The Amazon users' verdict on Spore: DRM bad

The restrictive DRM of Spore is one of the primary reasons it currently receives an average rating of 1 star at Amazon. That's across 2,123 reviews at last count, spurred on in part by the organizing power of the web, where DRM is a dirtier word than most four-letter words.

What is Spore's DRM? From what I've read, you have to connect to the web to activate the game the first time you install it, and you can only install the game on three computers before you have to call EA for permission to install it again. I have an old copy of Movie Magic Screenwriter that I bought years ago that had a similar DRM model, and I have to concede it's been a real hassle over the years. You have to be very careful to retire a computer from your installation count when you get a new computer or install a new operating system or have a hard drive fail on you, and you're stuck keeping that box of software around forever.

I hate DRM, it never thwarts the people it's focused on. Take iTunes. I buy a song on iTunes on one computer, and getting it to another computer is a hassle. If I copy the song to my iPod or iPhone, I can't pull it back down to my other laptop, even if both are computers I register among the 5 that I authorize to play those songs. I can never remember which computer my iPhone is synced to, but keeping my music in sync between all my Macs is way too difficult. This is probably due in great part to pressure from the music labels, but regardless of whose fault it is, the honest consumer suffers.

On gaming platforms, DRM is a tough pill to swallow when the competition from consoles is so stiff.

Meanwhile, Metacritic gives Spore an average review of 86 out of 100. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle as the web tends to attract polarized opinions. I haven't played Spore, but I doubt it's a 1-star game if you consider just gameplay. But as a form of mass protest, this is an effective one. If you're Electronic Arts, you sure as hell better listen and respond. Brands are meaning, and those meanings are written by more than just Will Wright and the employees at EA. And if you're on the fence about buying this game, you're going to hesitate when you see the following user review distribution. Customer Reviews: Spore

Maybe the Democrats need to spread rumors that McCain and Palin come with DRM.