Thursday, 2 October 2008

SPORE Warning - Anti-Piracy Or Virus?

For the gaming community globally, the latest in Electronics Art's anti-piracy software has sparked major debate and now a huge lawsuit from players.

The newly-launched "Spore" video game, where people play God, has an inbuilt 'devilish' anti-piracy software that propogates the players' computers.

A lawsuit has been filed in the federal court in Northern California. The plaintiff (a US woman) claims that people installing and playing the game, are not warned about intrusive "Digital Rights Management" (DRM) software that stays in the computer even after the game programs have been removed.

The lawsuit alleges that "Spore" publisher Electronic Arts, told buyers that there are anti-piracy safeguards, but did not advise people the SecuROM program it used "is essentially a virus that installs itself without warning". The DRM software attaches itself to the "command and control centers" of computers and can track activities, block certain operations and even disrupt hardware.

Although the plaintif has been named as the US woman, it will be seeking a class action status to represent all Spore buyers. They are demanding a jury trial, and expects Electronic Arts to be forced to pay unspecified damages, as well as pay all the money it has made from "Spore" since it was launched this month in Europe, Asia, Australia and the US markets.

"Spore" is the latest creation by Will Wright (the inventor of "The Sims").

Wright says, "You are given this God-like power. You can create ecosystems, biospheres... We try to make it real science. Players start as microscopic life forms competing for survival in primordial ooze and work their way onto land, where they evolve into creatures that build civilizations and rocket into space. Creatures can be made to have scales, fins, wings, claws, extra appendages, additional eyes, or body parts in unexpected places."

Electronic Arts has refused to make any statement in relation to pending litigation.

6 comments:

Teck Loong said...

Digital Rights Management software essentially treats the legit user like a potential pirate. All this does is to alienate the player from going legit. Spore was cracked on the day it was released, so I'd say the pirates are actually having an easier time without paying a single cent. There is a desperate need for an overhaul towards software ownership.

AussiePete said...

Hi Teck - thanks mate, for that info. Sounds like an 'overhaul' is indeed overdue.

Gary Ng said...

I bought the Galatic Version of Spore..but have not installed it yet. Part of it was due to me building a new Quad rig, the other was this DRM rubbish.

I may just sell it away, and download from BitTorrent since I will be regarded as a pirate by EA, legal or otherwise.

Teck Loong said...

Don't forget the 3 install limitation as well, heh. The way DRM is being applied really boggles the mind. I think the way forward is online distribution, rather than brick and mortar stores. Let me find the article I wrote about DRM for GameAxis Malaysia.

Power said...

I seriously can't afford the real game. Besides, I reformat my computer very often so the CD would be useless after 3 installations. Is it safe to download using torrents?

AussiePete said...

Not sure about the download via torrents - perhaps teck could ofer some advice...

Aside to Teck - would love to read up on your article for GameAxis, as I'm a novice with this stuff - please share if you can.