How Spore and DRM Have Changed PC Gaming Forever: Page 2

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The “three installs and you’re out,” along with the rule that you can only have one user account per CD key is there to hit people who’ve already paid $50 for the game, and hope that when they run into the DRM wall they’ll eagerly flip open their wallet/purse and toss EA another handful of Benjamins.

Got two kids who want to play Spore and each have an account? That’ll be $100 please. Three kids? Forget about it!

Now, just a moment ago I said that the DRM used in games is there really to lock in honest people and those who don’t know about shady places like The Pirate Bay. Well, DRM improperly applied can lead to people either suddenly deciding that honesty isn’t the best policy, or exposing them to a game crack site.

This is what happened with Spore, as it quickly attained the status of being the most pirated game in history. EA, along with other game publishers and studios, need to think about:

A) How many of these people had never looted a free copy off a torrent site before?

B) How many, having now been exposed to torrents, will never buy another game again?

This means that DRM has turned from being a mechanism that protects an industry into one that works against it.

Personal note: I want to make it clear that I am, in no way, condoning piracy. I’m a firm believer in paying for what you want and in my opinion if you don’t like the DRM, don’t play the game. Looting a free copy just because you oppose the DRM just isn’t justified and doesn’t help the anti-DRM movement.

Some gaming companies are starting to realize that DRM isn’t the answer. One such company is Stardock, and this company has gone as far as to publish a Gamer's Bill of Rights. A partial list of Stardock’s proposed rights:

• Gamers shall have the right to demand that download managers and updaters not force themselves to run or be forced to load in order to play a game.

• Gamers shall have the right to expect that games won't install hidden drivers or other potentially harmful software without their consent.

• Gamers shall have the right to re-download the latest versions of the games they own at any time.

• Gamers shall have the right to not be treated as potential criminals by developers or publishers.

• Gamers shall have the right to demand that a single-player game not force them to be connected to the Internet every time they wish to play.

• Gamers shall have the right that games which are installed to the hard drive shall not require a CD/DVD to remain in the drive to play.

As a gamer, I’d love to see game studios embrace the Gamer's Bill of Rights and treat customers with the respect they deserve. If they don’t, I wonder whether the PC gaming industry will exist in a few years.

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Tags: Amazon, management, DRM, IT, policy

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