Spore Spawns Virtual Protest

Gamers lash out on Amazon.com; meanwhile, EA's stock near 52-week low.

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Electronic Arts has had a tough week. Shares of the largest video game publisher began declining Monday after the company announced a delay in the release of its highly anticipated Harry Potter video game (it had been scheduled for release in time for the holiday shopping season). Meanwhile, some Wall Streeters speculated that the release of three other titles—including Spore—could boost the company's ailing stock (symbol ERTS). It closed at $44 yesterday, near the 52-week low of $41.17.

Although Spore has been well received by critics, the game's restrictive digital rights management software—which limits players to just three installations—has sparked outrage among some gamers.

Of the 1,963 customer reviews of Spore on Amazon.com, the game has received 1,812 one-star reviews. These include "Dumbed down experience and draconian DRM," and "DRM makes me a sad panda."

Wired weighs in:

Their goal, it seems, is to influence those Amazon.com patrons who rely solely on the site's reviews to make purchasing decisions. If they can sink that sales avenue, the corporations responsible for the DRM will be forced to change their ways, they seem to believe.

EA says the practice is an industry standard, citing Apple's policy of allowing downloaded music to be played on only three devices, reports the Financial Times.

But not everyone in the industry agrees. Late last month, Stardock, maker of the critically acclaimed Sins of a Solar Empire computer game (which has no copy protection), published a " Gamers Bill of Rights," which included "gamers shall have the right to redownload the latest version of the games they own at any time," and "gamers ... shall not be treated as potential criminals by developers or publishers."