This is the second time that publisher Electronic Arts has eased the DRM restrictions of some of their upcoming games due to Internet protests from gamers worldwide. Electronic Arts had initial plans to force users to activate the games Mass Effect and Spore over the Internet which had to repeated regularly if the player wanted to continue playing those games.
This first plans were watered down after the Internet community noticed the plans and the regular checks on the Internet were canceled. Gamers were still not pleased with several other aspects of the protection such as forcing them to have the game DVD in drive and only allowing them to reinstall the game three times before they had to contact EA to be able to install the game again.
The release of Spore saw some heavy protests which concentrated on pushing bad ratings of Spore on the Amazon.com website. The game has currently been reviewed by nearly 2400 customers of whom 2133 have rated it with the worst possible rating.
This protest seemed to have an effect on Electronic Art's decision - according to online gaming portal IGN - to ease up on the DRM of the upcoming Red Alert 3 game.
The maximum amount of installations before having to contact EA was raised to five and the DVD is no longer required to be in the drive to play the game. While that does not meet the demands of gamers worldwide who want the games that they purchase to be on pair with the games that can be downloaded from P2P sources.
Buying the game would mean to pay money for it, to be restricted in the number of installations and face the hassle of contacting EA whenever the maximum number is reached, to have a resident program on the computer that wont play the game if certain software is installed on the PC, that might stop working in the future because of closed activation servers. It does on the other hand come with a manual (most game manuals cannot be really called that these days), a box and the knowledge that the developers and publishers have been paid for their work.
The guys who download the game from the Internet do not pay a dime for it, get the manual as a PDF as well, get a game that they do not have to activate online, a game that they can install as often as they want and a game that does not install the resident software. It is however illegal to do that.
The problem that arises for gamers who know about DRM is that they feel cheated. They pay money for the game but get the "bad" version while the downloaders can enjoy a hassle free game.
The whole story feels more like a "Oh god they are protesting so much, let us throw a bone at them and maybe they stop protesting". Is that bone enough? Definitely not. Will the DRM stop the game from being pirated? Definitely not.
Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.
We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats (video ads) or subscription fees.
If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.