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Last week Penny Arcade’s own Tycho contacted me to see if I would be interested in writing a short piece for their site about Digital Rights Management. What with the escalating brouhaha with Electronic Arts and likelihood that this won’t be the last time gamers run face first into some form of DRM they don’t like, I jumped at the opportunity.
In the short essay I talk about the origins of the word piracy (Daniel Defoe don’t you know), and the absurdity of applying todays shrinking ownership rights to a situation closer to that origin. I also call for a sort of Gamers’ Bill of Digital Rights. Not that anyone will listen.
If that sort of stuff floats your boat hop on over on the link to check it out. If it doesn’t interest you, hop over there to read Tycho’s take on my “wavy locks and hard-arse goatee.”
The Origin Of The CD-Keys, Part One [Penny Arcade]
Electronic Arts have sent us a statement regarding their roundly-criticized Spore DRM policy.
In it, EA Games Label President Frank Gibeau states that the company assumed consumers would understand the need for DRM because “if games that take 1-4 years to develop are effectively stolen the day they launch, developers and publishers will simply stop investing in PC games” but concedes that a number of customers have strong objections and that EA need to adapt their policy to accommodate them.
Full details of the changes can be found after the jump, but it is worth noting that Gibeau does not address the concerns that many gamers have about the choice of SecuROM as Spore’s copy protection in particular.
And EA’s DRM back-tracking continues! First it was the number of times you could install Spore, now they’ve announced that they’re loosening the ridiculous restrictions on the number of Spore accounts you could have on a single PC. Initially this was restricted to a single account, meaning families/friends/loved ones would have to share the same account. This has now been changed. While each installation can still only have one online account, each of those now has five “screen name accounts”, which you can log in to every time you boot the game up. One for you, one for the missus, one for little Susie, etc etc.
To many PC gamers, Spore‘s most gruesome creation has been its digital rights management and copy protection implementation. EA’s attempts to thwart piracy by limiting the number of concurrent installations hasn’t sat well with users, a complaint they’ve expressed rather publicly. According to information obtained by MTV Multiplayer, that will be changing.
A patch, coming in the “near future,” will allow Spore owners to “de-authorize” a computer that has had the game installed, much like the DRM structure that Apple’s iTunes uses. Will that satisfy the masses? According to EA, those masses demanding multiple installs aren’t really all that massive.
We know that Amazon users do not take kindly to Spore’s DRM measures. Seems Spore users don’t either. GameCulture have dug up a number of anti-SecuROM creatures/vehicles people have seeded in the game’s creation galleries, which range from the absurd to the surprisingly clever. Our pick’s probably the Veroflraptor, a hideous creature that “is known to spray excessive DRM and overhype on its attackers”.
DRM Evolved: Spore Users Create Creatures to Voice Their Displeasure [GameCulture, via Shacknews]
And the Spore/DRM issues just. Get. Worse. Despite the game’s manual shipping with the promise that you can set up multiple Spore accounts on the one PC, turns out that in fact the game won’t let you do this. Got more than one Spore player in the house? A friend or loved one? Sorry, they’ll have to either play as you in your account, or get their own damn copy. The anti-piracy stuff, as awful as it is, is at least defensible in theory. This, though, this is just mean.
Because it includes Draconian DRM program SecuROM, Spore’s taking a bit of a pounding at the moment. Same thing happened to Mass Effect, same thing happened to BioShock. The message is fairly clear: people know what SecuROM does, and they do not want. EA’s response to this? To let you eat cake. They’re sticking with the software, whether you like it or not, and upcoming RTS title Red Alert 3 will be coming bundled with it. This time, though, they’re going a little easier on you, allowing you five installs (and a few other minor tweaks).
Despite some early, Germanic hiccups, Spore seems to be going down quite well with both the reviewing and buying public at large. Oh, except the kids over at Amazon. Despite enjoying the game itself, they’ve bombarded the game with 1-star reviews, as backlash for EA’s insistence on using the awful Securom anti-piracy measures, which limit the number of times you can install a game on your PC. At time of writing, there were over 100 “reviews” of the game, nearly 90 of them giving the game a single, damning star. Might sound petulant to some, but if you’re going to protest against something you don’t like, you may as well do it somewhere effective (ie the world’s largest online retailer) as opposed to somewhere ineffective (ie your navel-gazing gaming message board of choice).
Despite some hand-wringing by fans, EA today announced that their hugely anticipated Will Wright game Spore will not make use of SecuROM’s 10-day periodic re-authetication and instead use a modified version to require online authentication.
The announcement comes on the heels of news that Mass Effect will also be ditching the ten day re-authentication.
When Mass Effect comes to the computer it will not use SecuROM’s 10-day periodic re-authentication and instead will instead use a modification to do only a one-time online authentication, Bioware announced today.
The developer said the decision came after listening “very closely” to its fans and that the new system will also allow gamers to play the game without the DVD in the drive.
The system will allow gamers to authenticate their game on just three computers, but EA does have the ability to give additional authorisations if they are warranted.
Hit up the jump for the official FAQ and to let us know what you think about this change of heart.