The Theft Protection

Myths and Facts About Identity Theft

Spore was such a divisive title among many gamers when it launched in 2008.
There was no shortage of love for it’s creature creation and customization systems,
but there was plenty of criticism for it’s shallow gameplay and oversimplified take on evolution.
Nonetheless, three years later we got Darkspore. A follow-up game that isn’t really a follow-up at all.
“A new breed of Action-RPG”
And, according to the back of the box, it boasts a full single-player campaign, as well as online co-op and PVP!
Sounds awesome! Let’s check it out!
Well then.
As of March 1st, 2016
Darkspore is the latest in a growing army of online-only games that have been unceremoniously shot in the head and left in a ditch.
Even for it’s single-player mode, an internet connection is required.
Which is marketing speak for “We’ve got your money, screw you!”
Even if you still have the disc with all the data on it, you can’t play the game you paid for because of EA’s always-on DRM scheme used here.
All this stuff in the box, it’s now useless. A lifeless corpse that exists only to remind you of how short-sighted and apathetic toward history the gaming industry can be.
“So if you can’t play it anymore, what’s the point in covering Darkspore now?”
Well for one thing, archiving is something I care about deeply. So if anything, I can preserve a bit of gameplay footage to show you what’s been lost.
Beyond this, I want to do my part to let publishers know that there are some of us who will not stand for this crap.
As I have said many times before, a big reason I love to collect games is for the artistry of the medium.
I treat each game on my shelf as a piece of art, with each one standing as a testament to what can be done when a group of creative human beings come together and do something fascinating with interactive stuff.
Whether the game is good or bad is beside the point in my mind.
Everything deserves to be preserved because there are valuable lessons to learn and personal experiences to be had with all forms of gaming.
In short: killing a game like Darkspore is an assault on history and I do not agree with it.
And I’ve got to imagine, the people that were working on this game in the past are pretty annoyed by this,
I mean, they can’t even show their kids someday like “Hey, I worked on this thing!”. No. It’s gone!
More on that later, but
Now onto the game itself, which starts with a shiny Maxis logo.
Oh, and by the way, EA shut THEM down too, so it’s a reminder within a reminder of how callous publishers can be.
After this, you’re given a log-in screen, which of course doesn’t work anymore but thankfully, I remembered to record this the day before it shut down.
You’re then tossed into a small tutorial level
showing you the ropes by letting you wander around a space that looks pretty terrible, compared to the rest of the game.
I never understand why this happens in some games.
You’d think they would crank up the detail to the max in the very beginning to psych you up to play the rest of it, but… Anyway…
Once you get past this and into the actual experience, it becomes more clear what you’re in for.
If you’ve played Diablo or Torchlight or Sacred or Path of Exile or pretty much any major ARPG in the past 20-ish years,
then congratulations! You’ve played most of Darkspore already.
It’s a bog-standard Action RPG with pointing and clicking and hacking and slashing.
Use the mouse to kill things! Use hotkey abilities with cool-down timers! Pick up shiny loot to Git Gud!
And level up your characters to increase their stats.
So far, so average.
However, there’s a twist in terms of free-form customization on offer
which you should expect for a game with “Spore” in the title.
Unfortunately you cannot create your own characters, or “Heroes” as it calls them.
But you can customize their look, somewhat, using the same tools used in Spore.
There are slots for things like weapons, defense, offense, headwear, footwear, and frilly details,
so the parts you loot can be dropped into these slots and placed anywhere on your hero.
This is a fun little feature in an Action RPG and I really wish more of them did this.
If only because of the potential for abusing it and creating spiky demon dongs and glowing nuclear nipples.
It leaves a bit to be desired in terms of character specialization though, because, each hero comes with a predetermined skillset.
And there are dozens of them to choose from. Including: freaking mechs!
Which is always a welcome addition in my book!
As you level up, you’ll gain the ability to create multiple squads of three heroes each
which is vital due to the way enemies are presented.
Before each level you’ll be shown the types of enemies you’ll face
with some doing double the damage to certain hero types,
so having a variety of specialized squads is key.
‘Cause otherwise you’ll enter an area and be promptly wiped out by low level minions.
Speaking of minions, I was thoroughly impressed by the variety in enemy designs and their unusual selection of abilities.
Even among the levels that look pretty much the same as previous ones at first glance,
you’ll still run into creatures that are 100% unique to that level.
Combined with the impressive diversity in planets and locations to explore
and you’ve got a recipe for a game that does it’s part to try and keep you engaged.
Even when the gameplay itself gets really monotonous.
And MAN is it monotonous!
As much as I approve of the array of creatures and locations,
the grind of slaying your way through each level grows tiresome just a couple of hours into the 16+ hour campaign mode.
Barring a few exceptions, every level plays exactly the same.
Start off in an area with cannon fodder enemies,
wipe them out, teleport to the next area within the level,
kill off some slightly harder enemies,
teleport to the next area,
kill off a horde of enemies that spawn in waves alongside a boss maybe, and there you go!
Apply those new parts you got, buy a new ability or two and repeat another 20-something times until you’re done.
And while there’s a LITTLE strategy in swapping squad members on the fly,
the actual combat strategy rarely goes beyond activating your abilities as often as possible and holding down the mouse button.
All the campaign comes down to is a linear selection of instanced maps with no penalty for failing any of them.
If you die, so what? Just replay that instance and try again until you get it.
And that’s my biggest problem with the gameplay of Darkspore.
I never felt connected to the world, the story, or even to my heroes.
I couldn’t even tell you what the “Darkspore” is in the story without looking it up on a wiki.
It just never compelled me to any mental level whatsoever.
It’s weird because when I isolate the experience from moment to moment it seems fun enough,
with the gory combat and the curiosity of what kind of monstrosities and pretty level design may come up next.
Yet, taken as a connected experience
it feels devoid of purpose with no substantive of control over your destiny and no reason to replay it.
In fact, it doesn’t even LET you replay it! Since once you’re done, it’s just… Done!
You can’t even delete or restart your game. You have to log-in into another account to do anything more.
And other than that campaign that you can’t continue, all that’s left is PvP,
which I can’t even show you because there was no one online to play with.
Yeah, it’s kind of fitting that the overall experience of Darkspore was just kind of… There…
In the same way that the box is now just kind of… There… On my shelf, taking up space.
The Darkspore experience leaves a sour taste behind.
Not only because the game wasn’t particularly great,
but also because of the message it leaves:
[read that text above]
Think about the current crop of games that you can only play online, even in single player.
Games like: The Division, Titanfall, Star Wars: Battlefront, Elite: Dangerous, Destiny, etcetera, with more of them coming out all the time!
Once their servers go down, that’s it! Game over!
Unless the publishers decided to patch them for offline play, which rarely happens.
And yeah, there’s always a chance that someone reverse engineers the code or sets up virtual servers, but there’s no guarantee that’s even possible.
And we shouldn’t even be having to rely on that anyway!
I know there are financial reasons to take down servers from a publishers perspective but,
making it so we don’t even have the OPTION to play a game we paid for offline, that just seems spiteful.
Paying customers should not have to fight to keep the games they bought!
Yet the idea of games as a service is a growing and lucrative trend these days, so
expect to see more and more tombstones of your favorite games over the coming years
You see, Darkspore may not have been a masterpiece but it didn’t need to die either
and the people that paid good money for it don’t deserve to be treated this way.
And if you agree with the sentiment, then might I recommend this video by my buddy Ross Scott of Accursed Farms.
He’s got some fantastic things to say on the subject
and has even begun a crowdsourced initiative to actually try and do something about it.
Seriously! Go give it a watch, and maybe try to do a little research yourself!
And perhaps throw your hat into the ring of action if this pisses you off as much as it does me.
And to the game publishers out there: PLEASE! STOP. KILLING. GAMES!
Well that was my video on this topic, like I said, go check out Ross’ video if you’d like to hear more.
This is just really concerning, from a historical perspective if nothing else!
And the consumer perspective is definitely valid. It’s just stupid all the way around, so… Screw this, man.
ANYWAY! If you enjoyed this video, why not check out some of my others that I have made!
I’ve made a video on Spore and some other stuff that’s linked here so click those
or just watch every Monday and Friday whenever they come around!
And as always,
thank you very much for watching LGR.

100 thoughts on “LGR – Darkspore and the Problem With Always-Online Games

  1. The question is – if Always online game servers go down, why not release final unlock patch? Or even release game DRM-free, you anyway saying goodby to it.

  2. My first encounter with the onine only games was Hellgate London, and Im still angry to this day that i closed down and made my game disc useless…

  3. I played this game since the closed beta, but then bugs kept slamming into me non-stop, and I only got a short time of bug-free gameplay before EA pulled the plug. This game was the catalyst for me holding nothing but hatred for EA

  4. This is why I just scoff internally when I hear people say they prefer digital copies of games or streaming games to owning a tangible, physical copy. Streaming can be stopped, and we've seen people's downloaded games suddenly vanish before. Own a physical copy, and the only thing you have to do is care for it enough to keep it playable for years and years.

  5. I miss this game. I wish i could play it again. too bad no one really liked it too much to make a non online patch

  6. What happened to Darkspore reminded me heavily of a game that I had played as a kid. That game was part of a set of two(three-ish?) games released in the early 2000s by Knowledge Adventure under the JumpStart line. Those games are Around the World/Adventure Challenge and SpyMasters.
    Around the World came bundled with "deluxe" versions of JumpStart Preschool thru 2nd Grade (I had played with the 1st grade one). Adventure Challenge came bundled with the 3rd-6th grade counterparts. SpyMasters was a completely standalone series.
    All three games had online-centric features that would act as complementary parts of the games.
    Around the World would have players vote online for the new "transportation" mini-games and geographical destinations that would be downloaded on top of the base game.
    Adventure Challenge was the same thing but with "sporting event" mini-games instead of "transportation" mini-games to a real-life geographical destination.
    SpyMasters had an activity where players can sign into some online account and compete with other players in a game of capture-the-flag, using the gadgets the player had collected in the base game. It also had players go onto a website that would utilize a secret code that would appear after the player had collected all the gadgets.
    Like with Darkspore, the servers associated with these games were shut down not too long after their release. Personally, I wasn't able to access the voting and downloading features of my Around the World game (the game would also nag me to go online after completing all of the mini-games, at least, once) as I was using dial-up and, for some reason, needed to have the AOL client running in the background or else it wouldn't detect the internet connection. By the time I had even cared to look up the site where the new mini-games would download from, the website was already down.
    However, unlike Darkspore, Knowledge Adventure made a re-release version of Around the World/Adventure Challenge under their JumpStart Field Trips line to compliment their "Advanced" line of JumpStart games in 2003. The Field Trip games would have some of the content that were originally downloadable from the now defunct servers. While this gesture, unfortunately, showed exactly how much hindsight the Triple A developers really have when it comes to their "games as service" model (as I highly doubt Darkspore and other online-only singleplayer games are going to get this treatment), this means that the people who had copies of JumpStart Around the World/Adventure Challenge now own a CD-Rom containing a game that is at a very limited state that would constantly nag players into connecting to a server that no longer exists, after playing all of the mini-games.
    As for SpyMasters, the capture-the-flag game had an option for players to play with bots or with other players locally through LAN or Pass-the-keyboard. However, if one wanted to see what the secret code unlocks or at least see what the entry page looked like, one would have to use the Wayback Machine (and even then, you would have just the janky remains of the site with broken links everywhere. ). The same thing applies to the voting pages for Around the World and Adventure Challenge.

  7. There's absolutely NO reason for a game to have an online campaign mode. Even IF the multiplayer servers went down, at least old players could still play the campaign and possible new players could still buy and enjoy too and still generate revenue. But no, this is a loss for both EA and player.

  8. i actually planned on getting this game, but when i heard the news.. well, you have an idea of what happend. oh jeez, to think that the only other spore games (besides the original) are spore heroes (it sucks) and spore for the DS (kinda sucks but still fun).

  9. I saw a still shrink-wrapped copy of Darkspore a few months back at a flea market, but I didn't break it to the seller that he was selling vaporware (I still am debating on whether or not it would have been smart to say something).

  10. It seems like almost every PC game coming out these days needs some form of online activation and whatnot to even be installable/playable – that is why i stopped collecting physical copies for PC.

    sadly, we don't "own" the games anymore – so why do I need a shiny box that takes up shelf space when all that box contains is a steam key that is worth jack shit if steam decides to drop the game from their library.

    i see no reason any more to go out and buy the expensive big box release day edition.

    instead, i made it a habit not to buy games at full price ever again. (except for some few exceptions)
    there is always a steam sale or humble store freebie going on and the games i am interested in will end up there eventually so i can buy the game for what it is REALLY worth.

    they should put stickers on boxes of games that do not require any online BS so a customer can see at first look wich physical releases are still worth buying and wich are worthless.

  11. I believe that, even worse than the fact that you can no longer play Darkspore anymore, is the lack of imagination put into Spore’s spinoff. Look at how much inventiveness and near-limitless creative power the original Spore had, even with all its flaws. If anything, Spore itself should have been improved upon, remade into something twice as good as the previous, with all the technology that three extra years gave it. Imagine a game like Spore with the technological juggernauts of computing power we have in the modern day. It saddens me to know that we’re likely never going to get a proper sequel from EA, but… such is life.

  12. Sure Darkspore is an average action RPG, but it almost becomes something more. It’s a cautionary tale showing that always-online DRM is a bad idea. Once the servers are down, that’s it. All that’s left is using it as a paperweight. I even made a Lost Media Wiki page about this game, that’s how much it concerns me. Here's the page if anybody wants to check it out:;_2011-2016)

  13. i played darkspore, i liked it, is was fun, over 100h playtime for 3 Euro (i buyed it from ebay).
    sad that its dead…this was my last EA game….

  14. Isnt it funny how a company that has started as a publisher for games by "electronic artists" displaying games like music or movies in huge sleeves as a piece of art has turned into todays EA doing stuff like killing off games?

  15. The tutorial is usually an after thought added at the last minute in most cases. Or they make it early on with shitty assets and never come back to tune it up.

  16. LGR: "EA, please stop killing games!"
    EA: "Did you buy the game?"
    LGR: "Yes. I have the copy right here."
    EA: "Now that we have your money, you can fuck off! That's all we care about!"

  17. Didn't the original spore get shut down somewhat recently?

    It truly does suck that these online games just cease to exist at all when the servers stop working. I have a copy of Tabula Rasa sitting in a box that I've never even played. I picked it up at a yard sale a lot of years ago, and shortly after realized the servers were no more.

    And I've heard Tabula Rasa was actually a pretty good game.

    And then there are games like Defiance. The show's awful second season killed both itself and the game it was tied to. And defiance was actually a cool concept. The events in the game were suppose to effect the course of the show, but the show didn't even last long enough for that to happen. cuz fuck the viewers and the players, I guess.

    It really pisses me off.

  18. DRM in a nutshell. Imagine if steam suddenly shutdown without giving refunds. Millions of dollars just out of window.

  19. This is a summary of what will happen to the PS4 and XBox One generation. In one decade they will become useless pieces of metal and even if you get to their OS most games will still be dependent of online servers. A big part of a all generation of games will probably be just lost for most of us.

  20. Only EA could listen to all the criticism of Spore and then follow Spore up with Darkspore. 😂 There's Evil, and there's EAvil.

  21. I remember when I saw this on my uncle's Origins account. I was gonna play it only to find out that the games' servers were taken down and EA pretty much shut it down…. It did seem interesting and kinda fun.

  22. Have you got black and white? Or black and white 2? The lions head studio game that I wish would receive a revival, but only one done by a passionate dev team.

  23. I had both a digital copy and a physical copy of the game… At least offline content should have been left to play.

  24. So this is the future of gaming huh, the publishers just don't care about the players they just want your money, pretty soon gaming will be dead, I say take a stand against these greedy game developers because I don't agree with it either.

  25. The problem with this is that those of us who truly care about this sort of thing are obviously in the minority. If customers cared enough to not buy always-online games then the publishers wouldn't be able to afford to make them. For most people videogames are disposable entertainment. They play it for a bit until they beat the game or get bored of it and move on to something else. Gamestop had a business model that relied on people trading in their old games. Obviously game collectors, archivists or historians would have no interest in such a thing but a lot of people do and it's the same kind of disposable mentality. If you had no interest in hanging on to your physical copies why would you care if an online-only game you haven't played in a few years and have no real interest in playing again is no longer available to you? Obviously trading in a game isn't the same as the game being gone forever for everybody but it's not exactly odd to encounter people that don't really care about things that don't affect them at that current point in time. One thing I would ask of anyone that does care about this is to have some self-control and not buy always-online games even if you want to play it. We won't get anywhere if we talk the talk and then proceed to financially reward the companies that do this.

  26. I've played the shit out of this game because 3 of my friends kept playing it after really enjoying it during a a lan party.

    It kinda had this Warframe ecstatic of allowing you to try to brake the game with OP abilities and gear allowing you to buff your allies.
    Every time you jumped into a game it's like: "oeh, you got tier 2 of your character, let me see what you made him look like?"

  27. User: (pays for the game)
    Game company: (kills the game)
    User: What the hell? I paid money for my game!
    Game company: Sorry, you don't actually own the game. You paid for a service, not a physical product.

    User: (copies the game)
    Game company: REEEEEEE CATCH THE THIEF! HE STOLE MY PHYSICAL PRODUCT!!! I'm losing actual money!

  28. If you’re still buying EA games, which you appear to be, then you 100% support this crap, whatever you say in the video means nothing and is entirely lost to your hypocrisy.

  29. 3 yearslaterhi, elitedangerous devs did say if servers ever go offline they said they will make the game an offline version

  30. That is why I do not buy any always online games, or ones with online drm, or that have only multiplayer with no ability to create custom server on my own machine or server.

  31. There's a group of people on Reddit trying to emulate a server. Join the talk.

  32. I'm pretty sure the profit in always-online is debatable… Especially once you consider the cost of the servers.

  33. Having felt like this when Marvel Heroes closed down. I sympathize with this. hope people find a way to revive Marvel Heroes Omega. It was a fun Marvel game honestly that was sadly screwed over by Gazillion

  34. I played all the other weird and clunky Spore spin offs and mobile games but I never got around to this one. Now I never will.

  35. Your points in this video seem ahead of what any youtuber was talking back then. Maybe because this was a lower profile game than Destiny or others, but games as a service that are no longer yours even if you own the physical copy are a real worry for gamers now. We can only hope people react and stoo buying into this

  36. i agree so much with this video, this is one of the main reasons i don't trust EA
    pissed me off so much when it didn't allow me to play this game anymore

  37. You would think they could put asside five bucks a month for a small server that just tells the game to go ahead and play single player

  38. Another way to stop Games Makers using Always Online DRM is to STOP BUYING THEM with the DRM in them, even if you like the game! – Send a clear message to these games publishers: WE WONT BUY ALWAYS ONLINE DRM RIDDLED GAMES!

  39. There's currently a discord server of people who are actively trying to get the game back. If you want to help, or just want to see how progress is going, you can find it by searching for Darkspore LS.

  40. And low in behold, the modding community of Spore do a much better of a job by making the original game better with Dark Injections.

  41. its still just sitting in my origin library with a banner over it saying "no longer available on origin" 🙁

  42. Wow, interesting timing. Shortly after me watching this, fans have indeed created their own private server that you can now login to.

  43. Three years later, progress is being made on a local server to play Darkspore offline!

  44. Its ridiculous. I was so excited when I found a used copy of Sims 4 at goodwill for a few bucks…it was even the collectors addition. But once I picked it up I remembered…this is an EA game…what are the chances I can play a used copy. I bought it anyway and of course, I couldn't play it because the code was used. When the game went on sale for $5 I got it online….but I have in the back of my mind….this isn't my game…its EA's and if they ever decide to drop it or shut down its gone, or if I get tired of it I can't sell it. I hate it….but I love the sims.

  45. Games as a service is lucrative….until people stop buying games all together.
    The next gaming crash is but a few short years away.

  46. I spotted the Peter Gabriel discs thanks to the classic easily spotted color scheme of his stuff. I have to say you have good taste. I never did try his interactive stuff 🙁

  47. This is why I don't play any modern games and stick to stuff from before 2005 at the latest, I refuse to pay for something I don't own. There are plenty of good classic games for me to play without leasing modern trash that I can't play a year latter half the time.

  48. All the more reasoning to raise a giant middle finger to EA.
    Im sure other companies do this, but other than strictly multiplayer games like Overwatch i cant think of any.

  49. Hey man, thanks for the review! Not enough people got to enjoy this game before they took away the opportunity to play more.

    One quick note, you indicated in the video that there was 0 penalty for failing a level. That is only partially true, the reward system for the game would 'rate' how you performed on the level (did you kill 100% of enemies, find all hidden loot etc) and then add your score rating into your 'reward box' score. You could choose at the end of each level, to either take your reward box 'roll' right then and there, or you could 'save' it up and continue to the next level. If you completed the next level, that score could be added to your current score, and your 'reward boxes' chances of giving up more/higher level loot would increase. If you had chose to 'save up' your points, but failed the next level you tried, you would lose 100% of your 'reward points' and thus chance for loot.

    Other than that, we (me and my gf) are bummed they took this game away from us. We enjoyed the coop aspect of the missions, and are always on the lookout for fun/basic style games that offer coop options!

  50. Hello, here I am from Oct 2019 – oh if only we would know back then what's coming 🙂 BUY YOUR LOOTBOXES FOR THE COST OF THE 60€ GAME FOR A GAME THAT WILL BE TERMINATED IN 3 YEARS NOW!!!

    Can't wait for someone to comment here in 2022+ 🙂

  51. It's 2019 and you can't play The Sims without logging in to Origin. 🙁 At least Steam allows most games there to be played in Offline mode.

  52. Think of how Google's Stadia (literally 100% online gaming servers) will push this trend to the extreme. You own NOTHING despite paying so much.

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