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. Dr_Ham says:

    Did anyone else notice the price of the new AC2 game: $59.95 or $64.95 for the digital edition….

    I guess it costs more to not package it?

  2. Stew says:

    In six months or a year, Ubi will pull an Epic and stop making PC games because there’s no profit, and never realise that their own stupidity cost them so much.

  3. Okami says:

    This will of course in no way stop their games from beeing pirated. All they’re doing is provide a bunch of crackers with something to keep them occupied for a day or two…

  4. groovychainsaw says:

    They don’t learn, do they. After many games sales were noticeably damaged (or underperformed, at least) when coupled with annoying DRM (as opposed to less annoying DRM) they go and make it more annoying. They’ll drive me to the consoles for all their games now (fortunately they dont make too many good ones..), at least I can still play those offline, I can’t see MS or Sony allowing a game on those systems with this sort of control over it.

    And of course, driving me to consoles means they#’ll get less sales again on PC, and use it as justification to stop making games for the PC. It just doesn’t make any sense…

    • 9of9 says:

      Wasn’t it Ubisoft that released the last Prince of Persia completely DRM-free as an experiment? Seemed like things were going well for them, but it doesn’t look like the results particularly pleased them.

    • RagingLion says:

      I think you’re right. I remember at the time one of RPS saying it might be to set up the argument later on for abandoning DRM-free games.

  5. trunkh says:

    NBC execs at ubisoft? who’d have guessed.

  6. Krendo says:

    Seconded!

  7. cheal says:

    This actually means I can never again buy a ubisoft game. I don’t currently have internet on my computer in at the moment don’t really wish to get it back, primarily because I spend all my time on forums rather than playing my SINGLEPLAYER games!!!

    meh.

  8. Krendo says:

    Damn reply system!
    “Seconded” above refers to this…

    Urthman says:
    January 27, 2010 at 4:46 am

    At some point, the pirate version of a game is going to be so much better than the original that it qualifies as a derivative work rather than a simple copy, making it morally okay to download and use it.

  9. Dan (WR) says:

    Sigh. No more money for you Ubisoft. I was looking forward to AC2, SC: Conviction and Ruse too, but I may not get them on Xbox either out of general principle.

    Like most people, I don’t pirate games. I buy what I can afford when it’s at a reaonable price. The only thing that will stop me buying a game completely is… well… something like this.

    Stupid, stupid people.

  10. Shadowcat says:

    I absolutely refuse to spend money on this kind of idiocy, which probably means no Beyond Good & Evil 2 for me :( :( God damn moronic DRM.

    Maybe one day it will appear on GOG.com, and I can buy it then.

  11. JB says:

    I was looking forward to AC2 (my nephew has it on his xbox, I guess I’ll borrow his console for a bit), SH5 and RUSE. I won’t be pirating any of them either. So that’s another, what, £100? that Ubi are missing out on this year. Crazy, unless as mentioned above, this is just so when they unveil the ACTUAL (slightly less draconic) DRM measures, we all go “phew! I can live with that”…

  12. Serenegoose says:

    That’s the thing though, isn’t it. For a long time it’s been split down personal ethical grounds, and not availability, as to whether a game will be pirated or not. Most people who pirate games do it because it doesn’t make them feel wrong. Most people who don’t pirate games don’t because it strikes them as an ethically bad choice. So, the people who pirate games -always will- and the people who don’t, won’t. DRM can only work against those who don’t pirate games, by reducing the quality of the service so much so that people re-evaluate their priorities. We all want to play games, and when it becomes downright inconvenient to do so, whilst paying for the privilege… Because the person who pirates games can always just wait for it to be available, and play other games in the meanwhile, barely at all inconvenienced having not spent their money, and not having to deal with annoying DRM at the end of it.

  13. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    I believe this stuff was already included in Assasins Creed (I had the Steam version), last year. Near the end of the game, I got ridiculous lag. When I searched the internet for possible causes, someone suggested it could be because the game was trying to connect to a Ubisoft server. I tried disconnecting from the internet and it helped. That wouldn’t be possible with this new system.

    They could make it even worse. For example:

    - By requiring you to log in, for every connect.
    - By requiring you to fill in your serial key and a captcha every time it connects with the server, to make sure you are the human that owns the cd.
    - By requiring you to fill in a form of 10 pages about your experiences, every time it connects with the server
    - By making you wait when the servers are ‘busy’.
    - By making you watch the same adverts over and over again, while you wait for the validation to clear.

    • Drexer says:

      Yeah, AC1 around the time of the Steam sale(when I bought it) had a problem that you described. Apparently, each time you make a kill it connects to a server; seeing as the server was down, each time you made a kill you had 3 seconds of visual lag.

  14. Heliosicle says:

    nice one ubisoft, I was really looking forward to buying Splinter cell, if I’m going to have a better expirience pirating it, I think I might

  15. Nameykins says:

    Well, looks like I’m not going to buy Ubisoft games anymore, PC or console. I am just sick and tired of having to pay the price for piracy as a normal consumer. And the only way to really voice out my opinion, is simply not buy their products.

  16. Andy says:

    Ubisoft are making games good enough that I’m going to want to buy them regardless of the draconian DRM they put in place. They should not imagine for a second however that I won’t use what ever techniques are inevitably going to be developed by pirates to make my legally purchased game playable when/how/where I choose.
    I’m actually surprised that Ubi are getting away with this approach legally themselves. It does rather seem like a denial of services to paying customers to me.
    This is the rough equivalent of the film industry requiring you to take your newly purchased dvd to the cinema before you can actually watch it.

  17. Tom says:

    Arrrr…matey, fire up those torrents and be done with it.

  18. Serenegoose says:

    Anonymous Coward said:
    Well, looks like I’m not going to buy Ubisoft games anymore, PC or console. I am just sick and tired of having to pay the price for piracy as a normal consumer. And the only way to really voice out my opinion, is simply not buy their products.

    Except not even really. If you don’t buy it, they’ll just say you pirated it, because they can’t prove who did and who didn’t. It’s not like they get sales figures for those who torrent it. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  19. Monkeybreadman says:

    *Pokes head tentavively out of hole*

    As stupid as this is, something needs to be done about piracy. I know at least 5 people that have completed Mass Effect 2 already (living in EU btw). This isnt it however. But what is? Maybe a hardware solution?

    *ducks back in hole*

    • jalf says:

      1: Did those people pirate the game or just buy it from a store that sold it early?
      2: Would they have bought the game if they hadn’t been able to pirate it?

      It doesn’t really matter how many times a game is pirated. What’s important is how many more sales it could’ve gotten if it hadn’t been pirated.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Concerning 2), there’s a large contingent of people who treat torrents as extended demos, myself included. I can’t tell you how many games got have gotten a sale from me, because I went ahead and tried it. Hell, I just plopped down 60$ for Mass Effect 2, a game I had almost zero interest in but decided to try anyway.

      (It’s much better than 1, by the way. MUCH.)

  20. Serenegoose says:

    Kromagg: As far as I’m aware, steam doesn’t stop working if your internet connection dies mid game. It doesn’t rely on their servers being peachy and accessable whenever you want to save it. Steam actually -gives- you something for your trouble, and I’d be perfectly happy with it if only they got off their arse and fixed the offline mode, which is a bit dodgy. Steam does walk very close to the line. Ubi hopped, skipped, and jumped over it.

    • Monchberter says:

      And quite a few non Valve games will allow you to load up a game, then start Steam on another computer, and also load up on another computer, despite Steam quitting on the first computer, but not closing the game.

      Where Steam is effectively just the front end, this isn’t a problem

    • Monchberter says:

      I also remember the days when I could LAN Half-Life Deathmatch with just one copy between four. This also worked for a while with Steam and the trick I posted above.

      Were were poor and could only afford one copy between us!

  21. terry says:

    That FAQ is really bizarre, it’s like putting in “What if Ubisoft are actually Nazi Aliens?” as a question and answering it with “Well, at least we’ll all get DLC!”

  22. HELLO says:

    When will they ever learn? Just how is this going to protect their product? HOW?
    It’s going to be up on torrents sooner than you can think it! And who’s going to be left dealing with those “exceptional services”? That’s right, the people who PAID for the game, while those who got it for free get the better service (better price, better product).

    And I’m not even mentioning the $10 price hike… or the 5-month delay… which I just did….

    Oh well.. good thing most of their games aren’t all that. Your loss, Ubisoft.

  23. alm says:

    Soon it will be Rise of the Console.

    Tales of how we had more powerful games on systems we built ourselves will circulate as myth to countless generations.

  24. Theory says:

    This is what happens when people bitch about StarForce and Securom and other such security systems that are actually okay and don’t actually matter. Go on, admit it: either you never bought a SF/Securom game, or you did and had no problems.

    Now, thanks in part to your whining, we regress to constant disc-in-drive checks in Spore: Galactic Adventures (as opposed to Spore’s simple, convenient online check on installation), and this kind of thing in Ubi games. At least 2K have stuck to their guns, if you squint enough to ignore their use of GFWL.

    Edit: some historical context.

    • John Walker says:

      Theory, I think challenging the internet to tell you they didn’t have problems with Starforce might *just* be something of a mistake.

    • Theory says:

      Not in my experience. I’ve thrown the gauntlet down several times over the years, and the only, single person who ever even claimed to have had a problem was running into this Windows XP bug when playing SF games.

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      i call bullshit on this. Starforce has had repeated problems and was justifiably given crap for it. I have had less problems with Securom but really the crux of your argument is “if you don’t bitch then they won’t shove something even more draconian down our throats”. This is not only provably untrue it is rather like Chamberlain talking about peace in our time.

      DRM is, at best, tolerable and frankly closer to unacceptable. Moaning didn’t cause it – the desire to control is what causes this. GFWL, Steamworks, and the plethora of deplorable DRM schemes are to take away your rights as a consumer to put them squarely into the hands of the publisher. Do you know how long publishers have been salivating over the idea of games that cannot be re-sold? Enough drool for an ocean there. Try buying a used copy of Gal Civ II and see how far that gets you.

      The bottom line is that you have missed the forest for the trees in your argument. If it means that big companies have to lose big profit for awhile to get the message then we should do our part and not buy from them. We should not blame others for their correct and righteous indignation as if that was ever a motivating factor for more egregious drm.

    • Larington says:

      I once tried to play a legit bought copy of black & white 2, it wouldn’t load, wasn’t giving any reason… Turned out the DRM (Safedisc apparently) didn’t like my CD (DVD?) ROM and I was eventually forced to install a no-cd crack to play the bally thing.
      Since then I’ve been wary of going anywhere near of games with DRM – What if there isn’t a no-cd patch for it? Theres a reason I buy most games from the likes of steam now and fewer and fewer games from retail/online.

    • Theory says:

      @monsters: I’m not suggesting that we don’t bitch when something we don’t like comes along. That’s a personal decision. I suggest that we consider more rationally what we do and don’t like in the first place. Do I detect that you’ve never had SF/Securom problems yourself?

      @Larington: I can sympathise, a similar thing happened to me with Soldiers of Anarchy. Worse still, the only crack out there was for the US edition of the game (but I got it working in the end). Our specific problems weren’t widespread however, let alone by design — unlike the ones inherent in Ubi’s system here.

      Thinking about it, there must be disc drives that don’t work with SF…

    • cheal says:

      I’d also like to call bullshit on this. I did have serious issues with the DVD player in my last computer after installing a couple of SF games. It most affected SF discs but also caused problems across the board and that’s not even to mention the problems of having two different kinds of SF on your computer. I have no problem with securom except the install authentication and install limits which were imposed because

      A: Over the past 10 years I’ve probably only had a fast internet connection to my gaming PC for about 6 of those years (I don’t at the moment for instance) because my homestead is in a rural area of Ireland where internet access is sporadic.

      B: The install limit meant having to actually uninstall those games before a format in order to get my installs back. That is just a horribly stupid thing to have to do.

      I far prefer disc checks (Because I have my discs on a shelf beside my computer and always will!) over online authentication although I find steam relatively agreeable because of it’s offline mode and the fact it offers something to me as the customer and isn’t JUST a DRM system.

    • Theory says:

      Congratulations Cheal, you’re number two. :-) Got Windows XP?

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      Theory: First off no one in their right mind is going to read that wall of text that you pointed to in order to make/save *your* argument. I am not willing to make your argument for you. If you want to bolster your argument I suggest you do so in thread.

      Secondly, yes I have had many problems with Starforce, with Safedisc and with other DRM “solutions”. I am far from the only person to have had these problems. Many of them try to disable any virtual disc software. Daemon Tools has been specifically targeted repeatedly, for example. In worst case scenarios they’ve been known to lock out or trash an optical disc drive. Not fun. Nor do uninstallers even remove the malware from your computer.

      Still, you have chosen to back away from the crux of your argument. Complaining, boycotting, whathaveyou inherently does not cause increasingly more intrusive drm. Frankly I think that publishers have seen how far they can go – what with the recent example of Modern Warfare 2 – they feel that the time is ripe to dictate rent-a-games to the pc crowd.

    • Iain says:

      @Theory:

      I’d also call bullshit on the “no problems with StarForce” thing. Any software that installs itself as hardware so that you can’t uninstall it properly isn’t DRM – it’s malware – and it has a long history of actually rendering optical drives utterly unusable, if it takes a dislike to some of your software (regardless of whether it’s legal or not).

      I won’t touch any game that uses StarForce because of the trouble it’s given me in the past – and I wasn’t even using virtual disk imaging software. Any form of DRM that requires you to either piss around in your hardware profile or (at worst) do a complete hard drive reformat to get rid of is not something I want to have installed on my PC.

    • Theory says:

      @monsters: There’s no great need to read it, it’s just background information. The gist is that people bitched about Quake 3′s CD key authentication when it came out using much the same arguments that you see about DRM today. Today that type of security is considered totally benign, even virtuous. Perception is reality.

      I don’t consider security software disabling other security-bypassing software a “problem”, personally. It seems an entirely reasonable and very minor inconvenience. On the other hand you say disc checks have “been known” to trash optical drives — but has that happened to you, or even to anyone you know? I’ve never encountered anyone who can honestly say so. This is why I asked the question I did in my original comment.

      I’m not sure why you think I’m “backing away” from anything.

      @Iain: So is persistently rumoured. But like I asked monsters, has it happened to you, or to anyone you know? I suspect the answer is no.

    • jalf says:

      I don’t understand. How would shutting up about earlier DRM attempts have stopped them from coming up with more draconian ones?

      This crap from Ubisoft isn’t a response to people whining about DRM, it’s a response to the perceived piracy problem. No matter how much you loved Starforce, Ubisoft would not find it a satisfactory solution so long as it can be pirated. Which it can. And so they come up with this instead. Not because Starforce is disliked by gamers, but because it’s disliked by Ubisoft, because it’s not secure enough for their tastes.

      Saying we’d all be better off if we’d just not complained in the first place is just completely upside-down logic.

    • Theory says:

      Not a result of whining? Ubisoft very publicly ditched StarForce as a direct result of a concerted internet campaign against both it and them.

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      Yes Starforce trashed one of my drives years ago. That’s why, to this day, I refuse to buy games that use it. In another instance I was unable to use my CD Burner until I removed the game that used it, and did an in depth registry search. The fact is that you refuse to see the mountain of evidence that abounds on the internet as real. That is _your_ problem. Apparently you are one of those types who assumes since it never happened to them that it never happened to anyone else.

      It seems you feel virtual disc drives aren’t a useful piece of software for the consumer. Apparently you don’t mind when a drive goes mad and shatters your game disc or whathaveyou. I am happy for you that you have a mountain of money that you can repurchase at will. That doesn’t mean that you should dictate terms to those of us that don’t.

      You find it just fine and dandy that the publisher dictate terms to the consumer. So, just say that. You’ve given them a free pass – and as far as you’re concerned the gaming public has no need for rights. It reminds me of the people that say you have no need for rights, or privacy since only the guilty need those things.

      For the record it was not “whining” that killed Starforce. It was the threat of lawsuits. A company and a type of drm do not generate the level of hate that Starforce has by not being a horrific drm measure. That’s why people grumble about Securom but most people don’t actively hate it. Somehow you have afforded some sort of benificence to a corporation which is totally out of line as to what a corporation is all about.

  25. Adam says:

    This makes so little sense it’s unreal.

    There have been games before that required a server authentication to install / play the first time. And guess what? They were pirated.

    How does this change anything for pirates? The game will be cracked as soon as it’s released (or in the case of Mass Effect 2, four days before US released, and a staggering 8 before the EU release… way to go EA).

    Once again, publishers just don’t get piracy and how to stop it.

  26. Malagate says:

    Monkeybreadmansaid:
    As stupid as this is, something needs to be done about piracy. I know at least 5 people that have completed Mass Effect 2 already (living in EU btw). This isnt it however. But what is? Maybe a hardware solution?

    A “hardware solution” already exists, they’re called “consoles”.

    Interestingly enough some other people have voiced their opinion that this ubi DRM idea is so terrible that they’ll get a console instead of playing the PC version. Consoles of course being the most restrictive DRM known to man, albeit not as annoying.

    Which is exactly what Ubisoft want, why the hell should they support a platform that can be compromised apparantly one week after a release? Why not make it so annoying to use the PC versions that eventually everyone just uses the much-harder-to-pirate-but-convienent-to-use console versions, justifying them not creating a PC version at all?

    • jon_hill987 says:

      @ Malagate:
      I think this is the reason behind GfWL as well. Making the XBox seem as attractive as the PC by making the PC worse rather than making the XBox better. Personally I think Microsoft are shooting themselves in the foot as I, and I expect many other people, will go over to Linux* if PC gaming is finished.

      * Or Mac if you are that way inclined.

  27. destroy.all.monsters says:

    I buy games. I expect that I own them and am not renting them. I feel justified in pirating when publishers do this type of thing since they have decided that customers no longer matter.

    Fuck ‘em.

    And for the usual detractors I ask this: why is gog.com making money from their customers? Why do customers choose Gamersgate for newer games – especially when it takes longer to download from them?

    There is such a thing as customer loyalty and there is such a thing as not acting in the worst interests of your customers. Try to dictate terms and see how far you get with the buying public.

    Brad of Stardock/Impulse/Gal Civ fame even tried to justify that type of behavior about a year ago until the forums erupted at him. You want zero tolerance on your end? We’ll give you zero tolerance on ours.

  28. Gunrun says:

    HAVING TO BE ONLINE ALL THE TIME? WHAT IS THIS MADNESS WHO IS EVER ONLINE ALL THE TIME IN THIS AGE OF DIALUP AND EXPENSIVE PAY PER MINUTE ISPS.
    I bet 99% of you use steam and its famously patchy offline mode. What is any different with this?
    And you guys without always on internet connections are in such a small minority that you be safely told to bugger off at this point.

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      Way to miss the point. Most of my gaming never needs to be online. Steam has no value other than it’s deeply discounted sales.

      So what you’re saying is that if one has an ISP outage it’s ok that they’re screwed. After all, why should consumers have rights at all? That is, essentially, your argument. I’d suggest re-thinking that.

    • Psychopomp says:

      @Gunrun
      Steam doesn’t forcibly pause your game when you’re disconnected from the internet, and Steam at least *offers* an offline mode.

  29. Gunrun says:

    All you people who use the term “I feel justified in pirating the game” are awful by the way. You’re just making the problem worse. If you boycot something that doesn’t mean you get to steal it. It means you don’t get it at all.

    • Rick says:

      Ahh but as the industry has shown again and again they are more interested in the numbers who get their game for free not those who just don’t get it at all.

      So if piracy goes up because of DRM it has failed if not made the problem worse, whereas if sales go down they don’t see it as that they see it as proof that the pc is dying as a games format.

    • alm says:

      Rick if companies are dumb enough not to notice a boycott, they won’t notice that an increase in piracy was a revolt against shoddy DRM. As others have said they make more money from consoles anyway and it would be the demise of PC gaming altogether, and good riddance as far as the companies are concerned.

    • Andy says:

      I won’t be pirating any of the games. I’ll be buying them legally and then hacking the balls out of them so I’m not hogtied by Ubisofts stupid-ass system.

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      Using your terminology I am proudly awful. You feel that the consumer should have no rights. Those of us that want to stand up for them have a limited number of ways of making our displeasure known. Voting with your wallet is one of them.

      Do I feel entitled when someone treats me poorly just because they can? Yes, yes I do. You treat people the way you would want to be treated. This is how Gog.com and to a slightly lesser extent, Gamersgate make their bones. They aren’t doing too shabbily last time I checked.

    • Gunrun says:

      destroy.all.monsters
      You’re only awful if you pirate the games.
      There is a difference between voting with your wallet and stealing the game. All it proves to the developers is that you want to play the game. Chances are they’ll just decide to put the game out on a platform where if you want to play it you have to buy it. Pirates like you are the reason DRM exists in the first place. There has ALWAYS been an “excuse” for piracy but if you need to justify it to yourself and others with some sort of moral crusade then you are deluded, and it simply boils down to “I am a cheapskate”

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      Gunrun: You apparently have no clue how the real world works. Let me spell it out for you: there is literally no place where you can force someone to buy your product if they don’t want to buy/pay for it. Any game on any system, whether it be PC or console, is ridiculously easy to obtain for free. If you choose to maintain the fiction that publishers have some say in the matter then that’s fine – as long as you realize (and they realize) that it is a fiction.

      What I find irksome is your ridiculous view that consumers should have no say in the matter. You refuse to cop to it though. You prefer pointing your finger at others rather than seeing how you’ve justified unjustifiable behavior. Basically you think it well and good that paying customers are treated as guilty before proven innocent. You fail to grasp that those who come up with these schemes will only find another justification for doing something even more heinous when given the opportunity.

      Yes, I am a “cheapskate” who has dropped hundreds of dollars in the last year at Gog, Gamersgate, Gogamer, Steam and even my local retailers as well as Ebay and craigslist.

      Now if you think that any of the screeds that you’ve tossed up here are going to have any sort of positive effect then you’re the one that’s deluded. Meanwhile feel free to enjoy your games for just as long as the publishers decide that you’re allowed to.

  30. alm says:

    Piracy is not constructive. It merely satisfies a need while biting the hand that feeds.

    I don’t have a solution myself, but just saying, piracy only helps /you/.

  31. Rick says:

    Well I guess we’ll all just have to crack ubisoft games regardless of whether we bought them, nicely done guys you’ve created more of a market for the tools of piracy…

  32. Nero says:

    More reason for me to not buy major companies games. I can’t really recall the last time I bought a major game at full price. Looks like I will keep sticking to indie games. Cheaper and more creative games, win for me.

  33. Colthor says:

    Hahahaha!

    Well done, Ubisoft. I hope you’re proud.

  34. Jargo says:

    Maybe i am a part of a minority. But i am a Laptopgamer and i am normaly playing my PC games at a train, in a cafe or at my girlfriends place. All of these places have NO internet. The internet is at home, where my xbox is!

    It is annoying enough that i often have the register a pc game online at home before i can start playing them outside. But not playing at all ??? WTF ?

  35. Guildenstern says:

    Enjoy your 50 dollar rental. Opps, sorry, I meant 64 dollar rental.

  36. neolith says:

    No good will come of this.

  37. Ian says:

    Fuck you Ubisoft I won’t do what you tell me.

    The pirates have a better product. Getting better by the day.

  38. Carra says:

    Sigh, what’s the use? The first game with this protection scheme will be protected for a few days or weeks. Then those magic hackers will fix it. Your games will be saved to your local disc and you’ll never have to use the Internet. From one point of view the hacker gets a better version then the customer (idem dito with the x activation limits, a pirated version doesn’t have those and thus is better).

    All this does is forcing people to download the crack if they want to play offline. Do you really want customers to go look for cracks & hacks? Maybe next time they’ll just download the full game instead of just the crack.

    • cheal says:

      Yeah I think that really really bad DRM such as this will actually lead to yet another generation of people who opening know the in’s and out’s of piracy. My first experience of piracy was getting a cracked executable to remove the disc check and once you know that such resources exist, it’s like a pandora’s box tbh. I still prefer to buy games or I boycott where I see fit.

  39. Kadayi says:

    I’m inclined to just wait and see how this pans out before reaching for the pitchfork and torch and talking big about pirating all their games in future, rather than just say boycotting them instead (sad gentleman, very sad to see so many familiar faces threatening the piracy route…). Personally I give a shit about laptop users (a hive of scum and villainy) , it’s rare if ever that my internet connection goes down and it’s rare if ever that I replay titles 3 years down the road. I also don’t doubt that in this day and age of man baby internet fury Ubisoft wouldn’t release these titles from this program after a certain time period once the bulk of sales had been reaped.

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      Kadayi: Your faith in Ubisoft is touching, though I have no idea if it’s justified. I can’t fathom your distaste for laptop users. However, not everyone has fabulous internet. i get by on wifi for the most part, which is intermittent at best. Most of the games I play I have played repeatedly – Zero Hour, the Act of War games, Deus Ex, Syndicate, SHOWW2 so to me access to my older games is important.

      I think at this point it’s important to get the torches and pitchforks because this is when we might make enough sturm und drang to get something accomplished. *Maybe* they will hear us and regain their sanity. Maybe they never will though. Still, it may mean that someone will do for publishers what Gog.com has done for game sales – and that would be a huge plus. If that means shaking out the current players I can only say “the sooner the better”.

    • Kadayi says:

      @destroy.all.monsters

      I’m just of the opinion that people should just wait and see. Nothing here is cast in stone in terms of how it’s going to work, and all we’ve got going on is people venting on worst case scenario (OMG my games won’t work in 3 years!!! Fuck you developers I’m stealing all your games!!!). Personally in the event that the internet is temporarily down I’ve enough of a life that I can get by without worrying that I won’t be able to access that game that I might want to replay at some point in the future. If you could create electricity out of FEAR, this sort of thread could power Manhattan for a year.

      As regards your internet issues. Is that a publishers responsibility or yours? I’d say it’s yours. Don’t like the service you have, change up to a better one. It’s a buyers market out there.

    • destroy.all.monsters says:

      The point isn’t ^my* internet issues. The point is that it isn’t a buyer’s market for internet out there, despite what you say, for a great many people whom you have dismissed with a wave of your hand. That this is a draconian solution looking for a problem.

      I see no reason to trust a corporation with my best interests. Nor do I believe that a publisher should be able to dictate to me where and when I can play my game. I should be able to play it whenever I want to. In my case it is usually late at night when many servers are down for maintenance. You think it is a good thing they dictate to you when you can play? What about when it becomes who you can play with? What level of interference is enough for you to finally become outraged?

    • Kadayi says:

      @destroy.all.monsters

      You simply saying that there aren’t lots of internet providers does actually make it so. There are in fact quite a few out there, eager to cut up the other to take your business. Naturally if you live somewhere remote, your options might be a tad more limited than others, but that price you pay for living off the beaten track. No one ever said the internet would be democratic.

      Also I’d take a guess that if Ubisoft are planning this, then they’re unlikely to be using just the one verification server. Still again we’re well into the realms of the FEAR again with this ‘OMFG I won’t be able to play for a couple of minutes at 5 am in the morning!!! Fuck you Ubisoft I’m pirating all your games from now on you filthy money rapists!!! ‘ scenario, and frankly it all seems way too one legged indian for me to take seriously.

      As regards corporations. I’d say it better to worry about the Haliburtons of this world rather than the Ubisofts.

  40. sockeatsock says:

    I smell troll. Troll troll troll.

  41. subedii says:

    Let’s see, hideously stupid DRM implementation, release four months after the console release with no advertising (also incidentally, at the same time as all the other heavy hitters are hitting the market for March), hike up price another $10 compared to PC releases to be in line with console prices even though there’s no licensing fee (thanks Activision for starting that one off BTW).

    Yeah I think I can safely predict how this is going to go

    1 - Game will sell less well than the amazing numbers Ubisoft are undoubtedly expecting

    2 - Poorer than expected sales will be chalked up to NONE of the above issues and instead be placed solely at “ZOMG ALL YOU PC GAMERS ARE PIRATES WHAT THE CRAP YOU DISGUSTING FREAKS!”

    3 - After raging loudly in public and stoking up yet another “PC gaming is DYING!!!11!” thread, either rinse and repeat, or take all your toys home with you and never go near the platform again. (Cf. Epic)

    I’m actually pretty doubtful it’s going to sell well come release, at least probably not the numbers they’re hoping. I agree that the DRM probably isn’t going to stop most people, but there are a tonne of other problems besides. The most important being that they’re releasing four months after the console release (most people eager for it would’ve gotten it on one of the other platforms), after all the hype has gone and with no effort at additional advertising anyway. All this during march, when the huge hitters are coming out (Battlefield Bad Company 2, Alpha Protocol, APB are just a few if we’re talking just big games coming to the PC, and there’s more otherwise).

    This entire scenario is sadly predictable and I’ll be extremely surprised if it goes any other way, least of all the way Ubisoft clearly expects it to.

    Why do some people insist on such retarded release schemes when other devs and publishers seem to have gotten the point by now?

    • Serenegoose says:

      Subedii: Exactly. This is what I’ve been saying all along.

    • Colthor says:

      @subedii:
      Activision weren’t the first to hike the RRP, at least in the UK (to £39.99); Sega (Empire: Total War) and EA (Sims 3) beat them to it, and there may have been others.

      Happily RRPs tend to be ignored by anyone with any sense, although games seem to have started rising above £25 new :(

  42. Acidburns says:

    Surely if sales of Ubisoft games go down as a result of their stupid DRM system and other PC games from other publishers do exceptionally well (all these march heavy hitters as you say) then even the simpletons at Ubisoft who drafted this scheme would see it is flawed?

    The only other conclusion they could reach is that all pirates hate them specifically. Which would be a bit paranoid.

    • subedii says:

      Why should they? Anything resulting from this move is clearly confirmation of the strategy. Poor sales? Proves we were right, we NEED more intrusive DRM measures. Good sales? Proves we were right, our DRM measures and lacklustre sales strategies were effective.

      Also known as confirmation bias. If they’re dumb enough to do this and think it’ll give them some big improvement on sales, there’s no reason to believe they’ll see sales statistics as anything other than confirmation of their decisions.

  43. Rei Onryou says:

    Added insult to injury: Ubisoft warn that development costs must be kept in check in order to keep the consumer price down. http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=232832

    So what’s this about Assassin’s Creed II costing more?

  44. anomie says:

    I think driving you to consoles is what they want :)

    • Sarlix says:

      I tend to agree with this. A quick look on the 2k forums in the midst of the DRM episode showed that a hell of a lot of people stated they would now be buying the console version of BS2 instead of the PC version. I think the general plan is to drive people to the consoles, it sure would make sense no?

      And as for Ubi’s new DRM scheme, I can think of one more down side: If I have to be constantly connected to the net than that means I also have to run my firewall and any other internet related processes. This could mean a potential performance loss, and if I’m being totally honest I am a bit of a task manager Nazi!

  45. Wulf says:

    Well, this and turning Beyond Good & Evil from a beautiful thing of wonder, colours, and random photography (in 1) into a desaturated, OMGMAREENZ thing of ugliness (in 2) has taken Ubisoft right off my watch list. Their Prince of Persia remake almost caught my attention for being a modern Sonic the Hedgehog, though, so there might be hope for them yet… but… I really miss the Ubisoft of old. :<

    Ubisoft of old, you still in there? Hello? Remember Sands of Time? The original Beyond Good & Evil? The Ubisoft that thought Uru: Ages Beyond Myst was worth publishing? Rayman, even?

    You could be like that again. Please be like that again.

  46. Nickiepoo says:

    I own two copies of Soldiers: Heroes of WW2 for LAN play. The first is physical, the second is DD. DD worked fine on the second computer, but the physical version kept on crashing after 5 minutes on the first. Once I installed the DD version on the first (using the CD key from the physical copy) it worked fine on both computers.

  47. Till says:

    No sane person is paying more than $0.10/GB for bandwidth. And if you’re using a lot, it’s much cheaper than that.

  48. Larington says:

    I suspect just allowing activation then offline play would be enough to reduce the grarr rage to just angry mumbling… But I don’t know how well online activation systems like the one in Steam function in conditions like those experienced by people in the armed forces. Either way, what happens if you’re playing an Ubisoft game you paid for and your Internet connection goes out for some strange reason? Game pauses and your, well, f*****.

  49. cdm says:

    10 gb for a $1?

    Where do you live?

  50. msky123 says:

    I can file this under ‘dumbass move of the day’ for them.

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