Ubisoft's new DRM scheme

hothardware.com/News/Broken-By-D … sstep-Yet/

From the article:

Anyone who’s been around here for a while will probably know that I’m not a fan of DRM schemes, but this new move from Ubisoft seems more extreme than ever.

I’m curious to see whether this changes anyone’s views on DRM or if it will influence their decision regarding the purchase of the console vs PC version of Assassin’s Creed 2?

I only recently bought and played AC1 over Steam and enjoyed it quite a bit. But there are games without such issues to buy instead of the sequel. Maybe when it hits 15 as well a year or two later. No shortage of PC games thankfully.

Yeah, that’s true, plenty of other decent PC games to play.

I just wonder if some people who were planning to get it on PC may opt for the console version instead, even if the graphics aren’t as sharp.

I’m undecided. I’m not going to buy it and give Ubisoft the money, so either I’ll get it pre-owned on Xbox or pirate it on PC.

Despite owning all 4 Prince of Persia PC games released by Ubisoft (those using Starforce), I’m not going buy the upcoming PoP game if it uses their DRM (and Ubisoft confirmed all their new PC games will use it). Over the years I’ve really grown tired of Ubisoft’s attitude towards PC gamers, and this is really the last straw. I recently bought the PC version of Mass Effect 2, which uses a simple disc check. I didn’t think I would end up supporting EA instead of Ubisoft, but it just goes to show that companies can change, for better or for worse.

I wish we could go back to the Infocom style of copy protection. (Including bonus items with the game, sometimes forcing the player to ask a question from the manual/book to progress.)

The button I got with the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game continues to get more positive comments than anything else I have ever worn in my life.

I think pirating the game “out of protest” is counter-productive. They’ll just see it as a sign that they need to beef up copy-protection even more. But this is really a silly way of doing it - lots of folks don’t have the internet. Many still use dialup and being connected would be wasteful. I guess they’re not welcome to Club Ubisoft. (I’m personally much more of a console gamer anyway so it doesn’t effect me.)


I’d expect no less from PA tackling a serious issue. Unfunny and shallow. Most all DRM deviced so far hinders the paying customer and leaves the vast majority of pirates unaffected. If these solutions actually worked, they’d have a point, but they totally don’t, so the game is just as (un)protected whether they add this shit or have a mere disc check, except the latter isn’t going to cause a potential buyer to skip it.

Publishers should focus in offering a compeling product. The PC market supports tons of developers, from Blizzard to Valve to all the new digital distribution platforms that have popped up in recent years, as well as smaller companies like Stardock who make an impact within niche genres. There’s certainly room for profitability and growth, if they actually offer a product people want and market it properly to the right people.

I realise that it’s a vicious circle, but obviously I’m going to put myself before the needs of anyone else. My options are:

  1. Buy the game. This supports the developer and it’s dumb DRM scheme which may potentially cause me headaches.

  2. Pirate the game. Gives no money to developer but still supports it’s dumb DRM scheme (gives them reason to continue it). No potential headaches though, except for finding a working pirate but that shouldn’t be difficult.

Of course, I could get AC2 for 360 negating this whole process, however I want to get it for PC.

I have no love for Ubisoft, really. They make some good games but they’ve treated their consumers with contempt in the past (Chaos Theory co-op DLC, anyone?) so I’ve no guilt for returning the favour.

…or you could simply not purchase the game. If it has features that you do not like, why can’t you simply move on and play something else? Nothing says that you absolutely have to play a specific game, nor do you actually have a right to do so.

It’s a completely avoidable conundrum. In the two options that Shadow produced, both support or justify Ubisoft’s draconian approach. The only one that doesn’t is to not buy the product, pure and simple.

Glad to hear you guys are standing up to Ubisoft on this one.

I’m really pleased that EA have taken this approach and are listening to consumers. My only concern is if you try to patch the game and EAs servers are down or you don’t have an Internet connection. Can you download the patch on another computer and copy the files? This is a real concern with the recent ‘service’ approach to games as it may leave the game crippled in the future, especially if it’s not profitable to keep the update servers running.

The problem is that Shadow wants to play the game, and he wants to play it on PC. That’s the only reason why the choices are there in the first place. Should he simply miss out the experience because the only legitimate purchasing option is a severely defective one, especially if a non-crippled version can be acquired from another source? In my mind, not playing the game doesn’t help anyone - Ubisoft or gamers - because the game doesn’t get to be experienced.

Another option would be to buy the game (either new or used) on 360, and then play the cracked version of PC, thus supporting the developers of the game and not the DRM scheme. However, this raises another problem, it’s essentially telling Ubisoft “We don’t want this game on PC”.

[quote=“Solo”]The problem is that Shadow wants to play the game, and he wants to play it on PC. That’s the only reason why the choices are there in the first place. Should he simply miss out the experience because the only legitimate purchasing option is a severely defective one, especially if a non-crippled version can be acquired from another source? In my mind, not playing the game doesn’t help anyone - Ubisoft or gamers - because the game doesn’t get to be experienced.

Another option would be to buy the game (either new or used) on 360, and then play the cracked version of PC, thus supporting the developers of the game and not the DRM scheme. However, this raises another problem, it’s essentially telling Ubisoft “We don’t want this game on PC”.[/quote]

The short answer is - yes.

The long answer is - yeeeeeeeeeeeeeees. :wink:

In all seriousness, there is nothing saying that anyone absolutely must have this game. It is not essential by any means. In fact, it is, by definition, a luxury. The problem with the solution that you have proposed is that to the publisher, it is impossible to distinguish between the legit customer who has paid money but chooses to play on a cracked PC version versus the actual pirate. The publisher sees numbers of downloads off torrent sites, and that feeds their madness. And yes, the game doesn’t get experienced if you don’t play, but oh well. There are hundreds of games that don’t get experienced that are equally deserving. Rather than feed the DRM madness, spend the money elsewhere - hell, it doesn’t even have to be on videogames. If you want to support artists, spend the money where it’s more welcomed.

Literally, the only solution for legitimate customers to exert their will over the publisher is to simply not purchase the game en masse, and to make it known that this is the reason why.

I can see where you’re coming from, I just wonder how reliable this information is as a means of determining how many lost sales there are. The number of downloads does not accurately represent the number of lost sales. There are a whole host of other reasons why someone might download the game - to play the game that they legitimately paid for without the DRM, to play it on a computer with no Internet connection, because they’re the sort of person who collects data, to use as a backup, etc.

I think Brad Wardell explains this best, when he talks about focusing on customer base, not user base:
arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2008 … irates.ars

Pirate scum are suddenly reliable when it comes to their sites’ download statistics, eh? :wink:

Ubisoft was convinced once before to ditch a shitty DRM solution. Now they’re back into the same territory. Most people don’t care to devote that kind of energy for, as you say, mere luxury entertainment products, so will opt to pirate it instead. If they don’t buy it, they aren’t likely to inform anyone for the reasons, leaving Ubisoft free to make up their own reasons, and point to piracy, the platform, the customer, etc, and never themselves.

Piracy, as long as it is possible, will be blamed for a game’s failures. It’s the easy thing to do, to use a scapegoat, despite the fact succesful games are pirated just as much, if not more, which should be enough to show the real issue is that they failed to convince the people who normally purchase games (who are plenty enough as per my first comment in this thread) that their product is worthwhile. Focus on pleasing the customer please.

Unfortunately, this seems to be what is happening here. :confused: Whether or not you agree with the ethics behind it, the fact of the matter is that people are going to turn to alternative sources if the official means of distribution is too draconian. Ubisoft need to understand the cause and effect of what’s going on here, like EA seems to have.

Like I said I’ve grown tired of Ubisoft’s attitude towards PC gamers, but if I forgot for a moment that it’s Ubisoft implementing this type of copy protection… it might actually work. People have said that it’s impossible to prevent games from being pirated, but that isn’t entirely true. Guild Wars for example sold over 6 million copies, but as far as I know there aren’t any private servers for the game. The only way you’re going to play the game is by paying for it, and the same holds true for most MMORPGs.

What Ubisoft is doing is very similar, the difference is that the online requirement is now forced onto their single player games, with little to no added value for the customer. If they had been smarter about it and added online elements like the ones featured in Demon’s Souls (where the game is essentially single player, but there are ways for players to interact and even invite others into their game) they might have been able to justify the presence of the DRM. But Ubisoft cares little about PC conversions of their multi platform titles (one of the reasons I stopped buying their games)…

That said if the servers are actually stable and the game isn’t pirated from day one, it could work. On the other hand, if either of those go wrong, the backlash will likely be even worse than it was for Starforce.

I won’t be buying AC2, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens. Their excuse for their poor PC conversions has always been that they can’t invest into PC games because of piracy, so if this system actually manages to stop pirates (and they really seem to believe it will), they would no longer have an excuse to give us delayed and bugged PC games.

Having online authentication doesn’t make it anything like a MMORPG. It will likely be easy to emulate or bypass. The “problem” with MMORPGs is that the server is responsible for almost anything you see in the game, sans static terrain. Without that communication, the game doesn’t function. There’s no client side AI, scripts, etc. To play without paying you’ll need to recreate prety much the whole game’s functions (assuming there’s no leak of the official server to work off of) and on top of that have a backend powerful enough to support all that and provide smooth gameplay for you, your friends, and, since the point of a MMORPG is the MMO part, many more people for a decent experience.

AC2 and their other single and even multi player games aren’t likely to work like that at all. It’s possible to do, yes, but then it’s not cost effective for the company if they need to run a MMO caliber backend for games that do not provide a constant stream of revenue from the users. Not to mention lag would gimp the experience and make it a far worse and less likely to sell game. Therefor, AC2 will be pirated just like pretty much any game. There’s a reason few online games are action titles like you get in single player and instead we mostly just get FPS or MMORPGs with few action elements.

Perhaps when bandwidth speeds are far beyond what we currently have, such solutions will be more plausible without gimping the game design (I think among the only current games that achieved that are Phantasy Star Online and Monster Hunter - neither has the complexity of a modern single player title like AC in terms of AI, interactions and whatever the experience includes, while they tend to restrict the action in small areas (especially Monster Hunter which has more complex actions in combat).

Think of it as similar to Steam’s authentication, except far more draconian since instead of continuing to function when you disconnect, it actually closes the game, without even letting you save or anything. Of course you won’t have an offline mode to play either.

Al3xand3r, it remains to be seen how they implemented the DRM, I’d expect it to be a little more complex than a simple online authentication. That question will probably be answered soon enough though.

You’re assuming that publishers actually think that. Publishers are very aware of the fact that downloads > lost sales. But the fact of the matter is that as long as lost sales > 0, it’s a problem.

Alex: Your argument is completely speculation. Publishers will cite piracy as one reason for a game’s failure, but all realize that it is a combination of many factors (except on the PSP, where the biggest problem is piracy, hands down - you know something is wrong when hardware sales are steady, but software sales have drastically reduced, despite having AAA games). Your argument, however, implies that publishers do not have a right to protect their products, and that doing so is laughable because there is nothing wrong with pirating. I agree that Ubisoft is going overboard, but turning to piracy is a decision made by the consumer, not the publisher. And by doing so, the consumer takes part in the circular argument.

The only way to stop the cycle is for people to simply stop buying/downloading games that they either do not agree with or cannot afford.

That will never happen because “bad” people will always exist (just as thieves exist everywhere but I’m not treated like scum when I enter a super market, sure I may pass some kind of detectors at the door, but that doesn’t affect me like anti piracy solutions affect me if I purchase the games - if some super market started doing full body searches on anyone entering and exiting I certainly wouldn’t buy things from there anymore, even though after purchase the product would still be unaffected and fully functional to expectations, unlike software), so unless they find a way to provide flawless anti piracy, which they constantly fail to do, then the only way to make better profit is to stop screwing over the customers, and when the profits increase then that piracy > 0 will not appear as huge of an issue as before, and they can always work on better and more effective solutions that don’t screw over customers in the mean time.

PSP has AAA games that flop? News to me. Outside stuff like Monster Hunter in Japan which sells like hot cakes (again leading to my previous point, if one game can sell so good on PSP on PC or anywhere then the others are doing something wrong which makes people not find their products worthy enough of purchase - don’t try to compete with piracy, unless you’re 100% sure you got it 100% flawless this time, otherwse it always has the advantage - try to compete with those that managed to convince people to purchase their product instead, despite the fact they could pirate it), what AAA does it even have? The shoddy portable versions of things like Assassin’s Creed and Dante’s Inferno? Those are most definitely not AAA. Even games that should and could have been AAA like Gran Turismo and Soul Calibur ultimately fall short of expectations.

The few AAA games on PSP seem to sell rather good in their intended markets. The rest developers should try to make their products as worthy as those perhaps?

Aren’t new PSP systems uncrackable? I haven’t followed through homebrew on PSP in recent years but back then it seemed impossible to downgrade after a certain firmware version, which was then bypassed with those pandora batteries, which isn’t exactly easy for everyone to get (doesn’t the process need more than one PSP), and then weren’t even compatible with newer PSP models, so all the new hardware sales should in theory result in software sales, if said software is valuable.

In any case, the issue on PSP should be no larger than on other systems with the exception of the PS3 which as of yet is secure (but possibly not for much longer going by what I read) unless the PSP owners have more reasons to pirate the games than to purchase them, which leads to publisher/developer faults again. Eliminating piracy wouldn’t necessarily mean sales would increase if the software didn’t improve enough to be considered worthy of the asking price.

I never argued piracy is ok or that they shouldn’t try to protect their products, you must have read someone else’s posts. If however they fail to protect it and on top of that screw over paying customers then they’re doing something wrong, that they shouldn’t have done. Even if it does work, but screws over the paying customer, they’re once again bound to lose profit. How much is lost will be immeasurable (much like piracy, but with even less data to go off of) but it will certainly be >0. So, what’s the point of doing a trade? And what’s the point of doing these moves when it’s not even a trade, and they end up losing sales both to piracy > 0 and to pissed off would-be customers > 0?

Piracy so far has won, and will keep winning until they invest time and money in GOOD protection rather than knee jerk reaction solutions like this new Ubisoft crap. Because of that they should focus on eliminating lost sales from the paying customers by actually pleasing them, and only work on anti piracy in the background, releasing it when the solution is finally actually efficient in both stopping piracy and not messing with customers. Much like the PS3 (by the way, PS3 software sales aren’t higher than 360 software sales even though it’s possible to pirate games on 360, how peculiar).