September 22, 2008

Makers Of Spore Relax Copyright Control

Video game maker Electronic Arts has loosened copyright protection for the newest release of its game Spore after complaints about a restriction that meant the game could only be registered to three computers.

The company has since raised that restriction to five computers, which it says should account for all legitimate uses.

The company has also addressed the complaint that each copy of the game only allows one player to use it.

Thousands of Spore enthusiasts posted one-star reviews on Amazon.com at the game's initial release to complain about the restriction.

Users also complained that there was no mechanism to de-authorize a computer and free up another installation, as there is, for example, with iTunes. That meant the game could only ever be installed three times.

"We've received complaints from a lot of customers who we recognize and respect," said Frank Gibeau, EA Games' president. "I believe we need to adapt our policy to accommodate our legitimate consumers."

But user data shows that fewer than half of one per cent of users has tried to activate the game on more than three computers, EA said. As a result, it believes allowing five installations of the game will account for all legitimate users.

The company is working to quickly implement a means of de-authorizing computers, so that a total of five installations could be active at any one time, Gibeau said.

Another primary concern about the game was that each copy allowed for only one player using one screen name to use it.

"What EA has effectively done is license the product to the individual person and not the machine," posted Jjwalters3, a user of Sporum, the game's official online forum.

"It's along the same lines as saying 'you need to purchase one game for each member of your household' even if you only use one computer."

EA said it would now allow five screen names per copy of the game, though it has yet to release details of when the change will take effect.


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