Sunday, September 14, 2008
It's Your Customer, Stupid. Spore Sucks Or At Least EA's DRM Idea Did!
I've had a lot of fire lately - hence the plethora of blog posts. And you know I love to highlight failings more so than successes. Too many people spend their time glowingly writing about things they love. I think, from an entrepreneur's perspective, you can learn a whole lot more understanding where people fail. So, what's the deal with Spore?
A wildly popular and much anticipated video game was released this past week. It's called Spore. And I've been dying for it to come out. It's been years in the making, was developed by Will Wright (of SIMS fame), and was created around the idea of building a civilization from a single cell to world domination (space colonization and beyond). Yea, you can play God. Or at least some Master of the Universe. The concept was amazing. And you were set to be able to compete online with everyone else who's has/is building their own civilization.
Well the game came out, and while it sold very well last week, it has received far more criticism from those who aren't buying it than praise from those who are. Why? In addition to the game lacking any sort of depth or sophisticated game play (supposedly it's pretty elementary - though I admittedly haven't played), they made a larger blunder on something that doesn't even have to do with the game play. They've implemented a DRM system on the game that seems pretty antiquated and out of place. There's a strict 3 install limit. If you install the game on 3 systems...that's it. After that, you need to call EA for permission to use your game. As people have been suggesting, users these days easily have 2 PC's. And if they upgrade machines or need to reinstall the game for some reason (over the life of owning this game!) - they'll hit their 3 use limit. Then it's time to spend, I'm sure, too long on the phone convincing EA to let you use a game that you own. It's a nuisance to say the least. And reports are that customer support handling the additional licenses is a pain in the ass to deal with.
So what now? Well - Spore has the lowest video game ranking on Amazon. Over 2,000 reviewers have reviewed the game 1 star because of the DRM. There's a huge backlash. In fact, a pirated DRM-free version is on the torrents and has been downloaded over 500,000 times. A torrent search should turn this up in no time.
EA could have followed Apple's lead where you can authorize a machine to play the game and then de-authorize it, so that you won't have this customer support nightmare.
EA - time for damage control. And it's time to listen to the little people.
(Supporting article: Washington Post, here)