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.

__________________

« | »

, , , .

428 Comments »

  1. frameset says:

    @Colthor

    You sure about that? I only paid £35 for the collectors version of Empire, and Sega’s latest PC game AVP, is only going for about £20 on most pre-order sites.

    • Colthor says:

      @frameset:
      Yeah, you can check the RRP on Amazon and Play – Empire’s listed as £40 RRP on both. But neither’s charging half that, of course.

  2. cjlr says:

    Fuck.
    That.
    Shit.

  3. kout says:

    What about those 5MB-savegames that some games have? Will it mean uploading 15mb through my 128kbps upload speed every time I press F5?

    • disperse says:

      Good point. Will our “quicksaves” still be quick?

    • LintMan says:

      Unstated, but the end result here will be that all Ubi’s games using this system will have “console-style” save systems: checkpoint saves where they store minimum information about your game state (ie: like Borderlands), along with very limited number of save slots.

  4. Monkeybreadman says:

    Well i was thinking some sort of chip on new GPUs or motherboards. Am only trying to think of solutions that could work and be exceptable to all sides. Something DOES need to be done about piracy. But it needs to be 1 idea adpoted by everyone, not individual publishers coming up with their own shitty ideas

    Just saying ‘FUCK OFF!’ isn’t constructive and pushes developers and publishers away.

    But who am i kidding this is teh internetz, logic is left with the login.

    I’m off to Stormont

    • Monkeybreadman says:

      GODDAMN replay button works even less than SecuROM

    • Monkeybreadman says:

      Oh now you work don’t you, just when i typo ‘replay’ instead of ‘reply’. CONSPIRACY! i tell yer

    • Sarlix says:

      Other than the Crab to my left, the reply button is the bain of my life! at least today anyway.

  5. jackflash says:

    Whatever. Publishers continue to put downward pressure on the price I am willing to pay for their games to put up with their bullshit. “Wings of Prey” on Steam – there’s a game I really want, but won’t pay more than $25 for due to all the DRM bullshit.

  6. oceanclub says:

    I wonder is this a result of their DRM-free experiment with Prince of Persia? If so, it’s a bit like a naive person who, after leaving their front door open and being robbed, decides to mount an sentry gun over it rather than, you know, buy a lock.

    P.

    • wyrmsine says:

      PIRATE SAPPIN’ MAH SENTRY!

    • Bhazor says:

      I’d hope it would be an example of not releasing a rubbish game for a much loved franchise.

  7. Buemba says:

    Guess their “no DRM” experiment with the PC port of Prince of Persia a couple of years ago didn’t yield very positive results, huh?

    • Nobody Important says:

      I doubt that the PoP experiment went well, only because they never said “I TOLD YOU SO!” like Ubisoft loves doing. Had it done worse, they would have used that to try and silence the haters.

    • Azradesh says:

      I imagine it didn’t sell very well because it was a big puddle of meh

    • Gorgeras says:

      It didn’t work because the last PoP was crap. I wish someone would try the no-DRM experiment on a non-shitty game not consisting almost entirely of overt and covert quicktime sequences. We want games, not interactive movies.

      Maybe it was because it was a port, whilst Sands of Time was made for the PC and then ported to console.

  8. the wiseass says:

    What the fuck is wrong with gamespy and that retarded Gerald Villoria comment: “I think the DRM benefits of this approach and the ancillary bonuses (remote game saves, unlimited installations, no CD authentication) will end up outweighing the annoyance of having to log-in before playing” ?

    You know, we ALREADY had all these “ancillary bonuses” even before this whole DRM bullshit was invented. It’s like amputating the legs of a perfectly healthy person only to put him into a wheelchair and then selling this as “ancillary bonus”. Whatever that guy means by that term.

    This guy is wrong on so many levels, it’s impossible to grasp. I was able to save my game, backup my saves and installing my games as often as I wanted even before Ubisoft came up with this ridiculous idea. So how exactly could these features, that existed well before Ubisoft even existed, possibly redeem such a mind numbingly dumb DRM system?

    This is the reason why I try to ignore everything coming from gamespy or IGN. It’s mostly pure and simple PR crap.

    Also this: “But further, there are people who do not wish to let a publisher know their private gaming habits”. Damn straight Mr. Walker!

    Oh by the way, as a student that is sharing his internet via wireless LAN, this is simply unacceptable. Yes my connection is not that great and sometimes drops out for a few seconds, this alone would make playing any Ubsioft game impossible.

    Lastly let me thank the RPS team and John Walker for keeping us up to date with this whole DRM dilemma, sacrificing their time complaining about game protection while they could be writing opinions on actual games. Thanks a lot guys!

    • Jad says:

      What’s funny is one year ago Ubisoft released a game that had two of those three advantages (it didn’t have remote saves): Price of Persia 2008. It had no CD-key, no disk check, no installation limits.

      I actually thought that they went further than they needed to in removing DRM from that game — not needing the disk was nice, but disk checks really aren’t a big deal for me. Now they swing all the way around to the most draconian DRM yet. WTF, Ubisoft?

  9. ant one says:

    well thats what you get for pirating games… making games isnt free: it takes thousands of man-hours over years to get one of these games done.

    Stop whining and wake up: publishers will NOT make games to LOSE money. they, like any other coroporations, are in it for the money, and nothing else… and they need to pay the army of animators, programmers, designers, etc.

    I do agree that some parts of the system ARE annoying, and to play Ubi PC games, you’ll have to put up with it: its their product and they decide how they sell it. If you don’t agree, you can just stop buying them: that is the choice you have as a consummer…

    i’m just supprised no one has done this before.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yes, punishing the people who buy the game for the actions of those who steal it is a great idea.

      Have you not been paying attention?

    • Guildenstern says:

      Hmm, Ubi employees visit this blog? I wonder.

      Seriously, what part of “this will do nothing to prevent piracy” you don’t understand? In fact, pirates can now write “Superior Version” on their cracked torrent and they will be actually right!

    • Sam says:

      In any case: people have done this before; essentially, it’s best considered as a step back from MMO implementation (where almost everything is on remote servers).

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      This isn’t about piracy. It is an attempt to neuter the resale market. The rest is marketing spin.

      Isn’t that obvious? Who is really in the market for these “great benefits”? If I’m playing in an airport, I still need a copy of the game installed on the laptop, and I could probably, you know, find space on the hard drive for a save or two.

    • cliffski says:

      wow. not everyone who disagrees with angry internet posters must be a ubisoft employee. Thats the mentality of digg. Anyone on digg who doesnt post “we love teh piratebay” gets slagged off for being an RIAA shill.
      Some people disagree. This doesn’t mean they ‘work for the man’…

  10. RaiCoss says:

    I hate to say this, but after reading the FAQ, it doesn’t seem that bad…… :3

    The only PC game I have ever pirated is SPORE, and that is only after the store bought copy f*cked up my XP install with SecuROM. All of a sudden my DVD Drive started glitching and refusing to read discs. I reinstall XP and problem is gone. Install SPORE again and helloooooooooooooooo, DVD Drive starts glitching again.

    If you have stable broadband, this really isn’t that bad.

    • Guildenstern says:

      If they want to rent out the game to me, while they retain full control of when and how I play it, ok. But let’s not pretend they are “selling” me something then.

    • Sam says:

      …yes. Even if we assume you’re right (and you’re not, since you’re forgetting the change in the balance of trust this represents), the caveat you specify is rather large.
      Many people don’t have stable broadband, and this decision would prevent them from playing any games by Ubisoft. Indeed, many people still don’t have broadband at all – the UK isn’t particularly good at rural broadband penetration, and one imagines that outside of the US (+Canada), Western Europe and the high-tech bits of East Asia, network penetration is even worse. Ubisoft’s DRM implementation basically says “If you’re not lucky enough to be an a country with decent data networking infrastructure, you can’t play our game”.

    • Acidburns says:

      Is the best option for folk in rural areas “broadband” via satellite? If I remember right that gives you a decent download speed but your still stuck with dial-up speed for uploading. That’s gonna suck for uploading you save games. I imagine it will interfere terribly with the online-checks too.

    • cliffski says:

      The widespread popularity of MMOs suggests that the vast majority of people playing AAA games have broadband that works.
      I live opposite fields and surrounded by sheep and deer, and my broadband is fine.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      How many people in this thread have posted that they do not have any</b? internet access? None. That's the value of anecdotal evidence.

  11. RaiCoss says:

    Are you addressing me Sam?

    • dwl says:

      This isn’t new. The MMO’s have been doing this for years and people accept it. Specifically this system reminds me of Guild Wars, which works well. If it means publishers can reduce prices because they don’t have to wory about piracy great.

      Unlikely but a nice thought.

    • Sam says:

      Yes, Rai, I’m replying to you.. And my reply is threaded with yours in the RPS comment view from the RPS main page – it’s just that the forum software sucks and doesn’t do threaded replies at all.

    • Sam says:

      Oh, and dwl: MMOs have “gotten away” with this for years because… well, the clue is in the acronym. There’s no other sensible way of doing massively-multiplayer than server-centric gameplay and state-saving. That this happens to make MMOs effectively unpirateable – especially because you charge “rent” for the server space, rather than extortionate prices for the copy of the game – is a happy side effect.

      Single player games, on the other hand, have no business being forcibly cloudified (there’s precious little benefit to it, and a lot of negatives).

    • Acidburns says:

      @dwl

      Surely the reason people happily accept that their Massively Multiplayer Online game requires an internet connection to play is because it is a Massively Multiplayer (wait for it….wait for it….) ONLINE game? Playing it without an internet connection would be daft. An MMO’s resistance to piracy is a side effect of the requirements of creating an MMO. Note that it is still possible to pirate an MMO. The client is downloadable for free, and folk have been running their own private servers for some time. They miss out on the massive part mostly, but hey.

      Edit: Beaten to the punch.

  12. bookwormat says:

    I actually think I will defend what Ubisoft is doing here.

    I would prefer owning game licenses, but that is not happening: This has nothing to do with piracy, or even with videogames: All software moves to service oriented models now. As long as you can afford to run the service infrastructure, selling your software as a service has more benefits than selling it as a product. Everyone does it now. Game consoles too. And consumers already voted years ago, with their wallet and with their data, that they are willing to bind themselves completely to the cloud.

    Now the biggest problem I see with current DRM schemes is the furtiveness with which the old model (purchase) is replaced with the new one (subscription): Most consumers have no idea what they get when they pay for a game. As a consumer you can read about three games in a a magazine, then look up the three related game offers on amazon.com, and at no point is someone telling you that

    the one box is a subscription to a service, which you can use to download and play, but not borrow/sell, for the duration of the service.

    the second box can be installed N times, which means you can install only n times. Sometimes with the option to extend n through careful and complex “activation management”. And sometimes by paying for a call to customer support. And sometimes not at all.

    The other is sold as a product and you can play it, borrow it to your sister, then give it to your friends

    And all three games cost the same price. Not because customers are not interested in what they get for their money, but because they assume that buying a DVD is just like buying a book (or buying a DVD used to be). The publisher is not telling them what they get. The store owner is not telling them what they get. Even the games journalist from the magazine does not tell them what they get.

    Current DRM schemes are so confusing that not even people here on RPS understand them. That’s why many people write about “their rights to play the games they bought”, or the longlivity of steam subscriptions.

    The retail box for Spore just says “Internet connection required for installation.” This is an awful scam. If you make a game you are free to sell it anyway you want. But you should tell your customers what you are selling them, so they can weight your price against your offer.

    And that is what I like about Ubisofts service: It is very simple to understand: “Played Online”. Everybody understands this. Everyone who played a game on Facebook or once had a World of Warcraft subscription or subscribed to Team Fortress 2 knows what this means: You need to be online to play. The game will require you to connect to a service. You might not understand why you need to be online, but that is not necessary to make a good buying decision.

    I think it is very easy to understand what you get for your money from Ubisoft, what you are/aren’t allowed to do with it.

    And consumers can now evaluate the offer to the price, and make a decision in their own interest. Maybe it turns out that consumer don’t want to pay $60/$85 for a service. Or maybe they are willing to pay even more. Maybe they they only accept something like Steam. But they can make that decision now much easier, and this is good.

    • MacQ says:

      And what if a customer buys a single player game but thinks it’s an MMO, ’cause the box says Played Online? No, it’s not easy at all.

    • bookwormat says:

      And what if a customer buys a single player game but thinks it’s an MMO, ’cause the box says Played Online? No, it’s not easy at all.

      How a game plays is very well documented by the media. They talk about it in reviews, it’s on wikipedia, and you can watch in on Youtube.

      What rights and services you buy when you pick up a game is almost not documented at all.

    • archonsod says:

      I can’t think of any companies who succeeded selling software as a service. Selling support as a service on the other hand works wonders. Which really makes me wonder why no games publisher has bothered trying it; after all it doesn’t matter if you’ve bought or pirated the game, you’re going to want the patches. So where does it make the most sense to place the pay barrier?

    • bookwormat says:

      I can’t think of any companies who succeeded selling software as a service.

      Valve, Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive, Activision/Blizzard, Ubisoft,, Square Enix, Capcom, THQ, Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, Google, Apple, IBM, Oracle, Amazon, 37signals, Zynga ?

    • MacQ says:

      That’s what EULA is for. The term Played Online says nothing about rights.

  13. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    This feels like the only sensible response.

  14. Horatius says:

    Sometimes a blunt response can sum up a position very elegantly.

  15. Urthman says:

    Remember how horrible the interface was in Assassin’s Creed One? Where you had to go through 7 different menu screens just to quit the damn game? Well there was another option, which was pressing Alt-F4, which instantly quit to the desktop. Which was great, except sometimes it corrupted your savegames. I lost several levels of play that I had to redo (including sitting through the enormous number of painfully bad unskippable cutscenes).

    After giving up on the game for a while, I came back and redid my lost progress and kept playing the game, only this time I backed up my save games pretty much after every session. I trust you see where I’m going with this?

    I’m very disappointed. I’ll be too-uncool-for-school and admit that I was really excited about playing Assassin’s Creed 2 on PC. I thought there was no possible way Ubisoft could screw up the PC version worse this time. Well congratulations, Ubisoft, you just unlocked the Even Worse than Last Time and the Lost Another Sale achievements!

    Look, RPS men. I blame you lot for this. Because I think the only possible way the publishers will stop doing this crap is if the reviewers drastically lower the review scores when publishers break their games this way. If the PC version of Assassin’s Creed gets a 4.5 on MetaCritic because the player can’t reliably save her game, I’m afraid that’s the only thing that would really change Ubisoft’s mind. I mean, I’m not buying the game as hard as I can, and they probably just think I’m pirating it.

    • Bobsy says:

      PC Gamer at least takes heavy and obtrusive DRM into account in their reviews.

    • Fitz says:

      PC Gamer at least takes heavy and obtrusive DRM into account in their reviews.

      Only if the review code contains the DRM. More often than not, I believe, the review code differs significantly from the retail code in that the DRM isn’t implemented on the reviewers’ versions.

      I wonder why?

  16. Fitz says:

    I really, really hope that this shit isn’t bolted on to Silent Hunter 5. It’s the only Ubi game due for release that I’ve got ANY interest in buying, and if it “comes with bullshit” then they’ve lost another sale.

    What is WRONG with these people?

    • Acidburns says:

      @ Fitz

      It seems like they plan to role it out on everything if their test on Settlers works out for them. Silent Hunter 5 was a game I was very much looking forward too also.

      While a lot of people are suggesting (not incorrectly perhaps) that this heavier DRM is part of a greater focus on consoles and screwing the PC gamer I think Silent Hunter is a pretty good example of a game that is unique to the PC. Personally I’d be quite happy if the Silent Hunter developers took their games to another publisher and Ubisoft were to abandon the PC market because none of the other game appeal to me. Of course there are a lot of other PC gamers who would like to play games such as Assassin’s Creed 2 and so on.

  17. oceanclub says:

    This just has epic fail written all over it. Pirates will be clamouring amongst themselves to come up with a hacked version – think of the hilarity when they bring out “Assassin’s Creed 2 – the Special L33t Edition”, which far surpassed the legit version that consumers buy.

    On top of that, I can see retail stores being innundated with returns, with people being unable to connect – and therefore play – around launch time. At least the current authentication methods (such as Bioshock had) mean the consumer only has to connect _once_ in order to play from then on; this method means that unless both the consumer’s connection _and_ the authenticating servers are at 100% reliablity, they’ll be unable to play.

    Why didn’t Ubisoft simply go with Steam as their authentication method? Have their figures on day 1 piracy for Steam games that the rest of us don’t know about?

    P.

    • malkav11 says:

      Good luck finding a retail establishment that will accept returns of open-box PC games for anything other than the exact same title.

    • Vinraith says:

      @malkav11

      You aren’t yelling enough, corporate-owned retailers are ultimately required to fold like a cheap card table no matter how irrational the customer. Trust me, make a big enough fuss, demand to talk to the manager, and you can take back virtually anything. The trick is to only use this power for good (as in this case) and never for evil (like most douchebags).

    • malkav11 says:

      Oh, I’ve never tried to return a PC game. I just know it’s official policy everywhere not to take returns of PC games. Because people could have pirated it, I believe is the official reason. nevermind that it would be infinitely easier to just torrent the damn thing.

    • Vinraith says:

      @malkav11

      Is it really that easy/reliable to torrent games these days? I was always told by my more “adventurous” friends (and mind you this is about 10 years ago) that it was difficult to get a fully functional, non-sabotaged, non-damaged, stable, and virus free game that way. People these days make it sound 100% reliable and safe and I have a very hard time believing that, but is it just that I’m out of date on this issue?

    • Lambchops says:

      @ Vinraith and the subject of standing your ground to retailers

      I’m ashamed to admit it but I did once use the phrase “breach of trade descriptions act” in an argument with staff at a shop.

      Having worked on the supermarket checkout myself and been on the end of some shit at times I reckon that my eventual victory in pursuit of a free Guitar Hero guitar was only barely worth it.

      Though saying that it was at GAME and they did royally fuck up their advertising of their special offer so perhaps they deserved it!

  18. cjlr says:

    Now that my gut reaction is out of the way…

    I have one question: how does this benefit the consumer?

    ‘Cause darn it, I just don’t know at this point. Perhaps it’s my own naivete, but shouldn’t that be the reasoning behind any move like this? A little thing I like to call, companies doing what benefits the consumer?

    Let’s review what this does: it locks out consumers with poor or sporadic internet access – hell, anyone with an ISP that isn’t infallible. Nobody has high-bandwidth cable internet access 24/7 – hell, most people have a fair bit less. Internet down for a few hours? Now you can’t even save! Fuck yeah! That’s the future, baby. It further imposes a lifetime on the product, since whatever authentication servers exist will not do so indefinitely – not to mention that the connection on their end is not infallible either.

    Honestly, I don’t see where this makes anything better for us. Can anyone enlighten me?

    • Guildenstern says:

      Whaaat? Corporations should have interests of their customers at heart? What are you, a dirty commie?

  19. Acidburns says:

    It’s worth pointing out that there’s more jobs out there that require people to spend long times away from internet access besides soldiers. A friend of mine works for the merchant navy. He is lucky enough to only be at sea for 3 weeks at a time, but people who work on container ships can be out at sea for 6 months or more. Good like getting an internet connection in the middle of the ocean. Are these people not allowed to play PC games now?

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      If there’s one tactic that might just work, it is this.

      Spread the word:
      UBISOFT HATES THE TROOPS!

    • oceanclub says:

      Spread the slander that tanks in Ubisoft games only have one gear: reverse.

      Oh, and old-fashioned DVD checks are to be referred to as “Freedom DVD checks” from now on.

      P.

    • Psychopomp says:

      We could just let people know they’re french.

    • oceanclub says:

      I can see the advert now – we could probably film it ourselves if we can find a big enough sandpit:

      Scene: We pan across hilly desert to a soldier (preferably a Sam Elliott look/soundalike) wearing desert battledress sitting with an Alienware laptop and a bottle of something.

      “Hey there, good fella. I’m Sergeant Steve Maguire of the 82nd Airborne Division, stationed here in Afghanistan. When I’m not protecting girl’s schools from Taliban attacks or defending this country’s precarious democracy, I like to unwind by playing Assassin’s Creed or Splinter Cell on *pats laptop* lil’ Betsy here. I’ll always been an honest guy and loyal customer, and I’ve never stole nothing in my life.

      *closeup – voice trembles slightly*

      But now, some fella in a suit in France thinks I’m a thief. This fella wants to take the one comfort I have left. I ain’t never been to France, so don’t know why this fella has it in for me. That fella’s willing to take my good dollars for Assassin’s Creed 2, but won’t let me play it ’til I get home. _If_ I get home.

      You write a letter to that fella in Ubisoft, and you tell that fella we’re not thieves and want some respect. You tell that fella old Steeve sent ya.

      *speaking offscreen to fade* Say friend, ya got any more a that good sarsparilla….?

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      Do it! Film it, ship it, share it.

      Personally, I believe that the best way to “support the troops” would be to bring them home but there are an awful lot of people in the US who support the soldiers without question, and who’d be outraged to hear about what Ubi are doing.

    • Urthman says:

      oceanclub, that’s the best comment I’ve ever read on RPS.

      Won’t somebody please film this and post it to YouTube?

    • Vinraith says:

      @Oceanclub

      That. Is. Genius.

  20. Robsko says:

    I hope one day legitimate customers will be able to play their games like pirates do : hassle free.

    All of those various kind of DRM achievements are actually giving more fuel to piracy.
    Basically just because those publishers are trying to kill second hands sales (as i don’t believe this is to fight piracy at all, all those kind of drm have already proved to be inefficient at it)), they shoot themseves on the feet with their direct sales if people interested in their games will get the product in non legit ways.

    • Guildenstern says:

      [i]This[/i]. Piracy talk is just a smokescreen, they want to kill second hand sales more then anything. I don’t even blame them for that, but let’s drop the pretence, ok?

    • cjlr says:

      Very much this.
      Authentication servers impose an artificial lifetime on a game. Period. End of story. Even the most brown-nosed DRM apologist cannot deny it.

      But obviously we won’t mind if we can’t play older games. All we need is a new Call of Duty, Madden, and Guitar Hero every year for eternity, right? I mean, GOG? What the hell’s that? Clearly they would never make actual money with a scheme like that, right? And they just give you the installer! What the hell kind of business model is that! What about the pirates?

  21. Nex says:

    I got money that says there will be a crack for each and every single game Ubisoft comes out with within 20minutes of release if not weeks before the release.

  22. SheffieldSteel says:

    As a professional game programmer, I can lose my job for advocating piracy.

    Who would have thought it would come to this?

    I will only buy this game after I have found a way to play it, and save games, without an internet connection. Read into that what you will.

  23. Wooly says:

    Fuck this shit.

  24. frymaster says:

    this is why I am vehemently against piracy; not so much because it costs companies some profit but because you will never, ever, convince companies that it doesn’t hurt their bottom line and, realistically, it probably does hurt it at least some* (and no, I don’t think the burden of proof lies with the companies).

    the combination of bean-counters eyeing up potential revenue plus the creative people’s inevitable reaction to their work being ripped off is mostly going to result in companies having a large anti-piracy stance. And we end up with stuff like this, because the programmers probably have pretty good internet connections, and have totally no practical idea of the misery this is going to cause.

    to all the “anti-piracy measures justify piracy in some kind of wierd moral calculus” brigade: please don’t. for the love of god, don’t. All you’ll do is convince publishers they aren’t going far enough; if you want to make a moral stand, do it by simply not buying the product. (If nothing else, moaning about something while simultaneously breaking a law to obtain it is a bit of an argument-undercutter in my book)

    * even a small proportion of a whopping big number is still a whopping big number

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      This isn’t primarily about piracy. “Anti-Piracy Measure” is the acceptable face that’s put on this decision, which will first and foremost make it impossible to resell an Ubisoft game.

      Look at it this way: no one knows how much revenue is lost to piracy, simply because it is a black market – no reliable information is available as to its scale. When GameStop sells used games, though, that’s a different matter. They’re required to publish financial statements regularly, so every publisher knows how much of a dent is being made in their revenue stream by used game sales. This is something where you can plug hard numbers into a spreadsheet and produce a bottom line. The only “wishy washy” figures here are the guesses about how many customers mught be put off by this tactic. In short, the benefit of this new scheme can be quantified and the cost cannot.

  25. manu says:

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

    Maybe a talented group of individuals will release that patch before that, saving them the hassle.

  26. Unaco says:

    OUTRAGE!!!

    Seriously though… this isn’t a good move. It’s not a step in the right direction. I was vehemently and vociferously opposed to Half-Life 2 and Steam when it first arrived, primarily because I only had dial-up. At least it had an offline mode, so 2 days after installing and waiting for everything to update @33.6kbps I could just play the game. Nowadays, with Broadband, it isn’t too bad, and I’m actually beginning to like it. But… it has the offline mode, so if my b’band is down (not that often since I changed my ISP and package), I can always play my games offline.

    I know people in my street with a different ISP who regularly lose their internet for ~24 hours, once a month at least, with one thing or another. Also… people with limited broadband… won’t this increase their traffic, eat into their download limits? What about poor b’band speeds? Uploading a couple of megabytes everytime you quicksave… or downloading a couple megs everytime you want to load a save… just going to be annoying. Not to mention playing (or, rather, not playing ever) on a laptop in a park or on a train. They can say “the world is getting more connected everyday, and alot of people are almost always connected to the web/net in one way or another” all they want… but the fact is 100% reliable, easy, saturated connectivity is not here, and until that day, a system that requires it is just going to infuriate people, and drive them away from your products. Also… disruption to their servers locking everyone out, the vulnerability of this system, or the fantastic opportunities for cyber-criminals to hold the entire company to ransom – “Pay us, or we’ll never stop DDosing/disturbing your system/servers, and noone will ever play one of your games again.”

    Gah! Who am I kidding, trying to argue, with even a modicum of rationality and logic… I should have just left the comment as “OUTRAGE!!!”.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      It’s nice when the rational and the emotional parts of one’s brain can agree on something.

  27. undead dolphin hacker says:

    “Oh boy, Ubisoft” indeed.

  28. neems says:

    I’m curious as to when the major game publishers will introduce measures that will prevent console customers selling on their games. My nearest Game will sell you a ‘pre-owned’ (or second hand if you actually speak English rather than marketing bullshit) copy of Uncharted 2 for approximately £3 less than a brand new copy, and none of that money will get near the publisher / developer.

    Of course that is why so many games have online components these days, or at least some kind of DLC, but I’d love to know how much revenue is lost due to the pre-owned market.

    • neems says:

      Damn, some fella upstairs beat me to it… by an hour and a half. And probably eighteen other people earlier in the thread.

  29. Count Elmdor says:

    Read this, Ubisoft: WILL NOT BUY.

  30. Mikeuk_3 says:

    Goodbye Ubisoft – you can stick your new system where the sun doesn’t shine!!

  31. TheSombreroKid says:

    the pc gaming community owes it to it’s self to make this hurt ubisofts bottom line, no modern warfarce ‘i’ll pick it up anyway even if i am suposed to be boycotting it pish!’

    • cjlr says:

      @SombreroKid
      Nope. Doesn’t work like that. If sales go down, then piracy is always the reason.

      Right, guys?

  32. Hunam says:

    I never bought MW2! Me! I can stick to a boycott….mostly.

    /plays L4D2

    • Frosty says:

      @Hunam

      I play neither! Although, that’s because I didn’t want to buy either game. I’m not doing it because I’m a good person.

  33. SenatorPalpatine says:

    One other thing: What if the world ends and there is no longer any internet? The apocalypse shouldn’t spell the end of video gaming. How are the survivors going to waste their time?

  34. Oliver says:

    Maybe I’m really dense here, but why can’t publishers build in a simple account system linked to a hardware key on your computer? Like your network card’s MAC address or something? You’d be allowed to link 3 to your acct and as long as that checks out you’re good to go?

    Perhaps this could be pirated too, but at least it would be unobtrusive to the end user. This way we’d be able to get no stupid DVD checks, no limited installs, or any of that crap. I’d be first in line if that’s what was implemented.

    As far as this goes, I’ve never heard of anything so stupid. I don’t like that I *have* to have Steam running when playing lots of games, but at least I can still play my games if I’m not online. And it’s pretty unobtrusive .. it does it’s thing and I can play. No big deal. This scheme is clearly devised to try to kill the dual-headed beast of piracy and reselling with one stone. Trust me, this ain’t gonna work.

    • Tei says:

      “Maybe I’m really dense here, but why can’t publishers build in a simple account system linked to a hardware key on your computer?”

      Tagging a computer with a unique ID would be a dead hit to your personal privacy… and It will be dificult, and easy to avoid. MAC address.. are loaded in memory, and after that, are read from memory (so you can change the mac on-the-fly). Any other GUI capability will be as easy to hack/change at convenience of the user.
      Also, wen I buy a game, maybe I want to be able to play that game in two or more different computers I own, one in my home, other in my bed, or whatever.

    • malkav11 says:

      People have wanted to do something of the sort for a while now. It’s called “trusted computing” and it’s bullshit.

      The way you propose doing it is actually worse, because I quite regularly swap out great swathes of internal components in my computer for something better. I don’t want to lose access to games every time I do.

    • Lilliput King says:

      It doesn’t necessarily have to be as you describe though Malkav, surely?

      We could have something that’d fit in a PCI slot, or maybe even a USB device. That’d do the same thing, and wouldn’t be an issue when we switch components round, as I imagine most RPSers do fairly often.

      The thing I’m not certain about is how reliable such a device would be. Considering a cracked one would give access to every game using the system, the possibility of cracking a hardware key would pretty much make it an unattractive prospect to publishers.

    • Tei says:

      “We could have something that’d fit in a PCI slot, or maybe even a USB device. That’d do the same thing, and wouldn’t be an issue when we switch components round, as I imagine most RPSers do fairly often.”

      If the PS3 got cracked, and It was a completed closed solution. Imagine a separate modular thingie.

    • SuperNashwan says:

      This USB key idea already exists, look up iLok and Synchrosoft. Synchrosoft took a massive amount of work to emulate by some very talented people and although iLok is cracked, it’s often used in conjunction with custom DRM schemes which makes a bunch of stuff it protects still unreleased. One of the pieces of software I own uses a challenge generated from a piece of your hardware with the response from a remote server, which remains uncracked.
      Essentially there are ways to make piracy really hard, just they only work for so long and the games warez scene is highly competitive. Groups will be falling over themselves to beat anything publishers like Ubisoft come up with. The only person affected in the long run is the legitimate paying customer, although the sensible thing would be to pay and then use the cracked version.

    • MacQ says:

      How about they stop investing huge amounts of money into stupid worthless DRM and lower the prices of digitali distributed games? The money they’ll save from that and from not having costs to print manuals, make DVDs and distribution costs would all cover the (MAYBE!!!) lesser income. They’ll probably sell more and make more income then now.

  35. Zyzzi says:

    Hey, looks like I’m not buying anything from Ubisoft in the near future! I mean, the amount of unimaginative sequels coming out this year, coupled with price and DRM just makes me unwilling to buy anything.

  36. ManaTree says:

    Odd. I logged in and I still have to do all this.

    Anyways, there’s a little trick with Steam’s offline mode. Disable your networks and network cards. It works better for me, not 100%. But it does do something.

    My guess is that it thinks it’s able to connect online when clearly not and it keeps attempting to do so. I wish they’d really fix that. It’s such an annoying bug.

    EDIT: Son of a bitch. It didn’t work. I meant to reply to the Steam offline mode comment on the first page. VINRAITH, LISTEN TO MEEEEEE!!!!!

  37. hoff says:

    Piracy down by 0.263%!

    Sales down by 80%!

  38. KOuri says:

    This WILL get hacked, server responses spoofed or codepath hijacked. End of story. Just another fun day for the black hats. :)

  39. gojiro0 says:

    Damn, I was looking forward to Settlers 7 too. No way in hell I’m going to support a model such as described above.

  40. HALF says:

    We hear all this rubbish reported about how PC gaming is dying however the truth is that publishers are actually trying their best to KILL it with shit like this.

    • HALF says:

      And forgot i wanted to say that if anything this is gonna cause more problems as guys who have never thought about downloading a pirated version or hack will now probably want to download said hacks to bi-pass this and play the game in the normal manner they are accustomed to(with out having to log in every dam time and probably be bombarded with advertisement opps i mean news on the game login screen).

  41. camacho says:

    Ubisoft didn’t market their games as a service. You still pay full retail price for their games. Onlive is a games as service. MMO’s are not. They are games whose selling point is the fact that you get to play with a whole community.

  42. DarkNoghri says:

    In other news, this appears to be the longest RPS comment thread I’ve ever seen.

    • Klaus says:

      Really? There was one about DRM in general that lasted pretty long.

      I think it spawned that “Children eaten by DRM today: 9529″ thingy at the bottom of the page.

  43. drewski says:

    @Vinraith – you’re so out of touch you might as well be carving your posts on stone tablets.

    • Vinraith says:

      @drewski

      Good one, got any “yo mamma” jokes for us while you’re on a roll?

  44. Indica Man says:

    Won’t happen. Gamers will either boycott UBISoft or work out how to install a fake server on their systems to bypass the UBISoft online thing.

    I won’t buy anything that tries to control my online and gaming experience. F%^$ ‘em I say.

  45. oceanclub says:

    @urthman @vinraith Shucks, you guys. Maybe I should have been a advertising copywriter. Or as it’s technically called, a “whore”.

  46. OJ287 says:

    UBISoft in the head if you think this will make me want to buy your games.

  47. Iain says:

    @Theory:

    I’ve not had StarForce nuke an optical drive to the point of it physically breaking, but I have had StarForce cause certain disks (legitimate, licensed software, I might add – I don’t pirate any software at all) to stop reading, cause issues with using Nero when burning CD-Rs to backup data, and I’ve also had it make the operating system so unstable that I’ve had to reformat the hard drive and reinstall Windows from scratch.

    Another thing I object to about the use of StarForce is that if you uninstall the game it came with, it doesn’t remove the DRM. So not only does it install itself without your knowledge* (early usages of StarForce did this) and write itself into your hardware profile rather than the installed software list, it doesn’t even give you an easy method of removing it, either.

    As a consumer I have a right to know exactly what’s being installed on my machine, not have software install itself without my knowledge or permission – and if I don’t like something, I shouldn’t have to leap through hoops to get rid of it, because the developers couldn’t be arsed to provide an uninstall button.

    *(Of the games I’ve bought, only Colin McRae: DIRT ever asked me for permission to install StarForce – at which point I took the DVD out of the drive and put it straight in the bin)

  48. pkt-zer0 says:

    So, as revealed on the Ubisoft forums, it turns out that ANNO: Venice will not have this new copy protection. Whether that means it’ll have no DRM or use the copy protection originally in the base game seems uncertain.

    • Vinraith says:

      Actually they removed the limited install nonsense from the boxed version of Anno 1404 back in October, so if Venice is structured the same way it should just have a straight disc-check and nothing else.

      I’m very glad to hear this won’t be on Venice, that’s at least one game I was looking forward to not ruined by Ubi’s idiocy. Thanks for the info.

  49. PC Monster says:

    Last to the party as usual. Everything worthwhile has no doubt been said, and more besides, but I feel strongly enough about this to unite lung, throat and tongue in glorious voice:

    EVERYONE – and I mean EVERYONE who has ever praised Steam in any fashion, gloried in it’s existence or pimped it on forums has no right whatsoever to bitch about Ubisoft tying their games to online servers. Steam’s success has been noticed, people. You were warned back at the beginning that Valve’s attempt to hold the hands of gamers as they played was only the first few steps on a very slippery slope. And now look. Permanent online connection just play the game and an absolute necessity to be able to save; the logical progression. Features that were once commonplace and available to all now being touted as new ‘freedoms’ from less sophisticated DRM schemes.

    You know who you are, you guilty ones. Thanks for helping screw up gaming for the rest of us.

    • Sam says:

      Excuse me, what?
      “People being happy to use an internet-based digital download management system (with some online authentication checks that have an offline mode” = “the slippery slope to always online single player games that save games to the cloud”?

      Slippery slope arguments have a reputation for being asinine, but really, you’re taking the biscuit.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      That’s not the logical progression; it’s taking something to extremes.
      Steam is popular because of super-cheap game deals.
      Steam isn’t as unpopular as it used to be, because it isn’t as 5H17 as it used to be.
      Steam has an offline mode.
      And so on.