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EA's Spore DRM fiasco

EA's big fall PC gaming release is the long awaited "Spore" from Maxis, beloved studio responsible for all things Sim. Spore has been in some form of development since 2000, and finally hit stores on Sept. 7th, 2008, accompanied by predictions of the title living up to its hype and transcending it from EA brass.

I took a look at the Amazon user ratings for the game, and was shocked to see that it has been absolutely shellacked -- currently 2300+ reviews and only 1.5 stars. The primary reason for the low ratings? Customer outrage over EA's employment of the Sony SecuROM copy protection system, that allows someone purchasing the game, to activate it 3 times. As was pointed out in an amazon review:

Then there's the DRM. Let me just clarify what people are saying by adding, it not only counts installations, but changes to your hardware ! Upgrade a system component (memory, CPU, vid card) and you are out an installation....Basically I just paid $50 for a coaster.

When will companies learn that treating their customers like thieves is never a good business practice?

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Ted Henning's Brainmeld

In my days at Broderbund software and Cendant software, I witnessed first hand the demise of the edutainment software industry due to market pressures and consolidation. What remains is the vestiges of those companies, and the titles they created years ago, while the developers are gone. As someone at Broderbund said to me one day, "the days of interesting educational tiles like 'Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego' are long gone." It simply costs too much to develop educational titles in a world where consumers expect to pay $10 or less.

Ted Henning's latest project is, a site devoted to promoting the use of computer games and simulations in education. I think we can all agree that computer games are a part of life for most kids growing up in the US and Europe, and Ted's Master's thesis and the work of people in the educational research field which inspired him indicates that this isn't the disastrous turn of events many have predicted it to would be. supports the premise that some games are actually "educational" in a way both children (and adults for that matter) find entertaining.

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