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Monday, 15 September 2008 08:31

Spore raises religious, technical and gamer furore

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For a good game Spore is certainly getting peoples backs up.  Through a concerted effort, spurred on by anger directed at the DRM (Digital Rights Management) component, user reviews on Amazon.Com have driven Spores rating to one star out of five.

Of the 2369 reviews currently at Amazon.com for Spore, over 90 percent have given the game 1.5 out of 5 stars as a rating.

This flies in the face of the generally favourable reviews (Metacritic has Spore at 86 percent ) on gaming sites.  Though many of these reviews cite the hype build up for the game had an expectations bubble deflating effect when it came to actually playing the game.

All in all however, Spore is an enjoyable and ultimately deep gaming experience that Will Wright and Maxis will be proud to add to their stable of achievements.

There has been the - probably bogus and often hillarious – christian backlash against the game, but the Amazon.com attack is at a somewhat deeper level than mere faith.  This time around the anguish comes from those not happy with Spore’s Digital Rights Management.

Spore allows you to install the game three times maximum, using the internet connection and inbuilt Sony DADC SecuROM technology in an attempt to circumvent piracy.  A fourth and subsequent install may be granted by Electronic Arts (the games publisher/distributor) by calling the hotline and undergoing an interview process!

So on the Amazon user review site, there are many tales of DRM woe.  So much so, that when the 2000 plus user reviews disappeared from the page late last week, many started to think it was all too much for Amazon.

Amazon, for their part blame the loss on a technical glitch, telling game site Kotaku "Amazon did not knowingly or consciously choose to remove the reviews," a rep said. "The team is working on resolving this issue now and restoring all the reviews on the site."  This has subsequently occurred.

Still the fact remains, many legitimate purchases are stuck with a product with restrictive DRM – something that was changed almost immediately with last years blockbuster BioShock.  Resale of a product that has been legally purchased will be damaged, as has the good will – in many folks eyes – of all the companies involved.

And ultimately the SecuROM process has not succeeded, with pirate copies of the game available on P2P sites almost in parallel with the games release time. 

One has to ask, with the negative feelings associated with SecuROM DRM, how many sales will EA miss out on, compared to how many pirate copies they will eliminate with it installed?

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Mike Bantick

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Having failed to grow up Bantick continues to pursue his childish passions for creative writing, interactive entertainment and showing-off through adulthood. In 1994 Bantick began doing radio at Melbourne’s 102.7 3RRRFM, in 1997 transferring to become a core member of the technology show Byte Into It. In 2003 he wrote briefly for the The Age newspaper’s Green Guide, providing video game reviews. In 2004 Bantick wrote the news section of PC GameZone magazine. Since 2006 Bantick has provided gaming and tech lifestyle stories for iTWire.com, including interviews and opinion in the RadioactivIT section.

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