Unsilent Hunter: UbiDRM Not Sunk After All?

By Alec Meer on March 5th, 2010 at 2:51 pm.

It is the year 2138. Since the terrible conclusion of the great war between Simon Cowell’s X-tremes and Charlie Brooker’s Tweetonauts, humanity has been at peace. And, for the first time in 131 years, the PC gaming website Rock, Paper, Shotgun passes an entire week without mentioning DRM.

That’s then, but this is now – and UbiGate continues apace. Yesterday, seemingly cracked versions of Silent Hunter 5 and Assassin’s Creed 2 appeared. Ubisoft have since responded to say these DRMless versions are not complete, backed up to some extent by various forum comments observing that the SH5 scene release can’t make it past the first mission. Other comments claim otherwise. What’s a poor website to believe?

Here’s Ubisoft’s statement:

“You have probably seen rumors on the web that Assassin’s Creed II and Silent Hunter 5 have been cracked. Please know that this rumor is false and while a pirated version may seem to be complete at start up, any gamer who downloads and plays a cracked version will find that their version is not complete.”

Which reads a bit too broad to be convincing enough by itself – we’ve requested further official comment, but in the meantime, here’s a selection of comments from a variety of popular filesharing sites which I’m not fool enough to link directly to here:

This is not fully cracked. The game needs a permanent online connection to net with a valid serial and DOWNLOADS the missions as you play through the campaign. This is not currently downloading the missions. I imagine this will still work fine when some we get all the mission files?

Hmm…it seems to be working just fine for me…I d/l the game and then the 1.1 patch…..I mounted it, then installed it without a hitch and then applied the 1.1 patch and crack..I then started the game directly from the crack and am currently on the 2nd mission of the campaign…seems to be saving just fine…I exited the game and then started it again and it was right where I left off and showed my next mission objectives….seems fine so far and gonna continue later tomorrow and see how things go…

Game NOT fully CRACKED!
U can play it, but NO missions, not even if u use the dafoult profile name.
Still, patrols is a go, but that gets kinda boring after a few runs.
Darn online missiongiving :(

Using the profile name gets you past the tutorial, and lets you start the first mission (even that doesn’t work for everyone). That’s as far as you get though. The missions for the most part are stored on Ubisoft’s servers. I guess someone is going to have to buy a legit copy and play through the game before a fully functional crack can be created. Hopefully these are the only tricks Ubisoft has up it’s sleeve. This crack is incomplete and probably should be nuked.

There’s still an awful lot of contradiction, in other words. Of course, it’s possible that any or all of the more strident comments on Torrent sites are telling porkie-pies on behalf one side or another, but I’ll leave it to crazy IP hunters to work out if there’s anything odd going on there.

Meanwhile, we’re told this is what people trying the Assassin’s Creed 2 crack are experiencing:

Largely speaking, it looks like Ubisoft might currently be right on this one, even if they’ve not provided supporting evidence of their own. Interesting to hear the repeated user assertions that the game downloads mission files as it requires them, which if true is presumably the key to how the DRM system works. It may be that a 100% successful crack turns up once someone’s played one of these games to completion and has the complete set of files, or it could be that important pieces are auto-deleted once used. Either way, this looks like a canny way to deal with 0-day piracy, even if its long-term effectiveness is less sure. It’s a bit rich, frankly, that a game you buy on a disc has to go and download a ton of stuff as soon as you run it, but then that’s scarcely uncommon practice – as anyone who’s bought a boxed Valve game or MMO in the last few years will know.

This hideously uncomfortable journey clearly isn’t over, despite yesterday’s apparent resolution. What fresh horror awaits us?

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178 Comments »

  1. Wulf says:

    It’s known that you have to be smart in order to properly install the crack, and that a couple of workarounds are necessary, but according to my sources, this is all just damage control on Ubisoft’s part, and the games are quite completable providing you’ve done the prerequisite downloads, which don’t need to come from Ubisoft at all.

  2. Gremmi says:

    Has anyone mentioned that the DRM isn’t quite as draconian as last reported, and that if the connection drops it just saves locally until it can resync with the server? It no longer kicks you out the game. Thought it’s worth mentioning.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      Sort of like downgrading your afternoon with the thumbscrews for an hour with a hot poker?

      Either way, it’s still unpleasant and shouldn’t be tolerated.

    • Duck says:

      That’s exactly what Steam does with Steam Cloud.

      If Ubi has stepped back a bit and really is saving locally when the connection drops, then, as it’s the exact same thing as Steam Cloud, there should be no reason to be angry at it.

      However, I highly doubt Ubi has stepped back a bit.

    • PHeMoX says:

      It won’t save locally at all, it just won’t complain for as long as you stay within the same mission.

      It wouldn’t surprise me if the missions are downloaded each time you want to play them, meaning that data doesn’t get stored locally at all, unless you create a save game.

    • Vitalis says:

      Sounds more like exactly what people guessed would happen. Make the draconian DRM slightly less draconian so people are tricked into thinking that it’s ok then.

      Couldn’t put it any better than Andy_Panthro above.
      Also cloud-saving still isn’t a justification…

    • Gremmi says:

      “Sounds more like exactly what people guessed would happen. Make the draconian DRM slightly less draconian so people are tricked into thinking that it’s ok then.”

      I don’t recall saying it was okay. In fact, I don’t remember giving an opinion one way or the other. Just stating the facts, ma’am.

    • Andy says:

      Last I had heard that wasn’t the case, while the game doesn’t quit in the same way it did originally and you won’t loose your mission progression, it still force pauses the game and doesn’t allow any play until it re-connects.

    • Gremmi says:

      I know that AC2 saves locally when a connection drops (though I can’t remember the name of the site that tested it extensively off the top of my head), but admittedly my knowledge of SH5 is based off some guy on a forum saying he yanked his network cable and it all worked fine.

      Though I’m a bit confused by this talk of ‘missions’ anyway. SH has never had linear missions anyway, you just went out on dynamic patrols.

    • Jad says:

      But I assume you still need to have a working internet connection to start the game right? Any DRM that requires that is bad, period. No ands ifs or buts.

      Steam barely squeaks by this with its offline mode, which supposedly is fixed, I haven’t tried recently.

      But any DRM that requires an internet connection to play a singleplayer game — at any point — is unacceptable.

      I kinda sorta make an exception for one-time activation at install, but I thoroughly respect people who won’t even let that slide, because of the terrible implications it has for a future where we can’t re-install our old games.

      But whatever changes Ubisoft has done, its certainly not enough.

    • Antsy says:

      I was without internet for two weeks last December and had no trouble installing and playing my steam back-ups. I read alot about Steam’s broken offline mode but I’ve yet to experience it.

    • Wulf says:

      Strangest thing is that Steam’s offline mode has never failed to work for me.

      1. Disconnect one’s Internet connection (I’ve used my WLAN switch, just to be absolutely sure).
      2. Start Steam.
      3. Click the friendly Offline Mode button.
      4. Wait for Steam to sort itself out.
      5. Double-click game.
      6. Play game.

      Simple as.

      I’m baffled by what’s going wrong with offline mode for other people. What are people seeing? Where’s it going wrong?

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      I never had any problems either, but I figured it was one of those YMMV situations.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Probably because of my crazy-slow internet connection, but what kept happening for me was the following:

      I’d start up steam when my internet connection was down, and it’d try to connect, fail, then offer me offline mode. I’d accept, then it would start trying to download a patch, and wouldn’t get anywhere for obvious reasons. It’d then be no use at all ’till I managed to get connected again.

      So when it didn’t work, it didn’t work in a really irritating fashion. I’m hoping that the Valve patches (“fixed offline mode”) might have fixed my particular problem, as it hasn’t happened since.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Lilliput King

      Yup, stuck permanently “updating” is the classic offline mode error. If they’ve actually fixed that, it would be great.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Grey Cap says:

    Poor, poor Ubisoft. Hopefully a whole drove of somebodies will lose their jobs over this ‘unsinkable’ DRM scheme.

    • LionsPhil says:

      You realise that the people who would lose their jobs would be the codemonkeys forced into writing this crap, not the idiot managerial staff who mandated it, right?

    • SquareWheel says:

      I’d say it comes down to PEBKAC. People on torrent sites are always reporting false positives, asking how to mount images, and other crazy things.

      That said, it was Skidrow that cracked it, and I’ve always considered them lower quality releases than Razor or Reloaded.

  4. M says:

    On the PCG Blog yesterday, Ubi were quoted as saying that they would ‘consider’ an offline patch for a game once it had been fully-cracked, which seemed bizarre to me, as if the DRM was a challenge and our reward for cracking it was to be able to play the game properly.

    Still, it’s interesting to see that the game’s not cracked yet. If it disables missions after completion though, forcing a re-download, that really would be incredible.

    I still can’t see it lasting more than a month. But maybe that’s all they want.

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      Would perhaps have been better to say that they would patch out the DRM in 6-12 months, for those that can wait.

      I’d like to see games companies patch out their drm on such a timescale in general really. Doubt it will ever happen… How long did it take for Diablo2 to get the disc check removed?

  5. Freytag says:

    Sounds like it doesn’t work if you install just the game, but works just fine if you also install the cracked 1.1 update that was released on the scene a few hours after the game itself.

  6. Premium User Badge

    James G says:

    Hang on… The game downloads missions when you reach them?!

    Okay, its a bit redundant to claim I shan’t be buying this as A) I have no interest in the genre B) The previous DRM information was enough to discourage me. But, if I had wanted to play it, this would pretty much rule it out.

    I’m currently living in short term accommodation and and am not sure exactly how long I’ll be here, but know it is likely to be considerably less than 12 months. As a result I’d be extremely limited wrt. broadband/phone line suppliers, and when looking into it I discovered that the few options I had would have lead to a considerable delay, and £160 connection fees. (Which could have been for as little as three months.)

    As a result I’m on a 3G dongle. I get 10GB a month, and cut close to the limit every time. I do buy from steam, but confine myself to smaller titles, or for great bargains spread the download out carefully. If this game is downloading half its data from the server I could easily hit that limit unknowingly. If it is deleting the files after use, then I’d be doubly screwed. (Not to mention my 3G connection isn’t the most stable of net connections.)

    Oh, and meanwhile I can’t wait until I have wired broadband again.

    • Andy says:

      You might want to try out these guys
      http://aaisp.net/

      They offer Broadband without 12 month contracts. It’s paid for in a slightly unusual way and tends to be more expensive if you’re using it 9-5 during the week (which isn’t a problem for me since I’m at work) but gives you a real service without locking you down.

    • Premium User Badge

      James G says:

      Main limitation is actually getting the phone line. The Post Office offer short term contracts, but as my flat hasn’t had a line for years getting one installed was going to cost a small fortune. Had I realised then that I’d be staying for as long as I have I might have jumped for it, but that would still have resulted in disruption when I had to move out the current place for a month and a half near Christmas. I noticed these people do offer phone lines as well, but I couldn’t find information regarding their installation costs, or whether they have a minimum contract.

      Edit: Ahh, there we go, installation of £142.77. No mention of minimum term, so I’ll assume there isn’t one. Cheaper than the post office, but still not ideal for a connection I only hope to need for three more months at the most.

    • Premium User Badge

      James G says:

      Reposted, as edit got eaten by spamfilter again. (E-mail link didn’t work either.)

      Main limitation is actually getting the phone line. The Post Office offer short term contracts, but as my flat hasn’t had a line for years getting one installed was going to cost a small fortune. Had I realised then that I’d be staying for as long as I have I might have jumped for it, but that would still have resulted in disruption when I had to move out the current place for a month and a half near Christmas. I noticed these people do offer phone lines as well, but I couldn’t find information regarding their installation costs, or whether they have a minimum contract.

      Edit: Ahh, there we go, installation of £142.77. No mention of minimum term, so I’ll assume there isn’t one. Cheaper than the post office, but still not ideal for a connection I only hope to need for three more months at the most.

  7. Ffitz says:

    @ Gremmi.

    It still means I can’t play it on my laptop on the train through, doesn’t it? That’s the killer for me.

    Never mind, Ubi’s lost sales and I can’t play games that I was really looking forward to. Still, Just Cause 2 and BF:BC2 will, I’m sure, dry my tears. It’s not as if there’s a games drought at the moment.

  8. redrain85 says:

    I’m sure that not disclosing how the game downloads missions as it goes along, is going to go down REAL well with people who have a monthly download limit. I smell a class-action lawsuit brewing sooner than expected.

    So I guess we don’t need to wait for OnLive any more . . . the age of streaming game content in a single player game is here now.

    We need better consumer protection laws to prevent the abuse of customers, from companies who won’t fully disclose their practices when a customer wants to purchase a game. The video game industry is truly hitting rock bottom as of late, and Ubisoft is leading the charge.

  9. Alexander Norris says:

    Methinks the host of Ubi games being delayed are due to them “reconsidering their DRM strategy,” by which I mean waiting to see if the pirates have won to decide between making it even stricter or relaxing it a little.

    Also, what was I supposed to see in that Assassin’s Creed 2 video? It looked perfectly normal to me.

    • JuJuCam says:

      It’s normal till after all the cutscenes, then at the first point when the player would have any input at all it shows a blank white screen and no sign of progress.

  10. Uhm says:

    There’s always a problem when this happens, and it’s when somebody who bought the game has a genuine problem, the support forum calls them a pirate and suggests they should try buying the full game.

    • Wulf says:

      Don’t you realise why that’s a wonderful thing? It suggests a problem with the support forum, and that they blame the evil space pirates for problems caused by their DRM. This kind of thing should be linked to and publicised rather than actually taken as an ad populum truth.

      It’s paranoia of the worst degree, ready those tinfoil hats, we’re in for a bumpy ride as those evil space pirates are infecting the DRMz of our legitimate customers with their superviruses, which in turn brainwash our poor, legitimate users into being evil space pirates themselves! ONOZ!

      The stupidity of the Internet regarding piracy/big companies is simply astounding sometimes. We need to fight this sort of thing, not sit around nodding like mindless goats.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      Ubi did this ALL THE TIME when they were using Starforce. If you posted complaining they’d call you a pirate and ban you. That was their entire “Technical support” for DRM issues.

      Ubi are scum. Always have been.

  11. step21 says:

    to me this seems like just people being too stupid to follow instructions. While I did not test it myself, you almost always get those.

  12. JuJuCam says:

    They missed an opportunity here. The real trick would be if they gave the pirate enough of a taste of actual gameplay to get them hooked and then pulled the rug out from under them, possibly with a message directed towards them along the lines of “we know what you’re doing, if you’d like to continue your adventure go to our website and order the full game”.

    A strategy employed by Introversion for Darwinia. So I’ve heard.

    • Jad says:

      I also understand that a similar thing was done with Batman: Arkham Asylum, along with a bunch of games in the past that I don’t remember.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Codies did something funny with their DRM a while back, apparently ripped copies appeared to be fine but gradually degraded – I remember comments about some snooker sim they had losing Newtonian physics and stuff like that.

      Never tested it myself, but the rumour amused me, or at least the thought of it did – suddenly your shots start going in circles and jumping off the table etc.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      Drewski: Codemasters thing was called FADE. Games seemed to be okay then broke. There was the TOCA game where in your second season your car would get way heavier, gravity would reverse etc…

      However, this was all removed with a proper crack. I used the crack on my copy and never had any issues at all.

      It was mostly just hyperbole. A few people had issues but mostly it was yet another impotent attempt at DRM.

  13. toni says:

    ubi’s claims are bogus. I saw footage of the last missions played on a cracked version and I reached mission 4. I also have AC2 legally sitting on my steam account and can attest that there IS a version working proper and without any need for elaborate emulators, redirections or numerous steps to install.
    I did some hash/md5 runs over the files and they are identical. I analysed nettraffic and hd-access and while it does touch upon a myriad of files it does NOT change them at all during play.

    • Wulf says:

      Yep.

      Gods damn, Ubisoft have underestimated the cleverness of people, and worse, they’ve made this system out to be far more complex than it actually is.

      It was inevitable that it would fall, that they’re still convincing anyone that it hasn’t is a miracle.

  14. Oh Reginald says:

    It is worth noting that the only part that seems to be working for Ubi, doling out missions, could have been done without using really invasive DRM.

  15. Adz says:

    That may be, but if it’s true that you download the missions from Ubisod then what happens if you complete a mission and don’t have an active connection to download the rest?

  16. Heliocentric says:

    So, some shills on the ubiforums said the game is incomplete? Whatever happened to deleting posts about piracy and banning the users?

    This stinks of damage control.

  17. Heliocentric says:

    The shills use lots of capital letters. Must look more legitimate to the manager which screened them.

  18. Po0py says:

    Oh No! The Penguins are getting smarter…

  19. KilgoreTrout XL says:

    Copy protection that requires your PC to contact the publisher’s server to d/l stages as required during your play-through? Man, this would have been _perfect_ for Ultima 9.

  20. Sentient says:

    Well I voted with my wallet.

  21. C says:

    Perhaps I am the only one to think of this, but doesn’t this kill retrogaming Assassin’s Creed 2 and Settlers 5 and Silent Hunter 5 in the future? If Ubi has to maintain servers with essential game data on them, they will not do so for eternity. Or they could just be lying.

    • Wulf says:

      It’s been theorised by many people that planned obsolescence is the primary reason for the DRM. They switch off the DRM for Assassin’s Creed II a couple of weeks before III arrives, thus convincing people to buy the third instalment as quickly as possible rather than replaying the second, first. This makes a hell of a lot of sense, really, as many publishers have been trying to turn game sales into game rentals.

      And that Ubisoft, they have the insanity of a manatee, they’ve come the closest yet. I just hope people aren’t dense enough to buy games with built-in obsolescence.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      Wrote about this on my blog last year, that this isn’t about copy protection but about control to force people to buy newer games.

      Which is why we should be thanking the likes of Skid Row, Razor and Reloaded for their work in allowing us to continue using the products we’ve paid for beyond the manufacturer’s expiration date.

      Can you see ANY other industry that would get away with this shit? Like the car industry making your car expire after 3 years. Or your DVD’s expiring so you have to buy them on Blu-Ray. There’d be bloody uproar!

      The software industry gets away with so much shit that no other industry does. You buy a loaf of bread with a dead cockroach inside it, you return it and get your money back. With software you get a game you can’t load due to DRM and can’t get your money back. Why? Because you might have copied it!

      This industry is despicable.

  22. Grey! says:

    ubi, you’re a liar. my friend tested the sh5 with update 1.1 by the skidrow and it works flawlessly. any more lies, ubi? still, if it’s cracked properly (means i don’t have to connect to the internet everytime), i’m going to buy it. i love silent hunter. but, screw you ubi!

    • Wulf says:

      Yep, that’s exactly what I was told, too.

      This is basically damage control by Ubisoft, and nothing more. It’s an age old tactic, throw some FUD static out there and then toss in a few idiots who can’t install a crack, then suddenly ONOZ, the cracked version doesn’t work! Disaster! Except that, you know, that’s obviously not true and it works flawlessly.

      I tend to keep my ear to the ground with this sort of thing, and if it wasn’t working then I’d know about it. Yet everyone I’ve talked to says quite the opposite.

      This is an operational crack, it’s got Ubi on damage control, they’re firefighting, and that should make the truth evident. Yes? Frankly, if it wasn’t a threat then they wouldn’t be making such a big fuss trying to downplay it, they’d just have kept their traps shut and let Internet people find this out for themselves.

      The truth of any situation becomes obvious when you think about it, and consider the dishonesty involved.

  23. wcaypahwat says:

    I don’t like the sound of the whole streaming missions thing. Like others have said, I have download limits (yay Australia!). It’s especially bad if it has to re-download every time I want to play a mission.

    At least with Steam, a retail copy installs the whole game off the disc, activates and just downloads any updates for it. We know this is the practice upfront, also.

    At least data downloaded from Steam doesn’t count toward my data limits.

  24. Ravenger says:

    Whether it’s cracked or not, this is a PR disaster for Ubisoft, just like the Spore fiasco was for EA

    I feel sorry for the actual dev teams of Settlers, Silent Hunter V, and Assassins Creed 2 who are seeing all their hard work ruined by the the bad publicity resulting from the DRM.

    And the protest grows: Assassins Creed 2 is now getting 1 star reviews on Amazon.

    I note that Amazon don’t even mention the DRM in the Assassin’s Creed 2 store page, which isn’t good at all. Full disclosure is needed if a product has a restrictive DRM, so the customer can make an informed choice.

  25. Heliosicle says:

    Hmm, I’ll probably still get SC:C but I hope it gets cracked so I dont need to be online aaaaaaalll the time…

    • Bonedwarf says:

      You buy their titles you forfeit any right to complain about the DRM.

  26. The Sombrero Kid says:

    at least ubisoft publicised exactly how bad their drm is, i was sold bad company 2 under the impression it’d not have any activation limits and yet i was screwed and no one seems to give a fuck.

    • C says:

      It doesn’t have any activation limits if you select the disk check option over the online activation.

    • Wulf says:

      I don’t think any DRM is good, personally, and I think a part of the point of this is to show just how bad DRM can get. And activations aren’t nearly as bad as what Ubisoft has going on there, if they hadn’t advertised it then they would’ve been hit with a million lawsuits, simultaneously, possibly two million, or more! >.> But you get the point.

      I agree though, the activations on Bad Company are wrong, but there are cracks, I believe, if you want to use them. And providing you make sure you get it from the right people, you’re at absolutely no risk by doing so.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      I bought the steam version. there’s no disk check option.

    • Ravenger says:

      It’s never a good idea these days to pre-order a PC game until you’re sure you know what DRM it uses, that’s especially true on Steam as sometimes the notification of third party DRM doesn’t turn up on the store page until well after the game has been released.

      I always check the Steam forums and the game’s store page before purchasing a third party game off Steam. If the guys on the Steam forums mention third party DRM or can’t confirm the game is third party DRM free then I don’t buy it.

    • TheSombreroKid says:

      i usually do to, but this time i slipped and just went with the store page + i’d heard it’d have an optional disc check and so kinda assumed the activation limits would be optional for steam too.

      i feel like a right plonker, i’m sure i can probably download a disc and use my steam key on that version if i ever run out of activations.

  27. jsutcliffe says:

    I am very conflicted about this. The only good outcome is for Ubi to remove the DRM. Any situation in which pirates (or at least crackers) can be painted as the good guys is bad for gaming.

    I want the pirates to win, for purposes of schadenfreude, but that seems wrong.

    • Wulf says:

      Why is it wrong for crackers to be the good guys? I don’t understand that at all.

      I buy a game, the game has DRM which takes RING0 access (a huge security risk) and is limited to five activations.

      I download a crack, the game is now still the same game I bought, but I don’t have to worry about the security risk or the activations.

      How does this possibly make the people who put the crack together the bad guys?

      Crackers != Pirates. That’s a distinction that needs to be made. It really, really does.

      I’ve been using cracks for years because I can guarantee anyone that a crack is safer than DRM.

      – Edited to add more. –

      Consider: If you buy a product and you cannot use that product to its full intent, because it’s partly broken by design, and someone wanders up to you and fixes it for free just because they’re nice like that, who’s the bad guy?

      Is the bad guy the person who sold you the product that was broken by design, or the person who went and fixed it to you, with nary a complaint or a request for payment considering the services rendered?

    • jsutcliffe says:

      1) Cracking is a legal grey area at best.

      2) Investigation into cracking a game could easily lead to information about pirating games. It’s a gateway drug — lock up your children!1

      3) If the EULA states that you have to comply with the DRM and you crack the game, you’re breaching the EULA. Using software without a license could (but won’t) land you in legal hot water.

      Which isn’t to say that I don’t think this whole DRM situation is bullshit. It’s just … I’m conflicted. I’m also quite aware of how useful cracks can be — I buy all of my games from Steam or similar services these days I and tend to crack older games I install from discs so I don’t have to make sure I have the right disc out for the game I want to play.

      I guess I’m mostly just surprised by the amount of piracy/cracking discussion there’s been on RPS around the Ubisoft DRM issue — I might expect that from somewhere like Destructoid, but RPS is all respectable-like.

    • TheSombreroKid says:

      luckily EULA aren’t worth the paper they aren’t printed on.

    • Starky says:

      Indeed – Maybe not in some countries, but in the UK at least (to the best of my knowledge) any EULA like shrink-wrap contract that violates consumer rights (statutory rights) as most of them do – are basically void.

      Which is nice.

    • Wulf says:

      “1) Cracking is a legal grey area at best.”

      Oh please let’s not get into the quagmire of intellectual property laws, you’re not going there, are you?

      This is the only thing that matters: I made a financial transaction for a product, one which I should be able to use as I please, if a crack enables me to use my product with greater ease, then I should be allowed to crack it.

      Mods do the same thing, are we going to classify mods as a legal grey area, too? I’d really only think that it’s a grey area if you don’t actually pay for the game, yes? Otherwise this line of thinking is very, very silly.

      “2) Investigation into cracking a game could easily lead to information about pirating games. It’s a gateway drug — lock up your children!1″

      Um, no, not really. I know a bunch of people who’ve been cracking games to self-enable their usage of said games since time immemorial, look at those StarForce games that you can’t use unless you’re in XP, or unless you rip the StarForce out.

      Just because there are illegitimate uses doesn’t mean there aren’t legitimate uses. Are we going to say that torrents should be banned next because peer to peer is one way of spreading illegal games, even though BBC’s iPlayer uses torrents? Even though Linux distributions are often shared that way?

      See, that’s the problem with arguments like the ones you’re making here, they have all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, it’s not as black and white as you’re making out.

      “3) If the EULA states that you have to comply with the DRM and you crack the game, you’re breaching the EULA. Using software without a license could (but won’t) land you in legal hot water.”

      Any lawyer worth their salt, when presented with a EULA, would laugh, and laugh, and laugh until their sides ached.

      I’ve got a friend or two in legal studies and they find EULAs amusing reading at best, with loopholes that one could fit the Titanic through, or many Titanics, if all the holes were used. They’re basically meaningless, because they’re not a real contract, there’s no signature, and no obligation to obey them.

      I’m not saying that people should break the law, but I think that if someone were to crack a game they bought and a company took them to court for it on the grounds of it breaking the EULA, then that company would probably be laughed out of court.

      ‘They bought the game, so what’s your problem?’ would be the general feeling, there.

      Past cases seem to support this idea. If you paid the money and you aren’t sharing the game around, then you’re not doing anything illegal.

      “I guess I’m mostly just surprised by the amount of piracy/cracking discussion there’s been on RPS around the Ubisoft DRM issue — I might expect that from somewhere like Destructoid, but RPS is all respectable-like.”

      Now the ball’s in your court: Explain, eloquently, why cracking isn’t respectable. Don’t include piracy, piracy has nothing to do with this. Assume that the person you’re talking to is someone who’s bought the game and then cracked it, now explain why they’re not allowed the same dignity as anyone else, explain why you should turn your nose up at them just for choosing to take control of the product they bought.

      Please do.

    • jsutcliffe says:

      I am not taking your bait, because you clearly didn’t read the entire comment or appreciate that parts of it were not serious.

    • Grey! says:

      @ Wulf: Totally agree

      “I’m not saying that people should break the law, but I think that if someone were to crack a game they bought and a company took them to court for it on the grounds of it breaking the EULA, then that company would probably be laughed out of court.”

      LoL, I would love to see that.

      But seriously, I think publisher should take the fight to the people who are making provit by the piracy. Many people would sell the illegal copy for far lower price. That’s the kind of people who needs to be locked up in jail, not the good buyer. Do that and you cripple one of the piracy’s limbs. It mostly happens in many third world and second world countries, one of these is the one I’m living in. It’s too far and publisher tend to ignore it, but it’ll definetly cause a critical blow to legit buyer.

    • bill says:

      From the RPS comments it’s clear that either:
      (a) RPS commenters are a lot more into cracks and piracy than you/i thought, or
      (b) DRM is a gateway drug.

      It’s definitely clear that the whole ubisoft DRM saga has created way more discussion and a much higher profile for cracks and piracy. I guess the question is whether the DRM has therefore generated piracy, or just got people who were already pirates to talk more openly?

      Bascially every games forum is now discussing this situation, and probably trying the downloads just out of curiosity…. i suspect that can’t be good for ubisoft.

      i do agree that cracking != piracy, though the two can also be connected.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Now the ball’s in your court: Explain, eloquently, why cracking isn’t respectable. Don’t include piracy, piracy has nothing to do with this. Assume that the person you’re talking to is someone who’s bought the game and then cracked it, now explain why they’re not allowed the same dignity as anyone else, explain why you should turn your nose up at them just for choosing to take control of the product they bought.

      That’s utterly misleading. The vast majority of cracks are used on pirated copies of games, and not for a legitimate purpose. Just look at the seeds/peers on crack+files torrents as opposed to torrents with just the crack.

      Imagine a group of people hurl a brick into the window of your local GAME. Sure, some of the people that rush inside will have owned legitimate copies of the games they are about to take, but the vast majority are just using the bricklobber’s work to get stuff for free. The window smasher bears some of the responsibility for this.

      That said, I don’t really care whether they’re ‘good people’ or not any more. There’s a kind of hysteria to the whole piracy debate now that I can’t really identify with. I lost interest and frankly, hope, a while back when people were seriously trying to argue that pirates were not responsible for piracy.

  28. Isometric says:

    “hideously uncomfortable”
    You hit the nail on the head there Alec

  29. skuphundaku says:

    Funny they would say that… after all, UbiSoft are the ones who released a NoCD crack for Rainbow Six Vegas 2 as a bug fix patch. They would probably wait for the full crack and release it as a DRM-removing patch. I find that completely hypocritical and absolutely hilarious at the same time. It sounds so UbiSoft that I’m almost convinced that that’s what they’re planing to do.

  30. 678 says:

    Those pirates are idiots. The game doesn’t download any mission files. Ubisodt would mention it in the press release.

    • Wulf says:

      Pretty much.

      A person who doesn’t bother to read the nfo on how to install a crack often ends up on forums complaining about how it doesn’t work, and people have to patiently walk them through it. I just wish they’d ask for help on installing cracks before assuming they didn’t work. I’m amazed that some of these people even know how to boot up their computer.

      There seriously needs to be a mandatory class to be taken and passed before one is allowed to use a computer, let alone own one.

      But yes, it’s not hard to see what’s going on, here.

    • J says:

      the game won’t run what do I do with iso?

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      i burnt cd but now my mum is mad because i filled up house with smoke and my sister wants her jonas bros album back. game still wont work

  31. Wilson says:

    Kind of off-topic, but am I the only one who is really tired of everything being referred to as whatever-gate? It’s starting to get ridiculously overused (certainly in many parts of the UK media) and it irritates me.

    • Vitalis says:

      Yeah that is rather off-topic.
      But I take it you’re referring to any ‘scandal’ being referred to as the whatevergate scandal. That was due to the Watergate scandal which happened to involve a place called Watergate.
      But yes, it is tiring and actually pointless.

    • Wilson says:

      Yeah, I’m aware of why it started. I just wish it would stop :)

    • deanimate says:

      A gate made out of water could be referred to as a “Watergate” :)

  32. jamscones says:

    Part of the problem here is that the game has been released in such a shittybad state that it’s difficult (for those who’ve pirated it) to tell whether issues are related to a bad crack or genuine bugs. Not an ideal situation for anybody really, least of all the paying consumer.

  33. Premium User Badge

    Arathain says:

    Can we get more precise confirmations here? I think only one person above has claimed that they have themselves used a working, cracked copy of the game, and we have a few “my friend says it works.”

    Can those who have, themselves, personally, installed and successfully played a cracked copy reply so we can get at least a headcount?

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      It’d also be good to hear from people who’ve tried and failed to run a crack. For entertainment purposes only. Void where prohibited. And so on.

    • Mil says:

      I expect those people are not talking about their friend but their “friend”.

  34. Petërkopf says:

    Whether they fix it or not, I’m not about to throw money at a company that basically assumes I’m a thief. I buy my games, I’m not gonna be made into a suspect by some Stalinist publisher playing police state at my very own expense.

    I’ve bought games from the Starforce era that no longer work because the copy protection requires Windows XP. That’s just so shortsighted and ridiculous that I wouldn’t dream of buying anything from these guys again. Shame though, they actually had a few good titles lined up.

  35. Bob's Lawn Service says:

    Am I the only one who thinks this whole tiff is rather unseemly?

    It really doesn’t make anyone look good.

    • Sarlix says:

      yup it’s a mess.

      Unlike your lawns.

      Or so I’ve heard.

      Bob’s is best?.

  36. Freudian Trip says:

    My local torrent site seems to have Silent Hunter V working fine. Russian version of Ass Creed 2 working fine. There seems to be people having trouble with the English version though. However, something stands out on the English torrent. A lack of a ‘Scene’ tag.

    My guess is that Ubisoft put out a borked version and thats the one people have been having this trouble with.

    Or not, seems they’ve cracked that version too. I can’t tell looking at it actually. As with all torrent sites theres 8 million people who don’t know how to pirate to the 3 people willing to tell people how to do it.

    • Vitalis says:

      I also had look around the nearby bay to find some pirates.
      Same things stood out to me. A close inspections seems to show that it has been cracked in some manner even for English versions but isn’t a ‘scene’ release as you said. The instructions for these cracks aren’t the best worded, however.

  37. Dr.Danger says:

    I have a legal copy of the game with a cracked patch 1.1 It works, all this jibberish with game incomplete is nonsense.

    This DRM system is nothing but Rental and not purchase. There must be someone who is going to go legal on them at one point, it should clearly be stated as Rental when you purchase such a product.

  38. kyrieee says:

    Who the fuck pirates a submarine sim anyway?
    I mean, the market for a game like that has to be pretty narrow. Maybe they should use whatever braincells they have and figure out that they have to support the games in order for them to continue to be made. A submarine sim. It’s baffling

    • andtriage says:

      lmao, i’m with you on this one, dude. good post.

    • Starky says:

      People who pirate submarine sim games are people who don’t like, or have probably never really played a submarine sim game – yet are curious.

      Many people (myself included) pirate simply out of curiosity, demo’s are all well and good but never give you any real idea if you’re going to get into the game for more than a few hours – and so it’s worth the price of purchase.

      It’s a service only piracy truly offers (try before you buy) – and one I’d happily use a legal route for if I could. I’d happily pay Steam £10 a month for the ability to rent 2-3 games at a time.
      After all, if Lovefilm (a UK netflix like rental-by-mail) can do it for my console needs (I almost never buy console games, and simply rent them instead) why can’t I get a simular service for PC games?

      It’s been argued over and over in the whole piracy debate though – the only way to beat piracy is to compete with it. Offer the superior version, with superior perks, benefits and extras.

      Instead companies keep punishing legitimate customers while the pirates laugh and offer the superior quality product.

    • Steve says:

      ^^ Pretty much this tbh.

      I’d be sorely tempted to actually go out buy the thing and crack it then fraps the playthough just to squish the rumours… but… seriously. It’s a fricken sub sim.

      As far as i’m concerned Ubi have just DRM’d this:

  39. Meat Circus says:

    My suspicion is that Ubi will be staring down the barrel of a class action lawsuit sooner rather than later over this one.

    Good. The fucking idiots.

  40. J9 says:

    I went to look at amazon after someone mentioned the 1 star ratings. Noticed that you can pre-order (in the US at least) AC2 for PS3 and Xbox for $36 with free shipping; PC – $59.99 still – ouch, assuming most publishers tend to have some control over initial release prices is this a sign of how much Ubi wants PC sales to fail for this game? Terrible DRM, ridiculously worse price compared to consoles and they get an easy argument (when the DRM has failed) that Piracy is killing sales, cause they sold X million on PS3 & Xbox and only X thousands on PC and had X millions downloaded.

    I’m glad I’m not interested in any of these games, cause I’d be pretty conflicted about buying them (my net drops too often to deal with the DRM and I don’t own consoles, I couldn’t justify buying with the DRM or paying almost twice as much as the console version that usually get more love from publishers in cross-platform games.) Oh well, waiting for the fun conclusion to this debacle.

  41. Meat Circus says:

    I have a working, cracked, pirated copy. Easily obtained from the usual sources.

  42. cjlr says:

    The type of people who fail to install cracks properly are the types who, quite frankly, astonish my to no end by managing to even turn on a computer to begin with.

    The point of this entire debacle was Ubisoft creating a system where they could impose a lifetime on their products. No more, no less. They don’t care that it will be cracked. They don’t care that pirates will, as usual, have a superior end-user experience. Assassin’s Creed 2 is close to the top of the Steam charts on pre-sales alone. They’re working on the assumption that fuck the consumer is a long-term viable business strategy. People being prone to fits of idiocy, they’re likely right.

  43. Britpunk says:

    From the FAQ (yeah well FAQ you too, ubi! *Chortle*)

    What if Ubisoft decides not run these online services in the future? Will my game stop working?

    If any service is stopped, we will create a patch for the game so that the core game play will not be affected.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Unless they forget, can’t be bothered, lose the source code or the rights or all the programmers who know how are long since gone because ubi is entering bankruptcy and can’t afford to pay them.

      What could go wrong?

    • Britpunk says:

      How cynical. That anybody could display any kind of cynicism in the face of claims made by a video game publisher completely shocks and surprises me.

    • Wulf says:

      Ahahahaha… well played, Britpunk.

      But indeed, there’s no reason why we should doubt our publishers, when they all go so far out of their way to be loved and respected!

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      Considering various publishers’ track records when it comes to simply switching off game servers without warning, I think it’s safe to say that customers are going to get screwed over. Any game that requires the publisher to maintain a server is at best a short-to-medium-term rental.

  44. Premium User Badge

    Grey Cap says:

    So. . . how well did these games sell? That’s the most important thing, right?

    • Sarlix says:

      Indeed, anyone got any numbers to crunch?

    • Gorgeras says:

      AC2 won’t appear in the main charts for at least a week plus one working day, but Steam’s top seller list is updated daily(if not hourly, giving a snapshot of the previous 24/48-hour period) by the database.

      AC2 appeared at number 2# when pre-orders became available. It fell and was gone from the list in just three days and still hasn’t reappeared. Steam users at least, are not buying it. They’re buying Counter-Strike, SupCom 2, Bad Company and Alien VS Predator instead.

  45. Shalrath says:

    So wait a sec, you download the missions as you get them? What the fuck happens if you’re part of half of the US still on a 56k connexion?

  46. The Diddler says:

    >as anyone who’s bought a boxed Valve game or MMO in the last few years will know.

    Yeah, but were talking about a game which is PURELY focused on single player, with NO multi player. Or did I missed something?

    I’d understand if it were just patches or maps for games like TF2, CS:S, HL2 Deathmatch or an Add-On, but I not for a single player game asking for allowance to proceed to the next level.

  47. karthik says:

    If you look at the comments on the files/crack of ANY game on a file sharing site, you’ll see that about half the comments are complaints that the game doesn’t work, or that the crack is actually a trojan, that the game crashes a couple of missions in, etc. I don’t know if this is because the crack users are trying to deter others from downloading it, or whether their complaints are genuine. Clearly the latter can’t be true of every game, or there would be no piracy.

    • Wulf says:

      These people aren’t getting their goods from the correct sources, and if they don’t do their research and learn where they should be downloading from, then this is the price they pay. This applies to everyone, in regards to everything. This applies to people who’re blisteringly idiotic enough to open email attachments when they’re not sure of the file extension. And so on. Really it’s just a matter of education, you take your time, you do your research, and you’re fine. That, or you’re a lazy git and you get burned.

      Hence why I said that the PC world could really use a session of classes which are necessary to take and pass before people are allowed to use a PC, because most people are technophobic buffoons, and the end result is this. The cracks are fine, the people are broken.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      Perhaps those people are having trouble because the cracks are broken. Or perhaps it’s because the users aren’t following the instructions, or are incompetent, or are very indiscriminate when it comes to what to downlaod, hence their machines are riddled with viruses – or indeed old DRM code, which seems about as user-friendly.

      edit… bah. That will teach me to type faster. Or think faster. Or something.

    • JKjoker says:

      its what Wulf said, ppl are broken

      you wouldnt believe how idiotic some pirates can be, they find .001, .002 and so on files and instead of opening them with rar they do the craziest things to them, like joining them with file splitters, they are baffled that a .nfo file might be a text file, they ask furiously wtf a .iso/.ngr/.mds/.bin/.cue/etc is, scream bloody murder when their crappy antivirus bloatware finds “generic trojan” on the crack (like it does with every other .exe) and not only they fail at following (or even reading) the simplest of instructions but they end up putting the crack in the desktop or moving the install directory or deleting crucial windows files (oh yeah, they do)

      and whenever they cant run the game they go into the forums and rage so violently you’d think their veins are bursting, they accuse everyone like they got ripped off or someone owes them something, its funny as hell but when ppl that know nothing about anything go look there they always pick up their messages instead of those that say “its working perfectly”

      one thing Wulf missed is that ppl often forget that games are bugged as freaking hell and many of the problems they accuse the crack for are actual bugs

    • Wulf says:

      @JKJoker

      Exactly, that’s why I’ve come to think of Ubisoft’s DRM as basically a punishment for the clueless, even a sort of taxation upon them for being so. If you’re not very clued in about computers, then your fun is taxed, you don’t get as much enjoyment out of the game as someone who’s clued in about computers. If you’re well versed in computers enough to apply a crack, you’ll get more fun.

      These are the rules laid down by Ubisoft, not the crackers, and not even the pirates, and this is what everyone needs to understand. Every choice that’s made is made by some suit-encrusted dummkopf at the top of the corporate ladder, and it’s their lack of care for their customers that institutes these scenarios. Then a crack becomes available, and anyone intelligent enough to install a crack competently and without flooding their computer with malware is going to end up with the better product.

      Where this turns to stupidity though is that those who fail to install the crack will come running to forums, screaming, and flailing their arms about the maleficent influence of piracy, they’ll mask that their real ire is borne of not being able to install a crack themselves, and they’ll try to snub people who’ve used cracks as trash even if the people they’re witlessly snubbing bought the game. They’re just annoyed and jealous that someone who’s smarter than they are gets to enjoy a better game.

      This is very bloody counter-productive.

      There are two options for these people, here:

      1.) Learn how to use your computer, it’s really not that hard. Do the research and you’ll be fine, you’ll install the crack, it’ll go smoothly, and your computer will be much happier with the crack than it ever was with the DRM. But most importantly: Don’t be afraid to swallow your damn pride and ask. There are people out there who’ll help if you can treat them with respect. Listen and learn, you’ll be better off for it.

      2.) Direct this ire towards Ubisoft, start campaigns of consumer anger, refuse to buy their games, make a point that you’re not pirating them, either, do the 1 star voting thing on Amazon and inform people about the draconian DRM, and take a stance against the real problem! The problem is that someone is giving you a substandard product, and you, as a consumer, should be smart enough to realise this and complain! Stamp your feet, make a fuss, get the word around!

      Hating on the crackers for making the point that the DRM is pointless is nothing more than childish envy of those who can play their game without the DRM, and those people must obviously be dirty pirates, and never legitimate users, but no, that’s not true at all. The DRM was cracked because it was there as a challenge, clever people like a challenge, they took it up and they released a crack. A crack that can be used legitimately or not. That’s the choice of the user. Use the crack, don’t use it, but don’t snub the people who created it, because it can be used with honourable intent, such as wanting control of one’s own purchase.

      This is basically just a rant about the uninformed dogmatic babbling I see in some of the replies here, which is nothing more than people being clueless. Sure, piracy is a problem, and piracy will always be a problem, but it always will be a problem, because people choose to do illegal things, then damn the people who do illegal things. Just because torrents exist, it doesn’t mean it’s bad if I use them to legally get content from BBC iPlayer (as I’ve mentioned before).

      The thing is though is that there’s nothing that can be done about piracy, and in reality piracy is only going to make up for a small amount of sales. Why? Look at any crack-related thread as a sample, people are just too completely baffled by the mysterious ways of the computer for piracy to become widespread, it’s not easy enough. Piracy isn’t the problem, the problem is a lack of fair service. Provide your game, make it easy to obtain, make it easy to pay for, make the price fair, and you’ll see sales. Just like I’m sure that Valve have sales to boast.

      Piracy, as the common media knows piracy, is just a figment of the imagination of romanticists and fatcats, it just doesn’t and cannot exist like that. I mean, let’s say we had a scenario where the world’s population was infected with a deadly virus, and a complex puzzle had to be solved to use the cure, or they could pay to have it done for them. Probably 99% of the populace aren’t going to be smart enough, or they’re not going to have the confidence, they’re going to doubt, and very few people are going to be able to do it for themselves. Cynical? Sure. But again, look at those crack-related threads. Look long and hard.

      Cracks are there for smart people, there are a bare few smart people who pirate without ever paying, sure, but they’re few and far between, and frankly I’d almost say that there are more cracks being used on legit copies than there are on pirated copies. Something to keep in mind: Copies downloaded != copies figured out. Just because a torrentmonkey can download a torrent, it doesn’t mean they’ll be able to figure out what to do with it. Most can’t, the vast majority can’t.

      And there you have it: Cracks aren’t evil, they can be used on legitimate software, pirates are too effing imbecilic (silly mendicants) to become a huge problem, and these are truths that everyone needs to realise. Ubisoft can continue with their insane DRM, fine, yell at them for that if you can’t crack it (and most people can’t crack a bleeding disc-check), and yell at them for it if you don’t like the DRM, but cracks need to exist, for the sanity of people who’re smart about their computer use. Not every gamer eats up DRM as if it were ambrosia.

      So to wrap up: If Ubisoft games only had a disc-check and simple online activation (a basic one-time handshake with unlimited activations) which could be chosen between optionally, piracy levels would likely not rise because a crack would still be needed, and the vast majority just won’t figure it out.

  48. TuesdayExpress says:

    Alec:
    Don’t you mean for the first time in 265 years?

  49. Sad, Sad, Sad. says:

    More Ubisoft lies and FUD.

    From an unnamed source:

    ————-

    “Having spent the better partof the last 20 hours with this game i’d like to clarify some things : Even after the patch there are still some bugs but asinde from the initial “the missions don’t work” thing it’s nothing world shaking or gamestopping., expect a patch within the nxet few days.

    “The missions don’t work! / I can’t reenter my ship in dock!”
    That’s something I’ve read/heard quite often and the documentation/ingame help don’t really adress

    ..
    what most people report as the dreaded DRM kicking in or having to download stuff. Now thta’s a complete pile of steaming bull…
    It’s juxt another bug in the game, simply quit the game after the tutorial, restart the campaign and click “skip tutorial” when prompted, you’re standing in the dock in front of the flotilla captain and voilà, miraculously the missions work.”

    ———–

    Nothing to do with downloading anything.

    It appears shipping yet another completely unfinished, broken, buggy SH justifies twisting that into functional DRM.

    Wow.

    That is just beyond pathetic.

    It’s also A1 grade behavior of someone like Ubi.

    I think we all know what to make of these people after all this. Both claims by Ubi(not the full experience, now even more FUD) are simply wrong and lies.

    Don’t give your money to liars who ship unfinished products and expect YOU to be their beta testers while paying for it.

    I really wish RPS would stop reporting even remotely in Ubis favor.
    They are simply churning out one steaming pile of FUD PR after another.

    Fact is they screwed up, the pirates won and they couldn’t admit it because their stock would probably go apeshit.

  50. MDevonB says:

    Well, if it’s cracked, the DRM is useless and isn’t helping them anymore, so why not patch it out? It gets legitimate buyers to stop complaining, and the few guys saying they aren’t buying the game because of the DRM might buy it.

    Not really a challenge, just them saw “Welp, fuck it.”

    • MDevonB says:

      Wow, replying on this site hates me. Prior post was a response to M.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Ubi are probably still hoping it’ll prevent casual piracy, or cause those who have issues with the pirated versions due to incompetance to buy it instead.

      Almost all DRM is eventually cracked, but most companies never bother patching it out because there’s little incentive to do so – all you do is make it even easier to pirate.

    • Wulf says:

      @drewski

      So, basically…

      Ubisoft: This system is in place to stop incompetent idiots from pirating, and by golly, if you can’t get around our DRM then you’re some kind of idiot, and you’ll have to put up with it!

      Innnteresting. This makes me smile, I have to admit, I just hope that people who can’t crack it will be very irate about that, very irate, bad reviews all over the Internet irate.