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Spore's lousy stinking DRM scheme ...


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#1 DaveyJJ

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 11:28 AM

According to postings flying 'round the interweb, EA plans on implementing a silly DRM system in Spore, the same system that's being used in Mass Effect.

"The PC version of Spore (and Mass Effect) is going to require Internet access to play (despite being a single player game), as its DRM system requires that it phone home every 10 days.This will do nothing to stop piracy of course, but it will do a heck of a good job of stopping EA's new arch-enemy: people playing their single player games offline."

"Spore uses SecuROM and requires an online activation for the first time that you play it. After the first activation, SecuROM requires that it re-check with the server within ten days (in case the CD Key has become public/warez'd and gets banned). Just so that the 10 day thing doesn't become abrupt, SecuROM tries its first re-check with 5 days remaining in the 10 day window. If it can't contact the server before the 10 days are up, nothing bad happens and the game still runs. After 10 days a re-check is required before the game can run."

This simply pisses me off. These things make absolutely little or no dent at ALL in piracy rates, and simple enrage old people like me who EA has immediately assumed a level of guilt. I'll save up my money and buy a copy of Galactic Civ II instead from a company that uses no DRM and treats it's clients like customers not criminals.

Is anyone else here pissed off too?

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#2 dojoboy

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 11:38 AM

Does this also effect the console versions?

What is accomplished by this?  If they know it doesn't prevent piracy, what other reason would they have to do it?
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#3 charmin

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 11:55 AM

View Postdojoboy, on May 7th 2008, 06:38 PM, said:

Does this also effect the console versions?

What is accomplished by this?  If they know it doesn't prevent piracy, what other reason would they have to do it?

It doesn't affect the console version of Mass Effect as far as I know, so likely not.

I don't understand why they implement this prohibitive copy protection, when as everyone knows that at best it slows piracy down by a week.
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#4 teflon

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 11:56 AM

ill buy it then use a pirated version.
Hey, I didnt break the DRM, it was already broken.

Sue me.
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#5 Janichsan

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 12:04 PM

Great. Just great. EA really pisses me off.

Spore was really one of the very few upcoming games this year I was looking forward to. But then came this announcement that the Mac version will be ciderised and now this. That's the final nail in the coffin.

Spore gets crossed out on my "Games to Buy" list.

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#6 Wumpus

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 12:27 PM

I read that this morning off of my RSS news feed. I was pretty annoyed, and thought it was lame. Much like Charmin said, its only going to slow down pirates for a brief period. I'm not saying there shouldn't be any copy protection, but something like that is absurd. Perhaps its just because I don't have that good a net connection, and I'm often not online while using my computer or gaming. Whatever the case I plan on  getting Mass Effect, but spore didn't really interest me. I thought the concept and technology was cool, but not my thing. So I'll see...
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#7 QuantaCat

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 12:32 PM

No seriously, why any copy protection? People are going to rip it anyway, nothing is going to stop the people that want to download it, from downloading it. Doesn't even break a sweat, as more copy protection = more challenge.
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#8 Eric5h5

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 02:30 PM

View PostQuantaCat, on May 7th 2008, 02:32 PM, said:

No seriously, why any copy protection? People are going to rip it anyway, nothing is going to stop the people that want to download it, from downloading it. Doesn't even break a sweat, as more copy protection = more challenge.

Most copies of a game that are sold, are sold within a very short period of time after release.  So delaying pirates just a week or two will actually help sales a lot.

However, that said, I completely agree with Janichsan.  While pirates suck, some kinds of DRM are just too intrusive, so EA can bite me.  The problem with buying the game and then using a cracked version is that you don't know what else they've done besides remove the copy protection, so I don't trust that sort of thing.

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#9 teflon

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 02:36 PM

the amusing thing that I find with Cider is how badly its copy protection sucks.... theres actually no extra work to pirate the mac version compared to the PC version of a game if its done with Cider.
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#10 Atticus

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 02:48 PM

Well, I predict Spore is going to be the biggest flop of the year, so DRM schemes won't matter much. :-)

What I see coming is NOT the biggest title of a decade, but a game with last-gen graphics and repetitive gameplay that will get old rilly rilly quick.

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#11 J'nathus

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 02:51 PM

Wait until they're added to Steam...  (hopefully) Steam needs internet connection for offline play most of the time . . .  But thankfully it gets around most of the annoying DRM (e.g. BioShock).

#12 bobbob

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 03:01 PM

View PostJ, on May 7th 2008, 01:51 PM, said:

Wait until they're added to Steam...  (hopefully) Steam needs internet connection for offline play most of the time . . .  But thankfully it gets around most of the annoying DRM (e.g. BioShock).
You do realize the Steam version of BioShock has the same DRM, as well as Steam's DRM in addition?

#13 teflon

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Posted 07 May 2008 - 03:55 PM

yes its true. Its one of the only examples of this happening, and its truly truly bizarre too.

anyway. The thing about Steam is that its an online distribution method. You dont need the CD in order to play, and understandably wants to tie you down to the system. Considering that its pretty flexible, I consider it a good thing.
If, however, you want to circumvent Steam's DRM, you can just buy a retail copy (apart from for Valve's games) and put up with needing the CD etc. etc.

but in this case you get the worst of both worlds. Youll have to have the CD in the drive and itll phone home...

great.
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#14 teflon

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 02:58 AM

apparently, this is the same version of SecuROM that is found in Mass Effect's PC version...
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#15 Bernie

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 03:27 AM

I'm no lawyer or judge, but more and more it is seeming like copy-protection should be illegal because it assumes guilt, not innocence.

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#16 edddeduck

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 04:15 AM

View PostBernie, on May 8th 2008, 02:27 AM, said:

I'm no lawyer or judge, but more and more it is seeming like copy-protection should be illegal because it assumes guilt, not innocence.

By the same logic car alarms should be illegal because they assume guilt as well, along with house alarms and customs officials at borders to name a few they all assume the worst and you have to prove otherwise with a key or passport etc. ;)

I get your point they are more and more intrusive and this 10 day checkup thing is not something I am a fan of, however my salary comes from the sales of games and when you invest in some cases millions of pounds and many years into making a game you need some way of protecting it against theft and the common "I am not hurting anybody my $40 bucks won't make a difference" argument by most people is complete fallacy.

Yes some people in gaming companies are very rich but when you steal you don't hurt them you just hurt the people who wrote and worked on the game and who earn their living by making games. For a second imagine if people came round to your work and stole most of the goods your company provide and say "hey I am not really hurting anyone, you all have enough cash already my $40 stolen product makes no difference", I am sure that would make most of you mad.

To round up I do think this copy protection might be a bit over the top and as people have mentioned they will get hacked but no company would waste money on a system like this if they did not think they are losing more sales by not doing it. So although I don't agree with the implementation of the system I fully understand why. Until people start thinking that stealing a game from the internet is the same as stealing from a store this constant cat and mouse with copy protection systems will carry on.

A better question to debate (I think at least) would be what type of DRM would you be happy with but would also help stop rampant piracy?

How about having the game display your full name, address and phone number on the loading screens in return for no online checking after registration? As you are the only person playing this would not be an issue... or would it?

How about having an online credit check system where every online check gives you a credit and every credit lasts X days?

Or how about a system like EA but in the first 3 weeks after release the check is needed every 5 days after a month every 10 days, after 6 months every six months and after 2 years only once?

This is something I think quite a lot about as I am a keen gamer (hate badly implemented copy protection) but I also work for a games company and I have seen the number of torrents and completed downloads of our games on piracy sites and understand the need to protect my livelihood (hence agree that some sort of protection is needed).

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#17 J'nathus

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 05:06 AM

View Postbobbob, on May 7th 2008, 05:01 PM, said:

You do realize the Steam version of BioShock has the same DRM, as well as Steam's DRM in addition?
What Steam DRM?  The proprietary file management?  BioShock is installed into its own directory, the same as it would've been with a CD-ROM.  I can install and reinstall BioShock as many times as I like (the caveat of the CD-ROM version's DRM) because I have it through Steam.  As far as SecuROM being present or not, that part I don't care.  Activation restrictions are what I take exception to.

#18 DaveyJJ

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 05:09 AM

I'm not sure, Edddeduck, that the developer argument that "one copy stolen is $40 lost" is a completely valid one either.

Not that the I'm disagreeing with it in general, but I think developers (and if I ever get Widget United done I'll count myself among those rarified ranks) overstate this one and assume that every single pirated copy was a lost sale ... which, to my mind, is patently absurd. There is no way a 14 year old who cracks an $5000 piece of software like Maya in two minutes and simply hacks on it for an hour a week was going to buy it in the first place so it this instance can not be counted as a lost sale ... despite the BSA screaming it does ... but the 30 year old grad student doing real work with the same hacked version was.

But the whole question of DRM/copy protection does need a serious review and often as technology and consumer tastes change. What works yesterday might not work today and certainly won't work tomorrow. And then there's the game developers who create hugely successful franchises without any DRM whatsoever. Gal Civ II being a singular example of this.

I agree that as a "creator" I want my work protected, but not when it requires me to every 10 days be connected to the Net. Or carry 40 DVDs around with me on a business trip because I can't predict which game will take my fancy in a hotel at night ( I loathe CD-in-machine required schemes even more than this DRM).

Name and address on start up screen? Sure, the game only ever runs on my machine(s) within my house or my possession so that's fine with me. Online credit check? No thanks, again it assumes we all have Net connection when these are coming up for renewal.

Why not simply features of the game that are not accessible if it's not registered? Even if that required Net access (e.g. posting or viewing worldwide scores or rankings) then at least that's my choice and not a requirement to play a game I bought and own and want to enjoy in my own home.

Also, I think that many developers who work for companies owned by major corps also are being forced into Draconian DRMs by their parent firms and are not being allowed input from the one group of people who could help these developers brainstorm better ways of copy-protection, the gamers themselves. The large corps only want singular control over their content and $, and not input in some cases. The record companies and their mad-dog "watchgroup" the RIAA are perfect examples of not being willing to change with the times.

And I think it also goes to the quality of what's being produced game-wise in some cases. Just like the decline in record sales is being caused in some part to the fact that we're not being forced to buy $10 worth of filler to get $2 worth of a few good songs from an album (thanks iTunes!), and movie attendance is down partly because Hollywood makes crappy movies generally, games that are brilliant and innovative and ground breaking, regardless of studio size, will sell huge amounts of copies without a DRM because everyone will want their own copy. Yes, they will also be pirated, but the sheer size of the market and income from a wildly popular game will more than make up for the real or even perceived loss.

Anyway, I was disappointed that EA is resorting to such a heavy-handed scheme and now they are going to count me as a real lost sale because I probably won't buy it. So in the end their attempts at preventing piracy which claim keep them from losing a potential "illegal" sale to me, have resulting in them losing a real, real sale.

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#19 Janichsan

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 06:06 AM

Just an example why net based DRM sucks.

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#20 QuantaCat

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 06:37 AM

Again, I see no point in any piracy protection whatsoever. All are and will be circumvented, and time does not equal money. I know people that wait for a cracked release, I know people that wait for a real release to buy it. I know I don't buy most/any games because I can't afford to. However, as soon as I can, I will, because I want to.
(those wanting to come up with an argument that I could well afford to buy a game now and then, think again. I'm without a job, so is my girlfriend, we have two kids. We make it, because we keep our expenses super low, and calculate everything through. Most of the time, atleast.)

Same goes for my working software: teachers at the SAE, where I learnt my stuff, told me that nobody they know, actually bought the software, BEFORE they made enough money to ensure buying it. It would be mad crazy to do it otherwise, especially since there are few "hired" professionals in what I do, most are freelancers. As for the people that download super expensive software just because, well yes, they wouldn't buy this software anyway.

Note: this does not in any case mean that I promote infringing copyrights on any thing.
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