We barely need to say anything here (but we will), as where we’re going we don’t need words. We only need righteous fury. PC Gamer have experienced the controversial new Ubisoft DRM first-hand, in the PC build of Assassin’s Creed 2. We already thought the paranoid new copy protection was pretty bad, requiring as it did an online check everytime you played and giving you a hard time if you tried to launch it offline.
What we didn’t think – what we didn’t believe they’d be mad enough to do – was that it’d kick you out of the game if your net connection dropped for any reason.
Or, as PCG’s Tom Francis rightly observes, even if Ubi’s servers happen to have a funny turn. (A troubling precedent for which has already been set by EA – Alec experienced something similar yesterday, when Bioware/EA’s servers suffering extended maintenance meant all his Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2 DLC was deemed unauthorised, which in turn prevented him from loading any savegames which used that DLC. The point being: don’t punish your customers because you’ve screwed up).
Incredibly, the worst is indeed true in Assassin’s Creed 2 – and, it appears, will be for Settlers 7 too. No matter what you’re doing, no matter what the reason, the game will refuse to let you continue playing if it decides you’re not online. You’re dumped right back to a menu, losing any progress made since the last checkpoint. If you don’t have a constant, uninterrupted internet connection, you can’t play. Let’s list some of the reasons you might drop your net connection, shall we? Router crash, ISP problems, cat playing with the cable, microwave muddling your wi-fi connection, train going into a tunnel when you’re on 3G, Windows having a networking befuddlement, someone else in the house torrenting the bandwidth dry…
Incredible. In-cred-i-ble. It’s like someone taking away your food mid-meal because your napkin’s fallen on the floor. It makes us want to pull an expression we’re not physically capable of, like this. It’s also worth noting this is a day on which EA have turned off multiplayer servers for games that are only a year old – so it’s hard to have faith that Ubi’s activation servers will be around for many years hence. Hopefully they wouldn’t turn them off without first releasing an offline mode patch – but, given how unforgiving this system currently is, we’re hardly going to leap to such positive presumptions.
While we’ve not always gone full-pelt protest against excessive DRM, this is open contempt for paying customers, and, quite frankly, it’s the most valid reason yet for PC gamers to call a massed boycott. We’ll certainly be ignoring it with all the passion we can muster.