Will Wright on Spore DRM: I Should Have Tuned In More

Kotaku caught up to Will Wright at the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Awards in the Big Apple, where the Spore designer offered his thoughts on the DRM controversy that has plagued his game:

It was something I probably should have tuned into more. It was a corporate decision to go with DRM on Spore. They had a plan and the parameters, but now we’re allowing more authentications and working with players to de-authenticate which makes it more in line like an iTunes. I think one of the most valid concerns about it was you could only install it so many times. For most players it’s not an issue, it’s a pretty small percentage, but some people do like wiping their hard disk and installing it 20 times or they want to play it 10 years later.

I think it’s an interim solution to an interim problem. You have games like Battlefield Heroes coming out where the idea is you give away the game and sell upgrades, which works more in the Asian markets where you need to monetize it over the Internet. I think we’re in this uncomfortable spot in going from what’s primarily a brick and mortar shrink-wrapped product to what eventually will become more of an online monetization model.

GP: It’s reassuring to see that Will is giving some thought to how Spore’s DRM situation could have been handled better. But I hope that his comments concerning the Battlefield Heroes business model don’t portend the future of PC gaming in the United States. The Internet-based game model is used in Asian markets because of rampant piracy furthered by government apathy to IP issues. It would be tough sell to convince me that such measures are necessary here in the U.S., what with the DMCA and our new IP czar on the way.

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  1. 0
    DeepThorn says:

    Mario Bros. [NES]
    Mario 3 [NES]
    SimCity [SNES]
    Dr. Mario [NES]
    Mario Kart Wii
    Halo 3
    Final Fantasy [NES]

    I need to play lemmings…  I miss that game all of the sudden, haha.

    My money is building up in my account very pretty like because of not buying any new video games since Mario Kart Wii, haha.  I normally buy at least 8 games a year but this year it looks like I will only reach 3 because of DRM, my older games keep me happy, and there are free games online that I can play for free instead made using Flash.

  2. 0
    KayleL says:

    I don’t remember who, but someone from EA said that once the DRM server deactivates, they would release a patch to remove the authorizing system.

    Anyway, Will Wright atleast recognize that it’s a serious problem and how we are being ripped off. Unlike EA’s CEO who said that half the people are pirates while the other half have no idea what they are saying.

  3. 0
    aphexbr says:

    I’ll mirror something said above. I hope that the internet gaming model is not used – and I don’t think that it’s a workable model for most games in the West. I think long-term when it comes to games

    I’ve avoided Spore because of the DRM and some lukewarm reviews. I might have taken the plunge, but I consider games to be a premium purchase. I want to know that the game will last a decent amount of time before I get bored, and I want to know that I can play it again in the future if I wish. I’ve recently (within the last 6 months) fired up old copies of the following: Lemmings, The Secret of Monkey Island, Sim City 2000, Half Life, Doom, Phantasmagoria, Zack McCracken And The Alien Mindbenders and Descent. All original games, all over 10 years old, and most of which i was allowed to play with no problems – apart from the unforseeable compatibility problems with new OSes (for a few of them I had to use DOSBox). Guess which one I had problems with? Monkey Island, which used a primitive attempt at DRM in the form of a now long-lost code wheel.

    Luckily, I had access to an online copy of said wheel, but what about Spore’s DRM? If I want to pick the game up in 10 years time, will it be able to work? Or will it still be dependent on some long-deactivated DRM server? I have no way of knowing, so I refuse to spend the money on a product that could be useless in a few years. Maybe i’m in the minority by thinking that way, but it’s my money and I’ll choose where it goes – one of EA’s competitiors. 

    I’m glad Wright is having second thoughts but the internet model is what will kill PC gaming IMHO, removing innovation in favour of a few large companies. Maybe that’s EA’s plan, but if a name figure like Wright can’t convince the corporate idiots not to use DRM, nobody else has a hope. I fear that even if the promised boycott of EA’s games actually happens, they’ll ignore their own actions that caused it and blame the fictional spectre of piracy instead. "Piracy" was the boogeyman in the corner back when the games I mentioned above were in development. The videogame industry is worth billions more than it was then, so it’s sad that things haven’t changed in this area.

  4. 0
    DeepThorn says:

    I choose option 4 for now

    4. Do not buy product or pirate it and miss out on what people are playing getting annouyed to the point that I will most likely end up pirating unless something changes.

  5. 0
    DeepThorn says:

    It is a toothpick fence that is 1inch tall to keep the neighbor’s dog from crapping in their lawn, and we are the one that end up having to clean up teh crap.

  6. 0
    Anthrax says:

    It’s good to see some people in the industry don’t have their heads completely up their asses, but the fact of the matter is that games with DRM are just as likely to be pirated as games with absolutely no copy protection. They’re essentially building a wooden fence amazingly still think it can keep out a tank.

  7. 0
    C. Aaron Browbowski Jr. says:

    IMHO: this is like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound to the hand…

    Jesus Jack Jones Thompson…. is dead… (funeral udruge, followed by Celebrate 😀 )

  8. 0
    JustChris says:

    As posted on XKCD’s comic yesterday, the flowchart of buying digital things is as follows…

    Buy or Pirate? Buy – go to 1, Pirate go to 2

    1 – Something changed new OS or hardware…go to 3
    2 – You’re a criminal
    3 – You attempt to recover your purchased media/programs…go to 2

  9. 0
    Spartan says:

    Sad. It is simply sad…


    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  10. 0
    DarkTetsuya says:

    I said the same thing! … but that’s probably insulting to most viruses, as they’re more easily removed than SecuROM.

    — "Jack and listen are two words that don’t go together…just like Jack and sanity, Jack and truth, Jack and proof, Jack and win…" — sortableturnip | http://www.orangeloungeradio.com/

  11. 0
    Conejo says:

    why are we praising this statement?  it is less insulting, but it’s the same stupid assumptions: installing multiple times is why people hate SecuRom.

    people hate SecuRom because it’s a VIRUS that BREAKS YOUR MACHINE.

    Here are we — and yonder yawns the universe.

  12. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    Here’s what gets me:

    -DRM annoys a lot of gamers

    -DRM’s purpose is to prevent piracy.

    -DRM does absolutely nothing to prevent piracy


    So, what’s the point?  Is someone making the claim that piracy would be significantly more rampant without DRM?  Otherwise, DRM seems to be nothing but a needless annoyance.


    Andrew Eisen

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