Published on July 1st, 2013 | by Andy Astruc2
Darkspore vanishes from Steam, comes back and continues to be a victim of DRM
There aren’t a lot of positive stories about restrictive DRM policies. No heroic tales of server-side calculations and cloud-based gaming thwarting Somalian pirates who attempted to take innocent video games hostage. No skeptic-silencing statistics and colour-coded graphs which explain that a policy designed to impede consumers has resulted in more profits for starving developers. This could be because the press is infested with socialists, eager to see corporations crumble into dust so we can all barter in wool and smugness. More likely it’s because these stories do not exist.
What we do get on an increasingly regular basis is reports of DRM causing something absolutely terrible to happen, with the usual result being that people can’t play a game they paid for. Such has been the case with Darkspore, which had months of jittery and buggy existence come to a head today when the game was removed from Steam. Keen eyes noticed the game remained on Origin for purchase.
This removal was more than likely the result of the server issues that have made the RPG unplayable for many people. The game requires a constant connection with EA’s Origin servers to function, and reports are this has been a broken system since the 2011 launch. Chief among the recent server quirks was players finding themselves unable to save any changes to their characters — not exactly a minor issue for any game, let alone an RPG.
A post on the game’s official forums by the forum manager read as follows:
“Darkspore is no longer developed. It is for almost all intents and purposes an abandoned title. If you cannot play the game & have flicked through technical issues for any fixes, then contact EA Customer Support; especially if it regards CD-Keys or refunds.
Error 73003 has gone unfixed & remains an issue.
Error Code 3 has arisen for the majority/all & remains an issue.
I will however keep the forums here as clean & tidy as possible in my spare time. Why? Well why not. If it helps anyone with minor problems, or find their way somewhere, then that’s great. I wish you all luck, no matter what path you choose with Darkspore.”
For a time it was looking like the game had been effectively shut down by EA, with no hope of fixes. However, a statement sent to Polygon claims “Maxis continues to support Darkspore and its servers” and asserts they “recently resolved a problem where players were having issues connecting to the game.” The statement also says the above commentary on the present and future of the title was not made by an employee of EA and people should contact their customer service for assistance. Customers can be reassured that they will get the same caliber of technical help as any other person trying to contact EA. What a relief.
The word from EA is appropriately vague with its assurances that the game will continue to be supported, particularly considering it doesn’t seem like it ever got much support in the first place. No word yet on if the game can actually be played after the supposed fix. The game has since been put back on Steam, suggesting some progress may have been made.
General misinformation and the ongoing server-side problems with Darkspore cast a long shadow over the future of single-player titles that bizarrely rely on “always-on” DRM to simply work the way they’re supposed to. The unforgettably shaky launch of SimCity — Maxis and EA’s other constantly-connected misadventure — does make one question exactly what will happen to these titles in the future. It seems highly likely that owners will be able to point to their copies of older EA titles and tell their friends all about how it doesn’t do anything anymore because a businessman reallocated server funds.
Also of concern is EA’s bare-faced audacity when it comes to selling broken products on their platforms. Used car salesmen spring to mind, smiling out of hollow eyes while you buy an expensive lemon. Except this is a little worse, since they’re actually trying to convince you that the car breaks down for your own good.