Here We Go Again… Ubi DRM Really Cracked?

By Alec Meer on April 21st, 2010 at 10:57 pm.

So claim hacker collective Skidrow, at any rate. It’s all been a bit quiet on this once-frenetic front for a couple of weeks, but the war is very much back on it, seems. (Also, watching Twitter today, I’ve seen several folk with Splinter Cell: Conviction PC review code alleging that they’re being unfairly dragged to a menu screen a little too often. Nothing says “dynamic espionage-based action” like “network connection lost”.)

If Skidrow are telling t’truth, they’ve got rid of the always-online requirement for Assassin’s Creed II entirely – no fake servers, no refusing to get past the first mission. Apparently, anyway – when this happened with Silent Hunter V it turned out to be all mouth and only some very small trousers. If this is all as it appears, perhaps it’ll be enough to finally convince Ubi’s higher-ups that punishing their paying customers with a near-sighted restriction that limits when and where they can play isn’t worth the time and effort after all. Oh, if only.

Here’s what Skidrow have to say, albeit with a bunch of bragging (which seems to be their major motivation for doing this) removed. And no, I’m not linking to the crack. It can only be obtained by embarking on a 14-month expedition to the Tree Of All Knowledge in Patagonia. You know that full well, internetperson.

We know that there is a server emulator out in the open, which makes the game playable, but when you look at our cracked content, you will know that it can’t be compared to that. Our work does not construct any program deviation or any kind of host file paradox solutions. Install game and copy the cracked content, it’s that simple.

Thank you Ubisoft, this was quite a challenge for us, but nothing stops the leading force from doing what we do. Next time focus on the game and not on the DRM. It was probably horrible for all legit users. We just make their lives easier.

If it’s anything like last time, there may be a “oh no it isn’t” response from Ubisoft in the next couple of days. We’ll bring you that if and when it happens, of course. We are nothing if not fair (and slightly sweaty).

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183 Comments »

  1. FunkyLlama says:

    One can only hope.

  2. Lack_26 says:

    I hope they’ll manage to get a crack out for Splinter Cell when it’s released, I really want to try it, but with my Internet’s reliability (or lack of) the DRM is a deal-breaker. (The settlers demo just kept kicking me out of the game every few minutes).

    • ANeM says:

      Wait, the DEMO? The released for free, small tidbit of the full game, put out for the sole purpose of enticing potential customers to purchase; features this draconian DRM?

      What in gods name is wrong with Ubisoft?

    • frymaster says:

      are you feigning ignorace to bump up the rhetoric or are you actually unaware?

      90% sure you’re a troll but I’ll bite. If you have DRM on a completed game, you must use the DRM on the demo. Otherwise, you’ve just handed the crackers a nice un-obfuscated version of your code that they can use to help crack the full game.

      This is not news. EVERY game that features starforce had starforce in the demo. Ditto tages and god knows what else.

    • Damien Stark says:

      Also, as you see here, you’ve provided a valuable DEMOnstration of whether or not the game (in all its DRM glory) will function on the customer’s computer.

  3. teo says:

    The justification that they’re doing it for the consumers is pathetic, but on the other hand I’ve had to crack games because of DRM not letting me play them

    • DrGonzo says:

      If it works every paying customer will use it though.

    • Ford says:

      Agreed. I have AC2 (and Settlers 7) boxes on my shelf right now. As I have other games to play, I’m just waiting for something like this before I even bother starting. I’m not interested in errors resulting from the unreliable nature of the Internet.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      First you say they’re justification is pathetic and then you say you used cracks to make game work? Doesn’t the latter part make the former plausibe?

      But still it’s better not to buy (and play) such a game at all.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      @teo

      Right; because all pirates are motivated only by the desire to illegally enjoy things for free when they should have paid for them. Also, they really, really enjoy personally hunting down games developers and stealing all their money.

      It’s true! There are absolutely, categorically no pirates whatsoever out there who might have anti-copyright or similar principles. That would be inconceivable.

    • Springy says:

      Not true. We all know that pirates are roguish champions of the little guys (hey, that’s us!), living for the opportunity to stick it to the Man. They’re practically heroes. They only make cracks when they’ve run out of people to rescue from burning buildings.

      Not out of a warped perception of the corporate-consumer relationship and their own status relative to it at all.

    • Wulf says:

      I disagree! Why, these vile cracking groups do what they do only to bring about the downfall of large publishers, because they know for a fact that every time they create one of their dastardly works, they’re creating dissonance between the consumer and the completely innocent company they’re preying on. Eventually their maleficent efforts will bring about the downfall of the publisher and kill off games completely!!
       
      I mean, it’s not like bumbling execs are having ridiculously restrictive and harmful DRM bundled with their game, and I’m absolutely certain that they didn’t brag and taunt the nerds with their uncrackable DRM, thus providing a challenge. Oh, and I’m completely convinced that legitimate users won’t find any worth in these cracks. No sir. No worth at all.

    • Xikuan says:

      I seriously can’t tell how many of these replies are sarcasm, trolls, or just plain ignorance. TAGS ARE NEEDED FOR THESE THINGS.

      I wouldn’t want to speak for anyone else, but my belief for why Skidrow and many other crack groups do what they do, is because they are hackers, pure and simple. They do it because it’s a problem (Yes! not being able to play a product you payed for is a problem), a problem without an easy solution, pure and simple.

      It’s about seeing a challenging problem, and then tackling it. The fact that publishers continue to announce their DRM schemes as the final solution and “uncrackable” serve only to fuel their own demise.

      People can attribute whatever other motivation they think to it, but at the end of the day if someone were to interview most cracker groups (please RPS?) I almost guarantee it will be just for the thrill of solving the problem (creating the crack/patch).

    • Mr Labbes says:

      They also cracked Dragon Age, which had absolutely no DRM besides a disc check. Skidrow are not saints who defend the customer against evil DRM…

    • Damien Stark says:

      Teo’s original post, both reasonable and accurate, notes that the actual motivation of the pirates is the challenge, bragging rights, and ability to play the game free. Not altruistic desire to help paying customers. He then notes – again reasonably and accurately – that this does still result in helping the paying customers (like him).

      All clear to reduce sarcasm level back to within safety threshold?

  4. Svenska says:

    What if this makes DRM even worse.
    Like, you get a Ubisoft employee with your game, and you can only play it when he says it’s ok.

    • Sweedums says:

      to be honest, i think the most logical next step for Ubi is to make it so you can only play their PC games from a machine in their office, and only when they say so, so that they can watch you to make sure you arent a pirate or something….

      on another note, a friend of mine told me his girlfriends dad cracked AC2 and he had a go on it when he had got it working without having to access Ubi servers, im not 100% sure if i belive it, but i dunno…

    • Lambchops says:

      Well at least if that happens we can take out our frustrations by forcing them to make the tea. I for one would be greatly in favour of it if I could get a tea making slave!

    • DrGonzo says:

      I think you can crack Assasins Creed 2 and you can walk around and explore but the game doesn’t work properly. I played it on 360, thought it was pretty good but lost motivation near the end and stopped.

    • Wulf says:

      Don’t say that…

      I mean, you never know, the next form of Ubinsanity might actually involve a VPN, so that they can remotely control your computer and just shut it down whenever they like, or whatever else tickles their fancy (they’re browsing your porn!).

    • Fatchap says:

      Perhaps what they should do is build the games is to custom cabinets and then charge people per play. Maybe to enhance the customer experience further they could make the machine automatically accept payment and have them in big rooms that smell faintly of piss and stale cigarette smoke.

    • Web Cole says:

      Lol! Here’s your copy of Settlers 7. And this is Dave! You two have a nice day now.

  5. westyfield says:

    That last line made me laugh way too much. Need sleep.

  6. rocketman71 says:

    Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, I’m so sure the morons at Ubi are gonna listen after this. Soooooooo sure.

    • Eamo says:

      The irony is that since hacking the DRM is just a game for the hackers, the adding of DRM to games is, in effect, an incredibly expensive subgame created solely for the hackers to play.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      Indeed. It’s like they’re adding more and more complicated virtual Rubik’s Cubes to their games for some people to enjoy.

    • Manley Pointer says:

      I’m not sure that this full crack really changes much, as pirated versions of the game have been fully playable for a couple of weeks now. The latest version of the server emulator was very easy easy to use, there was an installer that automated much of the process, and a complete values.db (a file that told the game you had unlocked all the missions and side missions) has been around. Not as simple as this skidrow crack, but plenty of people were using it. Or so I’ve heard!

    • JKjoker says:

      it changes in that now there is an AC2 crack for dummies, it might not sound like much but keep in mind most ppl that pirate games are complete and absolute RETARDS unable to follow the simplest of instructions (the old crack needed you to change the local host file and even recommended to search for instructions, you have no idea how many university level morons i know that are unable to find the stupidest things online), so basically the previous crack had a “you need an iq higher than this” limit which now has been greatly reduced (there are still ppl that are unable to use these also tho)

  7. whaaa? says:

    @teo

    Whose justification? Skidrow’s or UBI’s?

  8. gulag says:

    Shut down the internet and go back to code-wheels. It’s the only way forward.

  9. Radiant says:

    You know as clumsy as it is I find this drm to be fine.

    Sure the /idea/ of it is ridiculous but in practice this isn’t any different then playing wow or any other online multiplayer game.

    They still need to refine it by doing two things:

    1) Tone down the amount of data travelling between me and the ubi servers.
    2) Turn off the drm when they turn off the authentication servers.

    When it comes down to it piracy IS a problem for AAA [and lower budget games when they become popular] and this is a good solution.

    • Philip L says:

      It is different to WoW and every other multiplayer game for one sole reason: it is a singleplayer game.

      People do not expect to purchase a singleplayer game, to then not be able to play it for over 24 hours due to Ubisoft’s servers going offline. That is unprecedented in the history of singleplayer games, and for one I find it pathetic. If it was an MMO, fine, I can accept that. A singleplayer game? No.

    • Howl says:

      I agree. The method may seem heavy handed but in practice it isn’t. I own both AC2 and Settlers VII and played them both to death without any DRM issues. (Steam and L4D/L4D2 on the other hand……).

      I don’t know why it’s only the single player games that are allowed to be demonised for protecting their investment. What’s the alternative? Every PC game having a suggestion of single player with 99% multiplayer based and account based? Ever since WoW made a fortune this is the case for triple A games.

      Jet Set Willy and un-photocopiable crib sheets. Now *that* was a pain in the balls. Ubi DRM? Not been an issue for me yet.

    • HeruFeanor says:

      When an MMO server connection goes down, you don’t lose your progress. Your status is perpetually maintained on their database, and unless they get a really catastrophic database failure, you’ll be precisely where you left off when it comes back up.

      When your connection to the Ubi DRM server goes down, you’re knocked back to your last save game, regardless of what you were in the middle of.

      Also, with an MMO, there is a good reason why it NEEDS to be connected to the central server. The entire point of the gameplay is predicated on connectivity. With these solo games, the connection exists for no reason beyond the DRM. Because the connection is really not actually necessary for playing the game, we, the players, have a lot less incentive to be forgiving of any inconvenience it causes us.

    • Malfernion says:

      The drm may not kick you out of the game that often but thats not the point. I dont have a 3g dongle, i have wires, and i buy an mmo knowing full well that ill be sat at my pc for the duration. I buy something like assasins creed because i can play it on my own, on my laptop in a cafe, on the train, basically i reserve my right to play it somewhere the internet isnt. Thats how i keep myself entertained when i cant read rps on the interwebs. Shame really as i was looking forward to splinter cell, and now i wont buy it.

    • Uhm says:

      But the online requirement is why I don’t play MMOs. And play single-player games.

    • Radiant says:

      Thing is the general trend isn’t people buying gaming laptops.
      It’s smaller netbooky affairs.
      I just spent a shed load upgrading my pc which is why I picked up AC2 [only £17 now]

      But that’s another conversation.

      I can see how the mobility is an issue but that’s what streetfighter 4 is for.
      I ALWAYS have a couple of pads in the laptop bag for a quick starbucks sesh :)

    • malkav11 says:

      The DRM isn’t likely to be a problem for me. That’s wholly beside the point. MMOs? When their servers are shut down, YOU CAN’T PLAY THEM ANYMORE.

      No, I’m not going to cooperate with DRM that does the same for singleplayer games.

    • Wulf says:

      I have a gaming laptop, I swear by it. For a multiplayer game I understand that I’ll need a perpetual connection, for a singleplayer game I find the situation utterly ludicrous and see no need for anyone to apologise for it.

      Valve’s DRM works for Valve, Valve say piracy isn’t a problem for them, and Valve’s DRM has a fantastic offline mode. All they actually need to do is provide an offline mode which I can use almost perpetually, like I do with Steam, then everything will be fine and dandy.

    • qrter says:

      Although I do think Steam has helped slow piracy of Valve games, they are still widely pirated. What Valve does really well is interact with their customers – regularly giving away stuff, listening to their audience, etc. People actually want to give their money to Valve because they like the company and how it operates – this is something most larger publishers fail to see.

  10. GetOutOfHereStalker says:

    they’ll probably go for the dongle* (hahahahaha) approach used by some commercial software next.

    *basically you get a usb dongle (lololololololol) and the program won’t start unless you stick the dongle in your usb port. this symbolism is very disturbing!

    • Maltose says:

      I don’t see the problem. They’re already giving use the metaphorical shaft. It’s about damn time they gave us the rest of the shaft, the physical bit, as well. I want my goddamn money’s worth of DRM.

    • Radiant says:

      That dongle stopped me from having a copy of cubase eons ago on my amiga :(
      I think the program cost around £150 for a legitimate copy which back in the 80s and 90s £150 may as well have been 100 meeelion dollars.

      I could have been in 808 state…I could have been in 808 state…

      DAMN YOU DONGLE.

    • Ffitz says:

      Yes, because there weren’t – as a purely hypothetical example – cracked copies of Avid DV Express floating about that bypassed the dongle that the legitimate installations required.

      So that worked.

  11. jRides says:

    Or that Lenslock thing that came with Elite.

  12. WTF says:

    Crack is confirmed – no fake servers.

    Goodnight Ubi – your pathetic attempts to kill PC gaming have failed…

    Also can we now start a witch hunt on those PC owners who actually bought on of these games – I’m looking at you, Radiant…

    • Brumisator says:

      Paying for a good game? What devilry is this! People should be ashamed not to jump on every opportunity they get to legitimise piracy!

      I bought AC2, enjoyed it thoroughly, exept the DRM which tbh is/was quite intrusive.

      I’m glad it’s all cracked now, so I can play my legitimate copy without any of this hassle.
      I’ve been using no-CD cracks for ages, even on legitimate games, this is welcome news.

    • Mr_Day says:

      @ WTF

      I can’t tell if you are joking or not – surely you don’t actually want to punish people who bought the game? That is what most people were complaining the drm was doing.

      Level with me. You don’t actually think piracy is the point of PC gaming, do you?

    • Thants says:

      Why shouldn’t we punish people who bought this game? The only reason Ubi tried this shit is that they knew people were apathetic enough that they would still buy these games.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Mr_Day

      You act as though the only options are buy it or pirate it, when the only responsible action regarding Ubisoft games at this point is to ignore them completely. People that actively finance Ubisoft games with this copy protection are supporting said DRM and, consequently, acting in a way that encourages more companies to adopt it. That makes them as bad as Ubi to my mind, and every bit as worthy of derision.

    • jalf says:

      Brumisator: Ah, but depending on where you live, there’s a good chance that you can’t. What gives you the crazy idea that your legitimately bought game stays legal if you bypass the DRM?

      You end up paying to pirate a game. Worst of both worlds? ;)

      You either pay to play a game on the publishers’ terms, or you don’t pay them. Paying them and then violating the terms of the license you bough is just dumb in every possible way.

    • WTF says:

      @Mr_Day

      Vinraith already answered your question for me. While I am a pirate I honestly wish I wasn’t. I wish I lived in a world in which all PC games were of an acceptable quality and that the people producing said games were decent human being not bent on making everyone’s lives miserable.
      However, I do not.

      For the record I have no interest in AC2 – none what so ever, The first game was utterly appalling and the entire concept is, as Jim has waxed very lyrical over, just pathetic. Sometimes it is worth pirating a game to ensure that companies lose money, even if you have no intention of playing their horrible pieces of malware (and yes, sorry to al you people trying to fly AC2s flag but the game is just pitiful).

    • Vinraith says:

      @WTF

      Sometimes it is worth pirating a game to ensure that companies lose money

      How does pirating a game you’d never buy cost the company money? Indeed, how does it do anything but increase the general perception that PC gamers are thieves and bullshit DRM schemes like Ubi’s are necessary to keep all our dishonest asses from stealing everything that isn’t nailed down?

    • WTF says:

      @Vinraith

      I don’t believe that pirating a game *does* lose companies money but I am constantly being lectured (in the most stern tones) by my anti-piracy friends that every game I take without paying for, regardless of whether or not I intend to play it, is indeed theft and I am causing the company involved to lose money. I don’t buy this idea as I say but I am just sick of arguing with them.

      No matter how much I point out that I predominantly use piracy as a way of making sure I like games and no matter how much I point out that I *do* buy a a hell of a lot of games, they refuse to see my side.

    • Rich says:

      Agrees with Vinrath

      The idea that a downloaded game that someone wouldn’t have bought anyway is a lost sale and therefore lost money, is exactly the misconception that the DRM loving publishers are under.

      I’ll admit I downloaded MW2 (although I’ve since deleted it as I never played it), but I was never going to buy it anyway, so no money has been genuinely lost. What I have unfortunately done, and you have too, is inflate the apparent problem of piracy. What I should have done was not download it, or buy it. Voting with my wallet and all that.

      Not even going to tough any of these Ubi games. Not interested in um.

    • Springy says:

      “People that actively finance Ubisoft games with this copy protection are supporting said DRM and, consequently, acting in a way that encourages more companies to adopt it. That makes them as bad as Ubi to my mind, and every bit as worthy of derision.”

      @ Vinraith: There is a second, albeit not really important, reason for buying it apart from wishing to support DRM. People want to play the game. I know it sounds rather absurd, but those people might also not wish to pirate it.

      There is no way in hell I can see it being right to damn them for their choice. You might boycott it because of the principle, but it’s not a simple case of you being part of the solution and legitimate customers being part of the problem.

    • Ffitz says:

      @ WTF.

      Riiiiight…

      If you go in to a shop and steal a boxed copy of AC2 from their shelves, ONLY THEN are you costing the publisher money, which they spent on manufacturing a physical product.

      If you download a game which you then never play on some misguided point of principle, the only person who loses is the one paying the internet bill at the end of the month.

      Do you see how wrong your argument is?

    • Mr_Day says:

      @ Vinwraith

      As you have no doubt noticed, my problem was not with the choice being to pirate a game or not, it was the implied notion that piracy is the spirit of pc gaming – I don’t believe that, and from the exchange you had with WTF I don’t think you do either.

      As for your original point, I am right there in that camp with you – I haven’t bought an Ubisoft game that features the drm, even though I personally like the Silent Hunter series and would like to see the 5th one. Of course, Quins has written a review which also managed to put me off.

      But have you considered that by ignoring the problem, Ubi will ignore you? Whilst I like to believe that every sale lost to the DRM debacle has made Ubi say “Fuck us, this is terrible. The monies! THE LOST MONIES!”, it has been mentioned on other articles about this that Ubi are pretty much in defensive mode – they are more likely to attribute a lost sale to piracy than a boycott.

      I would find it interesting to see the sales figures for these DRM games before these foolproof pirate versions became available, and compare them with the sales numbers of the next few weeks/months.

    • Mr_Day says:

      Ooh, apologies for misspelling your name.

    • Damien Stark says:

      @Mr_Day

      The whole “attribute a lost sale to piracy instead of DRM” is just a problem of numbers, like any voting/purchasing/boycotting issue. Your individual decision to skip the game will have no real impact, but if [Super Cool Mainstream Game with Nonsense DRM] only sells 10,000 copies while [Niche Appeal Moderately Reviewed Game with No DRM] sells 1,000,000 they’d have little choice but to get the message.

      However, I think this scenario is a long way from reality, and therefore the “Boycott game I really want to play because of its DRM” is probably about as effective and reasonable as “Boycott World of Goo and Braid because they don’t support mods”. That’s just my view of where the numbers lie – for example look at the reviews of Spore, both critical and the Amazon DRM revolt, then look at how many copies it sold. We’re a long, long, LONG way from a world where the DRM-boycotters are seen as a bigger market threat than the pirates. Would it weren’t so…

      All that said, I still agree with Vinraith – if you’re not gonna buy it, just don’t play it. Convincing yourself that your piracy is a moral act is just self-serving rationalization.

    • archonsod says:

      @ Springy : “There is a second, albeit not really important, reason for buying it apart from wishing to support DRM. People want to play the game. I know it sounds rather absurd, but those people might also not wish to pirate it.
      There is no way in hell I can see it being right to damn them for their choice. ”

      They’re supporting an invasive measure that tramples our rights as consumers and hands ownership back to the publisher. I don’t see how this is any different from buying clothing from a company that runs a third world sweatshop. They might make wonderful trainers, but I happen to think some things are a tad more important than me having stylish footwear.

      @ Mr_Day “it has been mentioned on other articles about this that Ubi are pretty much in defensive mode – they are more likely to attribute a lost sale to piracy than a boycott.”

      Doesn’t matter whether they mis-attribute it or not. At the end of the day we can survive quite happily without playing another Ubisoft game. Ubisoft can’t survive without selling games.Like any other company, they can get off their backside and try to work out why they’ve lost the market and what they can do to get it back, or they can play chicken little until they go bankrupt. Makes no difference to us.

  13. Alabaster Crippens says:

    So, is that the same Skidrow collective that used to come up with a splash screen on at least a good twenty percent of the barrels full of cracked Amiga games my brother had when I was a wee nipper?

    Even if it’s not I’m getting all sort of nostalgia feelings right now. Almost tempted to break the law on a game that blatantly won’t run on my computer just to see if they have a boastful splash screen and if I recognise it.

    I remember the days when I was too young to care about morality. Good times.

    • Mr Lizard says:

      Hurrah for hackers named after popular 80′s hair metal bands.

    • Hyetal says:

      http://i43.tinypic.com/15ouj54.jpg – Picture of the cracktro. Not a mandatory introduction to the game, but it’s, as always, included in the crack’s download.

    • BonusWavePilot says:

      @Alabaster Crippins: It seems there used to be a ‘Skid Row memorial site’ at skidrow.dk. Its not there anymore, but seen it mentioned in a few places, which would seem to indicate that its not the same mob… I have also seen some folk claiming that they returned to the scene doing PC stuff in ’07, but even then there is a conspicuous absence of any claims about recent-release stuff.

      So I s’pose my response boils down to ‘probably not the same guys, but maybe…’ If you are up for some cracktro nostalgia though, there certainly seems to be a fair bit of that around. Try here or here.

    • ulix says:

      Skidrow, along with Razor and Reloaded is probably one of the three most important cracking crews in PC gaming, and have been for a couple of years. Can’t say anaything abot the 90s or 80s though.

  14. Llama says:

    already playing this and seems to be working a-ok. even the ubi achievements are working, and no need to run any extra emulators in the background. Now i might actually buy it (when it goes on sale on steam)

  15. Springy says:

    If this works with Splinter Cell: Conviction I will probably buy it, which is not something I’d be saying if the DRM was not broken. Not because of any principles, but because my connection is rubbish. I know I would get kicked out of the game. Hate you so much, Virgin.

    I don’t hate the idea of a permanent connection for DRM purposes, but it’s not that fun when you’re one of the minority who can’t guarantee a reliable broadband line. I wish Ubi would at least offer some sort of benefit with it (didn’t C&C4 have some sort of online leaderboard? Anything, for Christ’s sake).

  16. DAdvocate says:

    Couple of points for those that believe this is a disaster for Ubisoft:

    1 – The primary goal of the DRM was to merely to delay a pirate version for the first few weeks following the commercial release which is the highest sales period.

    2 – Now Unosoft have gone down this route of constant online verification, there is almost no limit on the complexity of the protection system making it nigh on impossible to hack. For example the game data sent to the server to save the game can be a completely different format to the load data, e.g. the client may send raw world coordinates for the game characters whereas the load data returned by the server could use a reference point such as an obfuscated map grid id.

    P.S. This isn’t a defence of the policy to use DRM, I personally hate it and won’t be buying or playing any of Ubisoft’s games until they release a DRM removal patch.

    • Uhm says:

      And every change is more expense to UBI. It may halt piracy, but does it increase sales to justify the costs? As every release adds a little more expense, I foresee “we’re no longer supporting game x”, but who knows.

    • Bluebreaker says:

      Once a sistem gets cracked, its just a “joke” for the other iterations of it.

    • Garg says:

      Got to agree with your first point; pirates normally manage to release cracks before the game is even released, due to sources inside retail chains leaking the game to them early. It’s been weeks now, so frankly Ubisoft’s crack worked. Those hackers haven’t really got much to brag about.

      Obligatory boycott note: Still won’t buy the games, as I don’t want the bother of installing a hack anymore than the bother of the DRM.

  17. Vinraith says:

    Well that’s good. At least some day when Ubi’s games are Abandonware I can be assured I’ll be able to play them.

  18. The Great Wayne says:

    You gotta be kidding, I can’t believe there are consumers around to justify this DRM nonsense. All those copy protections are just doing one thing: annoying some legit users and harming the bonds between the company and its gaming community.

    There is no such thing as inviolable protection, especially considering the human time some are willing to spend cracking every new DRM you put in front of them. The worst thing is that I’m pretty sure the guys at ubi soft know it all too well, it’s just something meant to reassure the investors and the share holders who haven’t got a clue what it is about.

    Piracy in PC gaming has been there since day one, and while it’s not defendable and a certain financial loss for the studios, it most probably has its place in the gaming ecosystem. Ubi allowing collateral damages on legit customers to chase windmills is just shooting themselves in the foot.

  19. DarkFenix says:

    Yup Skidrow has cracked it all right. No messing around with server emulators or anything. Just copy crack files over to the relevant folder and you’re good to go. Take THAT Ubisoft.

  20. subedii says:

    The DRM’s been out for a while now. Presuming that it held for all that time and that Ubisoft’s predictions about the nature of piracy and its damage to their game sales are correct (I’m going to ignore idiot PR claims of 1-to-1 correlation in favour of a little realism though), copies of SH5 and Settler’s 5 must have done much better than they were expected to ordinarily. I’d be interested in seeing some figures for their vast new sales numbers.

    I’m guessing here but Assassin’s Creed 2 was probably downloaded a tonne (signifying massive alleged “interest” in the product), even the non-working versions. But assuming the DRM has held all this time (about a month and a half?), then AC2 in particular must have done exceptionally well. After all, it was a huge seller on the consoles, and ostensibly none of the other things they did to the game (releasing months late, lack of PR for new release, DRM controversy) will have had any negative effect on sales. So we can agree, what negative impact on sales was purely down to piracy. With that premise, and the premise that no effective piracy actually took place, I’d love to see what numbers AC2 did.

    Given all previous statements from Ubisoft and others, the numbers for AC2 on the PC must be truly astonishing. Now that the DRM’s been cracked, the experiment is concluded.

    Who knows, maybe they really did sell massive numbers of the PC version, I’m not willing to preclude that possibility. It’s time for Ubisoft put their money where their mouth is now and show us just how much.

    • Wulf says:

      @subedil

      It hasn’t though, the crack was almost immediate. This isn’t the only crack, this is just a crack for dummies. The faux server crack was perfectly functional according to everything that I heard, but the thing is is that it wasn’t so much a crack, since it didn’t remove the DRM so much as trick it. SKiDROW wanted bragging rights by removing the DRM entirely, but it isn’t the first crack that allowed the game to be pirated, regardless of what Ubisoft would claim.

    • Wulf says:

      They might also have been fed up of all the people complaining when they were total architects of failure, and couldn’t get the server-crack to work properly due to their lack of PC knowledge, so that’s another possible motivation for this crack for dummies.

      Though I’m betting even this one will have a crowd of people who’re simply too clueless to figure it out.

    • karthik says:

      I’ve always found it hard to believe that there is a demographic out there that possesses enough know-how to find and use a torrent to download a game, but is too clueless to use a crack.

      I assume from the complaints I read about the crack not working that the dummies have managed to download the game.
      Wouldn’t you say both of the above require the same amount of skill? (Which is, not much at all.)

    • Mr_Day says:

      @ karthik

      Surely it depends on the crack? Whilst some are just replacing the program .exe with a new one (such as nocd cracks I have used for games I have genuinely bought*), from the sounds of it, having to set up a server for the original game to connect to instead of Ubicentralprocessinganddetentioncenter is a pain in the arse.

      * please don’t arrest me, i do own the games. I do! Let go of me! Get offa me

    • subedii says:

      The important thing is that Ubisoft believes (and have stated) that no working crack has been available to date.

      So now the game has been ostensibly pirate free during its most critical sales period. It’s time to for them to prove that all those fervent sales fantasies in the multiple millions of units came true.

    • Wulf says:

      @karthik

      The good Mr. Day has answered most of your question, but I’d actually further say that whilst some people can download and install a torrent program, and then click a link to download a torrent, they lack the following vital skills:

      - Navigate to the folder where the game is installed.

      The thing is, it’s incredibly easy for a new computer user to install a program and download a torrent, it’s designed to be. And I really can’t blame a new computer user for not knowing how to find the location they’re supposed to put this crack file. Some will try double-clicking it, thinking of it as an installer because they simply don’t have the knowledge to understand its use.

      This is backed up by loads of torrents that are filled with people complaining about the crack not working for various reasons, sometimes someone helps, and it’s usually invariably down to someone putting the crack in the wrong place, someone decompressing the crack wrongly, or someone trying to double-click it like an installer.

    • Clovis says:

      AC2 seemed to do pretty well on Steam, but terribly on Amazon. It was out of the top 20 PC games in the first week.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      @Subedii

      What a company puts out in a press release and what a company believes are two completely different things.

      Though, considering they must think this is working, they must be totally disregarding possible purchases from people like me.

  21. Tei says:

    Even if this is not broken, what if the next system can’t be hacked?
    You can go as long, as put 98% or 100% of a game in the server. What will crackers do then?

    The solution is not to beat this system. Is to not buy these games.

    • FRIENDLYUNIT says:

      Well that’s what I’ll be doing (or not doing?)… the REAL solution is for Ubisoft to stop being dicks about this DRM so I CAN buy their games.

      Because I would have (both SC and AC) if there wasn’t this stupid DRM.

      I miss decoder wheels :(

    • Devan says:

      True enough, Tei.
      While I suspect that poor sales are more likely to be perceived as an indication of a declining PC market instead of an indication of consumers voting with their wallets, it’s still a better outcome than if they get excellent sales in spite of their DRM.

  22. Wulf says:

    Good on ya, SKiDROW. I’m mildly surprised RELOADED didn’t beat them to it, though.

  23. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    “oh no it isn’t”

    I LOLed.

  24. Mr_Day says:

    Whilst I tink Ubis drm is rubbish, I am not sure I see how cracking it will make Ubi think twice about implementing another, stronger version.

    “We need to stop people pirating the game! Oh noes, they can pirate the game, let us not bother next time!”

    Doesn’t seem likely, does it?

    If the twitter reports of Splinter Cell booting people back to the menu screen are true, I personally feel the best way for Ubi to get the message is for every review to point out how irritating and clumsy the drm has made the game feel. It might just be me, you all know I am an idiot*, but Ubi getting negative feedback from professionals and the end consumer because of this is more likely to make them listen.

    * and probably naíve, too.

    • Wulf says:

      I think both are important actually for a multi-pronged strike. I think that you’re correct in believing that professionals should write about it, but what I think would really drive it home is if there were an article in something like PC Gamer detailing all this. The crack, people not buying their games, and detailing why this DRM is such a horror and how it caused all of these things to occur (network errors, their own servers not being able to handle it, how incredibly pants it is to be knocked back to the title screen ever time either occurs, and so on).

      I think the crack was a necessary step to counter the “Ah, but we’ve created a counter-pirate defence that is insurmountable, please support our position as a company as we stick it to them with uncrackable technology!” argument, because with it cracked we’re in a position to argue that their DRM did diddly and squat, and that the only people it’s harming are the legitimate customers. So I think everything that’s happened since they introduced the DRM is important

  25. Zombat says:

    Any missing data, of any size, will just be stuck up on a torrent site alongside the game, possibly precracked copies of the game will be made, packaged, and uploaded.

    • Zombat says:

      That was meant to be in reply to Tei

    • Clovis says:

      No, Tei is right. It’s not just data, it can be algorithms. For example, say certain aspects of the physics engine are actually computed server side. These would have to be simple calculations, but the actual algorithm would be hidden. The affect is that a cracked version will have tons of glitches and be unplayable. Guessing at an algorithm like that would be insanely difficult.
      Sure, they are probably withholding data or codes to allow progress in the games right now. But later it might be bits of compiled code, and then actual server side calculations. They could definitely create a system to give themselves a month of pirate free sales. In fact, the early buggy cracks just serve as a demo.
      And the USB dongle + required always online. Well, that could be the holy grail of DRM for them! I bet gamestop would even start selling PC games again since you’d almost have to buy a box.
      Of course, they will hopefully lose a lot of sales for trying to do this stuff …

    • jsdn says:

      @Clovis What you suggest is already the case with Ubisoft’s DRM, otherwise it would have been cracked almost immediately. Sure, they can keep making new DRM systems to buy them some time on the market, but they’re spending millions for just a few months. Ontop of losing customers that loathe DRM, it’s clearly a losing battle.

  26. Nessin says:

    Except you’re forgetting that Ubisoft is losing customers over this. People who had no idea that they were implementing this, and didn’t read the box, got burned and will be pre-disposed against Ubisoft in the future.

    Also, I know one other person (along with myself) who will not buy an Ubisoft game with this DRM on it where we would have before. I would have bought Settlers and Silent Hunter, for sure. Now, even though I could support the online connection, screw Ubisoft.

    In the grand scheme does two people mean anything? Hell no. But the fact is its not just two. Maybe its not a significant number, but those are sales losses. You can admire Ubisoft for its short term planning in this case, but its painfully obvious they haven’t considered the long-term ramifications.

    • Bluebreaker says:

      The good thing? while they don’t admit that the system got cracked, they cannot blame piracy for their poor sales.

    • Dreaded Walrus says:

      @Bluebreaker

      I would love to see that, though.

      “Not only has our DRM not been cracked, but the poor sales of our PC version prove that our games are being pirated, thus validating our decision to implement our DRM solution”.

  27. Mario Figueiredo says:

    There’«s no victory for losers. And skidrow are a bunch of losers.

    • Wulf says:

      Objectives: Stop Ubisoft gloating.
      Requirements for Victory: Defeat the uncrackable DRM.
      Optional Bonus: Don’t use any form of emulator/simulator.

      Hm! They seem like victors to me, at least according to the challenge laid out. You can’t blame them for not refusing a good challenge.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Quite frankly Wulf, that type of argument is becoming old and has never stood against any honorableness test.

      Do they release pirated version of copyright material to the public, thus violating a second time the copyright laws and the rights of copyright holders by sharing copyrighted material without the author permission? Do they go to the extent of actually releasing their work along with all other files composing a full working game (often along with extra game content like DLCs, game patches and others)

      Painting these criminals as some kind of heroes who beat the corporation is one giant display of… I’m stopping there.

      I really don’t care anymore. Everyone go out and keep finding their excuses for the continued support of criminal activities in the web. Just forget that even games like World of Goo have been pirated by these criminals (google for it “world of goo skidrow”).

      You know what we need? Not one, but two or three ACTAs and Digital Bills. Maybe that’s when finally all our demagogy stops. And when all our rights have been taken from us, go blame the lawmakers, the big corporations and politicians. Because no one of course will blame themselves and their continued support for the largest copyright infringement industry in our history. It’s always everyone else’s fault.

    • jalf says:

      Painting these criminals as some kind of heroes who beat the corporation is one giant display of… I’m stopping there.

      I really don’t care anymore. Everyone go out and keep finding their excuses for the continued support of criminal activities in the web. Just forget that even games like World of Goo have been pirated by these criminals (google for it “world of goo skidrow”).

      No one’s talking about “supporting criminal activities”. But if you weren’t so busy pretending to have some kind of moral high ground, you may have realized that even if you and I do not actually *use* this crack to pirate Ubisoft’s games, the fact that the crack exists still has the highly desirable effect of showing Ubisoft just how futile their DRM is.

      Piracy is a fact of life for any media that can be copied. But it’s also worth noting that even with piracy, games still sell. Games sell a lot of copies. Games sell better than they’ve ever done before. And this is despite piracy, and despite the suicidal tendencies of the big publishers who seem to go to incredible lengths to sabotage their own businesses.

      What Ubisoft is doing is just taking their paying customers hostage to strike out at the non-paying ones. Which is dumb.

      The only effective way to combat piracy is to give customers a reason to buy your game. Whether that reason is a better experience, extra goodies (like free DLC or plastic figurines in the game box) or just plain sympathy for the developer, that is the only thing that’s ever going to convince someone to pay for a game.

      Prancing around playing holier than thou and saying you hope everyone gets eaten by the DRM monster isn’t going to convince anyone to pay for their games. Nor is it going to convince Ubisoft to actually allow their customers to play their games without first cracking them.

      But hey, if it gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside…

    • Vinraith says:

      @Mario

      Your eagerness to accept punishment and the elimination of your rights as a result of the irresponsible behaviors of others is deeply disturbing, to put it mildly.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Mario are you seriously suggesting the consumer needs less rights and the corporations need more?

      I seriously hope I (and everyone else that responded in kind) read that wrong.

    • Devan says:

      @Mario
      I would like to root out some misconceptions in your post by pointing out that cracking DRM is not an act of piracy, and cracking is only illegal in certain countries. Also, these crackers are not distributing the game, only their crack, so they’re not violating Ubisoft’s copyright.
      Basically, you’ve accused them of crimes they have not committed. Aside from that, this crack will be used by a _lot_ of people who have already bought the game, and I suspect many more will buy the game now that they know they don’t have to put up with the always-online DRM. That is not piracy either; it is a simple benefit for the legitimate customers of the game and no loss for Ubisoft.

      To top it off, Ubisoft themselves have previously been caught releasing a patch that contained a third-party crack of their own DRM, exactly like this one. See for yourself:
      http://www.bit-tech.net/news/gaming/2008/07/21/ubisoft-uses-reloaded-crack-as-patch/1

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      @Devan,

      Cracking a DRM is not an act of piracy. We agree. But publishing a full game with a cracked DRM for everyone to download, is. And that is what these groups have been doing for decades through their own thin distribution channels, just one step away from RapidShare and P2P. That, and cracking games with no DRM whatsoever, with just a simple keycheck or with online activation, and publishing the resulting cracked game.

      So this groups actively engage in illegal activities and we cheer them on.

      @Vinraith

      No I’m not eager to accept my rights being violated. Read between the lines. I hope it becomes very obvious that what I’m denouncing is that by openly supporting these type of activities we are given room for politicians and lawmakers to feel pressured by the big corp to do something about laws being broken. We are stripping ourselves from our own rights by not respecting the law or encouraging those who do not respect it.

      The ACTA and the Digital Bill (now a law) are examples of how our actions are influencing the minds of those responsible for enforcing the laws. If we fell we have the right to make copies of our CDs and to format shifting (and certainly we do!) then we should fight the copyright laws. Pressure our governments to force right-holders to guarantee us that right. But by breaking the law, instead we are giving the big corporations the necessary ammunition to lobby in a position of strength.

      The real “enemy” is pirates (and ourselves, when we cheer them on and download their work). We suddenly forget that these groups have no qualms in releasing cracked version of even indie titles selling for 2 quid and no DRM. World of Goo, for instance, pirate rate was 90%! Let me say that again, 90%! Didn’t know? Read it here. It was a skidrow release, also TPB and I seem to remember, RELOADED. We forget about it just because suddenly they cracked UbiSoft (the big satan) DRM.

      I, for one, want to fight copyright laws and retain my civil rights. But all this piracy is just getting in the way, giving all the reasons for governments around the globe to enforce laws that strip me of my civil rights. All because we are showing we don’t deserve those rights. Rights come with responsibility. Fail the latter, and you are removed from the former.

    • Sam says:

      …Mario, the World of Goo piracy rate was not 90%. Stop lying.
      As you must have noticed, 2dBoy reanalysed their results after the initial headline and came up with an 82% piracy rate based on better assumptions.
      This is still large, but it is not 90%, and you will do us all a favour if you actually use Real Facts in your argument.

    • Uhm says:

      It’s a little unfair to constantly bring up World of Goo’s piracy rate and never mention 2DBoy’s response to it. Because it wasn’t to moan about it.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      It’s a fair point, Uhm. So here it is:

      2DBoy’s response to it was actually surprisingly unconcerned. While they lamented the piracy rates, they mention several times they were happy with the sales and that the high piracy rate was not something that made them change their mind concerning their decision to not use DRM in this or any other game in the future.

      Personally, I’m happy for them. Because this is exactly the type of attitude I would like the industry to take. But we cannot realistically hope that to be the case. On one hand, there may be a certain level of conformity to the current situation. If we were going to ask them if they’d prefer those pirated copies to turn into actual sales, the answer would be obvious. On the other hand, 2D Boy’s response to piracy isn’t representative of the industry, which has shown a constant increase in the spread of DRM and an intensification of DRM features.

      Regardless of other reasons behind DRM adoption (some argue, and I tend to agree, it’s mostly motivated by an attempt to curb 2nd hand trading), 2D Boy reaction did not condone piracy or excused it. Neither should we. Skidrow, the group some in here are turning into heroes (so to speak) is the responsible for the largest portion of the piracy rate of World of Goo, and naturally many other titles, with or without DRM. And many of them indie titles. This group sole interest is to crack and distribute commercial software.

  28. fabamatic says:

    Thank god I actually live in Patagonia.

  29. nil says:

    …Probably using the crowdsourced challenge-response values from cs.rin.ru. Thanks to ubisoft for a new spin on metagaming – it’s like collecting achievements, except you can help your peers!

  30. Monkeybreadman says:

    I agree, and it will take a ludicrous Steam sale to reach for my wallet.

    Conspircay theory – Ubisoft IS Skidrow unofficially releasing a fix for the DRM to increase sales, and they’re aliens from the planet ZAARG

  31. Sir-Lucius says:

    @GetOutOfHereStalker

    While the dongle solution is probably the next logical step for Ubi, if I recall correctly even those have been cracked. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen cracked versions of programs like ProTools floating around.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Yeah, dongles have been cracked many, many years ago. There’s really no software running on a PC that can avoid being cracked, because PCs are essentially an open platform. It is conceivable however to imagine encrypted software entirely installed on a peripheral device with its own small processor that would do the decryption before sending it to the computer processor. The cracking process would then be much harder. ROMS would have to be dumped and decrypted. Similar to the work some folks do for MAME. With modern encryption algorithms and obfuscation techniques, it’s however much more difficult. Even with the “arcane” methods and simple processors of the 80s, there’s arcade games that haven’t been yet fully decrypted.

      But coming down back to earth, I think the next logical step for UbiSoft is to keep this DRM measure. It was obviously quite successful if their purpose was to stop “first-day piracy”, which I seem to believe was the case. There’s however the case that this DRM policy, successful or not in stopping piracy in the first days, may have affected their sales performance. That’s an evaluation only UbiSoft can do.

      Personally I find any DRM policies with online requirements for single-player games disgusting. No matter if it is always-online or once-every-6-months. To me it’s a no show. I simply won’t buy a game with that requirement.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Mario, you either have multiple personality disorder, or someone is impersonating you. Most people don’t go from YAY DRM to RAH RAH RAH FIGHT THE POWAH in two posts.

    • Springy says:

      I just read it as an opinion that the use (and continued use) of this DRM was defensible, but he did not personally like it.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      Precisely Springy. Thanks.

      Here I was replying exclusively from UbiSoft POV, My disagreement with the whole DRM thing doesn’t mean I cannot put myself in UbiSoft shoes. Maybe if more poeple did, the debate would move away from childish banter and into something more constructive.

      More, it doesn’t mean that invariably I will be forced to weight the pros and cons and reach one day a conclusion that goes against my best interests. “Defending only my interests” is what we usually accuse these companies of doing. Seems to me a little hypocrite to use the same method to then batter DRMs. Want closure? Want a solution that serves your interests? Negotiate. Concede and make demands. This is the foundation of our civil rights.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      No. Not even in the face of Armageddon. Never compromise.

  32. TheSombreroKid says:

    the previous crack worked fine and is arguably more elegant.

  33. mrmud says:

    What is wrong with you people?
    The fact that it has taken this long to crack these games show that the DRM WORKS.
    The goal with DRM is never to prevent piracy for all eternity, it is to prevent piracy for as long as possible (and most importantly day 0 piracy).
    In the eyes of UBISOFT this must have been a huge success.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      “The fact that it has taken this long to crack these games show that the DRM WORKS.”

      If delaying piracy is your objective, and not increasing sales, then yeah. Not sure if that’s a goal worth pursuing, though. Furthermore, see Ubi’s statements on the matter:

      “Do we think that it’s the one system that God has sent onto earth that will never be cracked by anybody ever? We can’t guarantee that, but we believe in it.

”

    • mrmud says:

      Of course thats what they are going to say. Thats just PR.
      And my comment was in regards to how effective this DRM has been at stopping piracy, not how it has affected overall sales (something that we really have no numbers for). Im not trying to defend UBISOFT here, in fact I probably would have bought Assassins Creed 2 already if it werent for the DRM. But anyone claming that someone managing to crack the game 1 month+ after release is sufficient reason for UBI to abandon the DRM is deluding themselves.

    • Wulf says:

      @mrmud

      You are basing your claims on misinformation, and that’s a problem. When all information is present, the situation changes. Over a month to crack, you say? Errr… actually, no. There are two cracks. The original crack emulated the server and was out within a matter of days after the release. Whenever a problem was found with that server, it was quickly fixed, and as I recall they had a fully functioning server emulator within the space of a week.

      This crack is the second crack, it’s just to show that a server emulator isn’t necessary, but that doesn’t mean that the server emulator-based crack didn’t exist, because it did. So it’s not a month without cracking, it’s a matter of days at best. The best they can hope for is no day one piracy, and that’s really the only ideal they can grasp at, but now that the server emulator is working so well it can be adapted to other games, so we’ll be seeing day one cracks of future Ubisoft games that carry this DRM.

      This is awesome, and whilst I don’t support piracy I’m actually hoping that we’ll see day one cracks for every Ubisoft game, because that way we have a good grounds for claiming that the DRM is worthless, and we can ask, as legitimate users, why they’re punishing us and why they’re trying so hard to make the crackers look like the good guys, because people who’ve bought the game have used the server emulator.

      So does the DRM work? Haha, no, not really.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      But the game being cracked 1 month after release IS sufficient reason to drop the DRM 1 month after release, no?

    • mrmud says:

      Ok, I wasnt aware that the server based crack had been out for that long.
      That still doesnt change anything, this particular crack still doesnt prove the DRM to be a failure as a copy protection method. The previous crack might have, but 1 month for a regular old crack is still a very long time.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      incidentally securom day 1 cracks weren’t the norm for a long time, once everyone was familiar with their technology. this is the normal routine for these things.

  34. Heliosicle says:

    well I hope this means I can buy Splinter Cell now, I probably wouldnt always use the crack, but when their servers failed I would.

  35. CanThyFly says:

    What Ubisoft has to realise is this isn’t a matter of them trying to stop people from pirating games but rather a battle of distribution models.

    Pirates offer a distribution model that gets you the game for no money, which is a plus but you also have to have the time to invest in finding, downloading and cracking the game (which can be hard for ‘normal’ people). You also risk viruses and the chance of getting a buggy release.

    Game companies offer virus free release, they are easy to locate, you know that you are getting the full product as it was intended and automatic updates (at least in theory) but you have to pay.

    So the only real way to defeat piracy is to make you distribution model better than theirs. Which isn’t as hard as it sounds; Steam is an excellent example of this. Steam is after all DRM but it gives you bonuses for using it (The continual free updates to team fortress 2 for example). I myself have bought games on steam that I already own because it is easier then storing them physically (I move a lot.)

    Ubisofts DRM however makes their distribution model worse. This is only going to encourage people to pick a different model; piracy or a different game.

    • Mac says:

      Steams distribution model is good, but their pricing stinks …

      I still do not understand why companies do not just use a price comparison website before pricing digital downloads – who in their right mind will pay £20 more for a download copy over a disk copy?

      The convenience thing doesn’t really stack up too well these days anyway – with games coming in around 5-10GB now, it takes a fair few hours to d/l a game (well it does for me living in deepest darkest Licolnshire), and if you ever need to re-install it you need to d/l it again or to have already burnt it to disk, in which case there is no advantage over physical media which can be delievered tomorrow morning.

      Most digital distributors just price at the RRP – other than the highstreet shops, with their overheads, nobody else prices at RRP. I’m guessing that in the US there isn’t much difference between store price and digital price (anyone care to correct me), but in the UK the difference is massive – I’m really not hung up on whether I get a physical copy or digital – what I want is value for money.

      The only times that I buy digital is during a sale.

      I know that someone will likely come up and say Valve do not set the prices – but they could advise publishers as to what will sell. Wasn’t it Valve who demonstrated that pricing UT3 at a bargain price actually brought in more turnover than the initial launch? From a digital distribution model where it is easy to build a marginal cost model, this would be a fantastic way to 1) reduce piracy 2) grow the online service 3) breath fresh life into the PC market; and 4) increase turnover/ebit.

      I have also heard the line about protecting the retail outlets … what retail outlets? Game is going to the wall, and none of them offer any decent shelf space to PC games – why protect a dying market?

      The publishers need to revise their tired old sales models – just like the record industry does, and stop penalising legit customers for piracy. Instead, they got the Digital Rights Bill through which means they can stick to their old model. Why keep trying to repair an old banger when there is a shiny new way to make lots of £££ out there.

    • Chris says:

      This, in spades. Give legitimate users a better experience, and they’ll flock to you. Why are Valve the only people who seem to be thinking rationally about this?

  36. Ur-Quan says:

    I have finished the game, without buying it…

    A month ago.

    Ubisoft is lying as they did the first time when they said it wasn’t breached, it only takes more computer knowledge to apply this crack, than the cut and paste crack.

  37. Mac says:

    Hopefully Ubi patch out the DRM now, and I will put in an order for AC2 and Splinter Cell: Conviction … whilst this DRM is still in place, my money stays safely in my wallet.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Mac

      Sadly I don’t think that’s likely, but if they DID drop it I’d certainly pick up copies of AC2 and Settlers 7. They’ve already cost themselves a Silent Hunter 5 sale, I’d have preordered it but having held off because of the DRM I had time to read some reviews and learn what a mistake that would have been.

    • Wulf says:

      I feel much the same way, Vin. I was very interested in Settlers 7, and mildly tempted by Assassin’s Creed 2, but I just can’t bring myself to part with my money, because doing so feels like admitting to them that I’m some kind of witless game-whore, and that I’ll happily bend over and take this mistreatment.

    • Mac says:

      Interesting that even at £15, i don’t feel compelled to buy – there are 3 of us here, and many more on this thread that haven’t bothered.

      Interestingly, Ubi cannot claim any lost sales due to piracy up to this point – all lost sales are due to their DRM decision. Given that retail prices of their games have dropped so quickly, i’m guessing that they undersold against plan?

      Their plan probably had an element of reduced sales due to piracy built in, yet it appears as though they sold less than they would have done with normal piracy.

      This is all theoretical, with no facts to support it (except for the reduced retail price) – it would be interesting to see sales figures and compare them to similar quality title without this DRM.

      I can’t help but feel that Ubi have lost out big time – lost sales of current crop of games, costs associated with developing the broken DRM, costs associated with server management, costs associated with defending the servers from DOS attack, lost future sales because everyone now knows, if they didn’t already, how crap Ubi are.

      Yet, they are still digging their heels in and going La La La La La – We can’t hear you ….

      For fucks sake, listen and ditch this shitty DRM!

    • jon_hill987 says:

      If they drop the DRM I think I would pick up a few of their games (even if I have no intention of playing them) just to make a point.

    • Lilliput King says:

      Same as Vinraith, Wulf and many others, I’m actually really interested in Splinter Cell Conviction, but I can’t actually bring myself to buy it. Might be silly, but I just don’t want to support Ubisoft’s scheme.

    • Heliosicle says:

      This. I wish they would just listen to the number of people saying that they won’t buy their games when they have this in use.

      Maybe this was all a big ruse (not the game..), and they guessed that people would say no to the drm, and as soon as they patch out the drm they’ll have millions of people buying the game on pc, its all just an amazing pr stunt!

  38. Sagan says:

    Like Subedii I would really like to know whether the sales of the Ubi-DRM-protected games are higher than they had anticipated. If there are really people out there who would buy games instead of pirating them when there is no crack available, then Ubi’s sales numbers should be great.

  39. Dawngreeter says:

    This is really good news, thumbs up for Skidrow. I thought the simulated server was the only way they’ll go about it (and it got pretty automated after a short while, just run an .exe file like you normally would). Should’ve known the scene wouldn’t stop there.

    Now let’s watch Ubi make lulz-worthy denial comments. Lemme grab my popcorns.

  40. neofit says:

    I was planning on buying AC2, SH5 and Settlers 7. But these games are only options, among many other games, competing for my limited free time. So my 150€ went to other publishers. Now, I am glad that this DRM is cracked but only in a “stick it to the man” sort of way. This isn’t enough for me to buy AC2. What if there is an official patch, some must-have DLC or expansion? I’ll then be tied to Skidrow’s will and their ability to retain the right people in order to play without the DRM. Not good enough for me, I’ll keep playing other games until the DRM is officially patched out. If not then well, too bad for *them*.

  41. Hattered says:

    Wait, what’s this Ubisoft? Do they produce games or something? I’m sure I’d remember them if they did. From the article, it sounds more like they make puzzles for pirates. (It’s too bad there hasn’t been another Settlers game recently; I’d probably end up buying it if there had been.)

  42. INTERWEBZ R 4 PRONZ says:

    why r all u guys fighting?

    piracy is bad. school tell this to us. we know. company know. terrorists know.

    but.

    consider this. if companies want to survive up to next 10 yr or more. they need to evolve. like this so called ‘drm’. it is only evolution.

    inb4 skidrow r nubz . skidrow rip some good sht on the webs guys.

    now crak settler7 i wan pleh taht gaem so bad :(

  43. 7 Seas says:

    Here is the unredacted text of the nfo, since RPS decided to remove sections by saying they were “a bunch of bragging”. Whether mainstream gaming press, like RPS, likes it or not, the pirate underculture has been part of gaming since the beginning, and since the individual groups rarely make statements I found the whole interesting and newsworthy. It references the Ubisoft server attack, among other things. Sorry I just found it annoying that RPS redacted a bunch of interesting text by saying it was nothing more than bragging.

    While we worked on this release, we noticed that several news
    webpages, forums, blogs etc. posted information, including a
    screenshot of a Ubisoft server attack message, which showed
    our group name.

    First of all, that picture is a fake, nor would any member of
    Skid Row cause such riot, as we’re only here to compete with
    our game release competitors, nothing else.

    Neither do we encourage anyone to take such actions, no matter
    how much we agree, that DRM’s like this one, are only hurting
    those that do want to buy the game or have bought it.

    Another point is those news medias, we mentioned before, post
    anything these days, no matter if it’s a joke or not. Beware
    what you’re posting, just because you want to prank someone.

    This release is an accomplishment of weeks of investigating,
    experimenting, testing and lots of hard work.

    We know that there is a server emulator out in the open, which
    makes the game playable, but when you look at our cracked
    content, you will know that it can’t be compared to that.

    Our work does not construct any program deviation or any kind
    of host file paradox solutions. Install game and copy the
    cracked content, it’s that simple.

    Since we don’t want to see cheap imitations, we protected our
    work with a solid shield. Not because we want to deceive the
    majority, like certain people out there, but because we have
    in the past been an open book of knowledge for our competitors.

    Real cracking is done by The Leading Force!

  44. SuperNashwan says:

    I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that it took Skidrow until after all the server call/response pairs had already been discovered to release an obfuscated ‘crack’. In other words, Ubi’s DRM may still be far from truly defeated.

  45. Stringycustard says:

    It’s not possible to ever have 100% uncrackable content. If there is a way for somebody to play that content (legally) then there is a way to crack it. This is an absolute. It doesn’t mean that it won’t be incredibly complex to crack, it just means it’s possible. The DRM’s purpose here is set up a long enough delay which forces people to buy the game.

    Alos, you have to have enough interest in the product to have people bother to crack it. If it is exceptionally difficult to crack and nobody is all that interested in using the software, it’s unlikely for there to be any cracks made for it.

  46. Avenger says:

    Great.
    Now I can buy the game to support the developers, but I will also be using the crack to play it wherever I want.
    It would be nice to have an equation to f..k Ubisoft over this for using DRM but I don’t see doing it without harming the developers.

  47. Cassette Kids says:

    What if I want to play the game in like 5 years? Do they still have the servers running? Do they release a offline copy?

  48. unacomn says:

    The “Shiver me timbers” version of Assassin’s Creed 2 works flawlessly, and is actually the only way you can play the game if you have an internet connection that keeps dropping out.
    So, if you’ve neglected to buy it before, now you can, someone other than Ubisoft fixed what was wrong with it, the DRM.

    • Ravenger says:

      I disagree. If you don’t like the DRM please don’t buy the game.
      The only way to force them to drop the DRM is if the games sales tank, and the only way to do that is not to buy the game.
      Ubisoft will consider every sale a vote for their DRM system so the people who buy the game – even if they crack it – are legitimising the DRM and ensuring it’ll be used on future releases. It’ll also encourage other publishers to develop equivalent systems.

    • Mac says:

      What’s the point buying the game and then breaking the licence agreement by applying the crack – you are just as much in breach of contract and therefore liable for damages as you would be if you pirated the game; or even better just stick two fingers up at Ubisoft and don’t buy/pirate any of their crap until they drop the DRM.

      It’s not as though there are not enough games out there to play at the moment – and I bet most of them are better than Ubi’s rehashed franchises.

  49. Chris says:

    I’m sure Ubisoft will release its stellar sales figures for the first fortnight, gleefully comparing it with similar releases to show, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that every pirated copy is a lost sale. Right?

    Or, to relax my grip on the snark handle, although all such questions are “what-if?” and therefore unanswerable, their assumption that piracy = lost sales can at least be tested – if they’re interested in the truth, anyway. As all previous experiments with $Radiohead pricing suggest good money can be made even when it’s just as easy and legal to get the game for free, I feel they have a case to prove.

    At the very least, I’d be interested to get a feel for how many people go out and buy a AAA title if and only if they can’t pirate it.

    - Chris.

    • Mac says:

      I’m not sure they can claim that low sales were due to piracy, given that they made a statement that the games hasn’t been cracked – they have yet to confirm that the latest crack works, so any lost sale must be due to either poor marketing, bad pricing, bad product, or DRM – where are your bets as to which one they blame?

    • Chris says:

      @Mac: actually I meant the opposite: the first fortnight was crack-free as far as the masses were concerned (if a couple of 1337 types got to emulate servers, I’m sure the sales impact was negligible). So, if they suffered 80% piracy rates (for example) for previous releases, then their sales figures for this should be ~5 times what they expected…

      …IF every pirate copy is a lost sale. Seeing as that is BS, and they can’t – as you say – blame piracy, even normal sales volumes doesn’t look good for them. Either their expensive DRM isn’t paying its way in forcing people to go legal, or it’s actively driving people away. Or both.

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