September 07, 2008

Spore Arrives - DRM Copy-protection is a Bug not a Feature!

SporeThe much anticipated Spore game is available today.

If you do actually manage to get past the setup problems and error 5024 initialization issues, then it is actually quite a good game!

Like many other legitimate new owners who bought this game today, we had problems getting this game to work due to the stupid -- stupid -- stupid SecuROM copy protection system that comes as a "feature" of this game.

When trying to run the Spore game, I got the unhelpful error code 5024 message:

"A required security module cannot be activated.
This program cannot be executed (5024).

After much searching on the Internet (Note: there is nothing on the EA Support web site and very little on the SecuROM support web site either), it appears that SecuROM does not like the SysInternals [now Microsoft owned] Process Explorer system monitoring and debugging utility that many people use on their Windows systems.

From a little experimentation, SecuROM does not just dislike Process Explorer running at the same time, but SecuROM also protests if Process Explorer has *EVER* been run on this machine since boot-up -- EVEN if Process Explorer is NO LONGER currently running now! Gosh, THAT is a "feature" -- NOT!!

The solution to error 5024 for me was to do a clean reboot every time I want to run Spore, and run the game before Process Explorer is ever run on that machine.

From the explanation of the error on the SecuROM support site, it sounds like using other process monitoring and / or system debug tools before running Spore _may_ cause similar problems, but I haven't tried those.

"A required security module can not be activated. This program can not be executed."
SecuROM has determined a debugging or an emulation tool is running.

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Of course, the really stupid thing about the copy protection "feature" on this game is that it is trying to "prevent piracy" -- however, there are already plenty of cracked copies of this game available at various places on the Internet for the pirates!

All this copy-protection "feature" really does is to penalize legitimate users, who now need to spend over an hour searching the web and trying things out before being able to actually run the game they just purchased.

I was very close to just sending the game back to the store for a refund due to these initial problems, and I'm sure many people will just do that.
I can't imagine how this will work out for people with less technical knowledge then me.
The Spore game is getting slammed in Amazon review scores due to the copy-protection "feature", and I have to agree with those assessments myself.

Xbox.comIt reminds me (again) why PC gaming never seems to get very far into the mainstream compared with XBox 360 gaming -- the simplicity of just being able to "pop in the CD and play" on an XBox will always be unmatched by a PC (IMHO).

When starting Spore, it even told me I needed to update the video drivers on my PC because they were "out of date" -- I can't remember the last time I saw a message like that on an XBox!

When you do manage to get past the setup and initialization issues, then it is actually quite an interesting game - a cross between World of Warcraft, The Sims and Age of Empires...

Create universal wonder in Spore, an exciting new simulation game that lets you develop your own personal universe. Work your way through five evolutionary phases, including Cell, Creature, Tribe, Civilization and Space, that offer unique challenges, thrills and goals. For example, you can start in Cell and nurture one species from a simple aquatic organism all the way until it becomes a sentient life form. Or you can jump right in and begin building tribes and civilizations on multiple planets. What you do with your universe is totally up to you.The powerful creation tools of Spore are easy to use, allowing you to effortlessly design every aspect of your universe. Creatures, vehicles, building and even starships are all within your grasp. While Spore is a single-player game, your creations and other players' creations are automatically shared between your galaxy and theirs, offering a nearly limitless number of worlds to visit and enjoy. You can also go online to view the incredible things other players have made and can even pull those items into your universe. Spore gives you the chance to make worlds and beings that evolve, grow and delight you every step of the way.

Entry categories: Games
Posted by Jorgen Thelin at September 7, 2008 08:02 PM - [PermaLink]