EA Sued Over Spore DRM

Despite Spore being an underwhelming success, Electronic Arts has created a nightmare with the game’s DRM.

In fact, Electronic Arts is now faced with a lawsuit as specified in detail over at Courthouse News Service. Apparently, a class action suit filed with the Federal Court claims that the PC game Spore secretly installs an undisclosed program that disrupts the stability of the operating system. The suit also claims that the program will even disrupt hardware operations.

The suspected program is, of course, SecuROM, and Electronic Arts has taken huge amounts of heat for its tight DRM restrictions since the game hit store shelves. But what is troubling is that not only is SecuROM not labeled on the game’s package, there’s no clue that the security software even embeds itself into the operating system during the game’s installation. To make matters worse, SecuROM is uninstallable, and requires a full format of the hard drive in order to remove it.

"Consumers are not warned about the program, which is installed without notice and cannot be uninstalled, even if the uninstall Spore," the complaint states. "The secret SecuROM program is "secretly installed to the command and control center of the computer (Ring 0, or the Kernel), and surreptitiously operated, overseeing function and operation on the computer, preventing the computer from operating under certain circumstances and/or disrupting hardware operations."

Represented by Alan Himmelfarb with KamberEdelson of Vernon, Calif., and New York, the plaintiffs seek retribution for "disgorgement of unjust profits and damages for trespass, interference, unfair competition and consumer law violations."

So far, Electronic Arts has not released an official comment. Recently the company announced that it would allow five activations per copy, rather than the three allowed at time of shipment. However, Electronic Arts stands firmly behind SecuROM, reporting that the DRM policy "is essential to the economic structure used to fund the games." The company currently uses the security software in other titles such as BioShock and Command & Conquer : Red Alert 3.

But according to Electronic Arts, Spore is actually a huge hit across the PC, Mac and Nintendo DS platforms despite the DRM woes. "Spore is a hit," exclaims Frank Gibeau, president of the EA Games Label. "Will Wright’s latest deliver an incredibly diverse game that appeal to casual gamers and the core alike. We’re off to a great start moving into the holiday season and believe Spore will deliver a platform of creativity for gamers of all stripes for years to come."

To read the actual lawsuit filed in the Federal Court, download the PDF here. This week Tom’s Games posted a review of Spore that can also be accessed here.

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  • david__t
    Hopefully in the future, companies like EA will have to put disclaimers on the box stating that this kind of software will be installed. Certainly it is a disgrace that it embeds so much that it can't be removed when the game is uninstalled. If you look at the numbers I bet that it doesn't even create them more sales, because there might be less piracy but also less people will buy it purely because of the DRm issues. Definitely an own goal and a lose - lose situation for everyone.
  • mi1ez

    EA has exactly what's coming to it. Hopefully!

    This software is apalling...
  • Anonymous
    In many respects this will have lost them sales, i for one won't touch a secruom game, the number of times it has made my system(s) lose access to CD-drives, or worse still, rendered Virtual disk software I use for work useless i cannot count, but it goes back to my windows 2000 days.

    I think Secrom has reached a point where advertising your using it on the box will cost you more sales than having no DRM and piracy, but the backhanders that are being delt from secrom to the industry top players are keeping it rolling out, much like how media defender managed to last so long despite being useless on the P2P front.