Saturday, September 13, 2008

Amazon Erases, Restores Critical Spore Reviews, Blames "Glitch"

People are up-in-arms about the draconian DRM used on the game Spore, which has received excellent reviews by critics, but has been lambasted by customer reviewers at Amazon's site.

Spore uses the SecuROM copy protection system, which has been accused of causing system crashes and using "rootkit"-like tactics. In the case of Spore, EA also limited the number of times a user can install the game to three. As such, the majority of negative reviews at the site (2015 out of 2215 at the time of this writing) center around the DRM.

On Friday, through some coincidental occurrence, all the customer reviews were removed. Amazon.com said it was a glitch.

Amazon.com spokesperson Tammy Hovey said:
"There's just a glitch on the site that ended up wiping those reviews clean. So we're working on putting them back up. I don't have any details (on what happened). But we're working on it so all the customer reviews will be back up on the site."
Of course.

At the same time, Amazon.com also said:

"Per our policy, Amazon doesn't censor or edit customer reviews and we'd only remove a review if it fell outside our guidelines."

Not only has Spore's number of bad Amazon.com reviews seemingly reached record levels for a game which has critical acclaim, it seems the DRM isn't really doing much to stop piracy, and in fact may be encouraging piracy.

Forbes said that Spore has been illegally downloaded 171,402 times since Sept. 1, according to a peer-to-peer research firm. While that's hardly a record, the speed at which Spore has reached such heights is at least partially attributed to the DRM, according to the firm.

At the same time, TorrentFreak said the game has been downloaded more than 500,000 times, as of Saturday.

On the popular BitTorrent site The Pirate Bay, deathkitten said (page six of the comments on this torrent):
BY DOWNLOADING THIS TORRENT YOU ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING, YOU ARE LETTING EA KNOW THAT PEOPLE WON'T STAND FOR THEIR RIDICULOUSLY DRACONIAN "DRM" VIRUSES BUNDLED WITH THEIR GAMES.
This isn't the first "protest" over SecuROM DRM, and it likely won't be the last, as long as game manufacturers continue to use it.

As I've said before, if people really want to pirate a game, they will. All DRM this intrusive does is harm the legitimate buyer, and "encourages" them to download, if they know how.

Readers, what do you think?



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