Ubisoft Says Server Downtime Due To Attacks

By John Walker on March 8th, 2010 at 2:07 pm.

Stormy times at Ubisoft.

Ubisoft have told Eurogamer that yesterday’s DRM server outages were caused by external attacks, and that they did not affect 95% of players. “Servers were attacked and while the servers did not go down, service was limited from 2.30pm to 9pm Paris time,” they explained to the big EG. They also apologise to those who were affected by this, explaining that they represented only 5% of players. This adds a sense of scale to the statements made by the Ubisoft community manager yesterday. It also acts as a confirmation from Ubisoft that their new DRM system is vulnerable to DOS attacks, meaning they are unable to ensure customers can play their single-player games.

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180 Comments »

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  1. BIG D says:

    Say no more… :(

  2. Drexer says:

    Even if this was caused by DDoS attacks, Ubisoft just admitted that they can’t secure the use of their games… ARE THEY DAFT?!

    And a 7 hour stop during the European afternoon hours is not much? Guess when does most of Europe play?

    I seriously want them to crash and burn now. Even more. Perhaps Sarkozy could buy AC2 for one of his sons or nephews or whatever and gets extremely annoyed when it doesn’t work? Wishful thinking I know.

  3. SheffieldSteel says:

    Ubisoft announced yesterday that the server downtime was due to an unexpectedly large number of users attempting to connect in order to play Ubisoft games. “After the last Prince of Persia game, we’re frankly at a loss to account for this,” a spokesman said.

  4. Flameberge says:

    That’s not exactly an excuse Ubi. If you’re going to force customers to be logged in to your servers, it is your responsibility to protect them from attacks, as you are the service provider. If Ubi continue to be unable to provide their service, they may find themselves in breach of contract if they’re not careful.

  5. ewrwasf says:

    Those dang hackers on steroids. Time for Ubisoft to buy a dog, and maybe close the curtains so their customers can play their game.

    Seriously, though… Ubisoft can be DOS’d? I’ll pass and inquiry in the right “channels”… If true, could be pretty lulzy one afternoon.

  6. squirrel says:

    “and that they did not affect 95% of players”

    I see the logic then. 5% of the users are not affected so no big deal. Can you image if 5% of MS Windows / Office experience system failure, what would such incident cost to our economy? After all, it’s just a game, right? No wonder UBI dares to put out some unsecured system to practical use.

    And since UBI “admits” that the failure is due to attack, it better explains how comes their DRM can be vulnerable to attack. Isnt it that the servers are supposed to accept only connection of the game software? Will this new DRM open back door of our computers, like what StarForce and Securom are complained against (be it true or not)?

    • the wiseass says:

      Yeah gotta love that attitude: “Oh, it was only 5% of our paying customers that could not play the game”. Really shows that they give a damn about us, the gamers. It really shouldn’t matter if it was 90% or only 1% of their customers, as long as there are people unable to play because of this draconian DRM scheme it’s simply unacceptable.

      Just imagine a care salesman being like: “Well yeah, 5% of our cars break down on the first day. But it’s only 5%, so no big deal, right, RIGHT?” People simply would not buy that crap, but most gamers are so desperate for their latest gaming fix, they just keep swallowing.

    • Fatchap says:

      Even if the servers are only supposed to accept valid DRM traffic they must therefore inspect every packet to work out whether it is valid or not. If you send enough duff traffic it will have to spend too much resource inspecting them and deciding to discard them. That is without even going into malformed TCP/IP packets.

      Pretty simple if you have enough bots or even willing participants, you can DDoS it pretty well, it is just a size game.

  7. Cooper says:

    I posted the twitter message on the other thread nigh seconds before this post here went up.

    I like how ‘Ubisoft twitter account posted a message’ got translated as ‘Ubisoft told Eurogamer’…

    :p

    http://twitter.com/Ubisoft/status/10166866294
    http://twitter.com/Ubisoft/status/10167968810

    • Rich says:

      ‘Ubisoft told Eurogamer’. Well, they told anyone who happened to be looking at Twitter, so I guess it’s factually correct.

  8. Ffitz says:

    I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

  9. kororas says:

    Anyone willing to be it wasn’t a DDoS attack, more likely a vast understimation of expected usage on Ubi’s part.

  10. AVarotsis says:

    Well, 95% doesn’t sound like a figure somebody pulled out of their arse.

    • Corporate Dog says:

      95% of RPS readers feel that 99% of the Ubisoft PR staff is 98% full of shit.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      That 95% you made up is probably really close to the truth.

      I’d put it at 99% though. To be on the safe side.

      Coincidentally, masking your failure to keep servers running as lack of security? Worse than admitting you just don’t have the server resources.

      I laughed at this story. If you need an auditory aid to explain this story to someone not acquainted with this form of nonsense, whistle at a high pitch and then lower the pitch as if, say, it were the sound of a bomb dropping from the sky.

  11. K says:

    “Where are all these save games coming from!? Whose idea was this?” Etc.

  12. M says:

    I think we might be getting a little carried away here – first, it’s interesting that a DOS attack can take this system down. But in general, they won’t be getting DOS’ed every day. In six months time it’ll be running more smoothly than this.

    I think that it’s a terrible DRM system. But this isn’t really a good criticism – Battlefield Bad Company 2’s servers are up and down all the time at the moment because of overwhelming player numbers, but we expect that to die away soon.

    Really, I’d like to look more at the cracking side of the story. Because that’s the real weakness to the argument here – the system is terrible. We know this. But Ubisoft are accepting of it. The real focus should be – is it doing what they said it would do? Which we’re not sure of yet.

    • Glove says:

      Your points are valid but for the fact that BC2 is a multiplayer game with delocalised servers, and so of course there’ll be connection issues upon release. The problem arises from the fact that people are completely blocked from playing SH5/AC2 just after they bought it, when these games *don’t* have any good reason to be dependent upon the ‘net, because they don’t have any information that *needs* to be sourced from other people or servers.

      In a multiplayer game, you have to be ‘net-dependent because the information comes from other players making decisions – decisions that affect your instance of the game. In singleplayer, *all* information (barring the obvious patches, content additions and so forth) can easily be given to the player in a disc or single download. The problem people have with this is not the inconvenience per se, but the fact that such inconvenience is totally unnecessary.

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      @M: In six months time, there will have been at least another Ubisoft release using this new DRM. And if it’s at all popular, you can bet there will be another “DOS” — and that applies whether you subscribe to Ubisoft’s statement (those angry DRM attackers will be reminded of how angry they are) or the more likely hypothesis that it’s just due to heavy load (new + popular = oops).

      Ubisoft has put themselves in a rather interesting position. Their servers need to be hefty and plentiful enough to handle the peak request load, which is going to come every time they release a new title. Yet the rest of the time, they’ll have a ton of server capacity they won’t be using on a day to day basis. There are cloud computing solutions that deal with scenarios like this, but those solutions have their own drawbacks and can be a bit pricey.

      They’ve gone from a system where they “lose” money for every copy they don’t sell, to a system where they also “lose” money for every copy they do sell (in terms of needing more peak server capacity). So their per-copy-sold profit is lower, they’ll be selling fewer copies (alienated customers), and they’ll still be subject to piracy (possibly even more than before).

      I realise I should listen to that old saying about not blaming on conspiracy what can be blamed on extreme incompetence — but even so, that “internal sabotage” theory seems the only sensible conclusion at this point. Between Activision and Ubisoft, it seems like 2010 is the year the gaming industry goes completely nuts, and not in the positive sense of the phrase.

    • kromagg says:

      @Wisq: I hadn’t even thought about it like that yet. In a way, Ubisoft is actively destroying shareholder value. Surely this is a failure in due diligence, as it must’ve been pretty clear from the outset that this wouldn’t reduce piracy substantially and thus completely mess up their cost structure?

  13. Fritz says:

    I do not believe it to be a DOS attack. Yesterday Ubisoft spinned a completely different tune in regards to the reason why their servers are down.

    In case I’m wrong and someone did attack their server, just shows their incompetence at protecting their own assets, and demonstrates just how badly they messed up with the entire DRM ordeal.

    Thank god I bought Assassin’s Creed 2 for a console.

    • Mac says:

      Yeah, that will show em… Don’t buy it on PC and hurt them in the pocket by buying it on console … oh, wait a minute …

    • Optimaximal says:

      Whilst it isn’t conductive to solving the PC debate, rewarding a company for producing good products is good. Piracy for the sake of piracy isn’t.

      If AC2 is good on the 360, buy it. I don’t own a console and won’t be buying the PC version for this reason. As an aside, I bought Ubi products during the StarForce era and also bought both POP 2008 & HAWX, which were both 100% DRM free.

    • jsutcliffe says:

      @Optimaximal

      If you buy it on 360 as a response to the overly restrictive DRM on the PC version you’re still rewarding Ubisoft for treating their customers with contempt, sadly. I pondered that when I first heard about the Ubi DRM because I’ve been looking forward to ACII, and decided against giving Ubi any cash at all.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Maybe he bought it second hand for console.

    • Jon says:

      I’ll readily believe the DoS attack story, seeing as angry internet men have been giving out instructions on which IPs to DoS/what programs to use/etc for a few weeks leading up to the launch on some of the less reputable parts of the internet. To be honest though, I don’t see how Ubisoft can implement DRM this draconian and not expect to come under attack; this was easily foreseeable and it’s still Ubisoft’s fault that it isn’t working.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Sagan says:

    I’m not surprised that nobody thought about this, but in hindsight it should have been obvious that certain communities would love to sabotage Ubisoft’s system.

    Unless Ubisoft throws a lot of money behind their DRM servers, this can probably be done over and over again and it will always be bad PR for Ubisoft.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      No, everyone did, most of us didn’t feel the need to point it out.

      And yes, it will be until they drop the DRM. Were I stupid enough to buy one of these Ubisoft games with this ridiculous DRM, I still wouldn’t be stupid enough to think I’d actually be able to PLAY the damn game.

      That would be ridiculous. How can I enjoy a game if I get to play it uninterrupted whenever I feel like it? Interruptions are freedom, and freedom is America. So no interruptions is communist nazi terrorism. Which we will have none of, no sir!

  15. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Wait, so how is it possible that, if one requires a constant internet connection to *save* their game, 95% users in a period of six and a half hours managed to play without a hitch? Did they play 6 and a half hours straight without saving? Wow.

    • Rich says:

      Still a lot of old school console types out there then.
      Remember when Sonic or Mario games had to be completed all in one go or not at all?

    • Diogo Ribeiro says:

      I’m an “old school” gamer myself, if by that you mean having grown up playing and often finishing games in one go. Except this was done *on a console*. On a PC things are different.

    • Stephen says:

      Yeah, but what part of being an old school PC gamer applies to a comment about being an old school console gamer from the days when you had to finish a game in one go or not at all?

  16. BIG D says:

    I’m still waiting to here the excuse they give for why SH5 and ACII was pulled from Steam! Slice of Bullshit anyone?

    • BIG D says:

      *Hear!

    • user@example.com says:

      Huh, I didn’t realise that. What is going on? Have Valve finally started wearing their underpants on the outside and started fighting for our freedom?

    • terry says:

      It was pulled from the UK, the Steam moderator said he didn’t know why and to not ask any questions about it or he would delete them.

      EDIT: This is AC2, not sure about SHV

  17. Forscythe says:

    Shouldn’t Steam be offering refunds for this product, as they did with GTA4?

  18. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Also, that opening image is awesome. It embodies Ubisoft rather nicely: a huge, dead metal penis floating in a barren sea.

  19. terry says:

    Truly limitless blithering incompetence – Ubisoft are astounding me with their infinite capacity to look even bigger horse’s asses than previously.

    Did this mother of all DDOS attacks affect the activation servers for XIII, or can I activate my fucking game yet?

    EDIT: Nope…

  20. Dinger says:

    “We also confirm that, at this time, no valid cracked version of either Silent Hunter 5 or Assassin’s Creed II are available.”

    So what would be a “valid cracked version” in Ubi’s mind? And what an interesting PR move, to make assertions drawing attention to the cracked versions that do not depend on their servers.

  21. Ravenger says:

    Even if the cracked versions aren’t valid, they were still more playable during the outage than the legitimate customer’s versions, which couldn’t be played at all.

    I can see what they’re trying to get at – they think they’ve won against the pirates, but it’s a pyrrhic victory, because the people who have really lost are their customers, and that’s what matters.

    • jackflash says:

      Pyrrhic victory, exactly. You state it perfectly, sir. It boggles my mind that Ubi appear to think they have won this round.

  22. Nimic says:

    Is it wrong that my first reaction to this story was to laugh?

    Fuck ‘em. Maybe this will show them how vulnerable and downright stupid their system is.

    And maybe pigs can fly.

  23. schurem says:

    I hope they make the DRM a little less restrictive. I really really want to buy Silent hunter 5, but with such “protection” i aint gonna.

  24. jarvoll says:

    Wait, they were PULLED from Steam?
    Permanently?

    • Collic says:

      I’ve just noticed this too. If steam stop stocking Ubisoft games, this is very encouraging news. Lets hope it’s true. As of my just checking a few minutes ago, it seems SH5 and AC II aren’t on steam any longer.

    • rocketman71 says:

      Right now, I can find AC2, but SH5 is MIA.

      I doubt this is anything other than a glitch, though. Valve wouldn’t renounce to the dough out of idealism for us. Not for another company’s game.

    • Stupid Fat Hobbit says:

      They’re both still on Euro Steam. Not that anyone would buy them on account of Euro Steam’s ludicrous pricing, but there you go.

    • Wulf says:

      The only remnants I can find (as of this moment, checking right now) of Assassin’s Creed 2 and Silent Hunter 5 on UK Steam are trailers. They might have renounced Ubisoft’s games over complaints, and people getting Ubisoft’s DRM confused with Steam’s, thus raising Valve’s ire enough to get them removed. And Steam is a massive point of revenue.

      At this point I’m very tempted to yell Vive la Révolution!

    • Howl says:

      Flipping heck. I’m really looking forward to Settlers 7 as well. It comes out in 2-3 weeks. =(

  25. Tei says:

    @Ubisoft:

    I doubt yesterday excuse was true, and I doubt today excuse is true.

    But In case a bunch of noobs manage the Ubisoft server, heres is some basic info:
    http://www.iptables.org/documentation/HOWTO/packet-filtering-HOWTO-7.html

    Also, I have a email:

    From: The internet
    To: Ubisoft

    Stop the lame ass covering excuses.
    Fix your systems.

  26. Javier-de-Ass says:

    no excuses ubisoft. you dumb shits

  27. Ubi Forum is down says:

    Public Ubi Forum is down too right now – Seems Im also a person of “5% affected”, haha
    http://forums.ubi.com/

    • Wulf says:

      Pull the forums down so that people can’t prove it’s more than 5%! Oh, that’s a brilliant move, Ubisoft, very tactical!

      /laughs more

  28. macc says:

    There are reports of another attack on the servers right now.

    Can’t login at the moment at ubi.com. So, I can’t play the game again…

    • mcwizardry says:

      I can confirm that it doesn’t work at the moment, probably another attack.

  29. Mario Figueiredo says:

    I laugh in the face of anyone who bought any of these two games and will buy any of the future games by Ubisoft.

    As for me, not only I lack the interest on Ubisoft titles (I’m that lucky), but also I actually am someone who backs their words with actions and doesn’t not buy games featuring disproportionate DRM measures, as much as these games may entice me. And as shocking as this may sound to some, it only means I’m better than you (who bought the game). Meaning, I keep my integrity and do not fall to asinine demagogy, typical of the many teens populating forums/blogs in the internet.

    Are you hurt? Am I an asshole? Yes, I am. And anyone complaining about this DRM, calling the company all the names in their limited vocabulary, but who still went along and bought the game(s) is just part of the scrum that gives companies like Ubisoft all the legitimacy and strength to keep doing it.

    It takes a respectable pair of hairy balls to say no to a game we want to play. That much I agree. And that’s precisely your (who bought the game) deficiency.

    • Collic says:

      Agreed (minus the self righteous vitriol). Really, just don’t buy on it any platform. Assassins Creed II really isn’t that good. It’s certainly not worth what it will really cost us all in the long run.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      Hear, hear.
      Mario was possibly a bit on the aggressive side, but essentially I agree.

    • grevpt says:

      Exactamente!

      Despite the tone of the post, I couldn’t agree more with what you said. Some people actually have the dignity and the will to put their money where their mouth is. And it takes some balls to do that.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      @ grevpt: that’s quite the image.

  30. terry says:

    Even better, their support site seems to be totally screwed, they advise customers to phone them with technical problems.

    Brilliant – I can’t even send an email frothing about my XIII activation because of this fiasco. Uplay sure is the future of gaming!

  31. Vadermath says:

    Well. This brings the total number of reasons for keeping this silly DRM to…zilch.

    • Demon Beaver says:

      You might have missed some, by my count we’re at -17

  32. Heliocentric says:

    In science 5% is a benchmark for notability. I can’t help but think the attackers will redouble their efforts though. I would be sad if my company were attacked in such a way, but i feel ubi have painted themselves as villans.

    • Phil H says:

      I read that a bit too fast at first and saw “Ubi pantsed themselves”, which still makes a certain amount of sense.

      While the games they’re putting out haven’t been that enticing to me personally of late, I’m forgoing anything from them that does come out until they get rid of it, even if it means that the hypothetical BG&E2 comes out while these shenanigans are still ongoing.

    • somnolentsurfer says:

      Sadly, BG&E2 would probably be the point where I ditched all my principles and just pirated it. Really hope they’ve mended their ways by then.

  33. Greg Wild says:

    I say we, the free people of the democratic west launch The War on Piracy.

    We can and must save the free world from the tyranny of these evil pirates who are now launching attacks on sovereign, freedom loving consumers everywhere.

  34. Luggage says:

    So first they blatantly show the paying customers how little they care about them prior and after launch and now they try to bullshit them with this lame crap.

    They’re already lying about the duration of the whole thing, why are we to believe that the rest is even remotely true? 95% seems too smooth a number to be credible this short after the incident.

    Have there been any credible posts of people actually being able to play during the time period in question? I mean if 5% are able to stir up a 7+ page forum topic, the remaining 95% should be able to respond with at least a handful of posts.

    I don’t buy the least bit of this crap. They fucked up and knew it to please their shareholders and now they go even further in abusing their customers to play nice with the shareholders. I hope almost everyone buying Ubisoft titles will learn their lesson the hard way, so they have to start caring about their customers again.

  35. Quinns says:

    I can also confirm the DRM servers are down again today. Trying to review Silent Hunter 5, I’m getting this crap:

    http://twitpic.com/17d188

    • jsutcliffe says:

      Oh man, I love it! I’m sure I’d be thoroughly pissed off if I was trying to play a game, but as an observer this is fantastic.

    • Ffitz says:

      Hah – a lovely message. Of course, there’s no earthly way that the fault could be with UbiSoft’s servers. No. Make sure you check
      your net connection again.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      I wonder how different reviews will be between those who got advance copies and those that didn’t?

    • Collic says:

      @Quinns, I hope the login difficulties will get a mention in your review. Whenever you manage to actually play, that is.

    • Wulf says:

      I love the way that they assume it’s your computer or connection somehow, off the bat. This is why I swear I’ll never let DRM like that onto my computer, because the software in question shows absolutely no respect to the computer it’s on, so it doesn’t deserve to be there.

      I hope you’ll be factoring the DRM into your review, Quinns! You know smart RPS readers would love you if you did.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Wow. Just. Wow.

    • Clovis says:

      @Collic: That wouldn’t be very fair. He should just write his review right now based on his experiences so far …

    • Quinns says:

      I was planning on mentioning the DRM before it pulled this shit, simply because it adds 20 seconds to the time it takes to launch the game. So, yeah. I’ll be talking about this.

    • RodeoClown says:

      @Quinns – I would review exactly what you have been able to play. So give it a 0 (assuming you will be scoring), and say the game does not work at all. But there is a pretty picture of two men and a periscope, it has that going for it at least.

  36. Wulf says:

    First of all, that so many RPS readers are saying what they are makes me smile, it’s nice to see people clued in. I deal with people so completely filled with misinformation on a daily basis that actually encountering people with any amount of accurate knowledge is simply an astounding thing. You’re like a wonder of the world, or something. Now, stay like that, don’t lose it!

    And I’m grinning too, it’s a cheesy grin, because who called it most accurately in the last thread? I did! I even pointed out that the ‘DDoS’ was mostly likely a large number of legitimate users logging in on the launch day of the game, thus belabouring their servers beyond their load capabilities, and I pointed out that if this happened Ubisoft would say it was an attack (the lying basts) because we can’t prove it wasn’t.

    The best thing about all this though is that there wasn’t a majority of people running around and screaming about evil hackers. Good job, people, now teach the rest of the Internet to be like you. Even if by some bizarre chance it was a DDoS (and I still don’t believe that), it’s Ubisoft’s responsibility to make sure that attacks don’t interrupt the play-time of their customers. They must have considered attacks when putting this server together, and they merely thought that we wouldn’t mind, and that we’d just blame pirates, idiots that we were. Well no, Ubi, sorry, we’re not all that stupid.

    Clue in your friends, and anyone who’ll listen online, and this might be one of the first instances of DRM where a tsunami of misinformation didn’t quell truthful ire against a pointlessly malign system.

    • rocketman71 says:

      Yeah, we say what we say here, but AC2 was the 3rd most sold game in Steam last week, and what is worse, MW2 was #4.

      Sorry, but we PC gamers, as a whole, are complete idiots.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      The idea is not so much if crackers are… “evil” or not. I do not fully agree with your general notion they eliminate DRM from games. Not on all instances at least. They are a decisive factor on illegal software distribution and have their share of accountability for piracy, with a few groups even engaging on distributing their work.

      I however fully agree on everything else.

      – That the true “evilness” resides in those sharing illegal copies, and especially in those downloading it. When those times come that we point our guns at piracy, these are the two major groups deserving our laser scopes first, before anyone else.

      – And for the exact same reason, DRM is the sole responsibility of companies implementing it. Not of the crackers breaking it, or the scum of our society who downloads illegal content. So it’s these companies we fire our rounds at.

      It’s because pirates and companies shrug off their responsibilities justifying their actions on the other, and because so many people can’t tell the difference, that all that FUD on both sides keeps surviving. It’s all the more frightening because, contrary to popular belief, piracy strengthens DRM and DRM strengthen piracy. Neither weaken the other.

      If companies want to fight piracy, they need to move for legislation criminalizing certain behaviors and move for governmental support particularly on countries where piracy is rampant in exchange for business deals (much like Microsoft is starting to do in China). Meanwhile if consumers want to fight DRM, they must stop buying these games, they must organize themselves and demand legislation in their own country (which is already on most cases against DRM-like measures) to be extended to video games. And no one, no one whatsoever, should support pirates distributing or downloading software in any way. Those are the ones who damage it all. Damage the companies and damage legitimate consumers. They are the true “evil”. The stain that makes all this possible in the face of governments all over the world that are still struggling to keep up with the pace of internet-based technology and business.

    • Wulf says:

      “The idea is not so much if crackers are… “evil” or not. I do not fully agree with your general notion they eliminate DRM from games. Not on all instances at least. They are a decisive factor on illegal software distribution and have their share of accountability for piracy, with a few groups even engaging on distributing their work.”

      The problem with this is that I use ‘evil’ as a term because people are simple-minded, and evil is something that anyone can understand, however, I will admit that the pragmatic mind realises that these are but human constructs, and operates on a more complex understanding of ethics.

      Then I would put to you that in this case scenario, the actions of Ubisoft are unethical as they do nothing but harm legitimate customers, and they do this for shady motivations that could involve a move away from the PC market, or to build obsolescence into their games.

      However, the cracking groups (not involving pirates) are ethical because they took Ubisoft’s challenge, the challenge that Ubisoft goaded them with, and proved that the DRM could be cracked, and in doing so they gave us — the legitimate customer — a better position to argue from. If the DRM had not been cracked, we would not have had that foothold. Furthermore, the crack allows those foolish enough to have bought the game to play it without suffering at the hands of the DRM.

      Therefore, I would claim that crackers are the ethical party in this case, and Ubisoft are the unethical party. It’s quite cut and dry that this is the case.

      What you’re mixing up though is use with existence. I’ve made this point before but I’ll make it again: Torrent technology exists. Torrent technology can have legitimate and illegitimate uses. One can pirate via it, sure, but Blizzard’s updater, BBC iPlayer, Linux, and free content distributors all use peer-to-peer in a legitimate way. Should we damn the torrent technology, or the pirates using it to illegitimate ends?

      Likewise, should we damn the creation of a crack (which is ethical by its very nature), or should we damn the pirates who choose to use it for illegitimate means?

      It’s not fair to mix up cracking groups and pirates, as many cracking groups will tell you that they do believe that worthwhile games should be bought, and I know one or two people who have a hand in this, they’ve told me the same of their motivations. Pirates sully crackers just like they sully torrents, but it’s not fair to allow this to happen, because allowing this to happen is just allowing the spread of misinformation.

      Let misinformation end here, you don’t want to be a font for it. It’s no different than any other form of closed-minded or misinformation-fuelled discrimination. Level your ire at Ubisoft, they deserve it, and at the pirates, because they bloody well deserve it too, but if the crackers hadn’t managed to crack that DRM then Ubisoft would still be operating under the fallacious belief that their DRM was unbreakable, and that wouldn’t benefit any of us, at all.

      If nothing else, at least have the decency to be thankful for the stronger position the crackers have given us, they deserve that at least.

      “- That the true “evilness” resides in those sharing illegal copies, and especially in those downloading it. When those times come that we point our guns at piracy, these are the two major groups deserving our laser scopes first, before anyone else.”

      – And for the exact same reason, DRM is the sole responsibility of companies implementing it. Not of the crackers breaking it, or the scum of our society who downloads illegal content. So it’s these companies we fire our rounds at.”

      This is the full picture, when considered together, but what you’re not considering is that the second point leads to the first. Here’s my train of thought:

      1. A person sees a Ubisoft game running on a friend’s PC.
      2. They see the friend not being able to connect.
      3. They realise that pirating that will result in them being able to play it.
      4. They choose to pirate it.
      5. This is the publisher’s fault for not providing a superior service.

      Why do you think Valve games sell by the bucketload? Steam is a superior service, it’s painless, it’s benign, and because of that, Valve are considered to be the good guys, but more than that, Valve want to be the good guys. They talk to us, they listen to us, they treat us as equals.

      Here is the bottom line: If the publisher does not respect the buyer, why should the buyer respect the publisher with a purchase? If the publisher treats the buyer like a human being, with all the dignity that a human being deserves, then the buyer will be happy to part with their money for them. If a piracy system provides a better service, and more dignity to the downloader than the publisher allows, then the pirates are going to win. Pirates have never won versus Valve, why?

      “It’s because pirates and companies shrug off their responsibilities justifying their actions on the other, and because so many people can’t tell the difference, that all that FUD on both sides keeps surviving.”

      To be fair, there’s only FUD on the one side. All the stuff about RING0 access rootkits and trashed hardware is true, and there’s been actual, physical evidence of such, whereas the publishers and DRM creators have never provided any evidence to the contrary. DRM is a very destructive force, unless it’s coded intelligently (see: Valve), but most DRM coders are lazy and they just want to get the job done for their paycheck. And if you have a lazy RING0 rootkit on your computer…

      “It’s all the more frightening because, contrary to popular belief, piracy strengthens DRM and DRM strengthen piracy. Neither weaken the other.”

      Piracy? Yes. Cracking? No. We need continual cracks for legitimate users to be able to play their games, and to prove to the publisher that any DRM they create can and will be beaten. This is necessary for any kind of revolution to take place. If we want to create a better future for PC gaming, we need people who’ll consistently and constantly prove that DRM is completely fallible.

      “If companies want to fight piracy, they need to move for legislation criminalizing certain behaviors and move for governmental support particularly on countries where piracy is rampant in exchange for business deals (much like Microsoft is starting to do in China).”

      I disagree.

      If companies want to fight piracy then they need to provide a better service than the pirates do.

      Again, see: Valve and Steam.

      If the publisher is providing a better service than the pirate, then people will put the money down for the game. If the publisher is providing a worse service than the pirate, then the average joe is just going to go to the person who provides the best service. Ignore laws for a moment, please, let’s not go there. Instead, just consider basic business acumen. It’s not a matter of legalities, and the thing is that something like this can’t even be combated successfully on a legal front, due to false positives. People get arrested due to growing paranoia, not fun. It’s not the way to fight this.

      The only way to fight this is for the publisher to look at piracy, understand how piracy works, and then provide a better service than piracy does. They need great bandwidth, they need to talk to ISPs to make sure that their products will get as much bandwidth priority as possible, and they need to continue to support their products. This is something that pirates are slow with: If a company lets out a trickle of free content tied into a system like Steam, it’s hard for them to keep up.

      Look at Bioware, they’re getting it, do you see? Bioware and EA are getting it. They’re adding these new Hammerhead/Firewalker missions, for free, post purchase, but for those who’re on the Cerberus network, for those who’ve bought the game, they’ll get this content first.

      What I’m saying is that by doing this, they’re providing a better service than the pirates.

      This is the road to victory.

      “Meanwhile if consumers want to fight DRM, they must stop buying these games, they must organize themselves and demand legislation in their own country (which is already on most cases against DRM-like measures) to be extended to video games.”

      I agree, 100%.

      “And no one, no one whatsoever, should support pirates distributing or downloading software in any way.”

      I agree, again. 100%. As I previously said, piracy should not be easy, and by doing this piracy is made easy.

      “Those are the ones who damage it all. Damage the companies and damage legitimate consumers. They are the true “evil”.”

      This is assuming that Ubisoft is not trying to use this to navigate away from PC gaming, and this is also assuming that this isn’t some form of planned obsolescence. To assume that the DRM exists solely to fight piracy is naive.

      Ubisoft are acting in an unethical way. And if the theories about this are right — that Ubisoft are using this to prove to their shareholders that PC gaming isn’t worthwhile — then Ubi is being more unethical than ANY other group. We must acknowledge this. We must realise that there’s the potential that Ubisoft are being more unethical than anyone else. To not understand and acknowledge this is to be naive, to not understand and acknowledge this is to stick our heads in the sand, and to beg for more abuse.

      We have to be as damning to the publishers as anyone else. I am not naive.

      “The stain that makes all this possible in the face of governments all over the world that are still struggling to keep up with the pace of internet-based technology and business.”

      I disagree. What makes this possible is that publishers aren’t showing great business sense, and thus they’re losing customers to a better competitor.

      And there you have it.

    • Velvet Fist, Iron Glove says:

      @Wulf TL; but I read it anyway. A great post, and a well considered look at DRM vs cracks vs piracy.
      Read Wulf’s post, guys!

    • Lilliput King says:

      It’s still naive to call cracks ethical.

      “As I previously said, piracy should not be easy, and by doing this piracy is made easy.”

      I mean, aren’t cracks what makes piracy easy? What enables piracy to take place?

      I can appreciate the distinction between cracks and piracy, but ethically it isn’t right to separate one from the other given that one actually creates the problems caused by the other.

      And honestly, I’m just not sure how much of this holds up to application.

      “1. A person sees a Ubisoft game running on a friend’s PC.
      2. They see the friend not being able to connect.
      3. They realise that pirating that will result in them being able to play it.
      4. They choose to pirate it.
      5. This is the publisher’s fault for not providing a superior service.”

      No, people are morally culpable for their own actions. And while this may be the reality of the situation, it’s an unfair and unrealistic appraisal for PC gaming to try and keep and mind. Try this:

      1. A person sees a game running on a friend’s PC.
      2. They see the friend playing contentedly.
      3. They really want to play the game.
      4. They can’t afford it! Oh no!
      5. They realise pirating it will get them the game for free.
      6. They pirate it.
      7. This is the publisher’s fault for charging too much.

      And the argument for moral piracy is completely mad.

      “If the publisher treats the buyer like a human being, with all the dignity that a human being deserves, then the buyer will be happy to part with their money for them.”

      All evidence to the contrary as we’ve seen before with WoG and the WoG + Crayon Physics pay-wot-u-like sales, and though possibly only tangentially related, the Radiohead experiment.

      “Pirates have never won versus Valve, why?”

      How do we define winning? Steam games, like the consoles, have been cracked and pirated. It’s awkward as hell, but it’s been done. Steam games still suffer from some degree of piracy.

      I’d argue the only reason it’s ‘some degree’ and not ‘a hell of a lot’ is because of just how awkward it is to set up. For example, pirates have never won versus Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo either. And why? They treat their customers like dirt, absolute dirt. And yet they just keep taking it and paying out.

      And that’s it, isn’t it? The reason the pirates aren’t winning is because of how difficult piracy is on these platforms. The evidence suggests piracy isn’t based on how the consumer thinks they’re being treated, but on how easy it is to do.

      This leaves very few options for publishers. They either release games on a closed platform like the consoles, or they strip personal freedoms like Steam. I’m happy with the Steam model, obviously. But what it recognises is that yes, it’s important for your customers to feel like you’re giving them the best deal. But it’s also important to defend yourself. On the PC, there is only the belts + braces option.

      What Ubisoft have decided on is belts, braces and lederhosen, and frankly it looks ridiculous and uncomfortable, so I’m not wearing it.

    • Wulf says:

      “It’s still naive to call cracks ethical.”

      I think you’re mixing up ‘good’ with ‘ethics’, it might be naive to call a crack good, but it’s not naive to call a crack ‘ethical’.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics

      “I mean, aren’t cracks what makes piracy easy? What enables piracy to take place?”

      What enables piracy to take place is people uploading full copies of a game to a provider where others can easily download them, without that, piracy could not happen.

      “I can appreciate the distinction between cracks and piracy, but ethically it isn’t right to separate one from the other given that one actually creates the problems caused by the other.”

      That’s like saying that ethically we can’t separate torrent technology from pirates, because the existence of the one creates the problems caused by the other. I already pointed out that existence does not equate to use, did I not? Why are you bringing up things my post had already covered? I know my post was very likely TL;DR, but if you haven’t read the post then replying to it isn’t going to do anyone any good, is it? Least of all muggins here, since I have to reply to it, writing once more what I’ve already written.

      I’ll tell you what’s unethical, trying to trick people into believing that something is evil or unethical simply because it exists, there’s a certain dictator who’d probably like that mindset. :p The thing is, hemp exists, but it can be used for drugs, so by your logic that would mean that growing hemp is illegal. And yet hemp can be used for clothes and food!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemp – Your argument is basically that hemp is evil because it exists, and anyone who promotes the legitimate use of hemp is unethical just because it has an illegitimate use. Sorry, no. No. No one’s going to fall for that.

      Cracks exist, there’s no distinction between cracks and piracy other than the one you create. It’s true that pirates use cracks, but pirates use torrents, and people use hemp for drugs, so there you have it. This is what you must understand in order to comprehend my stance.

      “No, people are morally culpable for their own actions.”

      Ideally, yes.

      If we lived in an ideal reality then anarchism would work.

      Realistically humans are lazy, greedy creatures.

      “And while this may be the reality of the situation, it’s an unfair and unrealistic appraisal for PC gaming to try and keep and mind.”

      I don’t think so. Valve already have this appraisal in mind, and do with every new product they release. As I’ve already said (Gods this is exasperating, I hate having to repeat myself), Bioware and EA seem to have picked up on this now, too.

      “1. A person sees a game running on a friend’s PC.
      2. They see the friend playing contentedly.
      3. They really want to play the game.
      4. They can’t afford it! Oh no!
      5. They realise pirating it will get them the game for free.
      6. They pirate it.
      7. This is the publisher’s fault for charging too much.”

      Oh come on, that’s a total fallacy. Good lord.

      I just feel the need to perform an Edgeworth head-shake here, followed by a passionate OBJECTION!

      If people can’t afford it, they can pick it up in a sale, or used. Price will change over time, this is guaranteed, that person might even buy it from their friend once they are done with it, but there’s no guarantee that a service will change over any amount of time. This is the difference that you’re failing to comprehend. This is why it’s a fallacy, you’re comparing an eventuality with a low probability.

      “And the argument for moral piracy is completely mad.”

      The reader will realise that I’ve never made an argument for moral piracy, or even that piracy is ethical. Do you realise that? Do you not? Are you trying to create a strawman?

      “All evidence to the contrary as we’ve seen before with WoG and the WoG + Crayon Physics pay-wot-u-like sales, and though possibly only tangentially related, the Radiohead experiment.”

      Fallacy. You’re citing a service where little to no money was asked, therefore how can you expect people to part with a sum of money? If you tell people that it’s okay to pay a small sum, then the vast majority are going to pay a small sum regardless.

      I hate arguing with people who can’t put together a reasonable argument without fallacies, and ignoring what their opponent has already said. :/

      “How do we define winning?”

      Sales figures.

      Valve have told us that their PC sales figures are very, very satisfactory.

      “Steam games, like the consoles, have been cracked and pirated. It’s awkward as hell, but it’s been done. Steam games still suffer from some degree of piracy.”

      Yes, but Valve have said that piracy isn’t a problem to them. Look it up.

      “I’d argue the only reason it’s ’some degree’ and not ‘a hell of a lot’ is because of just how awkward it is to set up. For example, pirates have never won versus Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo either. And why? They treat their customers like dirt, absolute dirt. And yet they just keep taking it and paying out.”

      All of this is irrelevant because you took my statement to mean ‘Steam hasn’t been cracked’, and yet I said no such thing. I’d be tempted to call this a strawman, but I think it’s just taking an assumption and running with it, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on this one.

      Sales figures are how Valve have won, and will continue to win.

      “And that’s it, isn’t it? The reason the pirates aren’t winning is because of how difficult piracy is on these platforms.”

      I disagree. I say that piracy is losing out because Steam offers a superior service to piracy, and Valve offers affordable prices, they even play to the poor with their insane sales. The pirates cannot compete with this kind of service. Therefore they cannot ‘win’.

      “The evidence suggests piracy isn’t based on how the consumer thinks they’re being treated, but on how easy it is to do.”

      I disagree. Oblivion was based on a disc-check, and people couldn’t even figure out that. No form of piracy is ‘easy to do’ for the average pirating troglodyte. So therefore I don’t believe your argument is relevant, since you’re suggesting that some forms of piracy are easy.

      “This leaves very few options for publishers.”

      Steam and Bioware/EA seem to have figured out a pretty good option. As I said. *sigh.*

      “They either release games on a closed platform like the consoles, or they strip personal freedoms like Steam.”

      Or they offer a superior service to the pirates and get very satisfactory sales. See: Valve.

      “I’m happy with the Steam model, obviously. But what it recognises is that yes, it’s important for your customers to feel like you’re giving them the best deal. But it’s also important to defend yourself. On the PC, there is only the belts + braces option.”

      I disagree. But I’m not going to convince you of my viewpoint no matter what I do or what evidence is provided, at this point it’s like talking to a particularly well-brainwashed brick wall, and I’m not going to be able to get past your misinformation. But if ANYTHING you’ve said is true, Valve would be seeing poor sales, and let me tell you that cracking a Valve game has the same level of ‘difficulty’ as any other crack, in that you can either do it or you can’t.

      But I’m just not going to be able to get through to you, ever.

      The only reason I’m replying is to refute some particularly ill-considered and fallacy-laden points you’ve tried to undermine me with. I’m not doing it for you, but rather for the entertainment of whomever else happens to be reading this right now. And I suppose I’ll have to continue doing it, repeating myself, pointing out fallacies… what a bloody bore.

      “What Ubisoft have decided on is belts, braces and lederhosen, and frankly it looks ridiculous and uncomfortable, so I’m not wearing it.”

      This, at least, we can both agree on.

    • Lilliput King says:

      And your argument is that no-one is responsible for how their creations are used. This, too, is unlikely to fly.

      Wulf, when you’re debating, do you interrupt after every sentence? When you quote me as saying

      “This leaves very few options for publishers”

      And reply with

      “Steam and Bioware/EA seem to have figured out a pretty good option. As I said. *sigh.*”

      When in the very next sentence I start talking about the steam option. Literally the next word.
      It can’t help you actually consider an argument, because you’ve completely missed my point. I’ll lay it out all nice for you.

      In response to this, (what I’ve dubbed the argument for moral piracy, piracy as a reaction to feeling mistreated, but maybe you don’t like that moniker): “If the publisher treats the buyer like a human being, with all the dignity that a human being deserves, then the buyer will be happy to part with their money for them.”

      I say this:
      1. Steam, like the consoles, has been cracked.
      2. Playing cracked steam games is a bit of a nightmare.
      3. Playing cracked 360 or wii games is a bit of a nightmare.
      4. Piracy for the 360, steam and the wii is low.
      5. People don’t pirate on these platforms because it’s a bit of a nightmare.

      It demonstrably has nothing whatsoever to do with consumer satisfaction. It’s unfortunate, but clearly Steam taking away control + access to our games is the best option to curb piracy. Just being nice isn’t enough. Because it’s all very well to make games easy to buy and easy to pirate, but the best results occur on steam and consoles, when games are easy to buy and hard to pirate. “better service” is accurate, but only because steam provides a better service than pirated steam games, and not a better service than pirated games in general.

  37. Kyr says:

    It’s so effing convenient to blame everything on DDoS attacks these days…

  38. Scabrous120 says:

    I don’t buy it at all considering all the shit that’s spewed forth from them of late.

  39. Mac says:

    Breaking News: Forum Servers are now down too … but it’s only effecting people who give a shit, so that should be about 2 people max!

    They can’t even keep their forum servers afloat … what chance is their for their DRM from hell?

    • Wulf says:

      Ahahahahahahahaha…

      Hahahahahaha…

      Hahaha!

      Glorious! I love it!

      Ubisoft: Urrr… we wuz attacked by der DDoZ thinguh, yeah, dat wuz it. Me sort it out…
      Ubisoft: Urrr… we wuz attacked again by der DDoZ stuffz… yeah, soz… it got nuffin’ to do wit’ a flud of angry peepz fluddin’ into der forumz.

      I love it! Keep it up, Ubi! I’m very much appreciating the schadenfreude.

  40. DMJ says:

    “5% of our customer base cannot play the game they paid for. But it’s alright… We already have their money.”

  41. Meat Circus says:

    Congratulations to the DDOSers. At last you are putting your skills to good use. Keep it up for a few years, if possible.

  42. Lilliput King says:

    I guess I don’t really get this. It’s unimportant whether or it was a DDoS or simply from insufficient server capability. It’s totally beside the point.

    It’s Ubisoft’s responsibility to keep the server up, rain or shine. They don’t get sympathy even if they were attacked, because the online requirement is an entirely abitrary form of protection that doesn’t actually add any functionality that anyone is interested in. If they can’t prove they can keep it online they’ll prove just how misguided this whole enterprise has been.

    • Wulf says:

      Exactly.

      This is why I don’t understand the people who defend Ubisoft. I’m not being unreasonable here, at all. Sometimes I can be, for the sake of trickery and teasing, which can result in interesting and entertaining results, but here? No. Here I don’t need to.

      The thing is, Ubisoft are providing a vastly inferior service. This has nothing to do with attacks, or piracy, or anything else. If Ubisoft lose sales because they provide an inferior service? That has nothing to do with attacks, or piracy, or anything else. Where does the only blame lie? Ubisoft’s incompetence and bad business acumen, and nowhere else.

      Valve sell games by providing a great service, Bioware are selling games by providing a great service (my opinion of them has improved drastically after they said they’d be providing the Hammerhead/Firewalker DRM as a free incentive post-purchase), but Ubisoft are losing sales because they’re providing a shitty service.

      If the service is so painful that it causes the buyer to suffer, they’ll take their business elsewhere. It’s stupid to look to laws to solve this, because really the best solution is just to provide a decent service. That’s all. Simple as!

  43. Ffitz says:

    One thought – how many copies of AC2 and SH5 have been sold on the PC? And what’s 5% of that number? My guess is that, certainly with AC2, it might be quite a big one.

    Ha – my Captcha is UBFO

  44. Malkuth says:

    Yeah so that was this weekend UBI soft and according to the 8 Page post on your forums… Think it was more the 5%.

    But today MONDAY the 8th. 10:25 AM EST… Nobody yet again can play there single player GAMES! Because your servers are done. Can’t even GET INTO THE GAME NOW.

    Get your crap online connection off from the games WE BOUGHT AND PAID FOR. You want DRM then make it have an offline mode for we can PLAY.

    Jerks.

  45. Labbes says:

    So, is there going to be an “attack” now every time lots of people want to play? Say, from 5PM to 10PM?

  46. Heliosicle says:

    BULLSHIT.

  47. Meat Circus says:

    Awww, games publishers are so gosh-darned entertaining when they’re thick as fucking pigshit.

  48. Meat Circus says:

    Can anyone get hold of Valve and give them a big hug from me? Pulling this twatware from Steam is a brilliant thing to have done, even if they are only covering their asses.

  49. w says:

    PEOPLE

    I think that instead of directing our anger at Ubisoft, who in any case is going to do anything to “protect” their IP and the $ of their shareholders, we should be angry at all the morons that support this company (and others) with their wallets. As long as people buy the shit Ubi produces, these fine “features” will keep evolving. None of this would’ve happened if people had some dignity and stopped being sell-out crackwhores who would do, pay or take anything for a hit of “Title ABC 3: Subtitle”. Convince them to play something else. See the MW2 debate, a complete and utter failure of the opposition, where pretty much world+dog sold out and people spitting in our faces made $3B. Right.

    Come on, thinking isn’t so hard.

    • Crush says:

      Totally agree, instead of showing Ubisoft no-one is interested in such DRM & not buying the game you get childish behavior from PC gamers promising to pirate the game in spite of Ubisoft which they infer as demand for their product and denial of service attacks now as well.

    • SheffieldSteel says:

      I heartily agree. Please, and this goes to all all RPS readers, would you kindly buy games from other publishers… my own employer included :-)

    • Rich says:

      We are the choir, and you can preach to us until you’re blue in the face, it won’t make things any better.

      However, you should probably be reminded that ignorance is not the same as stupidity.
      If someone like us, who knows how crappy this DRM is going to be, actually goes ahead and buys the game anyway, then OK they’re a plonker. Most people though, don’t have a clue, they either haven’t heard about any of this because they’re not big on the online community stuff, or they’re not tech savvy enough to see how it will be a problem. By all means do your best to teach others about the causes of this mess, but just calling them moron and saying they brought it on themselves just isn’t fair.

      As far as I’m concerned, a lot of the blame should be laid squarely at the feet of the big reviewers, who always manage to give gleaming reviews despite the increasingly stupid and broken systems that are getting tacked on. Maybe they think it’s not in their remit to review the DRM element of a game, since it’s not actually involved in gameplay, I don’t know. But when a system actually interferes with your ability to play at all, it becomes no different than reporting a game to be full of bugs and near unplayable. Not that they do that enough, when it is sometimes clearly the case *cough* Empire: TW *cough*. I guess they all do their reviewing on the absolute top of the line machines.

  50. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    I just…don’t understand UBISOFT’s way of thinking… I’m playing XIII and trying to understand the logic behind the save system. Ok, there’s a checkpoint save system….but I gotta QUICKSAVE the checkpoint status to resume where (AT THE BLOODY CHECKPOINT) I left after I quit the game?
    Ungh..now I’m required to play several checkpoints AGAIN, because nobody bloody told me….