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SanityInAnarchy's Journal: Open letter to EA (and other publishers)

Journal by SanityInAnarchy

Obligatory, pre-emptive MFD strip -- I know it's unlikely anyone from EA will read this. But I'm not the only one, I hope.

I live in a small town, with low cost of living. I'm single. I make a reasonable wage, so I have a ton of disposable income.

I'm a computer professional and enthusiast. I tend to spend a decent amount on hardware, and I do game. I also tend to download custom mods and such, even toy with level design from time to time -- in other words, I take full advantage of the fact that I'm on a PC, and not a console.

Now, I could tolerate most games being Windows only -- I don't have to like it, but I tolerate it. After all, I can always put it in a virtual machine, and even if I'm running it on the bare metal for performance, I don't game 100% of the time, and I generally don't do anything else when I'm gaming.

You have lost me as a customer because of DRM.

I'm not just talking about Spore.

I'm not fanatical about this. I happily buy Valve games over Steam, play them on Windows, and spend money to do so. I'll jump on anything decent coming through Penny Arcade's Greenhouse project. I play an MMO -- that means I pay a monthly fee, I have to use their software, and they can pretty much terminate my account whenever they want.

I want to give you money.

Here's what you did, in response to Spore -- and in your next game, apparently, not in Spore itself:

  - You upped the number of allowed installations from three to five. Some of us have more than five reinstalls per month.

  - You removed the need for the game to stay online -- that's only needed during activation. I'm sure some users are grateful -- but these users likely see it as exactly as small a gesture as increasing the number of installs. Why force them to be online in the first place?

  - You removed the CD copy protection. I haven't bought a game in years that used CD copy protection. What took you so long?

Here's what else is still a problem, for me:

  - Blacklisted programs. Daemon Tools, among other things -- it has legitimate uses other than piracy. I should be able to run whatever software I want on my machine -- it's mine, after all.

  - Reputation. SecuROM is widely known as the worst, and it isn't getting better. Many people report that it has trashed their system. Why should I trust it this time?

The freedom to do what I want, how I want, without having to solder things, is why I'm a PC gamer in the first place. DRM, by its very nature, limits that.

That's the damage. Here's the impact:

Your DRM, in the long run, does nothing to secure your product. Spore is one of the most widely pirated games ever, despite everything you did to inconvenience legitimate users. A skilled cracker can defeat all of these measures relatively quickly -- sometimes before the game is even released.

And that's the choice it has come to.

I want to play Mirror's Edge, badly. If there's ever a version of it for the PC, I've got money in hand to buy it, and a new computer, and a controller if needed -- I'm not sure how well the unique movement would map to a mouse, but maybe it will.

If Mirror's Edge comes, say, as a Steam game -- not like Bioshock, but actually just a Steam game, with no additional protection -- I'd buy it in a heartbeat. On opening day. Make it DRM-free, and I'll consider preordering.

If it comes with anywhere near the level of DRM you're currently requiring for Spore, even this "relaxed" version, I will head over to the nearest torrent site and download a copy. I have plenty of money to spend, yes, but not plenty of time to waste proving that I own something.

And I am not the only one who feels this way. Keep in mind: An unprecedented number of people gave Spore a low rating on Amazon because of its DRM. An unprecedented number of people have pirated Spore, mostly via torrent. Coincidence?

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Open letter to EA (and other publishers)

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