Sunday, November 16, 2008

Spore: Guerrilla Tech Support

I bought a copy of the PC game Spore for Jr. It seems like a cool way to learn about evolution (at least a cartoonish version of it) and any game that does not involve broadswords is an improvement. But, the darn thing does not fully work.

Normally, I am the go-to tech guy in my family. I generally can solve most PC issues and I am not put off by moderately complicated tasks like swapping out hard drives or setting up wireless networks. Overall, I would say I rank in the above average category for computer literacy. That is why it is so annoying that I can't get this thing to work. Specifically, I cannot log in to the game. It does not recognize that my computer is solidly connected to the internet. This means we can only play with local data and--importantly--can't get the patches to update the game.

I am not griping about this without having put in effort. I have done the following:
  • Sent a screen shot of the error message to EA
  • Sent a DirectX diagnostic log to EA
  • Configured my Windows Firewall to give Spore permission to access the internet
  • Configured by McAfee firewall to do the same
  • Configured my wireless router to open the required ports
  • Confirmed with my ISP that they are not blocking any ports
  • Set a bunch of netsh global parameters that I honestly do not understand
  • Located the Spore patch on an independent server and applied it

I'm about done. I thought I had struck gold when I found this handy article entitled "Why Spore Won't Work." The article (and a million complaints on the Amazon Spore forum) point the finger at terrible digital rights management features built into the program. Still no luck.

The truly obsessive are having a field day at Amazon.

For me, the bottom line is just whether my kid can play the full game. If not, I have been ripped off for $50 (maybe $20 since we get value from the local aspects of the game). I don't really care too much about whether there is DRM software included, provided it does not interfere with functionality or the operation of my PC. In other words, if EA wants to protect its intellectual property they have every right to do so. Hell, I'd be happy to help. But, if by doing so, they end up with a crappy product, they will lose customers. Some of them will be like me--on the brink of about 10 years of video game buying. This does not seem like a good strategy for a compay with stock that has traded at $60 this year but is now down to about $20.

So, rather than continue my already long and fruitless correspondence with Matteo and Manpreet in tech support, I am turning to my readers for the indulgence to let me rant and on the chance that just maybe one of you can help a guy out. And, should anyone at EA see this, feel free to drop me an e-mail. I am not above retracting this you make things right.

1 comment:

beagle said...

I bought my game in Sept. It still does not work. I have contacted support multiple times, and still my game does not work.

I basically got ripped for $50. EA has lost my business.