Amazon Pulls Negative Reviews Of 'Spore,' Then Reinstates Them

Earlier today, about 2200 reviews of the game Spore disappeared from the product page on Amazon.com, almost all of them negative. Did Amazon censor the reviews because of their anti-DRM nature? Amazon says no, that it was a technical glitch, and they restored the reviews by the end of today. An Amazon spokesperson told Ars Technica, “Amazon doesn’t censor or edit customer reviews based [on their content] and we’d only remove a review if it fell outside our guidelines.” Spore’s rating is back to a single star, and it’s #5 on Amazon’s video games chart.

“Amazon temporarily gags Spore critics, deletes and restores all customer reviews” [ArsTechnica] (Thanks to Nathan!)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. crazyasianman says:

    that “glitch” sounds like a fairly convenient way of trying to boost sales on the sly. anyone else notice a similar lack of one star reviews on other products?

    • goodcow says:

      @crazyasianman: To be fair, how many other products have 2,000+ reviews on Amazon? It could’ve been a database error.

      • humphrmi says:

        I was seriously going to buy this based on the ads I saw. I don’t have time for WoW and some of the other popular online create-your-character games that require you to be online every waking hour else be relegated to minion status, and I was thinking (from the ads) that this would be a refreshing change.

        But the first review reminds me that you don’t buy software from EA; you rent it. And they decide when that $50 has paid for enough fun. Then it’s over.

        Yeah, forget it. I guess I’ll keep waiting.

        @goodcow: Yeah, cause 2000 records in a database is clearly pushing the limit.

        • TVarmy says:

          @humphrmi: The entire paid software industry is based on the license to use code model, as far as I can tell. Same with OSes, accounting software, etc. The thing is that EA is a company that chooses to limit their paying customers more.

          • humphrmi says:

            @TVarmy: license to use code is fine, and usually perpetual. EA software won’t run unless their license servers are up and running, and they’ve been known to turn them off for whatever reason; they don’t see money coming in any more, whatever. There’s a difference between “licensing” software and “renting” software.

      • duffm4n says:

        @goodcow: Assuming Amazon uses Oracle and not SQL Server or DB2, it’s very unlikely that Oracle would ever “glitch” like that. If by “glitch” you mean someone typing “drop from reviews where product = ‘SPORE'”, then yes, I agree, it must have been a glitch.

        Keep in mind 20 of the top 20 banks use Oracle.

        Disclaimer:I am NOT in any way affiliated with Oracle Corp accept that I am a Database programmer.

      • chemman says:

        @goodcow: It’s interesting that Amazon has never a “database” error for their Kindle which has 4500+ reviews.

    • coren says:

      @crazyasianman: The game doesn’t need any help for that – it’s already sold tons and people are buying it regardless of the reviews.

      @TVarmy:, Craysh: and pat_trick: There’s no way to ascertain the authenticity of said reviews – I could go review anything on Amazon right now without ever having purchased it – some of those reviews could be legit, but how do we know it’s all? And regardless, it’s about the content not the setup – if someone is a complete tech novice and can’t figure out how to install their os, does that make the os a bad one, or just one someone can’t understand?

      • TVarmy says:

        @coren: I didn’t say it was about lack of technical skill. I bought Spore without knowing about the DRM, but I keep hourly backups via Time Machine and only plan to run it on one computer. I’m not planning on reinstalling it unless I have to, so 3 installs seem tolerable to me. However, for someone with multiple machines or who likes to do clean installs of their OS every once in a while, this is an issue.

  2. drftjgoj says:

    Sadly, I kind of doubt EA feels they have to change this, so long as the game is selling as well as it is.

    • P_Smith says:

      @drftjgoj: Sadly, I kind of doubt EA feels they have to change this, so long as the game is selling as well as it is.

      There is a long history of software and hardware companies threatening to pull advertising from computer magazines for publishing in-house negative reviews. And we’ve seen on this site numerous instances of companies trying to threaten or bribe customers who wrote negative reviews after being screwed by said company.

      Given the high profile of Amazon, it would not surprise me to find out that EA directly asked/ordered/threatened Amazon into silencing user opinions.

  3. maztec says:

    Quite frankly I find this to be exceedingly juvenile. I really hate it when people rate something without having played it.

    While I agree that the DRM restrictions are an abomination, they are not the game. You rate the game, not the DRM.

    • pat_trick says:

      @maztec: I dunno. You can’t play the game without dealing with the DRM, so I think it’s fair. You’re rating your play experience: “I was unable to play this game due to the DRM problems, which kept me from installing it.”

    • whitefang2000 says:

      @maztec: The DRM is part of the game. If I am spending $50 on a shiny plastic disc, DRM is definitely a factor in my decision to purchase it.

    • DH405 says:

      @maztec: You rate the product. The DRM is part of the product.

    • shadowkahn says:

      @maztec:

      The DRM is part of the game, and this particular DRM can be harmful to your computer.

      If a tempting meal is known to be laced with poison, one does not say “ignore the poison and tell me how good the food is.”

    • Kia says:

      @maztec: No, you don’t. Amazon is not a game review site, Amazon is a product review site. If there is something packaged with the product that keeps it from being an enjoyable purchase, then the user has every right to post a negative experience.

      @maztec: Yes, exactly, quality of a -product-. DRM is part of that product. Nice and simple. I’m glad to see at least the vast majority of users here have understood that.

    • P_Smith says:

      @maztec: While I agree that the DRM restrictions are an abomination, they are not the game. You rate the game, not the DRM.

      By your argument, you only rate a Pinto or GMC pickup on gas mileage and reliability, and not by the fact that they would explode on impact.

      • TootTootToot says:

        @P_Smith: Similar analogy:

        What if you bought a copy of Shakespeare’s Hamlet on Amazon, but the specific edition was unreadable (horrible font choice, for instance). Hamlet is one of the greatest works ever written, but would you give 5 stars for a book published in Wingdings?

      • maztec says:

        @P_Smith: I do not think that quite qualifies. I think by my argument people are rating the Pinto based on its gas mileage, rather than as a whole system. Or rather a Pinto based on its bumper, rather than as a whole unit.

        @mugsywwiii: My thoughts exactly.

        The problem with SecuROM is not that it is DRM – it is that it is bad software. It is set up so the ordinary user does not know it is even there, it SHOULD be mentioned in the EULA. I think it is fair that they seek to enforce their rights. You cannot readily copy your car.

        • ManiacDan says:

          @maztec: You’re absolutely right, people should be reviewing the PRODUCT. Amazon is selling a game, in a box, with a manual, and DRM protection. That’s the product. If the manual had hardcore porn in it, people would have a right to give a 1-star review based on that. If the DRM turns off DVD burners, calls home all the time, and only allows me to play the game for a couple years, then I have a right to complain also. Review the product as a whole, not just the parts you like.

  4. TVarmy says:

    The game is pretty fun. Maybe not $50 and DRM fun, but it is fun. It’s a disappointment, but it’s still better than average. Granted, I will say that I feel I’ve had more fun with TF2, which I got with the Orange Box, and could have bought separately for $20, so that’s something to keep in mind. It definitely doesn’t deserve one star, though.

    However, if Amazon did delete the one star reviews, that’s pretty mean of them. The star system is meant to make customers feel more confident about their purchases, so they know they won’t have to bother with a return if they’re unhappy. I can live with the DRM, but I can see some people I know not liking it. They need to see the bad reviews to make a proper decision.

  5. Craysh says:

    @Maztec
    Actually, the extent in which the game requires you to go through to install said game is perfectly acceptable to criticize it for.

    • maztec says:

      @Craysh: I don’t recall doing much more than downloading it, hitting install, typing in my key, and being done. Most games do this. The extra DRM has been around for ages and people are just realizing it is there. So it calls home – most apps, non-games, do this already. I do not see any extra “hoops” here.

      And yes, it is perfectly acceptable to criticize – in a forum meant for that critique. However, Amazon reviews refer to quality of a product. Do you enjoy the game? Or not. Oh, you didn’t play it because of random fears about DRM that are not rational, investigated, or true? Your problem.

      @pat_trick: Depends entirely if the “kept me from installing it” were a technical problem, literally preventing you, or a “Hey, I don’t like this.” Again, I assert that flash-mobbing this is juvenile.

      • RichNixon says:

        @maztec: Then you haven’t hit the installation limit yet. Try installing it a 4th time – (I know I have many games I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled over the years many more times than that) – and let us all know how that goes.

        • Real Cheese Flavor says:

          @RichNixon: Or better yet, try reinstalling the game several years from now when it’ll be considered “out of print.” Chances are the validation process won’t even work then.

      • dakotad555 says:

        @maztec: The point isn’t that DRM makes you jump through hoops. The point is that this DRM scheme prevents your fair use of the game by limiting your installations to 3. Also, you can lose an installation simply by updating your computer operating system or hardware. That means that in a year or so, you could have burned through your 3 installations, leaving you with a game you cannot play and that you paid $50.00 for. That hurts the consumer, and does not affect pirates as they are playing the widely available cracked version that has no such restrictions.

      • TechnoDestructo says:

        @maztec:

        Now uninstall and do it again. Now uninstall and do it again. Now uninstall and do it ag—

        • maztec says:

          @TechnoDestructo: Done. Called EA, complained, fixed. Vista has the same problem. Oops, this is why I use a Mac… which, oddly enough, doesn’t seem to have cared how many times I have installed Spore (up to 6 because things went fubar for unrelated reasons) – and no, I did not have to call EA for my Mac version. The PC version a friend installed on his laptop is the one I called for :

          • Trel says:

            @maztec: If you get tired of Spore and you uninstall it. Are you aware that you have not uninstalled Securom?

            Are you also aware that with securom on your system, you can’t run 16bit dos executables anymore?

            Are you aware that it many times will complain about the presense of virtual CD drives and refuse to let you play?

            Understand this, the rating is on the product. DRM is included with the product. Amazon is not a game rating site. I’d say spore should get a 4-5 star rating as a game. However, as a product, it deserves a 0 or 1. Since on Amazon, you rate the PRODUCT, it gets the 0 or 1, and not the 4 or 5.

            • maztec says:

              @Trel: Yes, I am aware that SecuROM does not uninstall when you remove the game. That has been the case with SecuROM for years. I am not advocating its use and I do see avoiding a product because of it as completely reasonable. You realize that most software on a Windows system leaves crap behind when you uninstall it? This does not make it right, it makes it sloppy. This is part of why Windows installs get slowly less stable and slower the longer between reinstalls. As an architecture this does not make sense. It is one of many strikes against Windows that made me switch to Unix based platforms. Uninstalling SecuROM is doable – there are a lot of tools available to do it and doing it manually is not end of the world. Unfortunately when it is done manually the user has to know at least a bit about their system or know how to follow instructions. The fun thing is in OS X it is quick and easy to remove (caveat: once you find it).

              Being unable to run 16-bit dos executables anymore does not seem to bother me. I could not run them in the first place ;). However, no, I did not know this, because it does not do that. Some versions of SecuROM, particular in the 2.x series, installed an extension that prevented you from deleting 16-bit DOS executables from Windows Explorer so that you would not delete SecuROM “on accident” (aka on purpose). If SecuROM prevented the execution of 16-bit DOS executables, it would be preventing itself from running. This is exactly my point though, most of the people railing against SecuROM do not understand what it does, the rumor machine is in charge of their logic. This does not mean I am advocating for SecuROM, I consider it a monstrosity that should go the way of the Dodo.

              As for virtual CD Drives, I have never had a problem with SecuROM and Disc Emulators. On the other hand, I have spent thousands of hours debugging the systems of users who have had problems with emulators and SecuROM. It is related to particular types of hardware and certain pieces of software. This was more of a problem in older versions of SecuROM, but it is still a problem from time to time. From the perspective of SecuROM it makes logical sense. However, it could be done better by monitoring the virtual machines and checking for loading of a disk in the virtual drive that should be solid state disk only. The irony is that online versions of the games do a virtual drive style load to go around these problems. This is one of the “features” I have never been particularly happy about, but it tends to be easily fixable. The problem is your average user cannot figure out how to fix it on their own without spending too much time. People really do value their time poorly. For example, my bothering to respond to this thread is a poor valuation of my time. But it is a conscious decision made to be part of a discussion.

              Finally – I can fully agree that the DRM makes the game only worth 0 or 1 stars for many people. However, this does not stop this particular Amazon.com rating exercise from being juvenile. Why is it juvenile? Because most of these people either a) bought Spore anyway or b) were not going to buy it in the first place. What interests me here is where was this “outcry” when Mass Effect came out? Oh, right, that was an FPS style game, so people got it and took the bitter pill. While a unique, novel [in compilation terms] game is being punished. This is like beating the cat because the dog crapped on your bed.

              @shadowkahn: Fugu. 河豚 : ふぐ.

              @RedSonSuperDave: I do not believe I called them online vigilantes. I called them juvenile for a variety of reasons set out above – primary reason being the odds that they bought it anyway or were never going to buy it. I am fully aware of how bad SecuROM is. You can remove it, you just have to remove it in the right order – a lot of viruses fall into this category. Most of your allegations apply to older versions of SecuROM, which made some serious mistakes in terms of application. Current versions have other problems, which suck, but are not end of the world.

              – This response is an amazing, interesting, remarkable social event. The psychology behind it is intriguing. It is a good way to promote the problems of SecuROM in the eyes of the Casual gamer. However, it is not an appropriate method – it is little more than digital vandalism because your friends told you to do it.

              • Xkeeper says:

                @maztec:

                You realize that most software on a Windows system leaves crap behind when you uninstall it? This does not make it right, it makes it sloppy. This is part of why Windows installs get slowly less stable and slower the longer between reinstalls. As an architecture this does not make sense. It is one of many strikes against Windows that made me switch to Unix based platforms.

                By your ingenious logic, somebody shitting on your living room floor would be your fault. Bravo. Get off your high horse already (and this goes for the rest of your comment).

                As for the topic at hand: Yeah. Database bug. Right, Amazon.

                I’m not buying the game (not interested, not going to infect my system with SecuROM), either. And honestly, if people choose to vote 1 for it — who cares? Maybe it’s a sign that people (gasp) don’t like DRM!

              • kahri says:

                @maztec: You keep saying “most of these people either a) bought Spore anyway or b) were not going to buy it in the first place”.

                How do you know this? Because it doesn’t agree with your ‘logic’? The fact is that people have been following the release of this game for YEARS and, if you haven’t noticed, we users-of-the-intertubes tend to do a lot of research on the products we covet. Is it possible that some of those reviewers actually played a patched copy of it and would like to save YOU $50 by warning you? You don’t have to agree with them, and it doesn’t make them wrong because you don’t. In the thousands of words in your comments you fail to provide any links to these gathering juveniles against positive amazon reviews.
                Yet after reading all your comments, you tend to agree with the negative reviews you’ve complained of.
                /if any of the above comments seem rude, I assure you it was unintentional

      • RedSonSuperDave says:

        @maztec: @wiley14: This isn’t just a matter of juvenile online vigilantes saying, “I disagree with SecuROM so I’ll rate the game badly, that will show EA!”

        SecuROM is a lot worse than you guys seem to realize. It has a habit of causing antivirus programs to not work correctly, flat-out DISABLING CD-ROM and DVD drives if they’re capable of burning CD-Rs or DVD-Rs (as personally happened to me with Command and Conquer 3), and even arbitrarily causing Windows XP to crash for no apparent reason. Unlike most viruses, it’s not easy to get rid of either. You can’t even edit the registry to remove it like you can with most browser hijackers and other such malware, you practically need to format your hard drive and reinstall Windows.

        As somebody else said earlier this week, if I went into a random computer store and loaded a program into their computers that disabled their DVD-Rs, I would be facing criminal charges. Does this sort of behavior suddenly become okay if they paid me to install software on their machine and I slipped in this SecuROM malware without telling them?

    • ludwigk says:

      @Craysh: actually no. securom is used by dozens of games and is in no way particular to spore. Also these people haven’t experienced installation problems, they haven’t even bought the game. This targetitng a high profile game as the industries whipping boy for people that dislike drm. Believe me, I hate drm more than you can imagine. In fact, enough to change careers over. But being immature and misdirected does nothing. This is maximally annoying with minimal benefit, and subverts an important amazon feature to boot

  6. I predicted this in the comments in the last article about the reviews.

    Notice how Amazon said basically nothing:

    “Amazon doesn’t censor or edit customer reviews based [on their content] and we’d only remove a review if it fell outside our guidelines.”

    In other words, they yank reviews if they’re like the ones about Spore. They have done this before with other products that have received wave of “editorial” type reviews that are not about product’s content, per se.

    It’s interesting that they backed off and I definitely think they’re lying about the “technical glitch.” It’s unusual for Amazon to lie. They must be getting a lot of pressure from both EA and the bloggers.

    Well, EA, I doubt they’re going to remove the reviews now. So good luck with that.

  7. SabreDC says:

    At least you can post negative reviews on Amazon. I bought something off Half.com a while ago and when I went to review the seller, I saw that eBay’s network of sites do not allow negative reviews anymore…

  8. CubFx says:

    I really, really, really want this game. It is the style game I can play for months without getting bored, but I learned the hard way that I should never buy something that required activation every time I want to install it.

    In a couple of years, what will stop Electronic Arts from deciding it is no longer worth keeping the activation servers alive. Their is no guarentee that I will be able to play the game I buy tomorrow, much less in two years. We have seen other companies shut-down their activation and licensing servers, and EA will eventually do the same.

    I know some people are wondering whether anyone will really play todays games in two or three years, but consider this: I still play Diablo II (~2000). I even still play my Nintendo (original 8-bit), and have fun doing it.

    Electronic Arts, you need to take a close look at the criticism you are receiving. It is valid, and the feelings are widespread. If you don’t take us seriously, your actions WILL come back to bite you.

    The worst part is the claim that this combats piracy. NO IT DOESN’T. Spore is already available for download, un-DRM’d. It is pathetic when the people who pirate this game will have a better experience than those who purchase it. EA, your actions hurt only your customers, not the “pirates”.

    • magnoliasouth says:

      @CubFx: EA, your actions hurt only your customers, not the “pirates”.
      Excellent point!

      @twophrasebark: It’s interesting that they backed off and I definitely think they’re lying about the “technical glitch.”
      Really? Why? The bad reviews aren’t affecting sales, so what could they possibly benefit from by removing the reviews? The game remains on their bestseller list, despite the bad reviews.

      I think this whole Amazon removed reviews is just a silly issue. Glitches happen, and we move along.

  9. RichasB says:

    The day EA started listening to its customers, stopped requiring that the stupid CD be in the drive, and implemented DRM like Steam, would be the day that we would all wake up pretty pissed from having such a wonderful yet contrary-to-real-life Dream.

    I hate having to put the CD in my laptop just to play Crysis (unnecessary peripheral device sucking up battery life) that I’m looking for the No-CD crack for a game I actually payed for >:o.

    I’m just one of those crazy people that pay good money for something and then hate being told by the company what I can do with it (cough cough iPhone).

    • jodark says:

      @RichasB: The game was pirated in almost record time, or at least it was publicized as that. Also, if companies really want to maintain control over their intellectual property, they should seriously consider using Valve’s Steam. Since the piracy rates on Valve’s games are almost in negative numbers, but the consumer couldn’t be happier with the service. It allows customers to install a product on 3 PC’s but knows when one has been deactivated. Not to mention the value of Valve’s games as opposed to another 60$ installment of Madden. Also, Valve isn’t going out anytime soon.

  10. Petra says:

    Amazon deleted one of my negative reviews for using the word “bitch”…in my review for a book called Skinny Bitch!

  11. Overheal says:

    Im glad that someone at Amazon saw past the free copies of Spore they got and realised how cheap that free copy of spore was ^_^

  12. mac-phisto says:

    i dunno. i think EA is coming around a bit. for those of us with a 360, look at battlefield: bad company. there are 15 weapons that you have to unlock in the game. if you bought the “deluxe” version for $70 (instead of $60), you got 10 of those 15 weapons from the start & the other 5 are all free unlocks (up until yesterday, you had to jump thru marketing hoops to get them, but now they’re free for everyone).

    initially, they wanted to charge ms points for the extra weapons thru xbl, but after waves of fans expressed their discontent, they changed their strategy.

    also, they have a map pack coming up which (i believe) is free. compare to other FPS games (ie cod & halo series) that sold map packs for ~$10/each.

    i know it’s just one example, but my point is that enough pressure can exhibit change. unfortunately, i think it’s too late for spore. i’m sure there’s all kinds of contractual agreements between sony & EA for the release of this game, but perhaps EA will take this as a learning experience. dump the DRM, save millions on worthless technology AND appeal to more customers.

    the good news is, it’s no longer just hardcore gamers & computer geeks fighting the big wigs anymore. your average user is starting to understand the evils behind this crap & is taking action. BOFH would be so proud of us!

  13. ShortBus says:

    I’d highly recommend that any gamers that are disappointed with the DRM in Spore check out a small, independent game developer based out of Michigan called “Stardock.”

    I downloaded Galactic Civilizations 2 a couple of years ago and was blown away by the quality. I was expecting something a step-up from a Flash-based game and was surprised to find something that competes head on with anything EA puts out. They’re pretty hardcore anti-DRM too.

    (I don’t have any connection to the company other than living in the same county… Always happy to plug cool stuff out of Michigan)

    • mac-phisto says:

      @ShortBus: galciv2 rocks (for those of you that don’t know, it’s basically civ2 in space, but you can design your own ships, which is freakin awesome).

      my only complaint is that it runs slow as hell considering its not-too-impressive gfx. i am dangerously close to the mins, but i can run aoe3 fine (which is much more graphically intensive) w/ very little slowdown.

  14. yakkowarner says:

    this is not a flash mob.. Its people who have waited 2+ years for this “Mind blowing experience” and find out OMFG I can’t install it w/o an internet connection? It has a piece of software that gives it self elevated rights to your machine and does not un-install when you un-install the game.

    also lets get this straight DRM is a ruse corporations sell the apologists to stop piracy. However they know full well it doesn’t its only there to control the software post retail and not allow a secondary market.

    lets not forget the “Lie” in the manual(false product representation).

    On page 52 it says “You may have multiple Spore accounts for each installation of the game.” but EA says nope thats a misprint, “That section in the manual was a misprint and will be corrected in future printings of the manual. There is one Spore registration/account per game/serial code so you are correct in that you cannot make multiple accounts at this time.” To some that kind of sucks, suck for the people that have more than one person who would like to play the game and make stuff. Is it really a big issue tho, how many people are bummed out about that you cant have more than 1 Spore account.

    • maztec says:

      @yakkowarner: It was a flash mob organized by people on several forums. At least half of those reviews are from people who would never have bought the game, even without the DRM – that is what is wrong with it and that is what makes it juvenile. If every single one of those reviews was from people who would actually have bought the game, that would make the reviews different.

      Let us play the imaginary statistics game for a moment:
      2000 – 1 star reviews.

      Of those, a generous estimate is that 50% would buy the game (I would bet it is closer to a third).

      Of that 50%, half again probably actually bought the game, despite their negative review – and are probably enjoying it, in the closet so to speak.

      Of the 1000 who would have bought the game, maybe 5% (lets say 10% to be generous) would have had some minor problems with the DRM or the game being “buggy” due to one reason or another.

      What I am getting at is that these 1 star reviews do not reflect any form of objective truth, heck they don’t even reflect the subjective reality. Instead they are a temper glorified temper tantrum. That does not mean that it will not, may not, be effective in getting EA to stop its DRM shenanigans. Despite its potential effectiveness, this does not stop the act from having been juvenile. Heck, ten years ago (maybe even less), I would have joined in (except I do not use Amazon.com . . .).

      @QquegChristian: For years software has been licensed or sold for use on one computer, not several in the home. Putting a mechanism into the software to prevent the abuse, other than the honor system, is a logical (but sucky) progression. However, at $50 for a game, I agree this is stupid. I would happily buy multiple copies for $10-$20 per game. One more reason I like Apple’s current AppStore model, I buy something for my iPhone and it works with every other iPhone bound to the account on my computer – aka my wifes and any friends who want to try things out on their computer.

      @CubFx: I would imagine that if they shut down the licensing servers you would have a legitimate argument for using a game crack that does an end run around them. I would even go so far as to say if EA took down the centralized data collection and distribution servers, you may have an argument for developing your own servers – if there is zero indication that EA will put theirs back up. Considering you have licensed the product and EA is depriving you of your ability to use it – thus violating their contract, which does not appear to have any term limit. Unless you argue for a “reasonable time”, which could go both ways – for a “reasonable time” after disabling before you can subvert it or a “reasonable time” before EA can break their contract. If they are not bound then you, theoretically, are not bound – except for the DMCA *grumble*.

  15. Invective says:

    If DRM affects the game, good, or bad in any way, then DRM should be rated along with the game. DRM was only invented keep the bogus industries in play. DRM doesn’t actually protect anything. It just makes me buy Elseware. (‘Elseware’, it’s mine! ;) )

    Amazon’s computers just tried screwing us *again* btw. Amazon programming doesn’t allow for shipping to P.O. boxes, period. Even though shippers will ship small packages via USPS more often than not. I also learned that Amazon representatives are told to have the customer call Amazon.com’s shipper and bring in a third party, to muddy the waters so to speak. It’s their *only* dispute option. They threw in an extra double shipping charge (UPS.) as an added bonus. Then the product was actually shipped using USPS, which of course could have shipped to the P.O. Box. As expected, when the product didn’t get to me, I received a letter from Amazon.com’s supplier, asking for a 3rd payment for shipping along with the correct shipping address. Amazon.com’s Supervisor (4th representative over 2 hours on the phone.), said he could not cancel an order, regardless the circumstances. So in essence, the Amazon.com’s representatives are useless by design. As a result, the only part of Amazon.com that I will somewhat trust is their mp3 sales, since especially no shipping is involved. I don’t care about their “A to Z” coverage. It takes weeks, (Last time was months.) even for the smallest purchase and we all know that’s because they plan for most people to give up, also by design. So this story, probably is true. Amazon will try anything for adding to their bottom line, including rewriting customer history…

  16. QquegChristian says:

    How many YEARS do you think they’ll be issuing expansions upon Spore? The Sims 2 just got a new expansion last month and it’s now FOUR years old. In four years, we will surely upgrade our desktop and possibly upgrade our laptop twice.

    Due to an error in installation… our copy of Spore had to be un and then reinstalled on our desktop AFTER authentication… after installing it on my laptop we are now out of authorizations. This error is the most popular FAQ page at http://www.spore.com, so it’s happening to a lot of people.

    Working in design, we will be upgrading both computers next year, for sure… so I guess we’re effed.

  17. MMD says:

    Amazon doesn’t censor reviews? Not true!

    I once submitted a negative review of a book. It was a craft book with a cool project on the front cover – but the project instructions weren’t contained in the book! I felt this was misleading and said so. My review was up for a while, then vanished, along with other reviews that also pointed out the discrepancy.

  18. bbvk05 says:

    I only pirate games and have DRM that makes it virtually impossible to use for any length of time. Spore just got added to that list.

  19. wiley14 says:

    I own Spore Galactic Edition (the only difference between it and the regular edition is two extra DVDs and a guide).

    1. The game doesn’t require you to be online to play. Case in point – my Internet connection was down the other day and I got through no problem. About the only reason you need to be online is to download content (other creations from Maxis/EA and other players) – besides the one-time activation.

    2. The game doesn’t require the CD to be in the drive to play.

    3. Are people so cheap that they won’t pay $50 for a game? Why do people expect for software to be free? Do we expect water to be free? After all, it is a natural resource and a machine does most of the work.

    I say if people are that cheap, they shouldn’t be allowed to play. Just one of the things that’s wrong with our society (everything is supposed to be free and we’re all supposed to be rich – that just doesn’t work).

    • CubFx says:

      @wiley14:
      While Spore can run without an internet connection, it still required one. It must be activated over the internet, and it must connect to the licensing server every 10 days or it disables itself.
      In other words, it stops working when EA decides to shut down the licensing servers.
      Enjoy your $50 door stop.

    • kenboy says:

      @wiley14: I expect that when I pay my $50 for a game, I get to play that game where I want, when I want, without having to get permission from anyone else.

      If you want to run some sort of licensing scheme that keeps me from playing it simultaneously on more than one machine, that’s not unreasonable, but anything beyond that is ridiculous.

  20. clevershark says:

    Remember folks, Amazon isn’t there to provide a service for no reason. The reason they have reviews is so they can sell more product. As such it’s not infrequent that reviews which pan a particular product get “lost in the ether”.

  21. SunnyLea says:
  22. shockwaver says:

    Securom sucks. I will never buy another product with it, after purchasing NWN2, and not being able to run it on my machine. Disk in the drive, won’t run because it detected that I had installed, at some points, a disk emulation software.

    That being said, I own a mac now, and there is no securom for the mac! Woo. And, if I need to install it a 4th time (already installed it on two machines), I’ll crack the bastard. I’ve had to crack half the games I’ve bought for PC over the years anyway due to shitty DRM, or because I lost the key/disk.

  23. comicgeek77 says:

    from my own experience amazon has a history of removing negative reviews. i buy a ton of books, games, and dvds from them and i used to leave a score and a short two or three sentence review of everything i bought. pretty much every review that i ever posted that was under a three star rating would vanish regardless of the fact that i had followed the guidelines. i assume they get pressured from publishers when a new release gets an overwhelming number of lousy reviews so i stopped reviewing and just started leaving the one to five star rating and those tend to vanish too if you leave just a one or two star score. after i saw how amazon deletes lousy reviews i started to keep track of the books i rated one or two stars. all of them showed that i had rated the book while i was signed in but my rating wasn’t counted towards the totals. there have been a ton of complaints about amazon doing this in several non amazon related forums.

  24. lovelyivy says:

    I was going to buy it, read the reviews, saw what a freak show the DRM and 3-install rules make it and won’t bother.

    I’m certainly not going to pirate it, but why do this to myself? I just bought a new computer, and I’m ABSOLUTELY not putting this crap on it.

    And I have spent thousands with EA in the past, before I knew about their DRM systems and automatic install rules.

    So protesters: mission accomplished

  25. QquegChristian says:

    We’re all going to have an old, dusty, outdated computer connected in the corner to play EA games one day… like the NES in the closet.

  26. Everyone seems to forget, that if software developers don’t get paid for the software they write, they’ll stop. Most video games today are very expensive. They have the same complexity as a digitally animated movie. If people would actually cough up the money to buy video games, I think that a small amount of piracy would be tolerated. But today, you can go online and get cracked software and video games. Software companies will go to greater and greater extremes to guarantee that their intellectual property doesn’t get stolen.

    Oh and I bought the game the other night. I can’t get my kids to stop playing it long enough to give me a chance to play.

    • lovelyivy says:

      @johnarlington: I think everyone knows that. But contrary to your theory, there is every indication that the DRM in this case did zip to prevent pirating. The cracked game was available for free download before the game was released in the US. What this does is encourage people who WOULD have bought it like me to stay away instead of being treated like a criminal.

      If the DRM actually appeared to stop piracy then I cold understand, but what it really appears to be intended to do is kill the re-sale market. After all, there aren’t too many new games that I an play on my mac laptop brand new, so I was kinda psyched for this.

      After reading up on it due to the protests, I’d rather just stay away from it altogether. I hope that the DRM doesn’t enable some smart hacker to bypass your security and wreck your pc. I am not willing to take that risk.

  27. redkamel says:

    actually you arent rating the game, you are rating the item, which happens to be a game. When your item that you paid 50 dollars for whose main selling point and is its creativity and replayability, yet it could be cancelled whenever EA feels like it, then yes, it is one star. Also when it takes up system power for no reason, and wont let you install it on your computer more than three times, which is ridiculously low for anybody who meticulously maintains and upgrades their computer.

  28. redkamel says:

    Id also like to point out its intrusive DRM like this that encourages piracy. I personally am not going to play/buy this game for moral reasons. I really did want to, and I would pay 50 bucks. But I wont deal with the hassle of 3 installs, extra programs (essentially a virus) and the fact that in 5 years the game could be cancelled when EA shuts down the server, just in time for me to have a computer that can play it on full settings. So honestly, if I were to play this game, it wouldnt be the legal way…and a lot of people think the same way. Why pay 50 bucks when the hassle outweighs the benefits?

    • mugsywwiii says:

      @redkamel: The desire to play games for free drives piracy. Companies draw so much ire over trying to protect their IP; where is the outrage at the people who forced their hand?

      • redkamel says:

        @mugsywwiii: If they have a problem with piracy, raise the price, or make games worth paying for, or games that have incentives to buy the legal copy, like an action figure or somethinh..I dont know. It is not, should not, and will not, be my problem, it is the companies problem.

        The problem is when people, like me, who follow the rules are punished for those who do not. Some pirates are born, and they will do as they please regardless of the cost. Most pirates are made, and its DRM like this, or 17 dollar CDs with one good song, that make them.

        EA can publish all the secureom games they want, but gamers are computer saavy, and wont buy it.

  29. mugsywwiii says:

    Of course it wasn’t a technical glitch, and I think Amazon should openly say that they don’t allow their feedback system to be used as a weapon in a dispute with a company. It’s obvious that many of the people who reviewed the game had never even played it; thus they have no business writing a customer review.

    The same thing happened earlier this year when an author made some inaccurate comments about the content in GTA IV (I think?). Her book suddenly got thousands of 1 star ratings by people who were pissed about comments she made on TV. Did her book deserve those negative ratings?

    • dragon:ONE says:

      @mugsywwiii: Of course not, but people end up starting up the all-loving Internet Hate Machine.

      And on a sidenote about Amazon, it’s a pain in the ass to look for, say, an older iPAQ, while going through over 6000 “Gomadic Brand” and “Gomadic TipExchange” etc items in the process.

      I ended up searching “iPaq -gomadic -tipexchange”.

      “ipaq” = 12342 results
      “ipaq -gomadic -tipexchange” = 9910 results.

      Why the fuck does Gomadic need to push their “essentials” kits over 2000 times?

  30. DreadPirate says:

    This statement from Amazon is utter crap. They will pull down negative reviews of books they approve of (usually liberal “non-fiction” books), but negative ones of any conservative book will remain up for weeks or months

  31. GizmoBub says:

    I’d have to agree with many of the comments expressed here. The problem with such a paranoid and excessive DRM scheme is that it’s liable to backfire. And before people jump down my throat on this, I do fully recognize that programmers and their employers need to make money to release games now and in the future. However, the problem is that the pirated product is in all ways superior to the legitimate version. As said before, these measures end up punishing the customers more than the pirates. It just seems unfortunate that after such a long wait for the game that EA had to go and spoil the product…

    I abhor DRM and think that market side solutions would be much better. It’s all about pricing and opportunity cost. The game is apparently 6 gigs or so. If it were $20 there’s no question that people wouldn’t think twice about buying it rather than spending days trying to get it downloaded…

  32. legwork says:

    Spore DRM is ugly, but it isn’t really a problem like it would be for classics. This game has no staying power. A compelling concept and pretty visuals don’t make up for its lethargic pace.

    Yes, I’m disappointed after waiting years for this thing. Maybe that’s good. It’ll die early and everyone will blame the DRM. :)

  33. theblackdog says:

    Based on these comments, I won’t go to Amazon to bitch about the DRM, but I won’t buy the game either.

  34. SJActress says:

    Thank you, ManiacDan.

    Maztec, congratulations. I’m glad that SuckuRom didn’t destroy your computer. It has destroyed several peoples’ computers. Head on over to the Sims 2 BBS and see for yourself.

    I have no problems with a company securing their product…UNTIL it massively affects MY computer.

    And I have a problem with “renting” a game for $50. It’s total bull, and a stupid move by EA. They don’t want people to pirate their games. Well, the people BUYING their games aren’t the pirates, yet they get the short end of the stick, and pirates keep on pirating.

    All they are doing is driving their customers TO the pirates.

    They are complete and utter morons at that company.

    But if you feel the need to worship Big Brother, by all means. The rest of us will ALSO state our opinions.