In 2008 EA decided to implement a DRM system in Spore with which you could only install it 3 times.
The end ‘bombing review‘ has become quite entrenched in the gaming community, as many of us have become accustomed to reading news where a title quickly becomes the subject of much criticism by network users. This happened on deliveries like DOOM, Death Stranding and even in the last HBO’s The Last of Us Series, to name a few examples where the focus of complaints didn’t have much to do with the product’s content or playability. But while it is true that this phenomenon tends to occur mainly in Metacriticalits beginnings are far from this well-known assessment portal.
Because, despite being a difficult event to follow, we could put spore as the first revision bombing in history. As we commented briefly in the previous paragraph, EA’s game didn’t sin for playable aspects, but for a decision that, although it sought to take a step forward in the eternal battle against piracy, ended up make it difficult for legitimate users to experience they bought delivery. And what was the reason for this barrage of criticism? A DRM system that only allowed 3 game facilities.
What is DRM?
Before continuing, however, it is worth clarifying the acronyms that name this section. DRM is based on the term digital rights managementwhich, translated, reads as digital rights management. And there are not few video games that have this system inside, as it is worth remembering that most of the digital products we pay for do not provide the content as such, but a license or the rights to consume it on a platform especially (Steam, Epic Games, Xbox or PlayStation digital stores, etc.).
DRM systems verify and collate user data to ensure your licenses are reliable.
In technical terms, DRM systems initiate processes that scan and collate user data and their files to ensure your licenses are reliable. That’s why many developers resort to proposals that must be constantly connected to the Internet, as it is a necessary measure to prevent pirates from enjoying the content of a game without having previously paid.
Not a few DRM methods have been integrated into the video game industry, as the fight against piracy has evolved since the beginning of the medium. One of the most resonant, probably, is the system denuvo, as it is known in the industry for slowing down the work of pirates when it comes to ‘cracking’ a game. However, this alternative has numerous detractors, as it has been demonstrated on several occasions that its use can negatively affect performance of a delivery.
The case of Spore and the 3 installations
Expectations were very high with Spore: with the development of more than 10 years and emerged from one of the most important creative minds of the moment, Will Wright (The Sims, original SimCity), many players have been waiting for the PC release of this creature development adventure. And Maxis nailed it with all of their ideas, but the review bombing came because of EA’s idea to introduce a DRM with which you could only install the game a total of 3 times.
The 3 install limitation made it difficult to share the game with friends or enjoy it years later
Returning to a news item Ars Technica published at the time, it turns out that the massive criticism did not come through the already mentioned Metacritic, but by amazon. With 194 negative comments Out of a total of 222 at the time of this writing, the submission has a score of 1.5 stars on the famous platform. And yes, we know that these numbers don’t even come close to what you see in today’s bombings, but we are talking about a little-known phenomenon at the time.
And users had reason to be angry, because this limitation of installations removed the ability to share the game with several friends, resell it or, as you might guess, enjoy on more than 3 devices. After all, not a few users buy a product to enjoy it again and again over the years, but that was impossible because of EA’s decision with DRM.
“First, the game incorporates a draconian DRM system that forces you to activate it over the internet, limiting it to a total of 3 activations,” wrote one user on Amazon, although that comment is no longer readable today. “If you reach that limit, you’ll have to call EA to add an extra activation for you. It’s not as simple as it sounds, because when you reach that point, EA will assume you, the paying customer, are a filthy pirate thief. You will need to provide proof of purchase, reasons why the limit was reached…”.
As you can see, revision bombing is not something that was born in recent years, but rather a much older phenomenon. And while this trend is now mostly seen on Metacritic, in the past users could make themselves heard via Alternative websites and platforms. Now, how was the Maxis and EA title in terms of experience? Well, as you can read in our spore analysiswritten a long time ago, we are struck by all that it subtracts from what has already been presented as a very promising proposal.
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