It was supposed to be legendary game designer Will Wright's finest achievement. Yet when EA's Spore received more than 2,000 one-star reviews on Amazon.com upon its release, it was evident something was amiss with the game. The culprit was everyone's least-favourite old chestnut: DRM. Finally, EA is about to rectify the issue. A bit.
EA used SecuROM's technology to restrict the number of machines you could 'authorise' the game to be played on, and woe betide all who exhaust their five authorisations and try to install the title a sixth time on a new machine -- it was jumping through hoops time with EA's customer support to solve the problem, and customers rallied against the firm.
Now, months too late but appreciated nonetheless, EA has released a machine-deauthorisation tool. If you bought copies of Spore, Red Alert 3, Dead Space, Mass Effect, FIFA Manager '09 and several other titles after May 2008, you can download a piece of software that lets you deauthorise your computer and get one of your five 'installation slots' back.
It's hardly a poetic conclusion to a EA's disastrous love affair with DRM -- it's akin to bleeding heavily for months and ultimately being offered a large blue plaster. But as they said on Last of the Summer Wine, it's better than nowt.
EA won't be using the DRM system on its upcoming title The Sims 3, and will return to good old-fashioned serial codes for security. It's almost as if it learnt its lesson.
You can download the deauthorisation software here.