Review: Spore

November 2, 2008 at 10:37 pm (Review, Technology) (, , , )

After years of hype, a year of propaganda, and friends ceaseless praise, I finally broke down and bought Spore.  I’ve heard nothing but good things about the game play and was curious to try it out myself.  This review is not about the game play of Spore.  This is a review of the installation process. In the past, the installation process was what only took a few minutes and you never had to think about it again, this was not the case for this installation.

My History with EA Games

First, I feel like I should give a bit of my own history with EA Games.  I just want to prove that before Spore I bore them no malice.  I grew up playing the original The Sims games.  I thoroughly enjoyed them.  I also appreciate their support in the A.L.I.C.E. project which I think is a good way to help people learn how to program.


I ended up getting it at Walmart of all places.  Note that I didn’t pirate it.


I got home and did the normal preparation for a game.  Make sure I have enough food for the week and getting things organized to optimize gaming comfort.  I then started installing the game.  I installed it and I entered my information to register for Spore.  After hitting submit, I got an error saying that my license key was in use.  This came as a shock since I had just 30 minutes ago opened up the nearly excessive packaging.  I called up EA Games and after navigating their phone maze I got a hold of a live person.  When I explained my circumstance, he recommended that I go back and return it to Walmart.  He told me that Wal-mart does their own packaging so someone must have copied down the key as they were packaging it.  So, returning it to Walmart was his solution.  I told him, “Wait a minute can’t you guys just generate me a new key?” He put me on hold and when he came back he said I should take a picture of my receipt, the case, the manual, and the disc and send it to EA Games and they would generate a new key.  It was interesting logging into EA Games to upload the pictures since it was during the registration process/EA account generation for the game that I was stopped because of a bad license.  When I finally uploaded the pictures, I re-called EA Games.  After re-navigating through the phone maze, I finally got another live person.  He got my case number and he said that more than likely they had a misprint where they just printed the license keys twice.  He generated a new license key and sent it to me.  It dawned on me that I wasn’t done.  I asked him, “So, does this mean I have to reinstall it?”  “Yes,” was the answer.  So, I uninstalled it and reinstalled it.  Honestly, after all that I was too tired to play the “fabulous” Spore and a bit bitter.

Lessons Learned

Other than the obvious lesson of keeping pictures that have the pictures proving that I purchased it for when the DRM bites me during one of my annual rebuilds of my computer, I feel like I learned more.  Truth be told, DRM has never hit me like this.  I don’t pirate things.  That being said, I am against DRM.  To me, DRM is the industry’s (I mean this in the very general sense music/game/…) reaction to not being ready for a digital age.  Imagine what money could have been made by a music subscription service online in the early/mid-90s, if the industry wasn’t ignoring the opportunity.  Again, I am no expert, but I don’t think DRM is the answer.  Creativity is.  I really like Larry Lessig’s talk about copyright.  He raises some good points and I hope they are considered as people look for a better solution to copyright than DRM.  I also appreciate the XKCD‘s analysis of this problem:

XKCDs Analysis of Piracy

XKCD's Analysis of Piracy

I know EA Games has already had a huge blacklash for the DRM of this game, but I’m sorry, if you are having problems with legitimate people playing ones game due to very restrictive DRM your system is broken.  I couldn’t even install it for the first time without DRM stopping me from playing it.  If a keyed door had the same problem, where not allowing a person to get through who is allowed is worse than allowing people to go through who aren’t, one would throw away the key.

Okay, I’m done with my rant, now to go vote on Amazon . . .


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