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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Videogame Connoisseur

When I first purchased Spore I was aware of the existence of DRM (digital rights management) on the game. I had also heard that Electronic Arts was backing off on the original security features they had announced, which included requiring the user to authenticate their copy every ten days. The main issue with Spore is that EA decided to use a program called SecuROM to prevent the game from being copied. However, SecuROM allows users to only install the game five times (initially only three times, but raised due to outcry) then prevents that copy of the game from being installed again. This has raised many complaints from consumers, such as the feeling that they are renting the game from EA instead of buying it. EA’s response was that it’s not necessary to have the game installed on more than three computers, to which I respond with the retort that many gamers routinely uninstall games to make room on their hard drives then reinstall them later when they feel like playing them again.

The major issue arising from all this is that in EA’s attempt to keep people from pirating its product, the company has instead encouraged more people to download Spore illegally. Four days before it was released to the public, the game’s security was cracked and it was available for download on BitTorrent networks. It has been estimated that the game has been downloaded over 500,000 times, making it one of the most pirated games ever.

Software companies and the music industry need to learn that their efforts to stop piracy are only hurting the consumers and the companies themselves and are leaving the “pirates” virtually unaffected. It is most likely that had Spore’s security software been less invasive, sales would have been much higher. It’s quite possible that this debacle has not only turned people towards piracy, but also introduced many of them to it and will encourage them to use it more in the future. I have already bought the game but would feel justified in downloading a DRM free copy for my own usage as I already paid the company’s fee and have the right to install or uninstall Spore from my computer as many times as I like.

I always felt that CD Keys (a string of letters and numbers unique to each CD that must be entered when ever the game is installed) were security enough against the average game pirate. Game companies should strive not to fight piracy, which can only encourage more pirates, but instead encourage people to not pirate their games. The way to do this is to stop using Rootkit laden DRM and reduce prices. I’ve always wondered why digital distribution game prices have not dropped considering that part of the $49.99 price tag includes packaging and profit for the stores. How come these costs have not been removed from the price when buying digitally? But that’s a rant/philosophical exercise for another time. Ultimately, if game companies want to stop people from pirating their games they’re S.O.L (fecal matter void of good fortune). Instead they need to stop giving gamers a reason to pirate their games, and the end of ridiculous, invasive security software is a good start.