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EA's DRM push. First Spore, now FIFA 09

by Steven Williamson on 24 September 2008, 09:38

Tags: SPORE, FIFA 09, Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA), PC, Xbox 360, PS2, PS3, Wii, Sports

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It seems that the criticism EA received from gamers when it announced that it would include a DRM system, requiring Spore to go through an online authentication procedure, hasn't put it off using a similar system in its future titles.

Initially, and in a bid to prevent piracy, EA was going to launch an extremely rigid DRM system for Spore and whilst some gamers said they were perfectly happy with the fact that users would be subjected to an online re-check of the product every 10 days, and believed that it didn't really affect them because they're always connected to the Internet anyway, others worried about forced lock-outs, with some people even saying that they would simply grab a pirate copy if EA went ahead with the scheme.

EA listened to the community to a degree and changed the DRM system for Spore, although it still exists with the product requiring authentication the first time only you install the game.

Still, the DRM scheme hasn't stopped a large number of angry gamers heading over to Amazon to rate the game poorly after discovering and being irate at the fact that you could only download Spore up to three times.

Although EA has now upped the downloads to five and moved the restriction on the number of users names from three to five, some gamers still aren't happy.

The bad news for those who are firmly against DRM is that EA plan to use it again. In an interview with EA Sport's Vice President, Andrew Wilson, on Gameplayer, he confirms that in order to combat piracy for the PC version, the soccer title will feature a DRM "in some form", albeit a 'watered-down version'.

The article reads:

Naturally Andrew was quite cagey on this issue, being sure to pre-empt his answer by pointing out that EA needs to protect the people who make the games. A valid point, but equally as important is protecting the rights of the consumer. Andrew explained that they are still trying to find the right way to locate the happy medium between game maker and game consumer that simultaneously combats piracy. And while nothing was explicitly said, it was our read that the route taken with Spore was not that happy medium Andrew is searching for.

He did confirm that DRM will be part of the PC FIFA 09 experience “in some form”, suggesting that it will be a watered down alternative to the system seen in Spore, all feedback taken into account. Regardless of whether Andrew as an individual likes the DRM policy popularised in Spore or not, EA as a company looks set to push on in the face of consumer anguish. Let’s pray that the happy medium is discovered sooner rather than later, for Andrew’s sake, our sake… but not Captain Redbeard.

Some FIFA 09 fans are already unhappy that EA has decided to use a micro transaction scheme in the game for the first time, in which players will have to pay if they want to take advantage of the dynamic AI for more than one club; the DRM scheme will just be another reason for those people to complain.

The thing is, I've lost count of the number of articles I've read about EA, its greed and its unsavoury business practices over the years, yet seemingly, the people who don't like it still go out and buy the games. Spore is expected to sell millions of copies and there's no doubt that FIFA, as always, will sell very well.

Perhaps the complainers against DRM and micro transactions are just a vocal minority and most of us only care whether the games are good or not?

Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

Source : Interview with EA's Andrew Wilson

HEXUS Forums :: 10 Comments

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well done EA.
Not especially bothered. We'll have to see the sales charts to find out if anyone else is.
consoles FTW!!! on this one
Not especially bothered. We'll have to see the sales charts to find out if anyone else is.

it wont sell well for 3 reasons actually.

1. piracy
2. DRM
3. its a ps2 port with abit of next gen graphics on it because EA believes that pc's cant handle the 360/ps3 version of the game >
The PC version of FIFA 09 is different to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions because of the CPU processing power required for the architecture of the game.

The majority of gamer's PC's do not have enough CPU processing power for this architecture, so FIFA09 on PC has been built to have the best possible graphics and gameplay engine while still being accessible to as many fans of the game as possible. If the architecture was identical to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, FIFA09 on PC would only be accessible to 1-3% of the PC systems on the market.

Having said that, FIFA09 on PC delivers a very deep gameplay engine, along with leading-edge visuals.
quote taken by EA themselves
Never been interested in playing a footy game on PC. I'll get FIFA, on Xbox 360.