Spore is the worst game ever…

Field of Spores Image from elvissa…if you believe the Amazon reviews. Out of approximately 1400 reviews, over 1,300 rate the game with 1 star, most complaining of draconian DRM. Electronic Arts’ DRM for Spore prevents users from installing the game more than 3 times (even on the same computer, after upgrades or HD crashes, for instance) without a call to EA support, and possibly purchasing another license.

At this point in the digital age, how can EA not understand that DRM is a bad idea? If you don’t give fans content in the way that they want it, they will go elsewhere for it. EA is shooting itself in the foot and turning one the most anticipated games of the year into a potential PR debacle.

Following last month’s development about the computer gaming industry suing families who downloaded games without paying in the UK, it seems the computer game industry has learned nothing from the mistakes of the RIAA.

Game pirates in the UK face penalties of nearly 10 times the cost of the games (£300, about US$525) to settle out of court or risk a repeat of the £16,000 (about US$28,000) decision handed down to one unemployed mother of two.

While I don’t advocate piracy, there must be a better way for the industry to deal with this problem than extorting court settlements from their fans or imposing unreasonably limited DRM.

DIY Days: Free Conference for Indies!

DIY Days Logo Image from DIY Days WebsiteThanks to David Tames and Boston Media Makers (woot!), I just learned about DIY Days.

DIY Days, in their own words:

DIY DAYS – fund :: create :: distribute :: sustain
How do we sustain ourselves as filmmakers and storytellers in this day of shifting film distribution systems? How do we monetize our film and get the word out without studio support? Presented by From Here to Awesome and Current TV – DIY DAYS aims to answer these questions with a day of panels, roundtable discussions and workshops: A look at how to fund, create, and distribute and sustain.

Anyone wanting to make creative work – film, music, games, art. Self-Identified Independent filmmakers, Creatives and Tech-philes.

The day flows through a mix of both structured and free form activities to encourage open discussion and the opportunity to break into groups and get everyone talking to each other. Pack a lunch and network offline with fellow creatives.

Best of all, this shindig is FREE. Looks like they have scheduled DIY Days in NYC, SF, LA and Boston (hurray!). But if you, like the Producer, do not live in one of those places, it looks like you’ll be able to sit in via streaming video sessions. Exciting, no?

Indie Films in Hollywood: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Indie Theater Image from Brandon Cirillo’s PhotostreamBy now you’ve probably already read the Wall Street Journal’s take on the state of independent film in Hollywood. If you haven’t, I’ll sum up: Hollywood studios are finding that lower budget indie flicks are not paying off at the box office. No matter how many movies you make (and it looks like they’re making quite a lot of movies), there aren’t any more screens to show them on than there were before. Small movies, no matter how star-studded, aren’t inspiring people to amble on over to the multiplex.

As someone pointed out at the always fabulous Boston Media Makers session Sunday morning, the movie industry is just catching up to the same issues that have plagued the music industry for years.* I think that’s a pretty fair summary of the situation. The old ways of doing business are not as profitable as they used to be. The WSJ focuses largely on the financial problems this creates, but I’m also wondering how this will change the storytelling landscape.

If funding is drying up for people who want to make small family dramas and slow-paced coming-of-age fables, where else will they go? Are viewers genuinely uninterested in smaller stories, or are they just getting their fill elsewhere? Television seems to be flush with nuanced drama, and fascinating things are happening with graphic novels these days – not to mention the rapidly evolving universe of web-distributed film. Is the feature-length indie film never again coming to a theater near you, or is it just in hibernation?

*I cannot recall who said this at the meeting, please comment if you remember!