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EA to loosen Spore install restrictions

EA to loosen Spore install restrictions

EA has pledged that it will loosen the install restrictions imposed on Spore, though only a fraction of players will notice.

Electronic Arts is facing some serious flak as a result of the draconian SecuROM DRM used in games like Mass Effect and, Spore and with the latter becoming the most massively pirated game ever as a result of the copy-protection system, it's no surprise that EA should want to make some changes and loosen the install restrictions.

EA has therefore recently announced that in the near future a patch will be released that will let gamers de-authorise their own PCs, much like the system that Apple uses for iTunes. EA is hoping this should help placate those who have a beef with the installs limitation, which was also recently raised from three to five installs.

One thing that is a bit surprising though is that, according to a recent EA survey based on a customer sample, the number of users who even try to install the game on three different systems is tiny - making up only one percent of the actual market.

Speaking to MTV, EA directly addressed some of the main complaints and also showed some rough market statistics and some of the data included in the report makes for fascinating reading. According to the figures in a sample of 437138 Spore users, only 14 percent ever tried to activate on more than one machine and less than 0.5 percent ever tried to activate on more than three.

EA also makes some nice promises and assurances in the article, claiming that the SecuROM system is totally free of spyware, trojans, malware and so forth, while pointing out that at least one of the torrented versions of the game they have looked at has had viruses included in it.

Finally, EA has renewed the pledge that if the online authentication servers were ever deactivated for any of their games then a patch would be released beforehand to ensure players can still continue to enjoy the game.

Is that enough for you, or are your grapes still sour? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

42 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
ChaosDefinesOrder 17th September 2008, 11:18 Quote
Unfortunately for EA, there's absolutely nothing they can do to rescue this situation other than remove SecureROM from the game completely. This should serve as a lesson that they can't get away with it. Of course it's wishful thinking that they'll actually learn their lesson...

"EA has renewed the pledge that if the online authentication servers were ever deactivated for any of their games then a patch would be released beforehand to ensure players can still continue to enjoy the game"

Pfft - This just shows that they don't need to have it there in the first place, and therefore makes it even worse! Hype it all you want, EA, demonstrating that they don't HAVE to have online activation just goes further to alienate your intended market.
naokaji 17th September 2008, 11:19 Quote
sure, the number of those installing it at this time on more than one computer at the same time is low, what that statisitc doesnt show though is reinstalling after reformatting hdd due to hdd / mainboard upgrade or data corruption which will eat up the install limit over the time.
Silver51 17th September 2008, 11:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaosDefinesOrder
Unfortunately for EA, there's absolutely nothing they can do to rescue this situation other than remove SecureROM from the game completely...

Sadly, this won't affect the bulk of their sales. Not everyone is a technician. People's mum's, grandparents, kids et al will still clear out shelves of the game faster than a tray of magic cookies at a music festival.
badders 17th September 2008, 11:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Article

According to the figures in a sample of 437138 Spore users, only 14 percent ever tried to activate on more than one machine and less than 0.5 percent ever tried to activate on more than three.

Well I'm not really surprised - it's only been out a week.
the 0.5 percent who tried to activate on more than 3 machines must either be REALLY unlucky, or were testing the activation limit.

Expect those figures to rise significantly as the next 51 weeks pass, THEN see what EA has to say on the matter.
Tyrmot 17th September 2008, 12:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by badders
Well I'm not really surprised - it's only been out a week.
the 0.5 percent who tried to activate on more than 3 machines must either be REALLY unlucky, or were testing the activation limit.

Expect those figures to rise significantly as the next 51 weeks pass, THEN see what EA has to say on the matter.

Yes exactly, the attitude here should be 1% *already* - and in fact EA have said that 25% *already* have used 2 installs, and this game has only jut come out! I think you can expect to see a lot of pi44ed off customers coming over the horizon....

And now that Red Alert 3 has secuROM, that's another sale lost from me (4 and counting now...). Good going EA
Paradigm Shifter 17th September 2008, 12:15 Quote
Those statistics are anything but reassuring. :(

Although I do wonder just how many non-tech people will hit the activation limit over the next year or so, and then silently go out and buy another copy when they get told to by the activation program...
bowman 17th September 2008, 12:19 Quote
'One thing that is a bit surprising though is that, according to a recent EA survey based on a customer sample, the number of users who even try to install the game on three different systems is tiny - making up only one percent of the actual market.'

Well that sure is a valid metric right after it's been released.. What about when these people get new PCs, or format, or whatever? I could almost, _almost_ understand this BS if it was 3 _simultaneous_ installations or something. But 3 registrations, in a row, from the same user, and then you're reduced to begging EA Customer Service, over international phone charges, on a 'case by case basis'? Pure unadulterated bullshit.
impar 17th September 2008, 12:21 Quote
Greetings!
Quote:
By parts and quoting the MTV article:
Quote:
EA Response: That will be changed, according to the EA spokesperson, who told Multiplayer that the current limit on the number of computers that can be associated with a single copy of “Spore” is “very similar to a solution that iTunes has. The difference is that with iTunes you can de-authorize a computer [that you no longer want associated with your iTunes content]. Right now, with our solution, you can’t. But there is a patch coming for that.” The official timeframe for that patch is “near future.”
Ok, so a Spore gamer has now five activations credits for his/her Spore DVD, may be able in the "near future" to de-activate and recover activations credits and, if he/she ever needs a sixth credit, all he/she needs to contact EA Support and ask politely for the activation.

Whats the point in limiting activations, then?
Quote:
Some stats regarding this issue — EA provided Multiplayer with updated information indicating that it is rare for consumers to perform installations of recent EA PC games on more than one PC, let alone three (these figures, incidentally, offer a window into “Spore”’s current rate of sale):
Mass Effect
...%%%...
Spore Creature Creator
...%%%...
Spore (main game)
...%%%...
On the number of activations in different computers, Mass Effect is 3 month old and Spore is two weeks old. I really didnt expected those games to have used that many activations.
Would like to know these numbers in the future, though.
With hardware changes triggering activations and gamers switching computers the numbers may look quite different.

Its just an EAs excuse.
Quote:
An EA representative has clarified that the above numbers cover a sampling of the people who have bought “Spore” and should not be interpreted as a representation of sales data for the game.
So, a sampling that allows for objective conclusions or a sampling that skews the data towards EAs interpretation?
Quote:
EA Response: “There’s no viruses, no spyware and no malware…We have located a download off of one of the Torrent sites that is a virus. The thing I would say to the consumer audience is that, if you’re concerned with a virus on your computer, the chances of that are infinitely higher when you’re downloading off of a hacked version than it would be downloading the authentic game. We would never put any spyware on anyone’s computers. That’s not going to happen.”
Besides the blatant FUD towards torrenting, my question is: can Securom be removed easily? If not, its malware.
Quote:
EA Response: The company has already stated this is a misprint in the manual and referred Multiplayer back to a statement issued by “Spore” executive producer Lucy Bradshaw apologizing for “the confusion.” But EA has not replied to Multiplayer follow-up questions regarding why the company implemented this restriction and what EA makes of complaints from households that include multiple people who want to have separate “Spore” accounts associated with a single copy of the game.
EA has no excuse here. Misprint or not a game that can be played by the entire family (hardcore or casual gamers) should allow for multiple profiles.
Quote:
EA Response: “If we were to ever turn off the servers on the game, we would put through a patch before that to basically make the DRM null and void. We’re never walking away from the game and making it into a situation where people aren’t going to be able to play it.”
A patch is applied to an already installed game, if/when EA decides to close the authentication servers, how will you be able to even install the game?

PS: My grapes are still sour, Joe Martin.
(Whatever that expression means. :?)
steveo_mcg 17th September 2008, 12:23 Quote
"EA has renewed the pledge that if the online authentication servers were ever deactivated for any of their games then a patch would be released beforehand to ensure players can still continue to enjoy the game"

And ea's word is its bond...

Promises from companies aren't worth the electrons they're displayed with.
BlackMage23 17th September 2008, 12:40 Quote
What did they think was going to happen. Pirates always find a way around protection systems, so they are only hurting legit customers.
Leitchy 17th September 2008, 12:45 Quote
To late, I am on my maiden voyage of pirate martyrdom. I hope they learn there lesson for Red Alert 3!!!
plagio 17th September 2008, 12:58 Quote
I don't care about statistics. If I buy a game it means I own the game and I am free to do whatever I want with it. We are not talking about making copies of the game or stuff like that (which should be allowed as well) , we are talking about installing a legitimate copy we purchased as many times as we want. This is renting not buying.

And again, people who purchased the game have these restrictions not the people who torrented the game. Isn't this crazy ? To fight piracy they give issues to the people that bought the game whilst the people with pirated copies are fine. Is it me or this is wrong and a change in strategies is required ?
DXR_13KE 17th September 2008, 13:37 Quote
this is a huge load of FUD!

the game is in its usage infancy and these statistics tell me that things are starting to go wrong.... PLUS, all those people that refuse to buy it because of their usage patterns.... if EA does the same thing with RA3, they can bet it will sell really bad.
Star*Dagger 17th September 2008, 13:39 Quote
Uh, too late.

Between the reviews and the DRM issues I will not buy, nor will I recommend to the people who ask me about it.
EA lost several hundred sales from me alone.

Wonder if they will clue in.

Yours in Fervently Anti-DRM Plasma,
Star*Dagger
[USRF]Obiwan 17th September 2008, 13:48 Quote
I really hope they release RA3 with all the security whistles and bells. And then I will sit back with a bowl of popcorn and beer watching the Anarchy and Chaos immerse...
DougEdey 17th September 2008, 13:50 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Star*Dagger
Between the reviews and the DRM issues I will not buy, nor will I recommend to the people who ask me about it.
EA lost several hundred sales from me alone.

You sound like the kind of guy that people should be warned about.
Star*Dagger 17th September 2008, 13:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DougEdey
You sound like the kind of guy that people should be warned about.

110% correct!

Most of the time i travel Cloaked... No warning.

LOL

S*D
TGImages 17th September 2008, 15:03 Quote
I was prepared to buy it right at release... or even pre order it... however I have yet to see any discounts. That alone may be accounting for some of the piracy too. In my case I'll just wait awhile and see what happens. Perhaps I can find one on ebay in 6 months that has only 1 instal against it and isn't going for retail! Then again that brings up an interesting situation for the secondary market. If you've used your 3 installs (or whatever the new count is), how can you sell it if/when you get bored with it? It will be basically useless to the buyer unless they are willing to call EA everytime they want to install. I really can't see how EA thought this through in any way. I almost feel bad for Wil as he put a lot into this game and EA is messing it up on him. I hope he got paid upfront.
Dannythemusicman 17th September 2008, 15:13 Quote
My impression is that a lot of people who did not previously consider downloading a pirated copy have now done so, and are thus more likely to pirate more games in the future... that in my opinion is where the real damage has been done. EA aren't the ones affected here as they can cope with the hit, but smaller publishers may feel the hit in future.
Darth Joules 17th September 2008, 15:35 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dannythemusicman
My impression is that a lot of people who did not previously consider downloading a pirated copy have now done so, and are thus more likely to pirate more games in the future...

Well said. ;) And it something that could end being a never ending downward spiral. More people pirate because of bad DRM, publishers increase DRM usage/restrictions in retaliation, then more people pirate, then more DRM. Until someone wakes up and realizes that DRM is damaging the PC gaming market or finds the holy grail of DRM which doesn't impinge on the user (Steam is close, but not perfect).
Almightyrastus 17th September 2008, 17:27 Quote
So now you can de-authorise your pc to get the activation back, do you have to have access to the pc to do this? If so then what happens if your system goes belly up and you have to reformat and reinstall your OS? does that count as a completely new system with no way to remove the activation taken up by it previously?
Phil Rhodes 17th September 2008, 17:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
"EA has renewed the pledge...."

Promises from companies aren't worth the electrons they're displayed with.

Quite.

Until it's in the EULA, it's vaporware.

The circumstances under which this would happen include EA going bust. No liquidator is going to spend company money making good on that promise unless he or she is absolutely, unavoidably, irrevocably hidebound to do so. These tools need to be precreated so that the cost of deploying them is negligible.

P
Dizman 17th September 2008, 18:23 Quote
What really irks me is that it so clearly doesn't work. People in my dorm had a cracked copy of the game before it was released. The only effect of the DRM is that it pisses off customers, and the fact that it's pissed of 1% of your customers after just one week is not a good omen.
feedayeen 17th September 2008, 18:52 Quote
EA promesis a fix to their DRM bug, in the next few months. Yeah, um, someone released that fix, like 3 weeks ago, it is called SPORECrackFIX on the Pirate Bay. Why not just use that to fix your game right now, since, well quite a few people are already doing it after all so your method is only lowing the reviews for your game preventing others like it from being developed and the genre perfected.
Firehed 17th September 2008, 19:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver51
Sadly, this won't affect the bulk of their sales. Not everyone is a technician. People's mum's, grandparents, kids et al will still clear out shelves of the game faster than a tray of magic cookies at a music festival.
You must not have seen the Amazon reviews. It's fallen victim to an anti-DRM campaign; rightly so, if you ask me. I think it's affecting sales quite a bit. Crysis:Warhead too.
impar 17th September 2008, 19:57 Quote
Greetings!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Firehed
Crysis:Warhead too.
That one is twistedly funny since not even Crytek staff know what DRM Warhead is using:
http://www.crymod.com/thread.php?postid=349888#post349888
dyzophoria 17th September 2008, 20:17 Quote
the mere mention of the word "DRM" on the game (be it multiple installs, only 3 installs, only 1 pc install) have already made people pirate the game (even if they eventually remove it completely in the end, it will still hurt game sales alot) if only game developers learn to just let DRM go away... if a game is really that good, a large percentage of people will still buy the game. they are like forcing people to buy their game be it crappy or crappier
ironjohn 17th September 2008, 23:14 Quote
I gave up on DRM a long time ago. I used to buy about $300 worth of games a year, no more. Now, thanks in large part to EA, I'm a Pirate... You DRM-activation software developers lost a very good customer.

Sorry.
cyrilthefish 18th September 2008, 00:25 Quote
I've now been officially burned by EA's DRM...

looks like i used up a few activations getting the game to work, as there's supposedly 5 install activations now, have installed it on my laptop and desktop (and only on the laptop at all due to it taking a full day to get it working on the desktop due to the EA download manager buggering things up)

i thought to my myself "i've only used 2/5 installs, i'll put it on my brothers PC so he can play it when i'm not" but no, it informs me i've reached the activation limit already...

so it seems the various re-installs it took to get it working on my pc used an install quota each time, meaning it labelling me as a pirate for buying the game and trying to get it working...

anyway, downloaded the cracked .exe and all is well again, horay again for pirates having the vastly superior product whilst paying customers get penalised...

Thats it now... Never again am i buying an EA game on the PC unless they change their ways...
It's not worth it. I've now been shafted too many times by EA for having the audacity to pay for their products...
Firehed 18th September 2008, 00:37 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by impar
Greetings!

That one is twistedly funny since not even Crytek staff know what DRM Warhead is using:
http://www.crymod.com/thread.php?postid=349888#post349888
Huh, guess that's why a crack isn't out yet. I expect that'll change in a day or so.

Anyways, I just wrote the following to EA. I'm done with DRM, from all publishers. The little time I have to play games will be spent playing, not fighting an activation scheme.
Quote:
EA,

I'm writing to inform you that you have permanently lost me as a customer. This is due entirely to the DRM in Spore and your intent to put it in future products. By using this technology you belittle and disrespect me as a customer, and as such have lost all future business with me. I purchased a copy of Spore, which aside from being disappointingly shallow prevents me from using the product as I purchased it. There was no indication of this on the packaging whatsoever, and I would have returned the product as defective had I discovered this prior to opening the game (be thankful for Best Buy's abusive software return policies - they made you $50).

Your decision to use DRM - especially a system so invasive as SecuROM - has provoked me to make this move. Not only have you lost all of my future business, but I will be telling everyone I know to avoid all of your products until DRM is no longer used on ANY of your products. My money will be going to developers that are willing to treat me like a customer, not a criminal.

I don't expect you to rectify this in any way; the damage has already been done. I just wanted to reiterate what countless others have already said.

Sincerely,

A former customer.
CowBlazed 18th September 2008, 01:15 Quote
Quote:
while pointing out that at least one of the torrented versions of the game they have looked at has had viruses included in it.

LOL I found this really funny, I'd be supised if there wasn't at least 1 of EVERY pirated game torrent that had a virus in it.
airchie 18th September 2008, 01:29 Quote
Its a pretty poor state of affairs when they have to try to scare n00bs into not downloading a copy by using the magic 'virus' word.
Wasn't interested in Spore much anyway tbh but I'll be getting RA3 for damn sure.
Whether I pay for it or not is down to EA's choice of DRM tbh.
LordPyrinc 18th September 2008, 01:33 Quote
Firehed has the right idea. The best way to try to make change is to be vocal. Write to EA... email them. If enough people do so, maybe EA will start to listen to their customer base and make changes. Clearly they are doing that already to an extent, albeit not enough. They've up-ed the number of activations and claim that an upcoming patch will allow de-authentication, but to me that is not enough. DRM is just pissing us legit customers off. I think we should all write to EA and express our displeasure.
Firehed 18th September 2008, 04:47 Quote
It's a pain to do. The only contact link I found was buried in a members-only support area. But by all means, feel free to use what I wrote as a template or whatever if you'd like to write them yourself.

It also helps to actually do what you say as well. If you send that off and then go buy their games anyways (or steal from drm-free publishers too) then it's just a waste of bandwidth.
airchie 18th September 2008, 10:20 Quote
If someone posts up the address to email EA at, I'm sure plenty of us on here would write them some choice words.
Maybe Bit could create a petition that we could all sign and they could contact EA directly with all our weight behind them?
Star*Dagger 18th September 2008, 13:04 Quote
one word: Stardock

EA needs to treat its customers... well as customers and not as MadMax outlaws.

Enjoy the Show, wait until they kill Red Alert, which has a huge following.

I wonder if people ever bothered to goto their offices and picket, nothing like an old school hippy protest to scare the execs.

Yours in Rainbow Tie-die Plasma,
Star*Dagger
naokaji 18th September 2008, 15:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Star*Dagger

EA needs to treat its customers... well as customers and not as MadMax outlaws.

Enjoy the Show, wait until they kill Red Alert, which has a huge following.

I wonder if people ever bothered to goto their offices and picket, nothing like an old school hippy protest to scare the execs.

Agree , Customers should be treated as Customers and not Criminals, seriously, if the anti piracy measurement works better to prevent customers from using legal copies than pirates from using illegal copies something is wrong.

Kill red alert? they would have to try pretty damn hard to kill it and seeing how there have been almost no games released people wont even be able to use the no money excuse like last year when several top titles where released within a short time.

Noone tries to scare exces anymore, they all do what the execs want in fear of their job being moved to china.
airchie 19th September 2008, 12:11 Quote
Stardock pwn. :)
Cthippo 24th September 2008, 00:08 Quote
Wow, that is indeed a new low! :O

Thanks for posting that, impar. I hadn't planned to get Sport as it's not my sort of thing, but I definatly won't now!
Paradigm Shifter 24th September 2008, 10:47 Quote
Well, not being able to enforce their original 'rent it for three installs then make them buy a new copy'... they've found another way of doing it. Although I must admit I wonder how much of it is a Moderator saying something in an unofficial fashion, that might end up getting squashed. Of course, it's still bad press at a time when EA/Spore don't really need any more. ;)
impar 25th September 2008, 00:20 Quote
Greetings!
Quote:
Spore DRM Prompts $5M Class Action Lawsuit

The controversy surrounding EA Maxis' PC evolution simulator Spore and its DRM continues to escalate, with studio owner and publisher Electronic Arts now facing a class action lawsuit due to the title's use of SecuROM copy protection software.

Whereas most of the controversy thus far has stemmed from the limited number of installs available to legitimate owners, the claims of plaintiff Melissa Thomas lay with the undisclosed installation of the SecuROM software that enables the above practice.

Anyone susprised?
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