Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Spore - The heck with you EA, I'm *NOT* getting it!

I have been interested but not frothing about Spore, but it is the sort of game - like Sid Meier's Pirates! a few years ago - that I would have bought for near full price within the first couple of weeks.

I say 'would have' because I have decide that I will *not* be buying Spore. Why? Because of the draconian DRM scheme that EA has cooked up that severely limits the number of times you can install the game. You get 3 times and you're done. Install it and run into an install failure? There goes one. Install correctly? There is #2. Swap hard drives or upgrade the video card? You're done. Then you have to call EA support and beg for more.

People who have had issues are already running into the limit - but this is no surprise since it happened with Bioshock and Mass Effect. With those games I was already sold: I had decided that even getting to play only once or twice was worth the $50 I was paying. I had decided that my desire for the game outweighed my outrage over the DRM.

But not with Spore. With this game I am interested, but want to be able to share it. I want to play some, hand it off to my kids to play on their laptop or the Mac or wherever ... and not feel like I am a criminal for having multiple installs while still only playing one copy at a time.

And as if I needed another reason, I have been playing game after game for my series of 'Retrospectives' at GamingWithCholdren and RPGWatch. These games are 5, 10, 15, 20 or even 25 years old! Yet I can install all of them (well, most of the 20 and 25 year old ones I'm playing through GameTap unless I have them on a collection CD) and play them without issue. The old Forgotten Realms games require the Code Wheel to access, and many of the 5- or 10-year old games require a CD in the drive to play, but that is all. Imagine if I couldn't play Baldur's Gate without contacting Black Isle, or Wizardry VIII without SirTech, or Arcanum without Troika, or Deus Ex without getting authorization from Ion Storm!

We risk losing touch with some of the best games of this generation because greed is driving publishers to punish their paying customers. Everyone knows that pirates will have these games cracked - probably already do - yet there is a new and more intrusive system coming out every year. And as I said, the ones who have to suffer are the ones who don't pirate, don't download cracks ... in other words, the ones who suffer are the ones who have actually paid for the game.

It reminds me of the 'You wouldn't steal a car ... don't download a movie' commercials in front of so many DVD's. They are dropping a wonderfully heavy guilt trip on their paying (or renting) customers that those who pirate the movies will never see.

Enough already! I know there will be games in the RPG and FPS genre that I will suffer through the DRM to play, but it is time to take a stand - I will actively try to avoid paying companies to screw me over with insidious DRM that targets me as a paying customer instead of those who are actually pirating the game.

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