More than 2,200 one-star reviews of the new Electronic Arts game Spore, left on Amazon.com as part of a well-publicized and coordinated user revolt against the game's digital rights management restrictions, disappeared Friday.
And while Amazon customers reacted angrily to what they said was obviously Amazon's caving in on a bad situation, the retailer itself said that the take-down was the result of nothing more onerous than a glitch.
Users have been angry at EA because the game's DRM system appears to limit the number of activations per copy of the game to three.
And as a way of striking back, some users had coordinated their efforts by leaving the more than 2,200 one-star reviews on Amazon.
On Friday, every single review for Spore for the game was gone.
But Amazon says there was no foul play at work.
"There's just a glitch on the site that ended up wiping those reviews clean," said Amazon.com spokesperson Tammy Hovey. "So we're working on putting them back up. I don't have any details (on what happened). But we're working on it so all the customer reviews will be back up on the site."
Asked if perhaps Amazon had decided to put the reviews back up in anticipation of bad PR for taking them down, Hovey said, "Customers always have their opinions about all the products on our site, and we don't censor them, whether they're favorable or unfavorable."
By 2:10 p.m. PDT, the reviews were back up on the site.
For its part, EA said it was looking into the situation.
Although the actual reviews were removed, Amazon did leave up a discussion thread on the Spore page. And during the period while the reviews were down, some users angrily employed the thread to paste in reviews that had originally been left for the game.
For example, "1.0 out of 5 stars Dumbed down experience and draconian DRM, September 7, 2008," Amazon user Keri Gibson-tutt posted.
"Utterly disgraceful," wrote Amazon user Paul Tinsley. "This means that the Amazon review system has not value at all to its customers. Sad days indeed."
It's not clear how users will respond now that the reviews are back.