Pirates LOVE Spore
January 17th, 2009 by Theo
According to torrentfreak.com, Spore broke all records for a game being illegally downloaded, which they say is in part thanks to the DRM that came with the game.
Digital rights management or DRM is a term that refers to access control technologies used by hardware manufacturers, publishers, and copyright holders to limit usage of digital media or devices (cited from Wikipedia). It was this limit of usage that Electronic Arts had placed on Spore, as it does with many of its games, which caused an uproar from gamers during the September release.
Ernesto, torrentfreak's founder and Editor-in-Chief explained, " Traditionally, games can't compete with the most pirated movies and TV-shows in actual download numbers, but Spore came very close this year. Only 10 days after the game's launch date, already half a million people had downloaded the game. During the months after that, another million people obtained a copy of the game via BitTorrent. According to our estimates, Spore was downloaded 1.7 million times since early September, a record breaking figure for a game. "
In an article written by Ernesto directly after the release and initial surge of 500K downloads he also pointed out, " Most critics agree that Spore is a great game. However, the users aren't too happy with the absurd DRM restrictions that come with the game. EA decided that people who buy a legitimate copy of the game, are only allowed to install it three times. The idea behind DRM is that it will stop people from pirating the game, but in reality, it often has the opposite effect. …many commenters on various BitTorrent sites now legitimize downloading this game because the official copies include some heavy and intrusive DRM. "
An EA representative in an "Analyst Weigh-In", said this about the download number, " Stepping aside from the whole issue of DRM, people need to recognize that every BitTorrent download doesn't represent a successful copy of a game, let alone a lost sale. We've talked to people that made several unsuccessful attempts to download the game and ended up with incomplete, slow, buggy or unusable code. In one case, a file identified as Spore contained a virus. To say that every download represents a successful copy of the game –- or that there's been more than 500K copies downloaded — that's just not true. "
In closing Ernesto remarked, "Of course the record breaking number of Spore downloads can't be attributed solely to DRM, but it sure helped. That's not all, it also contributed to making Spore one of the worst rated games on Amazon. Out of the 2,219 reviews, 2,018 awarded the game with just 1 star, all because of the strict DRM.
DRM doesn't stop people from pirating a game, on the contrary. It only hurts legitimate customers since the DRM is removed from the pirate version. The same is true for music, movies and books. Let's hope EA and other media moguls will learn their lesson. "
Was this is a case where the DRM was too strict or could it be that enforcement only harms those who follow it? Not doing what it is meant to, protection of the product from illegal use and replication.
What do you as consumers think about DRM? Do you feel it is legitimate for product manufacturers to put limits on how often and in what way you can use the product you paid for, or that the purchase alone should give you sole ownership and discretion on the items use?
Related Stories: Virtual Worlds Are Soft Targets?
Internet Idol? Music Mogul Hopes So