Former Maxis Man: Spore DRM is a Screw Up

Goodwill towards Will Wright thrown away

Posted by Staff
Former Maxis Man: Spore DRM is a Screw Up
Former Maxis man and now one man development company, Cliff Harris, has told SPOnG that Electronic Arts "screwed up" with its use of SecuROM digital rights management technology (DRM) in Spore.

Talking about the tech and the consumer backlash it provoked the developer, who now runs his own indie studio, Positech, to say, "I think EA have screwed up here, for several reasons.

"Firstly, SecuROM didn't even work, as the game was pirated before release. Secondly, this game was much anticipated by gamers as one of the most significant releases of the year, so the idea that you could not have a single worldwide release date, and expect people in North America to resist the temptation to pirate it was just silly.

"Also, they have thrown away a lot of the goodwill that gamers have towards Will Wright. I understand why they think the DRM is a good idea, but they haven't even tried to make it 'good' DRM, by defending their position, making it clear when and if the DRM will be removed, or abandoning it the day it got pirated.

"From a PR point of view, this is a disaster, as they have come across like they have their fingers in their ears and aren't listening. Ultimately I think it's sad, because this was a very original, high budget PC game release that could have been a great shot in the arm for PC gaming. Everyone loses as a result of this, EA, Maxis, and PC gamers. the only people celebrating this are the people who make a dishonest living from selling advertising impressions on pirate websites. It's a totally avoidable disaster."

The SecuROM software in Spore will only allow the game to be installed onto a PC five times, provoking a huge backlash from consumers. While it has a Metacritic average score of 86, a staggering 1,324 out of 1,418 reviewers on Amazon gave it just one star out of five, citing the DRM as the reason.

As well as having worked at Maxis, Harris knows a bit about piracy. He's the chap who pulled his finger out and asked the pirates why they do it. You can find more of his thoughts on indie development in his SPOnG column.

EA, however, has confirmed that it will continue to use SecuROM, albeit in a more "lenient" form, attempting to justify its use.


Correction 9 Sep 2008 20:14
It's not "5 times on a PC", it's 3 times on ANY COMPUTER EVER.
Brian 10 Sep 2008 17:08
...and if you downloaded it legitimately, you can only re-download it for 6 months if your copy gets hosed up, unless you pony up another $6... which is not much I suppose, when you are talking about a $50 game, but seriously, if they are going to charge me extra to be able to re-download my _only_ copy of the game... it should certainly be able to be re-downloaded at any time... As if it costs them that much more to keep my info in their database beyond 6 months... or 24 months for that matter. get real EA...
Dave 20 Feb 2009 20:46
I bought Spore Creature Creator and give it a great review. Proceded to build over 40 very cool creatures. (I do 3D polygon modeling) Wow.. Great interface in Spore! Then decided to add the Creepy and Cute pac. The download updated my Spore version and added the pac. It also appears to have blown away all my previous creations! That's over 80 hours work. EA won't admit they should have issued a warning this could happen. Their service support just keeps sending Form Letter responses to my queries about this issue. Am I the only person this has happened to? I doubt it! Dave :^)
Posting of new comments is now locked for this page.