A Forbes article popped up today on Spore’s DRM and the game’s piracy problem.  In the article, they give an estimated account of all of the people who have downloaded Spore – 171,402 as of September 1st.  Various reasons were given for downloading the game, and the biggest reason is to prove to EA that their DRM is not the right way to go.  Quoting the site:

“By downloading this torrent, you are doing the right thing,” wrote one user going by the name of “deathkitten” on the popular file-sharing site The Pirate Bay. “You are letting [Electronic Arts] know that people won’t stand for their ridiculously draconian ‘DRM’ viruses.”

“You have the power to make this the most pirated game ever, to give corporate bastards a virtual punch in the face,” deathkitten added in another comment.

Another user with the handle “dsmx” sounded more conflicted. “I feel bad about pirating this game I really wanted to buy it but EA put DRM on it and my policy is that any form of DRM means an instant not parting with money,” he wrote. “When I pay for something I want to own it not rent it with EA deciding when I’m not allowed to play it anymore.”

Now…I can understand fighting DRM to try to prove to EA what they have done is wrong, but this isn’t the correct way of doing it.  While I believe EA’s DRM scheme is stupid, downloading the game for free…is just bad.  Sure, you’re screwing EA in the process, and I cannot blame them for doing that, but they are also hurting Maxis, which I don’t agree with.  If you want to fight the DRM, give the game a bad review, bad press, don’t buy it, use word of mouth…but don’t download a free copy of the game.

Now…what about the case of purchasing the game then downloading a copy…To be honest and in my opinion, I don’t see the harm in doing that.  After all, you paid your dues to Maxis by purchasing a legimate copy, but then again you are also “sticking it to the man” by not letting the DRM get to you.  That way, if you do come across DRM problems with your legimate copy, you have the backup one to go to.  So, out of those 171,402 folks who downloaded the game, how many downloaded it early then bought the copy (as it was cracked days before release) and how many of those bought their copies then downloaded a backup?  Not all of those people count for lost sales…  Grrr…. I just wished they would put out a removal tool for the stupid DRM!

And one last quote to finish this post:

“PC games are massively pirated because you can pirate them,” says Brad Wardell, chief executive of Plymouth, Mich.-based gaming company Stardock. Wardell argues that the driver for piracy is user-friendliness–not price. Instead of digital locks, Stardock requires users to use unique serial numbers which it monitors, in conjunction with IP addresses.

“Our focus is on getting people who would buy our software to buy it,” Wardell says, rather than trying to strong-arm people unlikely to pay for the products into become paying customers.

 Well said, Mr. Wardell.  This is the proper way to treat your customers.  You’re not pissing off your fanbase in the process.  And even though your game still gets pirated (face it, all PC games are), you care more about your customers than the ones who pirate.  After all, give the users a good excuse (DRM) along with a great game, more than likely they will pick up a copy and hopefully become loyal fans for your company.

Forbes – Spore Piracy Problem