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Spore the Most Pirated Game of 2008 404

Posted by Soulskill
from the clearly-securom-is-doing-its-job dept.
TorrentFreak has posted some statistics on the most pirated games of the past year. Leading the list by a large margin is Spore, made infamous even before its release for the draconian DRM attached to the game. It was downloaded through BitTorrent roughly 1.7 million times, with The Sims 2 and Assassin's Creed following at just over a million each. (It's worth noting that Spore came out in September, so that figure is essentially for a mere three months.) GameSetWatch has posted a related piece discussing the countermeasures involved in dealing with piracy. It's the second article in a series about piracy; we discussed the first a couple days ago.
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Spore the Most Pirated Game of 2008

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  • Because of the DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord Lode (1290856) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @06:20AM (#26011965)
    Maybe that is because of the DRM, even if you buy the game, you still have to pirate it to be able to play a clean version (clean meaning without DRM restrictions of course).
    • by Goldberg's Pants (139800) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @06:37AM (#26012017) Journal

      Yep. I'm included in that statistic, despite buying the game. Downloaded the game when it first appeared, but waited until release day to actually install from my retail version, then use the crack from the pirated version.

      Given what a letdown the game was, I should have installed the pirated version earlier and seen it wasn't worth the $50 and just deleted it.

      Ah well.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 06, 2008 @07:03AM (#26012071)

        Thanks for killing the games industry, you filthy thief.

        • Exactly !!! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by DrYak (748999) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @09:10AM (#26012491) Homepage

          Thanks for killing the games industry, you filthy thief.

          Yes, I second that !

          We need more suckers... huh, no... "customers" to fall for the brainwash... hu, sorry... for the marketing overhyping our product, and who will blindingly throw their money at whatever product we manage to persuade them will be the best-game-ever-even-better-than-blowjob-and-beacon-sammich !

          Our economy is dying because of all the filthy thieves who selfishly want to see what a game is worth before buying !

          --

          though, seriously, I actually found the game kind of cool.

          • Re:Exactly !!! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by theaveng (1243528) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @11:20AM (#26013057)

            >>>want to see what a game is worth before buying!

            I just got into a debate on a forum about this very subject. Unfortunately the Moderator is pro-copyright, and I earned myself a one-week banning. :-( My argument was: "I downloaded Galactica 1980 to see if it was worth buying, and it was worthless trash, so I saved myself from wasting ~$50." I was amazed at how many people rushed in to call me scum, part of the entitlement generation who steals instead of pays, and that I should have supported that show by buying the DVD.

            RIAA's propaganda campaign seems to be working. They even have customers claiming I should buy ____ like Galactica 1980!!!

            • Re:Exactly !!! (Score:5, Interesting)

              by arth1 (260657) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @03:29PM (#26014577) Homepage Journal

              I just got into a debate on a forum about this very subject. Unfortunately the Moderator is pro-copyright, and I earned myself a one-week banning.

              "Pro-copyright" doesn't mean what you use the expression for. FSF is pro-copyright. You need copyrights to protect openness.
              Perhaps he was an advocate of copyright-protection? That's a very different rat.

              Major digression:
              Personally, I'm strongly for strengthening copyrights. As in copyrights being made the inalienable and time-limited right of the creator, and not the sponsor. That would put the incentive back to create more, and not just exploit already created works of arts and science. It would shift the power from the big money to the artists, which I think was the original intent.
              Of course, it will never come to pass, as long as those with the money make the laws, and think it's perfectly fine that if they pay for a person's living expenses while he invents and creates, it's perfectly fine for them to take all profits of what's invented or created. Me, I call that exploitation, and just the modern form of slavery.

              Back on topic:
              DRM is not about protecting copyrights. It's about the appearance to protect copyrights. It's a CYA measure. If a game doesn't sell well, the company can blame piracy. And the investors will believe it, especially if the protection mechanisms were draconian but still broken. They don't see that the reasons it was broken was because it was so draconian, and the reason it didn't sell well was because it was a crappy game.

              Ask a pro-protection why Galactic Civilizations II is so much more successful than Spore. The answers will be interesting, but try not to giggle too much; it's not polite.

          • Re:Exactly !!! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Goldberg's Pants (139800) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @03:47PM (#26014683) Journal

            If you bought a loaf of bread, got home and discovered it had weevils in the center of it, you'd return it to the store wouldn't you? And the store would exchange it or give you your money back. You were sold something that did not live up to your expectations.

            You buy a game, and even if it doesn't work, you can't return it.

            And yet it seems the industries that produce this effluence, and movies and music, have convinced the world that if you buy a piece of what should be unsellable garbage, you're screwed.

            THIS is why piracy is so rife. It has nothing to do with people being cheap, scum or whatever asinine insult is thrown around. It has far more to do with people being sick to death of being ripped off.

        • Standard excuses (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 06, 2008 @09:17AM (#26012531)

          Standard excuses for not paying for this or any other game (pick any that apply):

          1) I will pirate it first and then pay only if I like it (a la when I go into a restaurant and only pay when I liked the food, or go to the theater to see a film and pay only if it didn't suck). If the game is not PERFECT, I don't pay.
          2) My pirating is good for the software developer (more people playing, even without paying is good, it gives them lots of free publicity). Piracy increases sales! I am doing them a HUGE favor.
          3) I am a cheap ass.
          4) There is no such thing as copyright (or shouldn't be). Other people should create art, music, games, films, and entertainment for me as a favor and fund it out of their own pocket.
          5) Piracy is a fact in the gaming world. Get used to it. It's the developer's own fault because they should have taken it into account in their business case (besides, they should have been working on this full time as an open source program for free anyway).
          6) $50 for this game is too much. Come to think of it, $25 is too. And if it is only $10, then pirating it shouldn't be that much of a burden to the developer.
          7) I do not want to try the demo because the only meaningful way to try out a game is to try out the ENTIRE game.
          8) Who cares if there is 99.9% piracy, all the developers need is to make just enough money to fund developing another game. They don't need to get rich (after all, I'm not).
          9) "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."
          10) Because I have never had to create, develop and market a game and I don't have a clue as to what it takes to run a business.
          11) Because DRM is such a great excuse.

          • Re:Standard excuses (Score:5, Informative)

            by jd142 (129673) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @11:08AM (#26013007) Homepage

            Regarding point 1:

            If I go to a restaurant and the food is bad, I can get a refund. If I walk out of a movie, I can get a refund. If I buy a book, I can return it. And for that matter, when I go to a bookstore I can actually read the book on the shelf and decide if it is crap before I buy it.

            You may get all or a part of your money back depending on the situation or you may get store credit, but the point is that there is a mechanism in place for refunding all or part of the expense on those items if they are crap.

            Software is one of the very few things that is almost impossible to return if the box has been opened. Here a few returns policies:

            http://www.bestbuy.com/olspage.jsp?type=page&contentId=1117177044087&id=cat12098 - "Opened computer software, movies, music and video games can be exchanged for the identical item but cannot be returned for a refund."

            http://www.newegg.com/HelpInfo/FAQDetail.aspx?Module=5 - "Retail Boxed software may only be returned for refund within 30 days of the invoice date if the packaging is unopened and factory sealed. Opened retail boxed software can only be returned for replacement if it is defective or damaged."

            Amazon has probably the best software return policy: "Any CD, DVD, VHS tape, software, video game, cassette tape, or vinyl record that has been opened (taken out of its plastic wrap): 50% of item's price." http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=901926&#amount

            • by theaveng (1243528) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @11:23AM (#26013081)

              Fortunately credit card laws are written to protect the consumer, so there are ways to get around that policy. Here's my favorite method:

              - Buy something. It's junk.
              - Return the item to the company using tracking or delivery confirmation.
              - Wait a month.
              - Call you credit company and ask to do a chargeback. Provide the DC number as proof the item was returned.
              - Get money refunded to your card.

              Easy.

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                Most companies treat "chargeback" as fraudulent orders. You might be inviting police attention.

                YOu should always go with the company return policy first. Use chargeback only as the last resort.

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by theaveng (1243528)

                  Yes of course the chargeback should be last resort, to be used only when the corporate asses refuse to issue a refund.

                  As for the police issue, I've not had any problems so far. (1) Most companies are located out-of-state so I'm not within their jurisdiction and (2) it's not worth the cost of filing court documents/hiring a lawyer for a $100 or less item. The company just lets it go and chalks it up to "shrinkage".

                  • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                    by LandDolphin (1202876)
                    Jurisdiction would not be an issue, because once it crosses state lines it is an FBI issue. Seeign as it involves the mail, it could also be a Post Master issue. Two groups that you'd rather not deal with.

                    However, returning a product for a refund and charging back once said refund is not received is not an issue. Specially as you satted, most of the items are low dollar amount.

                    Having worked for a company that disputed chargebacks, you are right. It is usually not worth disputing small dollar a
              • Re:Standard excuses (Score:4, Interesting)

                by TechForensics (944258) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @04:33PM (#26014943) Homepage Journal

                . - Call you credit company and ask to do a chargeback. Provide the DC number as proof the item was returned. - Get money refunded to your card.

                Easy.

                Not as easy as that, and not because companies treat chargebacks as fraudulent orders (how THEY choose to treat it does not define what it is-- if they sued you they'd probably lose). (Yes, IAAL.) The real problem is that credit cards pander to the merchant. The MERCHANT is their real customer, not you-- they can screw you 'til doomsday and your "cardmember agreement" holds you still for them. Many credit cards will REFUSE to charge back a merchant without extravagant demonstrations you've tried to negotiate with unreachable telephone personnel-- and in some cases, only if the merchant agrees to accept the chargeback. They may have the RIGHT to charge back a merchant if you dispute, but they sure don't have the inclination.

                The bottom line, and I have seen this over and over in my practice, is that credit card companies put OUTRAGEOUS terms in all of that fine print, terms that will essentially bend you over and spread your cheeks if they want you that way. You thought you'd cancelled the card? BZZZZT ! They have the right to uncancel it and start siphoning your wallet again if a charge comes through after the closure date. You forgot to stop a recurring charge? BZZZZT! Late fees, penalty fees, interest et cetera, even after you told them not to disburse any more money for you. I had a client who accepted a card and never paid the ten dollar initiation fee. It went on the card, but since she never used it she never looked at the letters that arrived. A year later, with penalties and interest, she owed two thousand dollars, her limit, and it began to climb higher on overlimit fees.

                Oh, and you want to sue the bastards? Check and see if all of that fine print has arbitration clauses, limitations on class actions, or restrictive venue requirements.

                As Homey D. Clown would say, lissen up, chilluns. There is REAL money in usury-- always has been, and that is what credit cards are. And we know in America, real money is above the law (because it bought it and lowered it).

                Back to the point, the parent's suggestion of trying a chargeback is quaint and charming. By and by, Citi and MBNA and the like don't play dat.

            • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Saturday December 06, 2008 @01:28PM (#26013883) Journal

              Not to mention all those things you can be reasonably sure you can actually use: You can eat the food, you can watch the movie, you can read the book. I for one am seriously fucking sick of paying the crazy money for a new game that I am WAY over the minimum system requirements for and then have the damned game eat it 10 minutes in if it even runs at all and having to wait a year+(if you ever get a patch at all) that fixes their shit code.

              And please don't say "run the demo" because that is BS and we all know it. The demo level is ALWAYS the most well tested and stable piece of code in the game, often having been passed out since before beta stage to try and drum up a buzz. A couple of examples from my own experience: Max Payne and Vampire:Bloodlines. The demos played like a dream and were really fun so I bought the games when first released. That was a BIG mistake. Max Payne had to set in my closet for 9 months thanks to a bug that would crash to desktop halfway through the second level. And Vampire:Bloodlines would have ended up in the trash if the modding community hadn't put out a patch a year and a half later that fixed my bug that was less than 30 minutes in that caused it to freeze the entire PC solid.

              And finally as a PC repairman I can't count how many times I have been called on to fix a "virus infection" that ended up being SecuROM, Starforce, or Safedisc. Frankly the new DRM causes more problems that a freaking Trojan. I have had machines that risked burning up the DVD burner because the DRM would keep throwing it into PIO mode, Had every singe burn in Nero fail because the DRM had screwed the Windows drivers, and more random crashes than I can even count. So before I will even pick up a game in the bargain bin I make damned sure I can get a clean copy from P2P. How sad is it that the risk of an infection from the P2P ISO is less than if you bought it at the store.

              So they can bitch and moan all the want. I will NOT be buying anymore games at release time thanks to the inability to return code that doesn't work, I will NOT buy any game that I can't find a clean version of so I can avoid the DRM infection on my PC, and I will NOT buy any more games from EA for their completely overboard asshat DRM. And this is from someone who ALWAYS bought a new C&C or MoH. So congratulations! You have mistreated yet another customer to the point they wouldn't buy from you if you entire catalog was on sale for $1.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                I had that "every disk fail to burn" crap happen thanks to Starforce. Disks hadn't actually failed, only Windows thought they had due to Starforce. Tossed loads of disks that I figured were bad, probably $20+ worth, before I learned about Starforce and started checking the disks on another system and discovered they were actually fine.

                I'm never buying a game on release day again unless it's from a developer I trust. (Stardock for example.) GTA IV is the latest example of customers being absolutely screwed,

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            7) I do not want to try the demo because the only meaningful way to try out a game is to try out the ENTIRE game.

            There lies the problem, though. Most big, marketing-heavy games don't even HAVE useful demos any more. Spore's only demo is the creature creator trial, which is absolutely not an adequate demo because it gives no taste of what the game is like.

          • Re:Standard excuses (Score:4, Interesting)

            by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @09:33PM (#26016601)

            Standard excuses for not paying for this or any other game (pick any that apply):

            Sounds more like standard misunderstandings from an ignorant given game developer to me. Come to think of it, I think you are a game developer, and I might even know which one. Pity you chose to post anonymously. Kudos to you for supporting democracy, rock legend.

            1) I will pirate it first and then pay only if I like it (a la when I go into a restaurant and only pay when I liked the food, or go to the theater to see a film and pay only if it didn't suck). If the game is not PERFECT, I don't pay.

            Crappy food? Don't pay. Crappy movie? Refund. Crappy game? Grab your ankles.

            2) My pirating is good for the software developer (more people playing, even without paying is good, it gives them lots of free publicity). Piracy increases sales! I am doing them a HUGE favor.

            As opposed to the rationale that all piracy is a lost sale? As long as you twits keep releasing sequels and rehashes, then yes, piracy is definitely not a 0 dollar event. You failed to grab their money, but you succeded in making a potential customer for the next sequel. If you had any business sense you'd look the other way like some other companies have.

            3) I am a cheap ass.

            Then the failure to attract their money is your fault. People make purchases based on perceived value.

            4) There is no such thing as copyright (or shouldn't be). Other people should create art, music, games, films, and entertainment for me as a favor and fund it out of their own pocket.

            Sadly you've mutilated this one too much for me to trace back its origins. As far as I can tell, this is about public domain suffocating due to the ability of huge corporations holding on to copyrights in perpetuity. Irrelevent without clarification.

            5) Piracy is a fact in the gaming world. Get used to it. It's the developer's own fault because they should have taken it into account in their business case...

            I don't hear people trotting this one out often, either, but it is a little odd you didn't mutate this one to suit your needs a little better like you did with the others. It is a fact of the PC Gaming world. So is shoplifting. There's a reason stores don't check people on the way in and out like they do at Disneyland. If we're going to discuss business cases here, let's not forget what makes pirated software valuable to begin with. Do you really think that none of the people that downloaded Spore had purchased a copy? Mmm? You'd expect business cases wouldn't overlook the basic rules of economics.

            ...(besides, they should have been working on this full time as an open source program for free anyway).

            I can honestly say I've never heard this one. This sounds more like a generic Slashdot rant about proprietary software than a piracy debate.

            6) $50 for this game is too much. Come to think of it, $25 is too. And if it is only $10, then pirating it shouldn't be that much of a burden to the developer.

            If your price is too high, not everybody'll buy it. Basic economics. It's worth adding, though, that the lack of ability to return a shitty game, questions over its quality, and the general bombardment of "THE NUMBER ONE GAME IN AMERICA!" messages make it difficult enough to purchase without some form of evaluation. The copy restrictions themselves pose a problem, now. The games are systematically being lowered in value. This does not represent good business sense.

            7) I do not want to try the demo because the only meaningful way to try out a game is to try out the ENTIRE game.

            Amusing point. We're now seeing trailers instead of demos. Game developers have strengthened this point.

            8) Who cares

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by morcego (260031)

          I know you were joking, but I find your comments a good hook to hang my own.

          About a month ago, Blizzard released the 2nd expansion back for World of Warcraft. On the same day, it was also available for download .... from Blizzard. Considering I live in a country where you can't find anything warcraft for sale, that is what allowed me to get the game (I asked an USA buddy to buy an extra copy, and send me the cdkey).

          When I open my cabinet, I see a lot of old game boxes. And then I noticed that pretty much al

      • by canajin56 (660655) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @11:13AM (#26013027)

        Given what a letdown the game was, I should have installed the pirated version earlier and seen it wasn't worth the $50 and just deleted it.

        This. And now they're charging $20-50 for monthly expansions. Sims style. You know it's intentionally awful when it comes out mid september, and by october they've announced an add-on pack and two expansion packs for sale. I think in $300-500 it'll actually almost have a game. It still won't have evolution or ecology or a sandbox mode or AI like promised, but might actually have a game, and maybe even some of the features they demod at E3, like the plant and pattern editors, and communicating with other species... (No actually, not the first two, then they couldn't charge $20 for a pattern pack like they do now, or however much they'll charge for the first plant pack!)

    • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @06:47AM (#26012043)

      Its because of the Marketing blitz.
      Everywhere I look its Spore this, Spore that. You'd have mushrooms in your ears to miss hearing about it.
      OF COURSE people are going to think: "Whats all the hype about - not like MARKETING has LIED to me before so I'll take a free no-obligation look-see for myself."
      Some %, possibly significant, of those downloaders are going to perhaps like it and/or will want to play online, so they will sign up for valid copies. These people are new clients - they would not of bought the game otherwise.
      Now the hardliners-stuck in the 80's software model will cry "these numbers will destroy the game industry". Bollocks. They are getting 1.X million potential clients who would never have bother buying the game to see if it was worth the hype in the first place.

      News flash: Bittorent downloads will reflect real world marketing promotion.

      • by kentrel (526003) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @06:49AM (#26012053) Journal
        Your data to prove this hypothesis?
        • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @07:07AM (#26012081)

          Can go one better: The weight of evidence is in the real world sales: http://torrentfreak.com/alchemist-author-pirates-own-books-080124/ [torrentfreak.com]
          http://toc.oreilly.com/2008/08/pirates-convince-game-develope.html [oreilly.com]
          The weight of real-world evidence is in favor of the hypothesis posted above. The only anti-hypothesis you've got is 1 Pirate == 1 lost sale. *cough* Your data prove your hypothesis?*cough**cough*

          • P.S. Fast forward one year. News Title: "Spore the Most Successful Game of 2009". If its worthy of the hype. Mark my words.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by SerpentMage (13390)

            I got another one to prove otherwise.

            Bruce Eckel for a while released his books for free. And initially things went very well. But then things went downhill because people would end up NOT buying his books. They would have read his books, but not bought them.

            Now Bruce is not making the later editions for free anymore. Why? I can only surmise that it did not work out. I once asked him and he said, "oh yeah that it was an interesting experiment."

            I know Bruce personally and he is not a money freak. He is a ver

            • by HadouKen24 (989446) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @07:49AM (#26012227)
              The problem, perhaps, is in the kind of work he tried to make free. The evidence seems to point toward entertainment products being benefited by piracy. Not books on programming or other technical non-fiction. These are two very different kinds of products used in very different ways. One should not assume that trends in one should be a good indication of trends in the other.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Dun Malg (230075)

              I got another one to prove otherwise.

              Bruce Eckel for a while released his books for free. And initially things went very well. But then things went downhill because people would end up NOT buying his books.

              Cite?

              They would have read his books, but not bought them.

              I only heard of Thinking in C++ because of the buzz about it being free. I read it online and liked it. I bought two copies on paper, one for work, one for home. My anecdote beats your unfounded speculation, 0 data points to 1.

              Now Bruce is not making the later editions for free anymore. Why? I can only surmise that it did not work out.

              Ah yes, the incontrovertible proof that comes from idle speculation.

              I once asked him and he said, "oh yeah that it was an interesting experiment."

              That answer is pretty evasive. Sounds equally likely that he could either be disappointed in the sales, or uncomfortable acknowledging he used the Open Source/"FREE STUFF!" model to make a name for himself. It's

      • by fastest fascist (1086001) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @07:39AM (#26012173)
        It'd be nice to see stats on sales versus stats on piracy for some recent top titles. Unfortunately, AFAIK, it's difficult to get stats from legal digital distributors.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by KlausBreuer (105581)

          Actually, you can. 2D Boy (http://2dboy.com) brought out a very nice game called "World of Goo". I can certainly recommend it: a very nice game, great fun, no copy protection at all, good long demo for free, and the game itself for $20 (nicely low price).

          And yet they still got pirated. See, they allow anybody to send in their high-score. And thus they found out that between 80% and 90% of these high-scores come from pirated versions.
          (http://2dboy.com/2008/11/13/90/)
          Thus: no DRM, great game, low price: 80-90

      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @07:45AM (#26012207)

        Particularly in the case of Spore. That game was sold as just damn amazing. Well often when that's claimed it turns out not to be the case. Fable would be a good example. Had it been what it was originally claimed to be, it would likely be the defining RPG of this generation. Instead it was a fairly average action RPG.

        Such is the case with Spore as well. Now I don't know, maybe the game gets awesome in later stages but to me, it seemed very shallow the little I tooled around with it on a friend's copy. The first two stages were really boring. I also had a look at his game on the Civilization stage. Well guess what? I've already seen that done better in a game called... Civilization. I likes me a good Civ simulator, in fact I own Civ 4 and it's two expansions. So if you aren't doing it better than that, and it isn't, well then I am not that interested.

        Had I bought it, I would have felt rather ripped off. However I know you have to be careful on those extremely hyped games. You can't go by reviews either. Reviewers have already talked them selves in to how good the game will be, reviews are far too positively biased for Big Hits(tm).

        I also think in Spore's case a non-trivial amount of it may have been due to DRM protest. Now you can argue if that's the way to go about it or not, but there were lots of people pissed about it. I've decided EA can basically get fucked. I'm not buying their games with this activation bullshit unless they are absolutely superb. I bought Mass Effect, that game is just that good, but I'm giving most others a miss.

        For example I'm not going to get Red Alert 3. I'm a fan of the C&C series and have bought most of them. I quite liked C&C3 and Kane's Revenge. However though I like them, they aren't good enough for me to put up with the activation shit. So I'll get something else instead, Demigod probably.

        Now while I'm not going to go nab a copy off Bittorrent, that may be what some people do, people who are put off by the DRM.

        I'm reasonable when it comes to DRM. I'll accept that publishers are paranoid and need the "feel good" of having some DRM on the games, even though it seems it really doesn't help (see Sins of a Solar Empire for proof). However when it gets to be bullshit like "You can only install the game 3 times and then never again," well fuck you. Good games, I want to play and replay. I still fire up Baldur's Gate 2 from time to time. You'd better believe I've done more than 3 reinstalls since then. Hell I've gone through more than 3 complete system upgrades since that came out.

        EA really seems to have crossed the stupid threshold. In particular the activation limits imply that it isn't so much about preventing illegal copying as it is about preventing a used game market and forcing you to buy new versions. I think the rampant copying will help show that no, this shit DOESN'T stop it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LKM (227954)

      Yes. Who would have thought that people would pirate the game if the version they can buy is broken by design!

      It boggles the mind.

    • by LingNoi (1066278) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @08:46AM (#26012421)

      I had to pirate the game after buying it in Thailand (I live there) because EA support refused to give me the English language (1.3 meg of files)

      Dear *******,

      Sorry for the inconvenience, but Spore Thai retail version support only Thai language as indicate on the package. And there's no English text file include in the build.

      The only way to get English build in Thailand is to buy the game at i27 http://www.i27games.com/?cat=pcg [i27games.com]

      Kindly let us know if you need more info.

      Best Regards,
      EA Thailand Support

      ....

      Dear EA Thailand Support,

      You are right, that's very inconvenient and can't believe you are telling me to go buy this game twice for just 3 files that total up to
      1 Megabyte.

      You have left me no choice but to download the game off the internet and get the three files in need to put into the "Locale" folder. I
      find it frustrating that I have to pirate EA games I have bought to be able to play them.

      I hope that in the future you will provide a better service to your customers that are buying your products instead of leaving it up to
      internet pirates to provide support for your games.

      Regards,
      ******

      .....

      Dear *******,

      All AAA EA titles in Thailand are localized to Thai language. All are locked preventing user to change the language. We have this language switching protection to prevent our goods being export to other territories due to the cheaper price on Thai products. As for Spore, retail price in Thailand is only £8.5, while you have to pay for £35 in UK.

      We also aware that people can get the locale file from the internet. But it is against our policy to provide you the locale files from our side.

      We hope you understand and sorry again for the inconvenience.

      Best Regards,
      EA Thailand Support

      and why the fuck should I care if it's more expensive in the UK if I don't live there? In fact why do they mention the UK at all?

      WHY RESPOND! I DON'T GIVE A SHIT WHY YOUR FUCKING ME OVER FOR THREE FILES!!!

      • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @08:55AM (#26012447)

        Umm... because they're a company and don't give a rat's rear about you?

        Let's calculate. One customer pissed off vs. thousands of cheap "imports" from countries where you couldn't charge 35 quid for a game because copying rates are already higher than the US national debt.

        Now imagine you're a company and think accordingly.

        Yes, it sucks for you. And don't get me wrong, I'm neither berating you nor taking EA's side here, but that's how it looks for them. You're one customer who already bought the game anyway, and it's not an MMO where they could squeeze any more money out of you.

        • by theaveng (1243528) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @11:36AM (#26013175)

          Precisely.

          Everyone always gets hyped around November 4th and other election days, but they forget that EVERY DAY is an election day. Your ballots are your dollars, and by not handing those dollars to companies like EA Thailand or EA-EU or EA-USA, you are slowly but surely driving that company into bankruptcy.

          But if you go ahead and "vote" for them, then all you've done is said, "I support you; keep up the good work." You never should have bought that Thai-only game if you wanted an English language version. You should have withheld your "ballots" and kept your money in your wallet, or given it to another company.

          Casting votes for or against corporations is the most-direct form of democracy we have.

      • by Lord Lode (1290856) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @10:35AM (#26012845)
        Hey, you actually got a very nice reply from EA Thailand explaining you why they didn't provide the English locale there. Someone actually read your mail and manually typed a reply explaining the situation, and quite honest too. No auto-generated mail. This gets my respect.
        • by 3vi1 (544505) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @04:03PM (#26014789) Homepage Journal

          If someone's polite as to why they won't comply with your very reasonable request for help, that gets your respect?

          You: "Excuse me, but would you switch seats with me so that my wife and I can sit together?"

          Me: "I'm sorry but it's my policy not to switch seats, because your seat was paid for with Euros and mine with dollars."

          You: "GOD DAMN! I RESPECT THAT!"

  • by iYk6 (1425255) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @06:21AM (#26011969)
    The solution is obvious. Add more DRM!!!
    • Re:The Solution. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Loibisch (964797) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @06:25AM (#26011983)

      Three will come a time when the only version of a game that is actually playable will be the one you can download off Bittorrent.

      • Re:The Solution. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 06, 2008 @07:05AM (#26012073)

        And that time is, what, four years ago?

        • Re:The Solution. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by theaveng (1243528) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @11:42AM (#26013225)

          For those of us who had Ataris and Commodores, that day happened around twenty-five years ago.

          - Pirated versions load faster.
          - Pirates versions customize the game (skipping levels, unlimited lives).
          - Pirated versions don't pound your 1541 drive's head to pieces and incur a $500 repair to fix it!!!
          - Pirated versions can be backed-up whereas the original can not; the disk dies and you're out $30. The game company won't send you a new one.

          Yep. I've been preferring pirated versions since circa 1985.

      • by fastest fascist (1086001) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @07:25AM (#26012113)
        There will come a time when fighting around DRM and finding a decent torrent after becoming frustrated with the purchased copy IS the game.
      • by King_TJ (85913) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @11:23AM (#26013077) Journal

        I recently bought the native OS X version of Call of Duty 4. (I had the PS3 version for a little while, but I can't get used to playing a 1st. person shooter with the console controller....)

        I only got to play online a few times before I was greeting with a "CD key already in use" message and kicked offline. Apparently, quite a few people are suffering from the same issue. Tech. support suggests that improperly exiting the game can cause the main server to hold onto your login info for a while, and to "wait a little while and try again". They also suggest that an "overloaded master server" could temporarily cause it.

        Well, that may be true in *some* situations, but the more obvious problem is that pirates have created key-generator programs that make valid keys that wind up matching ones paid for by customers like me. Will they issue me a new key though? No way! Forget it! I've barely been able to play in the last few weeks..... If I finally get online with my key, I guess I need to leave my Mac connected all the time? Ridiculous!

        My best friend had the exact same issue with Quake 4 a while ago - which prompted him to stop buying any more 1st. person shooters requiring keys for online play. Activision refused to help him with his problem -- so he was essentially better off just pirating.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Loibisch (964797)

          Actually, the chance of finding a proper key that is suitable for online play is non-trivial, here is how key generation usually goes:

          1) programmer of company develops an algorithm to generate keys
          2) company runs said algorithm 100,000 times to generate 100,000 valid keys, covering only a tiny fraction of the complete keyspace
          3) company records those keys and adds them to their master server to allow online play
          4) those keys are distributed with the games

          What happens once the game is released is this
          5) crac

    • Re:The Solution. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by karstux (681641) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @07:16AM (#26012101) Homepage

      You jest, but this is precisely what the shareholders will demand of the publishers. They do not understand that piracy cannot be defeated by technical means, so they'll just keep on layering increasingly nasty DRM on the games.

      At the same time, they will lobby politicians to implement even more draconian "IP-protection" laws.

      So while the headline does induce a warm, fuzzy "serves you right" feeling, the implications are not so funny.

      • A company that makes Spore wants to earn a living. And to do that they put on DRM. Yet broadly said, "oh look the most pirated game" will only cause more DRM.

        I am not one for draconian DRM, but the reality is that people pirate way too much. It seems that the current generation thinks that charging for software is a bad thing.

        The thing is that you can have free software, and you can have for charge software. But when people start pirating software they are only making the case for people who break the GPL.

        • Re:The Solution. (Score:5, Informative)

          by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @08:18AM (#26012333)

          Copying games is about as old as the game industry. About 20 years ago, when I was young, it was often also the only way to actually get games before they were outdated. Not to mention that back then games were often not only cracked but also included a "trainer", i.e. a built in cheat, which actually made the copies more interesting than the originals.

          A bit like today with DRM, but back in the good ol' days game crackers actually added value instead of just removing the value subtraction... anyway.

          Copy protection is also about as old as the game industry. And no copy protection ever protected a game from being copied. If anything, it led to the rise of certain copier groups. Without copy protection, this kind of organisation would not have been necessary, and I doubt they would have risen to the levels they were until about a decade ago. And without them, the widespread copying would not have been possible.

          Stings like Buccaneer and Fastlink certainly put some strain on "cracker groups", but whether or not they continue is no longer of pressing importance for the copying of games. You don't need the sort of organisation anymore that was necessary one or two decades ago. You don't need suppliers, couriers, BBS operators and all the other people involved with acquisition and distribution of software. You only need the person cracking the game. And, more importantly, you need globally one single person to do it, distribution of the crack is easily accomplished through P2P.

          Now we see a focus on P2P in the fight against copying. There may be some sort of achivement similar to the stings mentioned above, maybe in 3, maybe in 5 years, but then we'll be on the next technology for getting, cracking and spreading software.

          See the pattern? Whatever is done against widespread copying, it is usually too late to actually counter what has already been established.

          You want people to heed copyrights. That is a fair demand. I'm actually sure people are very willing to heed them if their demand is met, too. But we're moving away from the demand with the supply. Companies supply software with more and more invasive DRM. People want software that allows them to use it without hassle and without jumping through hoops to be allowed to use what they pay for. Draconian DRM, lawsuits and stings will not help there in any way. It will, if anything, alienate your customer. People are usually quite willing to play fair if they feel they are treated fairly. You offer me a fair deal and I will play fair. You offer me a foul deal and I will play foul.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by pwizard2 (920421)

            Stings like Buccaneer and Fastlink certainly put some strain on "cracker groups", but whether or not they continue is no longer of pressing importance for the copying of games.

            The thing that bothers me the most is how much tax money went to fund those two operations. (anything that involves law enforcement also involves public funds) Why should the taxpayer have to pay to protect the bottom line of companies? If the release groups and game companies want to fight it out, that's fine with me, (since I'm in

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by petermgreen (876956)

          I am not one for draconian DRM, but the reality is that people pirate way too much.
          The other fact is that draconian DRM doesn't stop people pirating single player PC games and may even encourage it.

          If your game is good and has strong multiplayer then you can control piracy through the online multiplayer component (think starcraft, I know plenty of people whose first copy of starcraft was a burnt copy but later bought legit copies to play online) but if your game is shit or mostly singleplayer than you have

        • by DrYak (748999) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @09:56AM (#26012701) Homepage

          A company that makes Spore wants to earn a living. And to do that they put on DRM.

          And it just can't work.

          The premise of DRM is to make more difficult for people to casually copy the game.
          That means managing to put restriction for every last game player out there. Everyone has to be subjected to that shit in the hopes that the copying will be limited.

          But then, all it takes is 1 single unique copy. 1 single unique time when the DRM has been circumvented, for that copy to be made available to millions via the internet.

          Who in his right mind could guarantee that, out of the several millions of sold copies (2 million after 3 weeks according to EA as reported on Wikipedia*), the DRM will stand un-defeated, not even 1 single time.
          That requires failure rates lower than 1 in several dozen of millions. That are failure rates that even space exploration - with all its engineering brilliance - can't guarantee. And your expecting shitty manufacturer of crappy DRM systems, which can't even stay stable on a machine without crashing it, to be able to guarantee that ?

          Even without entering in the stupidity of the DRM's cryptographic details, or the complete out-of-reality of the pay-per-copy failed business model, just the sheer numbers involved tell you that DRM just doesn't stand a snowball in hell's chance to be even remotely reach something that could be interpreted as success.

          DRM just can't be the answer to the piracy problem :
          to succeed it must stop absolutely everyone from copying.
          to fail 1 single leak is all it takes.
          That's impossible.

          --

          *: EA reports 2 million copies sold after 3 weeks.
          TorrentFreaks reports ~2 million download after 3 months of BitTorrent.

          That's an incredibly high... SELLING RATE. Articles on /. have mentioned that 90% piracy is rather the norm in the gaming industries.Whereas, it seems that Spore has sold more copies than it got pirated.

          That's some damn fucking sign of tremendous success. And given this success, given all the money Spore has managed to earn, why does anybody need to give a fuck if some punks have downloaded copies of the intertube ?

        • We need facts. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tkrotchko (124118) *

          "It seems that the current generation thinks that charging for software is a bad thing."

          That could only be true if the RATE of piracy is higher than in the past. And what you'd need to do is to study what is being pirated and how it compares to 5 or 10 years ago. You could do lots of interesting research in this area provided you have the data.

          What we're lacking is facts, and the people providing them have a vested interest in doing research only as long as the outcome they're paying for.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by JohhnyTHM (799469)

      The solution is obvious. Add more DRM!!!

      We like the way you think and would like to offer you a position in our organization.

      Yours, the EA management team.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This should be from the I-told-you-so department. Does this really shock any of the /. crowd?

    It sucks that something so popular with publishers and unpopular with consumers keeps making headline news (granted, /. headlines are a bit different), because we get to hear the same arguments again and again and again.

    And I'd say these numbers are highly suspect to boot. Where does torrentfreak get the rough total number of downloads?

  • WRONG! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted AT slashdot DOT org> on Saturday December 06, 2008 @07:09AM (#26012083)

    There was not a single case of a shipping of that game being stolen on the high seas.

    Oh, you mean people shared the files? Well, here's a handy guide for you [filesavr.com].

    Arrrr!

    • Re:WRONG! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mascot (120795) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @07:35AM (#26012159)

      It's time to stop fighting this. Nobody I know associates "pirating a game" with hijacking a boat. Besides, it's gone colloquial and is making it into the dictionaries.

      piâ...raâ...cy
      â"noun, plural -cies.

      1. practice of a pirate; robbery or illegal violence at sea.

      2. the unauthorized reproduction or use of a copyrighted book, recording, television program, patented invention, trademarked product, etc.: The record industry is beset with piracy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by FourthAge (1377519)

        And the "copyright infringement" definition of piracy has been in usage since 1603. Wikipedia has a nice little history of the use of the term [wikipedia.org]. And in any case, what does anyone hope to prove by saying "it's not piracy because it's not robbery at sea?" What do you gain by saying that? It's not like the RIAA are going to string you up on the nearest dockside according to ancient maritime convention.

        • Re:WRONG! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by NickFortune (613926) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @10:19AM (#26012773) Homepage Journal

          And in any case, what does anyone hope to prove by saying "it's not piracy because it's not robbery at sea?"

          I don't mind people using "piracy" as a sort of shorthand for "copyright infringement". I just object when people try to reason that because the word is also used to refer to armed robbery on the high seas, it is therefore morally and legally equivalent to armed and violent robbery and should be treated in a similar manner.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Kneo24 (688412)

      What most people fail to realize that the legal definition of piracy is robbery at sea, not copyright infringement.

      I do agree that the usage of "piracy" to mean "copyright infringement" is outright retarded. When I hear the word pirate, I automatically think of ships with guns attacking other ships for their wares and goods, and maybe even a few ruffians on the boat who might look a little unkempt from being out in sea for so long.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @07:37AM (#26012171)

    Now, let's ponder for a moment. Was this game P2Ped so often despite the insane DRM mechanisms? Or was it maybe because of it?

    How many read about what EA wants to do with their PCs to be allowed to play this piece of ... erhm ... software? Deep manipulation of your driver makeup, authorisation requirement to be allowed to use what you pay for, the sword of damocles hanging over you in the guise of limiting the times you may activate it, not to mention the question whether or not you'll be allowed to play it when EA decides that you shouldn't any longer because you're supposed to buy the successor...

    How many of those copies are actually people who bought the game and for some reason had to activate it once too often, and instead of calling the very helpful, friendly and lightning fast user support people of EA who speak flawless English they decided for the faster venue of downloading the game to play it? Or, how many actually HAD to download it to play it at all because for some funky reason that DRM barfed on them and all EA said was "sorry, problem at your end"?

    I'm actually willing to grant the DRM advocates that this time those copies are actually lost sales. But not despite, rather because of DRM. People wanted to play that game and they would have had no worries about the 50ish bucks it costs, but they just didn't want you to mess up their PCs.

    Before someone asks, no, I didn't copy it. The money allotted for the purchase of Spore was redirected to Sins of a Solar Empire when I heard about Spore's DRM mechanism. Sins was a purchase of protest, only to turn out to be a pretty well made game. I then saw Spore at a friend's and realized it ain't even worth the bandwidth necessary to P2P it. So, I guess, I'm not in this statistic this time.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      Do you have any data to back that up? It's not for SecuRom but the data UbiSoft published about StarForce [ubi.com] strongly suggests that the level of DRM related problems, even with very aggressive implementations, is low. As in sub-1% low. I'm really sceptical that even 1% of this 1 million+ figure is people downloading it "because they had to" after buying it. Occams Razor says the simplest explanation wins - those people are pirates.

      • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @08:46AM (#26012417)

        UbiSoft? You want me to trust a study regarding DRM troubles coming from a company that has to steal warez cracks to deal with their DRM troubles [slashdot.org]?

        Umm... any credible sources to back that up?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kneo24 (688412)

        Even sub 1% of a few million people is a lot of people. A half percent of a million is 5,000 people. The game obviously sold more than that. Would you really want to take that risk? Let's just assume that it won't affect you, as the chances really are small. Are you comfortable installing an unremoveable root-kit on your machine? I know I'm not. Or let's assume you're ok with both. Are you ok with the low installation limit? For me, no game is worth that potential hassle.

        You also have to keep in mind that t

  • by mqduck (232646)

    This is ironic. Spore is the only game besides WOW that I *didn't* pirate and actually *payed* for in the last two years or so. Playing Spore without the online component sounds like missing the point to me.

    However, my DVD drive ended dying right when I got the game, so I downloaded the image via BitTorrent to install.

  • It's due to the DRM (Score:3, Informative)

    by jridley (9305) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @09:03AM (#26012467)

    People who know anything about that DRM wouldn't let SecureROM on their system, it has no business doing what it does to a system just to play a game.

    It's 100% certain they'd have had my money the day the game hit the streets if they didn't have DRM in it. As it is, no. Not ever. Not unless I can run it in a VM where it can't pillage my system, and AFAIK it doesn't run in a VM.

    And anyone who wants the game can easily get it in a clean pirated version.

    Counting just BitTorrent is undercounting too; usenet is a safer place to get stuff (not as trackable).

  • Shareholders (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rpillala (583965) on Saturday December 06, 2008 @10:15AM (#26012755)

    A few people have mentioned DRM as shareholder appeasement. It would seem the company would enact more sensible policies if their shareholders were themselves gamers. Either that or people from this group who understand that DRM can always be circumvented.

    It would be interesting if a major benefit of holding shares in a company was a discount on the company's products. It's a very old fashioned view of the stock market, but I think you should buy shares because you believe in what a company is doing and want to help them succeed. Of course, their success = your success as far as your ownership goes, so it's not an altruistic act to purchase shares. Currently, many companies are run by people who have no interest in the products being good or even finished are a bad thing as well. Maximizing shareholder value doesn't always give you long term success or a good product - just look at Circuit City. They were held up as an exemplar in Good to Great of increasing shareholder value. Even during that time where they were doing a great job, their customer service (which I guess is one of their main products) was widely panned.

    I'm no economist so maybe this idea is hugely naive. I welcome being shown as naive.

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