New Ubisoft Games Must Always Be Online

By John Walker on January 27th, 2010 at 1:09 am.

Ubisoft are watching you, always.

Why not? Everyone loves it when our crazy comments page numbers thing kicks in. Ubisoft have taken their senses and posted them into outer space. Responding to the public outcry for more draconian, inconveniencing copyright management, they have replaced Starforce and announced their new PC-only DRM system. One that requires you be permanently online in order to be able to play.

The attempt to sell this new system begins with what it doesn’t do. There’s no CD check, and there’s no installation limits. A good start. And then, GameSpy reports enthusiastically, it will support cloud saving. Well, I love cloud saving – it’s something Valve promised ages ago (although with sadly little movement since). When I choose to use it. Which with this DRM, the current reports suggest, you cannot.

The price we pay for not requiring the CD in the drive, and for being able to install a game we’ve legally bought on as many machines as we want, is to be permanently online when playing Ubi games. It will authenticate itself online each time you load it, and then save remotely every time you save. This is, to stress, a game perhaps bought in a shop. So from now on, beginning with Settlers 7, potentially all Ubi PC games will require you to check in with them to let them know you’ve started playing their game, and then tell them every time you save, send them all the data in doing so, and then say bye-bye when you’re done playing for that day.

Shack News received some clarifying information from Ubisoft. They explain that they will apply patches should they ever remove the servers behind the games. They also explain that if your connection drops while playing, the game will pause while it tries to reconnect, and then will apparently allow you to carry on without the internet. They don’t say whether it will be impossible to save if you do, however. They also say in the same notes that, “you will need to have an active Internet connection to play the game, for all game modes.” So this is a little unclear.

This seems like such a bizarre, bewildering backward step. Of course we haven’t experienced it yet, but based on Ubi’s own description of the system so many concerns arise. Yes, certainly, most people have the internet all the time on their PCs. But not all people. So already a percentage of the audience is lost. Then comes those who own gaming laptops, who now will not be able to play games on trains, buses, in the park, or anywhere they may not be able to find a wifi connection (something that’s rarely free in the UK, of course – fancy paying the £10/hour in the airport to play your Ubisoft game?). Then there’s the day your internet is down, and the engineers can’t come out to fix it until tomorrow. No game for you. Or any of the dozens of other situations when the internet is not available to a player.

But further, there are people who do not wish to let a publisher know their private gaming habits. People who do not wish to report in to a company they’ve no affiliation with, nor accountability to, whenever they play a game they’ve legally bought. People who don’t want their save data stored remotely. This new system renders all customers beholden to Ubisoft in perpetuity whenever they buy their games.

Clearly publishers are terrified by piracy. While none of the major publishers has ever produced any evidence to support the claims that piracy decreases their sales, they clearly think it does, and are trying to do anything they can to prevent it. Their ultimate goal – to make more money from sales – is in our favour too, of course. We want more PC games, and we want them now. So if publishers aren’t willing to invest in the medium because of piracy fears, we’ll lose out in a big way. But sadly these peculiar, Big Brother-esque approaches do not seem close to the right way to go about it.

Perhaps Ubi will react to public outcry. Perhaps a more sensible version can be created, one that offers an offline mode for those who play games offline, as with Steam. A solution that’s designed to make games accessible to those who legally purchase them. I really hope so.

Update: Just noticed two other things.

Firstly, this new DRM also prevents the option to resell your game. There are implications here.

Secondly, this rather remarkable wording in the FAQ:

Why is Ubisoft forcing their loyal customers to sign up for a Ubisoft account when they don’t want to give their private data and only play single player games?

We hope that customers will feel as we do, that signing up for an account will offer them exceptional gameplay and services that are not available otherwise.

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428 Comments »

  1. Meat Circus says:

    This will NEVER happen.

    I can only assume somebody accidentally got crack in Ubi’s boardroom mineral water.

    • Blather Blob says:

      Ubisoft confirm it all, and a version of the client already ships with the The Settlers 7 beta.

      Why is Ubisoft forcing their loyal customers to sign up for a Ubisoft account when they don’t want to give their private data and only play single player games?
      We hope that customers will feel as we do, that signing up for an account will offer them exceptional gameplay and services that are not available otherwise.

    • Aftershock says:

      Man, the wording of that FAQ seems to indicate they KNOW it’ll piss people off. I was previously holding onto the belief that they were stupid rather than evil.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Heh, like Modern Warfare 2 not having dedicated servers? Do not underestimate the lure of the Dark Side (and bad decisions).

      Give me a CD, I say. Make me register online (once!), I can handle that. But this? This is not going to fly.

  2. Yougiedeggs says:

    It’s okay Ubisoft. I don’t have to like you or even acknowledge you exist anymore. Me and my laptop will be fine without you.
    *goes to play Dwarf Fortress*

  3. Psychopomp says:

    So, lock out everyone stuck with unreliable internet (Me), shitty internet (A good chunk of the world) in addition to anyone with no internet (The large majority of the world)

    Good business move.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      I think most peoples internet routinely goes down like a three dollar whore.

      Ubisoft suck. While EA are evil, when they tried to take over Ubisoft, I actually wanted EA to do so as Ubisoft are worse than EA.

      Let’s not forget, based on their usage of Starforce and how they behaved then, that if you have issues with this new DRM and go to their forums Ubi’s own staff will label you a pirate and ban your account so you can’t complain anymore.

  4. pkt-zer0 says:

    This is stupid. Really bloody stupid.

    I can’t even begin to imagine why and how they think this is going to a) decrease piracy and/or b) increase sales.

  5. LewieP says:

    At least it will will automatically track your Ubicheivements.

    Edit: They really are the Tesco Value version of Activision.

  6. Hunam says:

    You pretty much said everything there is to say on this really Walker. It’s basically insanity.

    I’m more concerned how we as a world haven’t entirely killed each other yet when idea’s such as this are presented to the mass public as good ideas. Did everyone in that office give each other a pat on the back and a big sigh of relief because they saved PC gaming with this? I can just about tolerate steam for fucks sake. But as the years go buy and my games list on steam is nearing a 100 I know that’s a ton of games that I can only play as they provide it and I am stuck with, till the end of the world or their service… and that’s the current good guy. That’s who we currently root for.

    You buys the games, you put’s your cd keys in thens you plays the games. Maybe I should hate CD keys too. But I don’t. Except ones that you register and lumber you with a physical product you can not shift. I liked Wolfenstein 2009. You had to register that key to play online yes, but you could un-register it.

    Angry rant get.

    • Phinor says:

      Was just about to post that everything that needed to be said was already said by Walker, but I’ll reply to your post anyway. Reply to say that yes, it is insanity and I for one can not understand how someone could come up with this idea. That is, until I read replies in another forum where around five people were cheering for this new technology and couldn’t find anything wrong with it. Sigh..

      I’ll just add this: I have save game files from late 80s all the way to 2010. Maybe I don’t use those 15-20 year old files that often but goddamnit, I still have them. There are few games and gametypes that I can accept remote saving such as MMOs and multiplayer parts of games but extending that to EVERY game? Needless to say I won’t be buying those titles. Luckily Ubisoft has not released anything good in years with the exception of AC and I wonder, maybe AC2 already has this system in place. If so, the franchise is good as dead to me. But have to wait and see about that..

    • Hunam says:

      Hehe, I’m the same! I still have my BG1 save lying around somewhere all I’l defend it with my life if need be!

  7. Vandelay says:

    This is an insane idea. I’ve always thought that a one off authentication process was a perfectly acceptable form of DRM (in the manner that Steam does it, rather than the evil limited activations many other companies use.) But to require the internet every single time you want to play your game is ludicrous. There are far too many variables that could occur. This is particularly crazy on a game such as Settlers, which I can imagine would have numerous people wanting to play it on a laptop, where an internet connection may not always be feasible.

  8. Calabi says:

    Thats dedication for you, late night posting so theres no delay in the masses rage, and I am enraged.:-&

    edit: I bet theres going to be a ton of problems with this, overloaded servers, people losing save, saves being hacked, stuttering slow games, you name it there’ll be a problem about it.

  9. Travan says:

    This just seems too ridiculous to be real. Maybe its a ruse, so when they surrender to the public outcry, like EA did, they can look totally reasonable with their only-slightly-less-bonkers DRM.

  10. malkav11 says:

    Wow. Just…wow.

    I’m trying to remember if Ubi makes anything I care about buying in future. Because until they stop this madness, I’m going to have to skip those games. :P

    • LewieP says:

      List of Ubisoft games on the horizon for PC:

      Assassin’s Creed II
      Splinter Cell Conviction
      R.U.S.E.
      Silent Hunter 5
      The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom
      Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands
      TrackMania 2
      Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
      I Am Alive
      Driver reboot.

      Beyond Good & Evil 2 maybe I suppose.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      The Anno 1404 expansion may-or-may-not be missing from the list.

      D:

    • LewieP says:

      Whoops, I did meant to include it, I did a search to check if it was an expansion or DLC, and then I guess forgot.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      That’s so depressing. The first Trackmania was saddled with Starforce which meant I had to avoid it, and even when they initially put it on Steam it STILL came with it. They eventually removed it and bought the game.

      Was looking forward to Trackmania 2 but now this… Jesus christ Ubi, it’s clear you don’t WANT people to buy your games.

      So what are you going to blame shitty sales on now? Since you clearly can’t blame piracy now.

    • Vinraith says:

      @pkt-zer0

      Crap, I forgot about the Anno 1404 expansion. I was waiting for that one, too. If it’s saddled with this I can’t buy it, so that’s one more much-anticipated pre-order down the drain.

    • malkav11 says:

      I was looking forward to Assassin’s Creed II for PC, but I suppose if they’ve saddled it with this bullshit I’ll just snag the 360 version sometime down the road. Probably used.

      Other than that (maaaaybe RUSE), I’m good. So, yeah, I guess I can boycott them without too heavy a heart.

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      Damn I was really looking forward to RUSE and SH5.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Strangely enough I do not want any of the games they will be making.

      Yet another boycott to stick to.

  11. Paul_M says:

    Won’t someone just crack the hell out of their stuff anyway and thus make a far more convenient version of the game available illegally?

    • zzzzzzzzz says:

      Exactly thats what made me giggle about his whole affair. 8)

      But then,theres the 2nd hand sales
      Which KILL PC GAMING ….

      (too)…

      So i guess it makes sense as an profitoptimizing Experiment.
      And if it doesnt work out.Customers wont remember.After all…
      these are guys still playing games.

    • solipsistnation says:

      The problem with just cracking it and thus removing the need to, say, be logged in all the time is that if you’re saving your game to the ubisoft servers, the crackers would need to write their own game-saving system. I wouldn’t hold my breath for that.

    • terry says:

      Ding ding! It’s a deterrent to piracy, not a barrier. I’m pretty sure most cracking groups would look on DRM like this as a challenge if nothing else. After all, if they can bamboozle Valve games into thinking they’re on Steam when they ain’t, I’m pretty sure they could jury-rig a local savegame system.

      Anyway, I take a very dim view of all these shenanigans and it’s killed my interest in TS7, the anno expansion and whatnot. Good job, Ubi.

    • Azradesh says:

      @ solipsistnation
      Most likely they’ll just emulate the server locally, then no major changes need to be made.

  12. Javaguy says:

    I was just thinking the other day how nice it’d be to play Silent Hunter 5, since the previous ones I missed due to Starforce.

    siiiigh.

  13. A-Scale says:

    That’s fine, I’ll just pirate it and play it without any such limitations. Really, every increasingly draconian DRM strategy just pushes me farther into the pirate camp. Pay and be inconvenienced or download for free without limitation.

    • Hunam says:

      Thanks for being part of the problem

      EDIT: I felt this was too aggressive as it was. I mean by doing what you are doing you are not actually doing anything to solve this problem. You are not communicating to them that you are dissatisfied with their product as it is. I know as much as the next guy how hard it is to let a game slip by you have to play (seriously, I love games far too much) but even just not buying the game doesn’t solve to problem. I think it’s best if everyone just sends a polite but stern e-mail when they choose to not to buy a game about why that is, lest they blame the game rather than their terrible ideas.

    • castle says:

      well, one good thing can be said for those planning to steal these games: when a large number of people inevitably pirate them, ubisoft will have to confront the fact that these customer-alienating measures don’t actually help them combat piracy. and then they’ll presumably do away with them, ala EA.

      as for me, they don’t have anything coming out that i’d call a must-play (though i would’ve liked to have a go at AC2), so i guess i’ll just be abstaining from ubisoft for a while…

      also, is steam gonna be OK with distributing this? or is ubisoft gonna be out revenue there too?

    • A-Scale says:

      I’m not going to bother with a writing campaign unless I think the company regularly puts out good PC content. I don’t think Ubisoft does. I think a lot of what they put out is garbage. If it was Valve I might feel differently.

      They can either catch on, or they can stop producing for the PC. Outside of AC2 (which I’m somewhat interested in) I don’t much care either way.

      Also, I don’t think a writing campaign can be considered being “part of the solution” unless there is proof that games companies actually care about them. Do you see any such evidence?

    • Hunam says:

      Well I wrote to 2K about my disappointment of them rebranding Irrational 2 years ago. That’s the best I got :)

      You could be right or it could be exceptionally understandable cynicism, but I like to think that people read this stuff. It only takes about 15 minutes to do so though so it’s not a massive burden on your time.

  14. Jugglenaut says:

    Well, looks like they lost a sale on Assassin’s Creed 2 if they go through with this. And I was looking forward to that game so much.

  15. Dean says:

    Should be interesting though. If it works, it should effectively make Settlers 7 un-piratable. Now Settlers is a pretty niche game that has a fairly specific audience. So we’ll be able to compare the sales figures of Settlers 6 and Settlers 7 and see exactly how many sales are lost to piracy. Theoretically, based on some peoples arguments, it should sell around ten times more than Settlers 6.

    I wouldn’t mind a system like this, actually. If it were done sensibly and fairly. It’s better than having to faff around with having CDs in the drive (I don’t know about anyone else, but with USB sticks, all my CD drive ever does is rip albums and act as a really weird dongle for copy protection on games).

    But that means three things:
    1) A holiday mode, so the game can be set up to run without checking in for two weeks.
    2) The ability to do occasional local saves should a net connection die when playing, and
    3) [and what we'll never get] the ability to revoke an entire registration, so the game can be sold on

    • Psychopomp says:

      “Should be interesting though. If it works, it should effectively make Settlers 7 un-piratable.”

      You hear that? That’s the sound of my laughter.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Dean

      Un-piratable? I’ve quite literally never seen a DRM scheme that is BETTER motivation for piracy. Pirates get local saves, pirates can play their game offline, pirates don’t randomly lose access to their game or their ability to save. Indeed, the pirated version of any Ubi game is going to become the premier edition, even people that have legally bought the game would be a fool to play an uncracked version.

      I dislike piracy. Piracy is to some degree what drives these insane decisions in the first place, piracy means losing your ability to motivate developers and publishers to make the kind of games you like, and piracy means never being entirely sure your game is going to work properly. I don’t pirate games, I find it impossible to invest myself in a game I haven’t acquired legitimately, but things like this almost seem designed to push me towards it. That can’t be the desired effect, I dearly hope they come to their senses.

    • El Stevo says:

      The lack of any offline save functionality will present a hurdle for cracks.

    • El Stevo says:

      I just read the Q&A, and noticed saves will be stored locally as well as online.

  16. Vinraith says:

    I’ve largely said my piece in the forums on this one, so I’ll summarize: There’s no way I can, in good conscience, pay money for a game using this psychotic DRM scheme. I’ll randomly lose access to my game, I’ll randomly be unable to save, there’s simply no value in a game tied to a mechanism of this sort. This is extremely disappointing, as I was looking forward to both Silent Hunter 5 and Assassin’s Creed 2, but if this system is implemented I’ll be forced to skip them until Ubi comes to their senses.

    • Psychopomp says:

      To add further insult, Asscreed 2 will be 60$ on the pc.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Psychopomp

      At $50 MSRP with a normal disc check I’d have pre-ordered it in a heartbeat. As it stands I’m worried I’ll never get to play it at all. The same goes for Silent Hunter 5. Those were two of my biggest items for the year, and they scragged them both in one lousy announcement.

      Time to go buy Mass Effect 2, I guess. What kind of fucked up world is it when EA is the one treating us with a modicum of respect?

  17. Grigo says:

    Oh fuck that, I’ll just pirate their games from now on and save myself the hassle.

  18. Hunam says:

    Actually, thinking about it, doesn’t Dragon Age do something similar if you so much as think about putting DLC in your game? It tells me off for trying to open my savegame because I have x item that is DLC and MUST be logged into bioware online when ever using this save?

    • Psychopomp says:

      You have to log in. After that, you can get DC’d at any time and keep playing with no problems.

    • Hunam says:

      It’s still pretty rotten though. Specially as if my net was to go down the first thing I’d think of doing to pass the time would be to boot up dragon age :|

    • Psychopomp says:

      Eh, I don’t see it as any worse than Steam. They’ve got every right to try and protect their shit, and a simple log-in is more than reasonable. It is a little silly that working around it only requires changing a 0 to 1 in an .ini file, though.

    • Hunam says:

      You can log on to steam whilst offline and play all your games though, you don’t need to be online at all to launch a game with steam (I assume though you have to be online on first launch)

    • El Stevo says:

      You have to be online to turn on Steam’s offline mode. So if you lose your connection unexpectedly you’re fucked.

    • Urthman says:

      IMPORTANT NEWS FLASH ABOUT STEAM!

      This used to be the case, but I think they must have changed things. Yesterday when challenged on this point in another forum, I unplugged my internet and tried running a Steam game (without having previously received permission to use offline mode). Steam tried to connect, failed, gave me the option to use offline mode, and ran my game.

    • StarDrowned says:

      Dragon Age and every single piece of DLC is easily piratable.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Urthman

      Yup, sometimes it does that and works the way it should. Other times it gets stuck endlessly at “updating” or tries to make you log in with no ability to authenticate you (and thus hangs endlessly on that). It’s fairly random.

    • pepper says:

      Restart the computer to fix that, or you could try and terminate any process steam might see as a connection.

    • Vinraith says:

      @pepper

      Actually I’ve never had a reboot fix that problem, all that ever seems to work is deleting clientregistry.blob, connecting to Steam’s servers, and getting a fresh .blob file. Of course, to do that you have to have a functional internet account, so it’s something of a Catch-22.

  19. Flameberge says:

    Heh. Can you imagine all the suits coming out of that meeting, and telling the PR guys to release this news? Poor PR people. Can just see them now: “Ohhhhhh shiiiii….”.

    As ridiculous as this is… the response to deal with this is not “OMGZ AM GUNNAS PIRATE UBI GAMEZ LIEK FOREVA”. Because then you are just as much at fault as Ubi, in creating a perpetual cycle of draconian DRM and declining PC game sales that will, and is, slowly strangling the non-MMO PC games industry. Boycotts and consumer pressure are clearly a much better idea, aside that gamers are notoriously useless at following through on either, as we all seem to want our cake and eat it as well. Sorry guys, just a bit of a reality check. I’m sure a significant number of people posting on this comment thread have pirated something, so being morally outraged is not neccessarily justified.

    • Frosty says:

      @Flameberge

      Good points, although is it still the same if you buy a legit copy then pirate it to avoid this ridiculous system?

      I should think that a boycott actually might hold together for this one.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Flamberge

      I’m actually slowly coming to the conclusion that people that buy things with DRM of this sort are just as culpable for these god-awful DRM contrivances as the pirates are. Pirates motivate this crap, but people that buy games with intrusive DRM finance it. If people won’t pay for games with a given DRM scheme, publishers will stop using it.

    • Blue says:

      I have to wonder if people really did realize that saying “fuck those guys, I’ma pirate it!” is like saying “fucking store, charging this much for a cough! I’m just gonna steal it!” I think “pirate” is a sweet little way to tart up what is still, really – and let’s be honest – stealing. Either shit is worth your money or it’s not. In the immortal words of Wil Wheaton – don’t be a dick.

      That being said – this move is staggeringly, shockingly foolish on Ubisoft’s part. I can imagine the /headdesking and /facepalming that is happening with developers with upcoming Ubi products. Is some dark internal force the one programming these requirements, or are they making the dev studios insert this damning code? I hear the starting gun of the usual programming arms race – the hackers are wiggling their fingers with determination, ready to manufacture the crack that unravels this.

      Alas. Nobody really wins. The best we expect is that some will just be doing the same thing that they always have.

    • Blue says:

      (Er… “cough” = “couch.” Herp derp.)

    • StarDrowned says:

      @ Blue There’s at least one VERY major difference.

      When stealing a couch, (other than the obvious physical difficulties) you are taking the couch, leaving an empty spot, and the store no longer can sell said couch. Not only can they not profit off the couch, they just lost money. That couch didn’t come from thin air, they had to buy/make it. This fucks them over pretty bad.

      Now compare that to downloading a game off the internet. That file doesn’t disappear. The physical copies of the game don’t disappear off the shelf. Morally, maybe this isn’t too different. Logically, though, these are very different things. I don’t think the laws applying to them are the same either, but I’m no lawyer.

      There’s also the common thought that if someone pirated a game, there’s a chance they never would have bought the game anyways.

      Not to mention I can click a few times, then wait a few hours to steal the game, whereas stealing a couch is going to be a bitch.

    • StarDrowned says:

      Dammit, messed up my italics code yet again… From now on, I’m sticking to caps for emphasis.

    • Brer says:

      Flamberge, you -do- realize that every single person in the world who visits and reads a video game news website or forum regularly could boycott Ubisoft and they wouldn’t notice, especially with regards to the big titles like Splinter Cell and Assassin’s creed?

    • bill says:

      @Frosty.

      While buying a DRM’d game and then pirating it might be on better moral ground, it’s probably worse for gamers in the long run.

      Not only are you supporting the DRM, you’re boosting the piracy numbers and making them add more and more draconian DRM.

      Problem is, there’s no clear solution. Boycotts and petitions are ignored and don’t work. Not buying DRM’d games just kills PC gaming and innovative games faster. Pirating them kills them too.
      Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Double damned if you do both?

    • Flameberge says:

      @ Brer
      I do of course realise this. But that is not an excuse to steal something. If gamers want to change something, we need to get our asses of our seats of perpetually lazy rage and do something about it. A boycott is a good idea, and they can work. It’s just, as I have said, gamers are often too busy (ironically) doing what we are doing and complaining in comment threads or will not follow through on the boycott. Advertise your boycott, have discussions about it with other gamers, write to the gaming press and websites, get it publicised. Don’t just sit and go “right then, guess I’ll just go steal these products”. In the long run whichever way you want to morally quanitfy this or morally justify that illegal download, there is only one outcome – less and less PC games being developed and published, which is bad for everyone; us the consumers and the big bad evil corporations.

  20. Beastman says:

    “They explain that they will apply patches should they ever remove the servers behind the games.”

    So in other words, piracy will easily enable these games to work offline, thus once again giving pirates a better overall experience than legitimate costumers. Thanks for at least removing any slight twinge of regret I would have had from clicking the “Download Torrent” button, Ubisoft.

  21. Blather Blob says:

    I just tried this last night, when Fileplanet opened up their The Settlers 7 beta sign-ups to non-subscribers. Using that beta requires logging into an Ubisoft Game Launcher before being allowed to launch the game, complete with entering your cd key which “will be permanently attached to your account”. It was obviously too slick and generic to be meant just for controlling access to a beta, and I was wondering what they were planning to do with it.

    I notice they don’t actually mention the ability to redownload a game, just that you’re (still) allowed to install it on any computer you use. I also think when they say there’s no background applications they mean after you’ve quit the Ubisoft Game Launcher. So it would run in the background while you’re playing, but there’s no long term Windows Services running or anything.

    I assume this is aimed more at stopping used games or loans to friends than commercial piracy. I doubt creating a centralized application in charge of game authentication makes piracy harder. I’d assume it’s actually easier, since once you crack the Ubisoft Game Launcher, you’ve got zero day cracks for everything Ubisoft releases.

    • John Walker says:

      You’re quite right – they word it very poorly. They mean there’s no services running outside of the game. I’ve removed that paragraph to remove all ambiguity.

  22. bhlaab says:

    We hope that customers will feel as we do, that signing up for an account will offer them exceptional gameplay and services that are not available otherwise.

    Um, except that they ARE? From EVERY OTHER publisher?

  23. HermitUK says:

    Publishers need a reality check. If people can break the protection on the PS3, a machine designed to be as difficult to crack as possible using both hardware and software safeguards, then your DRM system stands no chance. But by all means continue pissing off your paying player base. That’ll work wonders.

    • bhlaab says:

      The only problem with cracking the system is the forced cloud saving.

      Of course, the forced cloud saving is also destined to cause a billion other problems with authentic purchasers.

    • user@example.com says:

      They say that they can enable offline-only saves with a patch, if necessary, so pirates will have it done pretty quickly.

  24. autogunner says:

    thats pretty bad, id be angry if I had time these days to do anything apart from revise and go on rps

  25. Frosty says:

    First reaction: It’s just some big joke.

    Second stage: Oh god, it’s really true. Are they all this stupid?

    Third stage: Eh. Who cares. There are no Ubi games upcoming (at the moment) that I care for.

    Fourth stage: But it’s the principal of the thing and it’s SWEARING ridiculous.

    Fifth stage: Beyond Good and Evil 2 is a Ubi game. ****ing ********s!

    I mean, honestly. You want to stop piracy? Whatever. Your choice. Some think it’s worthless, others think it’s worth a try. But you use some common sense!

    I’m not sure who is in charge of this, or the ridiculous FAQs but they need to have a good look over this to see what they’ve done wrong.

    • PleasingFungus says:

      Don’t worry. It’s okay. Beyond Good and Evil 2 will very likely never come out!

      Now doesn’t that make you feel better?

  26. Gabanski83 says:

    Well, to be fair, there aren’t that many amazing Ubisoft games I can think of that I’m looking forward to; possibly SH5, and that’s it. Or maybe Beyond Good & Evil 2, if it ever ever comes to PC. This won’t worry me too much, Ubisoft very rarely get any of my money these days.

    Best way for me to show I don’t like these heavy handed methods is to just not buy any of their products.

  27. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    Hahaa!!! FUCK!
    Are they serious? They cant be serious!
    I mean I NEVER get all huffy about copyprotection stuff – even when I should – but that announcement essentially made me go “Ah well. Shame. Hope no Ubisoft games I would have wanted come out because I wont be playing them.” (well after the bit I typed above where I DIDNT ACTUALLY BELIEVE IT, due to the stupidity).

    Actually I welcome this new announcement! I’ve been spending way too much money on buying games lately.

  28. jti says:

    Won’t be buying their games after this. And I have to mention that the pirated versions won’t probably have to deal with any of that s**t. Just saying.

  29. tim says:

    I can just imagine someone getting upset over Ubisoft making you activate your game each time you want to play online because its a TERRIBLE THING and then going to go play a game on Steam right afterwards. Whats the difference, other than Steam is a much broader service then this seems to be? Steam ties your games to itself, require you to sign in online to start playing a game, and often the games you buy on Steam still contain the DRM you’d get on a retail version.

    Ubisoft’s thing here just seems to be a barebones Steam-styled DRM policy, probably with worse customer service. I wonder if its just because this is Ubisoft – had it been Valve, making you activate online everytime you want to play Half Life 2 OH WAIT NEVERMIND….

    • Vinraith says:

      @tim

      I don’t like Steam, but this is much worse than Steam. Steam has an offline mode, and while it’s frustratingly inconsistent at least it works if you set it in advance. More importantly though, Steam doesn’t seize control of your save games, prevent you from keeping copies of them, and store them offsite. Steam games don’t suddenly lose the ability to save your game if you’re offline. . That’s a total deal-breaker.

  30. Hunam says:

    It’s the same with films though. You steal a flim you get exactly what you want. You give them some pound sterling and you get 2 minutes of unskippable text, 3 annoying adverts for films you don’t care about and the worst ever thing where it makes a song and dance about not stealing films.

    It’s a stupid fucking world and the reason I don’t really care about films so much anymore.

  31. Vinraith says:

    Has anyone got a good email address to write to on this one? Ubi needs to be absolutely flooded with complaints about this. An offline mode and local, unencrypted (ie not account-tied like GfWL) save files are absolutely vital, even if we have to put up with the rest of it.

    • Stijn says:

      I think actual letters (you know, paper and ink) might carry more weight

    • Vinraith says:

      @Stijn

      Good point. I note that Ubi’s corporate website http://www.ubisoftgroup.com/ is (suspiciously?) down at the moment, so can’t seem to find an address. Anyone have one?

    • Blather Blob says:

      @Stijn: So you’ll claim you own a PC, but you’ll do it in a handwritten letter delivered by the postal service. Wouldn’t that be sending mixed messages? :P

    • Jad says:

      @Blather Blob

      Well, he could be a PC gamer with such a poor internet connection that he can’t send an email or play Ubisoft games =)

    • Stijn says:

      Frankly, it would nowadays be more outrageous to claim you don’t have a PC.

  32. Ubiquitous says:

    Okay, firstly. Ubisoft’s DRM – what the fuck.
    I can’t stand GFWL as it is, because of needing to be logged in so that it will save my games, and how much the thing complains about it. I want to be able to hit save and for the game to save, not for my internet connection, which can be spurious at times, to hinder the activity.

    Secondly, that T&A Rappelz banner ad – what the fuck.

    Thirdly, I don’t know, I just like having three points.

  33. Caiman says:

    Given the massive amount of money they could potentially lose from this move, they must seriously consider piracy to be world-ending if this is the better of the two options.

    While I haven’t bought a Ubisoft game for perhaps four years, if this sets a precedent it would be the nail in the coffin of the AAA PC gaming industry. It may be that the fear of piracy is worse than piracy itself.

  34. theleif says:

    It would be interesting if you could get hold of someone at UBI that could explain how something like this came to seem like a good decision .
    What was the decision path? Did it come from outside consultants? Was it Marketing? Who actually at the company decided this was the way to go, and why?

    Also: If i bought one of their games through Impulse, Gamersgate or Steam (or any other digital distributor), will i still need to check in?

  35. bookwormat says:

    @John Walker:

    I’m sure games journalists prefer to write about cool games and new ideas in game design instead of boring digital rights management systems.

    Thank you very much for doing this anyway. We need this.

    • Vinraith says:

      @bookwormat

      Well said, and a point worth making.

      Thank you RPS, the only way anyone can fight this kind of idiocy is if people are aware of it, and you’ve consistently been very good at providing honest and fair information about DRM issues.

    • Frosty says:

      @RPS

      I further this motion of intelligent reporting and wish to compliment you on the lack of bias you seem to show. You approach it carefully and intellectually whilst most of us get angry and worked up and thus stop thinking (although I’m sure you guys get angry too.)

  36. Enshu says:

    “While none of the major publishers has ever produced any evidence to support the claims that piracy decreases their sales”.

    Indeed. They could at least try to come up with some figures and diagrams and demonstrate them as an excuse while introducing this amazing DRM.

  37. poop says:

    what a shame we will miss out on upcoming ubisoft classics like

  38. DarkFenix says:

    It’s a shame, but Ubisoft don’t publish any series I consider unmissably good, making it a silly move because I’ll have no hesitation in avoiding all their games.

  39. Mista Freeplay says:

    I don’t know about this.

    I have boardband and my network is always on so for the most part I wouldn’t have much problem with always being online while I play a game.

    But in these though economical times I can see people having to cut back and not going with broadband and my not be able to be online all the time or at all and it would suck to have a cd of a game you legally bought but can’t play

    • Polysynchronicity says:

      My “always-on” broadband drops out at least once an hour for 15 seconds. It’s not a big hassle when I’m not playing a multiplayer game, but having my singleplayer game pause and reconnect whenever that happens would make me rage very hard. More so if it happened while I was saving and possibly corrupted the save.

      God forbid I try to play over some of the wireless networks around here, which are even worse.

  40. Warren says:

    Ubi : WTF

    Maybe it would be cheaper for them to just print and slap some stickers on their games saying “PC gamers we hate you”

  41. Tunips says:

    My usual method for dealing with this sort of stupid on games I would otherwise enjoy is purchase the game openly and honestly (albeit from India or Thailand or Cheapland or such) and place it unopened and unsullied on my shelf of shiny game boxes (I pine for the days of big cardboard boxes – my collection is growing ever more asymmetric), and then merrily play a fully functional pirated copy. Morals: Satisfied. Enjoyment: Satisfied.

  42. Draken says:

    Didn’t Company of Heroes sport a similar system? As far as I remember, you couldn’t play a skirmish against the computer or even see what’s the main menu like before login on and downloading all the patches. When I found out there is about 3GB worth of patches for CoH, I gave up the title, even though RTS is my favorite genre and CoH being one of the most critically acclaimed.

    • Blather Blob says:

      COH shipped with no online activation/authorization, and no cd check. It was very nice, and continued to be the case up until they released the first expansion, with a 2GB patch for the original (containing all the expansion content for multiplay) which added the Relic Online stuff you’re talking about and a cd check.

      However, unlike Ubisoft’s plan it does have an offline mode, which demonstrates the problems of trying to get multiple DRMs working nicely together when used with Steam’s offline mode.

    • Draken says:

      @Blather Blob: Hum… interesting, didn’t know about that, thanks for the info. I bought the GOTY edition and it already came with the online stuff. I guess I’ll just try to find the original version for sale on ebay. Hopefully it’ll be quite cheap.

  43. Nobody Important says:

    Sweet, another developer I can completely ignore. My wallet likes this DRM shabizzle – it limits my purchasing.

    Well, if Ubisoft doesn’t want my money, they’re free to keep being idiots. I’ll throw my money toward a developer that doesn’t treat me like shit.

  44. Mad Doc MacRae says:

    Now theoretically for those feeling bad about piracy, what’s to stop you from legally buying the game (ideally physically somewhere) and then just installing the pirated version? I’ll admit to somewhat frequently pirating titles so I don’t think I’d bother with actually paying for one of these straightjacketed products (but I bought World of Goo at least twice now so I think I’ve repaid my debt to society).

    • malkav11 says:

      Here’s the thing. Buying a game with this sort of bullshit attached, even if you immediately turn around and actually -play- a cracked version, sends the message that this is okay. After all, you bought the game. It isn’t okay..

  45. Heliocentric says:

    :(

    2010 held 5 ubisoft games i wanted. One of which i planned to buy 2 copies of(conviction). I probably would have spent in excess of £100, now not so much(£0).

    So, on the bright side i’m not gonna be so poor. I’m not pirating these games, but any well reported cracks i’ll be all over like a rash.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Heliocentric

      I’m beginning to think we should be maintaining a “ways to play games you legitimately own without hassle” thread on the forums for cracks. Everything from Steam disablers to GfWL removal and of course whatever comes along to circumvent this crap. What’s a PC gaming forum for if not to help people play PC games, and what’s any of this crap do but stop PC gamers from being able to play their own games?

  46. skalpadda says:

    While the possible Beyond Good and Evil 2 is the only thing on the Ubisoft horizon that really interests me, this is still really worrying, because it feels like much of the industry is moving in this direction, with the things EA are doing with Dragon Age and digital distribution in general.

    I’ll echo others in being curious of whether there’s any actual data on how big of a problem piracy really is for PC games publishers, as well as the second hand market (I don’t think I’ve ever bought a PC game second hand, certainly not in the last 10 years at least). I wonder how the potential extra sales will stack up against those who won’t buy the games because of the DRM along with the costs and effort they’ll undoubtedly have to funnel into customer support and getting it all to work.

  47. StarDrowned says:

    These guys need to take a real look at the piracy community and what they’re capable of. They’ll make fake servers for authentication if need be, but I’m guessing it won’t even come to that. Developers are going to scare off legitimate buyers, and the only people who don’t have to jump through hoops to play the game will be those who didn’t even pay for it.

    Piracy may kill PC gaming, but only because of the ridiculous measures taken to stop it. And we’re screwed now. It’s not like the piracy rate will drop and they’ll change their minds. Even if it did, I doubt they’d slack on the DRM, anyways.

    I really don’t think this will last. They’re going to see a pretty huge backlash, and will (hopefully) give up on this. Otherwise, it’s all downhill from here. If they don’t back down, others may follow, while if this becomes a huge fiasco, it’s unlikely anyone will attempt the same thing.

    Calling it now, pirates will be playing the games before release, and Ubi’s authentication servers won’t even be turned on yet.

  48. Archonsod says:

    Silent Hunter V was pretty much the only game I was looking forwards to so far this year. Looks like that will no longer be the case.

  49. Pijama says:

    I will consider myself excused thanks to these special circumstances to say that Ubisoft can go fuck itself on a fire, bleed profusely while at it and shove a pile of dung down it’s throat, ok?

  50. Hmm says:

    Ubisoft is a company. It has existed for approximately 24 years. If they exist for another 24, how much space would every single save, from every single game, made by every single player, ever, take up? And if their life were to tragically end after 20 years, they would patch every single game in their catalogue to then work without this system.

    Good idea, guys.