, honest gamer.







4 responses to “Protect me, Protect me not”

  1. Lorna avatar

    Great post, Ben! I agree – I think it is punishing the law abiding as there is nothing that can’t be cracked with a little persistence. 3 Installs is frankly, crap. Like you say, one for a laptop and a main PC and one when you inevitably have a hardrive fail/get virused/purchse a newer badder computer and that’s you. I struggle enough with the piddly three installs we have with our edition of Microsoft Word, between the pair of us, my partner and myself need far more than what is permitted. For this to drift into games is a real shame 🙁

  2. Tony avatar

    The odd thing is that this is such a step backwards.

    Even the music industry is starting to wake up to the fact that DRM only punished the legitimate customers.

  3. Donna avatar

    I won’t be playing Spore on my PC because of the DRM. I bought it mainly for my husband, but I wouldn’t mind having a go too, but I can’t. This level of DRM shoots them in the foot too. What if 5 years from now I decide I want to re-install the game and play it again? Well if you’ve installed it 3 times you’re screwed and all you have is a £40 coaster.

    Another thing DRMing at this level stops is loaning the game to a friend. Heck I can’t even “borrow” it from my husband.

    They aren’t doing themselves any favours by doing this, seriously.

  4. Lorna avatar

    Good point Donna – my partner and I often share games between us and this would royally screw this up.

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