The SecuROM implementation for “Spore” may not be so bad.

Steve over at the Gaming Steve blog caught up with the folks at Maxis about the shit storm that’s been ongoing since word came out that Spore would be using SecuROM DRM.  From the sounds of it Maxis plans to try and make the SecuROM as unobtrusive as possible:

Hey Spore Fans –

We wanted to let you know that we’ve been hearing your concerns about the online authentication mentioned earlier this week. I didn’t want to head into the weekend without getting back to you with some information about how Spore is planning on using this new system.

A few things we wanted you to know:

  • We authenticate your game online when you install and launch it the first time.
  • We’ll re-authenticate when a player uses online features, downloads new content or a patch for their game.
  • The new system means you don’t have to play with the disc in your computer. And if you are like me, always losing discs, this will be a huge benefit.
  • You’ll still be able to install and play on multiple computers.
  • You can play offline. 

We do hope that players will play online – sharing creatures, buildings and vehicles with other players is something that is unique to Spore and one of the coolest features of the game. Every day, when I play the Creature Stage, I get to see wacky and awesome new creatures from my Buddies on the team coming over the hill at me and I can’t wait to see what happens when our creative, passionate community starts sharing their creations.

I’d love to write more – but I need to get back to work. We’ve got a game to finish. grin


I’m still not happy about it, but if they limit the authentications to when the player is getting downloadable content/patches and it doesn’t stop legitimate applications (read: Process Explorer) from running then I may be able to live with it. Mass Effect is still out of the question though.

15 thoughts on “The SecuROM implementation for “Spore” may not be so bad.

  1. This does not sound nearly as bad. Granted I still do not like it. As long as it only checks when you actively seek something out as opposed to a set time each week, I might live with it, I want this game.

    The system they announced (prior to this announcement, which remains to be seen if it is not actually the same) it was checking every 10 days, well every 5 days up until 10. Not to be the “little black helicopters everywhere” type but… that did/does smack of gathering marketing data to sell. Why on earth would something need to check every 10 days? If you bought it legitimately and registered it ala Steam, what is going to change?

    The only single excuse for it is to make sure no one else is using your key. But what are the gains for the company involved? There must be easier ways to check keys than updating key/system information constantly to the company.

  2. I am glad to hear this. I still think they are just covering and plan on some fairly harsh DRM methods, just in softer English. Either way, as long as they do not “offer” irrelevant download content every few days just to accomplish the same goal, I will be a happy camper.

    I will give the benefit of the doubt… for now. It is to bad EA had to get their grubby paws on this. Yes, yes I hate EA. Let us be honest though, of the few great titles they have put out, they have a tendency to put a taint on things.

  3. Steam can drop dead. I will not buy it.

    I am a customer, not a crook.  If, however, they want to treat me as a crook, then I’d be happy to oblige them or pass, entirely.

    I’ve seen the same ol’ same ol’ time and time again, from floppy keys (vs. Copy2PC), to some sort of dorky ‘type in the number from page 23’ to finally this garbage. Being morons, they never learn.

    Here’s a thought: every game gets a unique ID in the package. You only need the ID to play on line. Want to make a gazillion copies? Go ahead; we hope your friends will find the single-player/campaign mode fun enough to want to buy a legit copy so they can play the on-line version.

    This is not friggin rocket science, but then, having been in the biz for so long so as to be permanently bitter and jaded (can’t tell, huh?), I know how it really went down: some sales guy for some DRM company convinced the upper muckety-mucks that there are billions of ‘pirates’ just waiting to steal their product and sent their profits into debtor hell. Said upper mucks couldn’t tech their way out of a wet paper bag, so with a “your powerpoint and shiny brochure are reason enough for me,” they buy in.

    Then their game gets cracked and distributed in the tubes anyway. Meanwhile, the DRM guys have already cashed the check and are off to the next victim. Who were the real priates, again?

  4. @Some Guy:

    Uh, you do know what the purpose of Steam is, don’t you? The whole thing about Steam is that you purchase games online and download them immediately. They don’t want you to have to enter a license key – they just have you sign in to the same account you purchased the game with. They also don’t tie a particular user ID to an installation. You can still have as many installations of a game as you please, but you have to have a Steam ID to play.

    The DRM Steam uses isn’t about preventing you from copying your game so much as it is making sure people who own the game are the ones playing it. That, and Steam only releases games that have come out in other media, so Steam is just a network distribution and play system. Steam is not nearly so draconian a system as SecuROM.

  5. No they don’t use SecuROM as far as I know (except for Bioshock obviously). I just mean in the realm of DRM they tend to be somewhat less intrusive comparatively. You buy a product from them, go through the motions and for the most part that is that. Not to say I like their setup but I have some acceptance if I want to play certain games. The DRM spore was originally talking about was extremely out of hand. I could not rightly buy it. If it goes to market with that scheme, buying it is essentially giving credence to that sort of thing, and I just can’t no matter how much I would like to play it.

  6. And this is why I’d go and buy it, and just use the cracked .exe file. No stupid activation crap. Ever.

    So, how do they plan on handling people without internet connections?

    How do they plan on handling the various activation server downtime?

    What do they plan on doing in two years when Mass Effect 2 and Spore 2 are released and the activation servers are changed to ME2 and Spore 2 servers?

    They’ll have some very unhappy customers on their hands.

  7. @TheJynXeD:

    Not to sound like I defend DRM (I don’t), but Maxis did say they only validate on the first play of a game, and then never again if you tell it not to go online. I can only hope they mean that, but they should probably know that a lot of geeks are going to be checking on them. Besides which, it’s not likely that people without internet connections are going to be playing – but I can imagine there would be a phone method for validating, like Micro$haft does.

    Really, I don’t mind this form of DRM, as long as it never goes beyond this. Theoretically, it would be possible to deactivate the home-bound activation components with a patch if Maxis has to take down the servers. There are lots of other game companies who have used similar, if less sophisticated, methods that have been able to avoid this backlash. As it stands, it’s essentially a no-key version of what ID did with Quake III Arena.

  8. We’ll re-authenticate when a player uses online features, downloads new content or a patch for their game.

    Which means it’ll definitely be more often than every five or ten days for most people.

    You’ll still be able to install and play on multiple computers.

    How many (and how many re-installs) is the deal breaker for me.

  9. Speaking of Bioshock – I did a look at the 2K games forums to see if there were any problems with the state of their DRM (I found out about Mass Effect and Spore via Kotaku).

    Oh yeah. Tons. Like, a page full of problems just DRM- (and no-cd-crack-) related just today. So, no Bioshock for me*. Maybe I’ll convince my brother to lend me his Xbox in exchange for my PC for a while this summer.

    edit: *Unless I can circumvent the DRM myself.

  10. I have, although I appreciate that. My thing is, and remains, that I really just “don’t want that”.

    I have concerns with how their “unique ID”s are generated that identify which owner is using these activations. If they’re using hardware profiling, I’m done at the door. If they’re not, I can use drive imaging to get around it.

    I don’t like having to manually un-install stuff, especially where I might need to revert to a previous state on my PC, or I’m otherwise locked away from my drive.

  11. Yeah, well there are still only 3 installations and the game CAN NOT be played until it’s activated on EA’s server. I refuse to pay money for what will be a coaster in 10 years. You know after the 10 year dev cycle EA/Maxis has talked about for Spore, they will be shut down their authentication servers so that we have to buy Spore 2. It’s classic marketing.

    Will not drink the cool-aid.

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