Spore, DRM, and the extinction of a title.


Oh Spore.  I’m sure many of you remember that game, but I’m even more certain none of you still play it.  Sure, it came out nearly 4 years ago, but I imagine the intrusive, obnoxious, and inexcusably onerous DRM (digital rights management) of the game accounts for many of the reasons the game died too early of a death.  I heard about the game in the build up to its release and became tremendously excited; Maxis had always made great games and this seemed to be an amazing next step for them.  Playing god, controlling evolution and building a world from a microcellular organism onwards promised to be a fantastic endeavor.  So when I began my first year in law school, I thought Spore would be the perfect distraction from all the homework.  And I was right, for about two weeks.

Sure, the game wasn’t as great as I anticipated.  How could it have been, when I basically expected more than any game manufacturer, especially for the time, could offer?  But it was still cool and fun, and I enjoyed it for a while.  That is until my computer crashed.  After the panic of whether or not my school files had been backed up abated, I reformatted the hard drive and went to reinstall the game.  It wanted my authentication code and I happily submitted it, not realizing I had only one install remaining.  In two weeks I had already used two of the three installs the game would allow, which is astonishing today when looking back at the shortsightedness of Maxis.  But oh well, whatever.

It’s not like it pissed anyone else off…

At that time, my girlfriend had installed the game as well, to play it while I studied.  I thought nothing of it until a few months passed and I bought a new laptop!  Always an exciting time, and after I had given my old laptop to my brother, I attempted to install the game once more on my new computer.  But guess what, the authentication code I had used successfully three times in the past was now invalid.  I tried to contact customer support, I tried to type in random numbers, I even fucking went to Yahoo! Answers looking for codes, but all to no avail.  The game was locked.  Customer support wanted $10 from me to give me a new code.  Thinking I’d rather donate $10 to Bernie Madoff than give them anymore of my money, I ever so politely hung up and gave up.

I was gracious in my defeat.

So who cares?  Why am I even bringing this up now?  Well, I was setting up my old NES and among the twisted labyrinth of cables and dusty cartridges, I found my old Spore game.  Absent from the package was the authentication code, which I’m certain I probably used as rolling papers in a rage at some point, so I decided to use my internet detective skills and try and reinstall the game, just for shits and giggles.  I searched far and wide for an unused authentication code in order to play the game I had already fucking paid for, but to no avail.  I contacted costumer service one last time, all these years later, and attempted to explain my story.  The long lost game finally found, the yearning to play their B rated game once more, the nostalgia that would rush over me.  “$10 for the code” they said curtly.  And so I broke the CD in half, threw it in the trash, and played Saints Row instead.

Fuck them.

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