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. brog says:

    Mac: because theft is immoral, but fixing something you’ve paid for – even if technically illegal – is not something any priests I know would have a problem with.

    • Mac says:

      What has theology got to do with the law?

    • brog says:

      very little. but you asked what the point was. most people like to follow some moral code of behaviour (theological or otherwise; i just used priests as an example), and thus shy away from things like theft. the law is pretty much irrelevant – you can be an exploitative bastard without breaking it, and you can be a jolly good fellow while sometimes exceeding the speed limit and using drugs recreationally.

      it makes perfect sense to me to be comfortable buying the game and then cracking it to make it playable, but not with pirating it outright. i don’t do either because it seems quite dull, but each to his own.

  2. Nalano says:

    I didn’t like Ubisoft’s games enough to want to suffer their DRM, so I didn’t buy them. (Vinwraith would be proud! …even though game boycotts have never, ever worked.)

    I may, however, like Ubisoft’s games enough to pirate them now that I don’t have to do the legwork to get a server loop to work. Still waiting on Settlers 7, though (even though I know it’ll be like all the rest of the Settlers series except with flasher wavy grass).

    Someone mentioned earlier about piracy and sales being competing distribution methods. I concur. Also, people are still confusing legality for morality again.

  3. Beanbee says:

    Even if this is now a fully working crack, if Ubisoft can keep up this extention of time between release and a working pirate game they will be content enough to keep abusing their customer base.

    On the other hand if this new crack method can be easily applied across all ubi-drm games then their effort has been just as nil as any latest starforce update or other ‘traditional’ DRM.

    • Nalano says:

      The only way for Ubisoft to maintain this length of time between release and full crack is to come up with a brand new form of DRM for every single new game they release.

      That is not now, nor will it ever be, the case.

    • Mac says:

      It doesn;t matterhow long the delay is if you drive away your legit purchases.

    • nil says:

      It can’t, since you need to capture enough of (preferably all) the server responses to triggered challenges sent by the game in question*. Fitting it to a new game would take more effort than applying one of the usual binary wrappers (securom, starforce, &c), but much less than producing a new scheme from scratch.

      * assuming they’re doing something sane with them, like AES-decrypting local code or media. If not, lulz.

  4. MadMatty says:

    I bet the Skidrow guys said “MMmmmmm a cracking challenge! :)”
    All the pirates i know are dirt poor and wouldnt be able to afford a fraction of what they are playing, unless they cut down on food.
    All the guys i know with steady jobs usually cough up for the majority of games theyre playing.
    Not saying Piracy doesn´t have an impact on developers, but i am saying the main effect of making an unbreakable DRM (not likely) , would probably result in the Pirate types playing either fewer triple A games or going budget.
    Maybe watch some TV.

    • MadMatty says:

      there are ofcourse cheapskates who got the money but are too lazy to cough up- the percentage of pirates which are these types is uncertain, because of the many ways you could interpret the statistical evidence.

  5. Spartan says:

    Copyright in its current iteration is a failed philosophy of greed and defeats the purpose of itself in the first place. Down with copyrights or at least roll them back to the original limits.

  6. GaGrin says:

    One thing this whole fiasco with Ubisoft’s draconian DRM has made me realise is how many of their games I would have bought.

    It’s slightly scary, especially since I’m firmly in the “no purchase til DRM patched out” camp.

    They’ve lost single sales of the new Prince of Persia, Silent Hunter V and potentially double sales of Conviction seeing as I was very tempted to buy it for a friend as well as myself so I had someone to do the coop with.

    I WANT to be able to buy and play these games. But I refuse to be punished with shitty service when I’m paying for a licence to use a product.

    It heartens me to see so many people with the same views on this website, but I do wonder how many people are going cold-turkey and boycotting Ubisoft’s releases and how many are bending over and lubing up, especially since the latter aren’t the sort of people to generally make angry posts on the interwebs.

    • Bioptic says:

      Yes – for me it’s actually a perfect storm of AC2, PoP, Trackmania 2 and SC: Conviction. It’s like Christmas with invasive security measures!

      But it’s no coincidence really – Ubisoft’s one of the ‘big 3′ Western publishers, and a massive amount of PC games releases are by them. Especially the slightly more interesting and European ones. This is why it’s such a massive kick in the teeth – if you boycott these games, you’re cutting a huge amount of near-future PC games off your playlist. Aargh.

  7. Mac says:

    Oh dear. It appears that the PS3 version of Final Fight: Double Impact requires a constant internet connection to play, and simply refuses to load offline, though the XBLA version is apparently unaffected.

    The madness continues

    http://www.vg247.com/2010/04/22/final-fight-double-impact-requires-net-connection-on-ps3-to-play/

  8. Bonedancer says:

    I’m honestly starting to think this is all about brand recognition.

    Time was I didn’t know or care which bunch of faceless suits was actually publishing a given game. EA, Activision, Whatevertronic Entertainments, Trying 2 Hard 2B Hip Games! Plc. Blah blah blah, yackity-schmackity.

    Nowadays when I see a piece about an awesome new game I immediately check who the publisher is so that I know whether or not there’s any point in being interested in it, based on whatever flavour of DRM-based assfucking the publisher currently favours.

    So my awareness of Ubisoft’s brand has inceased a thousandfold in the last six months or so. You could argue that since I’m looking out for them specifically in order to avoid them and their products it isn’t an unmitigated PR success, but that’s just cynicism.

  9. boredgamer says:

    There are videos out there showing the crack in action. Seems to be working alright.

  10. lamzor says:

    there are only 2 notable people in games business who get the whole DRM situation.
    Brad Wardell and Gabe Newell. always happy to support something good.
    on the other hand, i would never buy anything with “uplay like” protection.

  11. Ben says:

    Well, the server emulator definitely works (I’ve been using it to play the game I bought a MONTH ago and couldn’t play), so if you’re that desperate, just use it.

  12. Amigo says:

    Its not a real crack. They’ve just repackaged the server emulator by Dormine in some dll files and then slapped their Skidrow name on it

  13. pete says:

    just read somewhere else(dunno if its true):

    “Well… not SKIDROW stole the emu concept and you can see the tables with the values collected by the users encrypted (guess why they encrypted the file). They didn’t crack anything. They just found a way to pack the values.db into the orbit launcher. If you don’t believe me: dump the .dll from the running game, XOR it with 0xDC, and you will see nuke coming… too bad SKID’s and people actually believe you crack it.”

  14. Urglburgl says:

    Relevant to this posts interest:

    Settlers 7 released cracked, RZR claims SKiDRoW has been naughty:

    “As far as previous ‘cracks’ of Ubisoft’s new DRM system are concerned:

    Both of Skidr0w’s releases show us they haven’t had a look (probably
    even didn’t find) the actual protection code and everything hints on em
    using parts of publicly collected ‘challenge/response’ pairs. Luckily
    Assassin’s Creed II is probably the only target ever where this approach
    of ‘emulating’ the server by a static lookup will yield any measurable
    success (due to a basic design flaw in an otherwise pretty neat
    idea of software protection). In fact, we considered this approach as
    generally too unreliable and ‘unworthy’ of a scene crack, so we didn’t
    care about doing it. Instead we opted for going for the arguably
    most challenging implementation of Ubisoft’s new DRM first
    (emulating actual server-side game code). So here it is: The first
    Ubisoft DRM crack!”

    One way or the other, we now have all three Ubi titles cracked or released in some way and readily available.
    With Settlers, even ASAP.

    Boom bah ya.