Tobold's Blog
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Spore without SecuROM

I don't generally subscribe to the general gamers paranoia regarding digital rights management (DRM). I don't think SecuROM was designed to blow up my computer or spy on me, and only consider it a minor annoyance. Nevertheless I was annoyed at EA when hearing the news that Spore and other EA games are now available without DRM, if you buy them via Steam. This is kind of unfair to people like me, who bought Spore and Mass Effect before. So I'm a good little customer and rush out and buy EA games right when they come out, and for that I'm punished with SecuROM? And those who hold out and don't buy get the game without DRM?

EA, please, if you remove DRM from your games, make that valid for *all* customers. Offer a patch for Spore, Mass Effect, and the other games which removes SecuROM from the original version. Otherwise you're just teaching people to not buy your games when they come out, but wait until you publish the more consumer-friendly version.
They released a "de-authorization tool" a couple of weeks ago to ease up on the whole DRM/installation issue. This is what it does:

By running the de-deauthorization tool, a machine "slot" will be freed up on the online Product Authorization server and can then be re-used by another machine.

You can de-authorize at any time, even without uninstalling Spore, and free up that machine authorization. If you re-launch Spore on the same machine, the game will attempt to re-authorize.

If you have not reached the machine limitation, the game will authorize and the machine will be re-authorized using up one of the five available machines.

Here's a link to an article that talks about it, with an accompanying EA statement:


And here's the de-authorization tool:

While I could see them putting out a patch to remove SecuROM from copies previously purchased from Steam, I don't see them doing so for stand alone purchases. The reason they are willing to drop SecuROM from Steam purchases is that Steam does its own version of authorization since you have to log in to the Steam server to play. Even if you want to play offline, you still have to auth to the Steam server once after booting up the PC so it can auth all your installed games, and your account has to stay logged in to the local Steam application while playing. If you log out of Steam, all your games are disabled.
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Yeah, it's not like Steam does not have DRM. It actually has one of the most draconian schemes.
My meta-review conclusion? "Maybe I could try it if they use Steam for distribution. And have a sale." So now I'm thinking about it.
Refusing to buy any DRM'd game has nothing to do with conspiracy theories. It has to do with refusing to allow any company to use my computer in a way I don't wish them to use it. I do not subscribe to the belief that I lose my rights when I buy a game, and do not believe a company can tell me what my rights are, or aren't. I vote with my wallet, and it's long since time that others start doing the same. If EA thinks the PC game market is that good, that they can ignore the clamor call for non-intrusive DRM, then by all means let them survive in that market. I, on the other hand, will not be part of it. And one can only take the news that they are releasing these recent games in a non-DRM state as anecdotal evidence that not all was going well for them. Good!
Tbat and Spore was the most pirated game of 2008, proving that it doesnt even work.
DRM is an unwanted addon to content ppl legitimately purchase. Of course its a nuisance when you need to reinstall a game multiple times (windows gaming... wherein lies the problem! lol).

Let me ask you this, when you purchase a bagle and some coffee Does it come instantly disappear if you choose to take a big bite or gulp from it? Does the bagle, no longer become yours if you have put your hand on more than 2 times? It is utter nonsense the control they try to implement with DRM and anyone know is for consumer protection would agree.
( is a great place to start if you want to take a stand against DRM.

Steam actually IS a form of DRM, so it wouldn't make sense to include securom with the Steam version.
Steam is itself one of the strictest, most stringent DRMs out there.

But with Steam, you get some benefits along with the DRM. You can download the game as many times as you want, forever, on as many PCs as you want (the game can only run one copy per key at a time). This means when you buy new PCs, it is very simple to install whatever games you want from your library of past purchases.

So at least with Steam, the benefits are for both sides of the transaction.

Muckbeast - Game Design and Virtual Worlds
A few comments:

-Spore was a very anticipated game. I've been following it for a couple years now. Spore ended up being a disapointment in my eyes, and many others. There was no depth in this game what so ever. I bought the collectors edition on launch for $80, and obviously feel like spore is closer to a one of the $20 indie games. Spore does have a lot of content, but the execution was off. A game I felt would take me weeks to finish, months to master only took me hours to finish and there isn't a ton of replay value aside from creating new spawns.

-DRM. Spore's DRM sucks. I personally will not be affected as I don't plan on installing it to other machines. Unless a patch comes out that changes the game drastically, and this is not an MMO so that is unlikely to happen. For anyone who has exceeded their 5 installs I do feel sorry for them, they will now have to deal with some one from india and basically have to argue to get an additional install.

-Steam is also DRM so who cares? I do. Steam is great. While steam functions as a DRM, that isn't really the point. Steam lets me never have to worry about CD's and installing again. I know my steam user name and pw....I can play my games from any machine after they downloand, which is really quick. Some people complain they need to be connected to the internet to play games on steam....first steam does have an offline mode once the games are activated and second who doesn't have the internet in this day and age?
Hey EA... Anything with DRM is on my do not buy list, I'll pirate it before I'll play it.
@anonymous you are part of the problem.

DRM is headed in the direction of Steam, which is one of the least invasive, most reliable, and most beneficial to both the user and the publisher out there.

The CEO of EA has been quoted as saying that games are going to move in the direction of having a much smaller initial purchase with additional content available for purchase through things like Steam
Some ideas are good and some are bad and DRM is a bad one. If you want to encourage people to buy your products over getting it cheaper/free some where else you need to offer something better. As the competition in this case cannot be beaten in price and even though it is illegal is in reality almost impossible to stop, the only choice is to compete. Piracy should be treated as competition instead of a crime. There have been so many legal fights over piracy yet they are no closer to stopping it. Time for a new approach is it not?

Its not uncommon for someone buying a PC game to worry as they put the disc into the machine wondering how much work will be needed to get the game to work. If they will need to search forums to find a file that was missing from disc that needs to be downloaded to be able to play or even if a disc will be in the case or will the poor customer be tricked into buying an empty box and a piece of paper with a serial key and a web address.

The games companies should work towards making games easier to install and enjoy. Just design the game to be as easy to get started with as soon as possible. That way those who buy the game can play sooner than those waiting for a download (that's a selling point). Also offering online services that encourage the owner to register the product and enjoy more content via the net is a guaranteed way to beat piracy. MMOs work so well against piracy because of this for example.

EA is a huge company consuming many small games design companies and as such is growing a negative image for itself. Companies that grow large and start to consider customers as just a form of income rather than people they wish to give a service go out of business. Is EA planning to follow the same path as companies such as Marks and Spencer's?
While I'll agree that the very nature of digital distribution with services like Steam, is itself a form of digital rights management, I feel it's a much better solution than what publishers such as EA have been pushing, for a few reasons:

1). It's self-contained; meaning it downloads the game data without installing any other process in the background or modifying my operating system in any other way. I also don't have to modify accounts with administrator rights or some other such nonsense (there is an exception to this and that's Mass Effect).

2). Anywhere I have a steam account I can play an instance of my purchased games. This is what makes Steam a success to me personally; regardless of the system or my location, as long as I have an internet connection, I simply login, download the game I want to play and now with Steam profiles being mobile and stored on servers, my settings go with my games as well - what's not to like?

3). I don't have to worry about finding my original media to reinstall games. I can't tell you how time-consuming and frustrating it is to have to find my old CD-ROMs or waiting while each program installs. With Steam, I can simply select the games I want to download, queue them up and forget about it... all while doing other things. In relation to physical media, my games are never lost because there's nothing to physically lose or break.

There are more items I can list, like local backups, easy uninstalls, ect. but I digress. Steam still has room for improvement and I'm by no means a "fan-boi" of digital rights management, but yet I've embraced Steam because if you are going to offer a secure service for both customers and the publishers, I believe you should offer a mechanism and/or service that both parties will find desirable, and Steam has done just that.

All-that-said and in response to the blogger; I personally think that EA and Steam should broker a deal to allow Spore retail purchasers (like myself (I will never again purchase a "day-one" retail copy of a game from EA)) to register their CD-key with Steam so that customers can then download the Steam version. Again I say broker a deal, because it obviously costs Steam to host the servers that house the data files. Regardless, this would allow retail purchasers to forgo the SecureROM restrictions and installation AND it would also introduce some new people to the Steam client (and digital distribution).

It's a funny (and thin) line we walk as PC gamers. Publishers and developers are concerned about their content and legit consumers are concerned about restrictions placed on their machines. So you have publishers stating they need to implement these measures to ensure their content remains safe and you have pirates who distribute in defiance of this policy.

I am of the personal opinion that digital distribution could just be the middle-ground that saves the PC as a gaming platform. Of course, there will always be developers such as Cytek that choose to forgo the PC platform altogether and pirates who will distribute regardless of an excuse, but digital distribution done right, IMO should definitely help to quell fires like this.

Just my $0.02.
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