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.