Will Wright attended the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Awards ceremony at the Hearst Tower in New York City last night where he saw Spore pick up an award for Setting Benchmarks in Design, Creativity and Engineering. I caught up with him afterward for a bit to find out his take on the whole DRM situation. EA's John Riccitiello said a few days prior that he isn't a fan of DRM, but something had to be done to stop those pirates. I asked Wright how involved he was in the decision process to include DRM for Spore or if it was mostly EA's doing.
"It was something I probably should have tuned into more. It was a corporate decision to go with DRM on Spore. They had a plan and the parameters, but now we're allowing more authentications and working with players to de-authenticate which makes it more in line like an iTunes. I think one of the most valid concerns about it was you could only install it so many times. For most players it's not an issue, it's a pretty small percentage, but some people do like wiping their hard disk and installing it 20 times or they want to play it 10 years later."
I'm not sure if I totally agree it's a non-issue only involving a smaller percentage, why else would EA care so much to go back and alleviate some of the complaints? Clearly, DRM is not the best way to go to help prevent piracy, so I asked Wright if he thinks the DRM model is here to stay or if it's only temporary.
"I think it's an interim solution to an interim problem. You have games like Battlefield Heroes coming out where the idea is you give away the game and sell upgrades, which works more in the Asian markets where you need to monetize it over the Internet. I think we're in this uncomfortable spot in going from what's primarily a brick and mortar shrink-wrapped product to what eventually will become more of an online monetization model."
Oh no :(