We were told that it was a revolutionary new game, one that was totally different to anything before and one that would keep you captivated for hours. Whether it is or not is up for debate (see the review coming soon) but what we can definitely say is that it was popular with around 2 million copies sold. Just in case you haven’t worked out what I am talking about I am of course referring to Spore, the newest game from Will Wright the creator of The Sims.
However news released today shows that despite desperate attempts by EA and government funded organisations piracy is still a massive problems and this year Spore has been a particularly targeted victim. This all follows a study on BitTorrent which is a peer-to-peer sharing protocol allowing people to share files over the internet to lots of people easily and anonymously. Obviously this is a massive opportunity for piracy to work, and work it has with around 1.7 million downloads of Spore recorded this year.
This really does indicate the massive problem that the industry is facing as 46% of all people with Spore have got it through this peer-to-peer illegal piracy. This really is a massive figure which works out at £42,500,000 of lost revenue (assuming that they receive £25 per game), and if you consider the current economic climate it is even worse.
Probably the most crushing blow is how easily these criminals were able to get past the measures put there to prevent this, as the hacked version was available less than 24 hours after the DRM free release and after 10 days of this nearly half a million people had got their hands on it illegally.
Those who got Spore early on will remember the problems that the Spore Digital Rights Management created but for those that don’t here is a quick oversight: originally you were only able to activate Spore three times after installation, meaning that people who had bought the game did not have free use of it. This obviously caused many people to be fairly unhappy (especially as it looked set to kill the 2nd hand game market) and EA suffered a PR hit because of it. However when they then shipped the DRM free version after tonnes of general public pressure not only was it then easier to copy, but EA had already suffered the dent to their public relations.
The problem is a big one, but there are ways to solve it and I will give some examples of the best two now. WoW (or World of Warcraft) has a subscription policy by which you pay monthly to play the game, meaning that however many copies of the game are pirated the makers still generate a ‘fair’ income from it as you cannot play without paying. The second way is how Steam games (such as CounterStrike Source) work, by using a central online portal to access the games. By using one account not only can you get your games wherever you are by just downloading them but you can also chat easily in game to people playing other games on steam. It is also virtually pirate-proof meaning that (theoretically) the games are cheaper and a lot easier to use (although Steam can be a little temperamental).
These methods both have their advantages and disadvantages (e.g. you would not get people paying a subscription for a single player game) and could, or perhaps should, be introduced on a wider scale. Because without these measures piracy is unfortunately inevitable, and although it breaks my heart to support these massive companies, it is only fair to pay for the games that we all love.
Back to Spore they have been particularly victimised, and this will be a lesson for the future. But is it really a good game, and is it worth £25 or a possible criminal record? Stay tuned to find out as I’ll be reviewing my brand new non-pirated version of the game.
Source – BBC