In response to ongoing consumer anger over the punitive copy protection scheme in Spore, Electronic Arts has made some changes to the game to loosen things up – just a little bit.
A report in the Los Angeles Times says EA has apologized for the harsh DRM contained in Spore, which led to a flood of complaints from buyers who felt their use of the game was being unfairly restricted. Gamers were limited to installing the game on only three computers, and were restricted to only one account per copy, meaning families could not play completely separate games on a shared computer despite a statement in the manual saying it was possible. In response, various Spore forums were hammered with complaints, while the game’s listing on Amazon was bombed by hundreds of users who gave it a one-star rating. (Currently, Spore at Amazon has managed to climb up to a 1.5 star rating, over nearly 3000 customer reviews.)
EA’s initial response had been to hunker down and ride out the storm, but now the company appears to be changing its tune, albeit slightly. “We’ve received complaints from a lot of customers who we recognize and respect,” said EA Games President Frank Gibeau in response to the furor. “We need to adapt our policy to accommodate our legitimate consumers.”
As a result, EA said it will boost the install limit to five computers, and will also allow players to transfer the game an unlimited number of times, as long as the game isn’t installed on more than five computers at the same time; depending on the circumstances, people will be allowed to exceed that limit when appropriate. The company also revealed plans last week for a patch that will allow game accounts to support multiple screen names, a step toward correcting complaints about playing the game on a shared PC.
Despite the changes, Gibeau defended the original DRM setup, implying that there was nothing unreasonable about it in the first place, and that EA was being treated unfairly by a tiny minority of gamers. “We assumed that consumers understand piracy is a huge problem,” he said. “We have found that 75 percent of our consumers install and play any particular game on only one machine, and less than one percent ever try to play on more than three different machines.”