Reminiscent of the old Sony BMG ‘rootkit’ problems which plagued users back in 2005, Electronic Arts is facing a serious firestorm over their recently published PC game “Spore“. In particular, the issues lie with the Digital Rights Management (DRM) software that EA included with Spore. This particular iteration of DRM software, made by SecuROM, limits the number of active installations at one time to 3; this method of tracking active installations also requires a computer to be connected to the Internet to authenticate against EA’s servers, another point of contention. Now, with a number of users up-in-digital-arms and a class action lawsuit being filed in the Northern District of California against EA, they’re really starting to feel the heat.
From the lawsuit:
“What purchasers are not told is that, included in the purchase, installation, and operation of Spore is a second, undisclosed program…Although consumers are told that the game uses access control and copy protection technology, consumers are not told that this technology is actually an entirely separate, stand-alone program which will download, install, and operate on their computers, along with the Spore download. Consumers are given no control, rights, or options over SecuROM. The program is uninstallable. Once installed, it becomes a permanent part of the consumer’s software portfolio. Even if the consumer uninstalls Spore, and entirely deletes it from their computer, SecuROM remains a fixture in their computer unless and until the consumer completely wipes their hard drive through reformatting or replacement of the drive.”
The complete lawsuit (all 36 pages of it) can be found here, courtesy of Courthouse News.
Spore, which has been in development since 2000, has already sold over a million copies, but the user firestorm has created a bit of a run on the game at BitTorrent sites. Estimates are that over 500,000 copies have been downloaded already, with the number of illegal copies rising steadily. Ironically, the whole purpose of the included DRM was to restrict piracy; however, Spore will, most likely, reach the title of “Most Pirated Game” in history.
Interestingly enough, SecuROM is a Sony DADC company.
We here at PaulTech don’t condone DRM, or piracy, for that matter, but if the greater gamer consortium wants to make themselves heard, well, it seems like they’ve done a good job of that.