Gamers lash out at DRM

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 September, 2008, 12:00am

Digital Rights Management (DRM), a technology that allows software producers to control the number of times a product can be installed on a computer, has long been a source of controversy among gamers and the tech-savvy. But the DRM that comes with the god-game Spore has drawn particular attention.

Developed by Educational Arts (EA) Maxis, Spore - in which players start out with single-celled organisms and evolve them to the point where they enter the space age - was one of the most anticipated games of the year, but its DRM only allows it to be installed three times.

This means that, if players have to reinstall the program more than two times after the initial installation, they will not be able to play the game, even though they bought it legally.

Game-maker EA uses SecuROM, a CD and DVD protection software, for Spore. Although it has been used extensively before by major game developers, SecuROM is unpopular with gamers because it allegedly causes difficulties launching games and disrupts anti-virus programs, among other things. For many gamers, the limit on the number of installations is annoying.

Since the game's official September 7 release date, more than 2,400 Amazon users have given the game a lowest possible one-star rating.

'I will not buy software with DRM ever again, particularly if they limit the installations to something ridiculous like three,' wrote a reviewer with the handle Tbear on the Amazon Spore page.

In the most popular one-star review, Erich Maria Remarque is scathing about Spore's 'draconian DRM system', noting that when installations have reached their limit, 'what you will be left with is a nice, colourful US$50 coaster'.

But gamers are not boycotting the game. More than 50,000 copies have been illegally downloaded using BitTorrent, according to reports.