Post DRMatic Stress

By Phill Cameron on May 11th, 2010 at 5:47 pm.

I just euthanised Sam Fisher.

It was the right thing to do. I couldn’t let him go on like that, constantly trailing off mid sentence, sometimes for minutes at a time, before carrying on exactly where he left off. Or he’d pull himself into safety behind a piece of cover, only to get seemingly distracted, vacant stares as all around him was chaos. When he finally returned to reality, he would just as likely be somewhere entirely different to when he started.

I don’t blame him though. It’s not his fault he’s like this. It’s Ubisoft, with all their talk of good intentions and protecting their creative license, that have really killed him, not me. It wasn’t me who decided that it was time to fight the pirates at all costs, even if it meant that the only true victim would be the paying customer. It wasn’t me who waged this war over copyright infringement. I’m just collateral damage.

I’m well aware that my suffering isn’t representative of the wider picture, but at the same time it’s certainly not an isolated event; I happen to be caught in the uncomfortable cigar shape caught in between the two large circles of the Venn diagram that is ‘People Who have Fast Internet’ against ‘People Who Can’t Play Ubisoft Games’. I could just get angry, hell I am getting angry, but damned if I’m not going to let you all know about it.

So, Ubisoft decided that, in an effort to combat piracy, they’d implement a DRM system so draconian it’d make us pine for the days of SecuROM. Requiring a constant internet connection, the ‘service’ provides a steady stream of data between your computer and the Ubisoft master servers. What this boils down to is that if you don’t have a fast internet connection, or, like me, you’re on a less-than-reliable wireless connection, you’re going to see this screen a lot.

There’s a bit of a character to that screen. It reminds me of an overbearing parent that doesn’t want me to play too many games. You’ll go an hour, maybe two, without anything, then, all of a sudden, it’s a polite, but curt ‘time to stop playing now.’ You ignore it, then a few minutes later it flashes up again, a little longer this time. ‘I’m warning you. Time to stop.’ Stubbornness arrives, you set your jaw, and continue. And then, for me, the sign comes back once more, but this time it’s here to stay.

The only cure is to shut down the game, because when it arrives like that it’s there to tell me that it’s just shut down my entire internet. I can guess a few reasons, primarily being that it’s overloaded my connection with data, but seeming as I can play any number of bandwidth intensive multiplayer games with no issues, it doesn’t seem right.

So yeah, that’s fucking annoying.

It ends up with a situation where, each time I load up the game, I’m playing connection roulette, wondering if I’ll be able to get from one checkpoint to the next without my connection conking out due to the horrendous barrage between my computer and Ubisoft’s servers. The game no longer feels like a single player experience to be enjoyed on my own. I’m not battling with Ubisoft, to see if I can get from one checkpoint to the next as fast as humanly possible without them deciding to shut me out.

Of course, such personification of a completely abstract and arbitrary system is hardly useful, but my anger at it is enough that I’m willing to create a face out of anything I god damn like. I’ve got half a mind to attack my chest of drawers; it’s been eyeing my like that for days.

The only course of action left to me was to delete the game from my computer, out of fear of my mental well being. Which is a shame, because I really did enjoy what I got to play of Splinter Cell.

All this has happened a week after grappling with the arbitrary nature of the Games For Windows Live connection. I’d been wanting to play multiplayer, and because it couldn’t connect, I couldn’t play. In the end, I didn’t really mind too much, if only because it made at least some sense that if I couldn’t connect to their online service, I couldn’t play online.

But that’s not the case here. I’m locked out of an entire game purely because Ubisoft can’t deal with the idea that the pirates that copy their games aren’t paying for them. What I want to know, as someone who hasn’t pirated their game, and yet has been landed with all this horrific DRM, is was it worth it? Did they see a significant rise in sales on these products with the DRM? Have they noticed any increase, hell, anything at all that’s different with these games compared to any they’ve published before?

Because if they haven’t, they need to get rid of this. Right now.

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330 Comments »

  1. Divebomb says:

    sounds.. just awesome

    not huge into splintercell, so didn’t pick this up yet. but I guess neither assassin’screed2, silenthunter5 or settlers7 had as much data as conviction run remotely, haven’t had that happen at all with those. I guess they stepped up the crackers challenge, was conviction cracked yet?

    • Dr_Ham says:

      Day 1 or close to it

    • JKjoker says:

      they even cracked the multiplayer, you can play in ubisoft’s servers

    • Jayt says:

      This was the first game I’ve been tempted to pirate in a long, long time. Funnily enough after all their efforts to curb pirating, they basically have managed me to want to pirate this game (50% stick it to the man, 50% don’t want to deal with that shitty permanent net connection thing)

  2. Ev says:

    And the best thing is, pirates have cracked this system long since. And who’s left with the crap? The paying customer.

    • Wulf says:

      It’s funny that Ubisoft hasn’t made a PR release saying something like: We’re deliberating over what to do in regards to the DRM situation, you’ll have our decision along with a press release shortly.

      Instead, it’s silence. What does silence say? “Eh, you’re probably a minority and we don’t give a toss about you. Ho ho ho ho!” Fools that they are. If this isn’t hurting their sales yet, it will as people learn about this nonsense. Even the more average gamer will shy away from their games on the shelves, and then they’ll have to embarrass themselves in order to win any of us back.

      Good show, Ubisoft. When you do finally come to your senses, make sure you grovel a bit, it’s going to have to be pretty funny if you’re going to win back any favour.

  3. Andreas says:

    You know the worst part? Conviction is currently one of the top 5 most seeded PC games on the Pirate Bay.

    Way to go.

    • Rodalpho says:

      Yes, splinter cell was fully cracked on april 30th, three days after its release. The pirates have been enjoying a perfect gaming experience sans DRM disconnects ever since. As usual.

    • Frools says:

      Theres no DRM but unfortunately they didnt fix the rest of the game :P
      This game is a travesty, infinite ammo in a splinter cell game? what the fuck seriously

  4. Brulleks says:

    I’m sure they have noticed a difference. I’m sure sales must have dropped.

    The price on Assassin’s Creed 2 plummeted within a few weeks of its release. Will be interesting to see if this follows suit.

    When it does, I just hope they’re not so arrogant / stubborn as to claim that this has been anything other than the utter debacle that we all recognised it would be the instant it was announced.

  5. Lambchops says:

    Preaching to the converted but correct in every way. I haven’t even contemplated buying a Ubi game since this DRM came in. My connection can be flaky at times and I’m just not up for the frustration.

    • Wulf says:

      Yours and mine both, and sometimes I can be off for 5 minutes when my ISP does that insane thing they do that baffles me that results in my router rebooting, one of four routers I’ve tested, and it happens to all of them.

      Don’t they realise that only a small per centage of the world have a completely perfect Internet connection? Eesh!

    • user@example.com says:

      Wulf, of course they realise that, and that’s why they made their servers unreliable – they don’t want anyone to feel left out.

    • terry says:

      I have to swap my network cable ends randomly at points throughout the day, otherwise my router will insist my computer doesn’t exist. When I phoned ISP-that-shall-remain-nameless to moan about it, they insisted the cable swapping solution was one that 90% of their customers were happy with (perhaps the server rooms at Google are haywire with employees reeling cat5 all day into a huge web every time a server goes down, I don’t know). So I dunno, I guess I’m stuck with it. Much like Ubisoft’s DRM. Because it’s a non issue for the majority of users in their starry eyes and mysterious world of money ghosts so I doubt this lamentable DRM will be going anywhere soon, and will probably gain momentum if EA follow suit as they are seeming to. However, neither company will get a red cent from me on any platform if I’m required to be online for more than the fleeting minutes it takes to activate (which I do grudgingly anyway) because I can think of better things to do than swap cables for 20 minutes a day to see a cutscene.

    • sleepygamer says:

      “At times”?

      You lucky dog, you. I can’t even get through an hours worth of TF2 without my internet all but coughing up blood for the rest of the night. Hell, one time after playing for just half an hour, my internet was down for a night, and on and off for the next 2 days.

      Hence why if I do decide to get an Ubi game, I will be nice and buy it legally, and will then apply any cracks that stop that internet hogging shite.

    • Gwyn says:

      Sounds like you’ve got one of the old BT Home Hubs. Ring up BT and tell them that it keeps dying, and they’ll send you one of the nice new ones, or should do.

    • Walsh says:

      terry that just doesn’t make any sense. You are literally take one end of your network cat 5 cable and plugging it into where the other end is?

      That uh … I’m no physicist but that doesn’t make any damn sense.

    • MrPyro says:

      @Walsh; As a guy who works with networking a reasonable amount as part of my job, I am firmly convinced that it is actually a form of Voodoo. Sometimes you just have to perform the correct ritual to please the cable gods.

    • terry says:

      @Gwyn: Bingo. I’ll give them a ring and see if they’re amiable enough to send me a better one. Thanks for the tip.

      @Walsh: Seriously. I was pretty surprised too, and when I tried to cajole the CS into explaining the situation he got very mysterious and mumbled something about “network floodings” that made no sense. If this is a widespread thing, I guess its a defect with the early hubs they sent out and no-one knows what the fuck.

    • phuzz says:

      @terry
      if all you’re doing is swapping one end of the cable for the other then, well, that makes no sense.
      My guess (as an occasionally competent network admin) is that disconnecting, and waiting for as long as it takes to swap the cable will also work.
      In which case, using the ‘Repair’ option (in XP it’s just a right click away, I forget how you get there from Vista/7) will probably do the same thing.

      Also we have the fastest (==most expensive) broadband Virgin do, and we still get the odd bit of disconnection or slow speeds, so I dread to think what would happen if we paid less.

    • disperse says:

      @phuzz

      The cable probably has a clot of 1s and 0s in it. A quick jolt might free it up. Also, switching to a sans-serif font might help. The hooks at the end of the 1 can wreak havoc on an Internet connection.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      No, you see, what’s happening is that as the signals pass along the cable, some spare electrons are getting dropped off at the computer’s end. Eventually they clog up the wire. So you have to reverse the cable so they flow in the other direction, until it gets clogged up again. Makes perfect sense! Well, about as much sense as Ubi’s DRM policy, anyway.

  6. Sweedums says:

    ” What I want to know, as someone who hasn’t pirated their game, and yet has been landed with all this horrific DRM, is was it worth it?”

    this is what I have been wondering, since I have so far taken the stance of not buying any of their games that have this “service” built in… and I know at least 2 other friends that havent, so thats 3 sales lost right there… might not sound like much, but im sure other people are in the same boat as me.

    what really pisses me off is that Ubi’s recent games have been ones I’ve been looking forward to for ages now, AC2, SC: conviction and the upcoming ghost recon title would havemaybe interested me… it all just seems to pointless and ass backwards, by putting in this system, people who would have bought the game, have decided not to.

    • Veret says:

      Gamasutra’s article on casual games piracy suggests a ratio of 1,000 to 1–that is, for every 1000 illegal downloads prevented the company gains 1 sale. This is a statistic from 2008, pertains only to casual games, and was an extremely rough approximation to begin with, but let’s run with it.

      Ubisoft’s unbelievably moronic PR has cost them sales from just about everyone in this thread, if these anecdotes are any guide. Taking the gamer population as a whole, I think it’s not unreasonable to assume that several thousand people worldwide would have bought at least one Ubisoft game if not for the DRM hassle that comes with it. Multiply by a thousand, and we have (at conservative estimate) 2 million. That’s the number of pirates Ubisoft would have to stop with this DRM in order to just break even–and that’s with the openly ludicrous assumption that every single one of them couldn’t just wait three days for a crack. Factor in the long-term losses to the Ubisoft from alienating their entire customer base, and the fact that the people who did pay for the game are unlikely to buy anything from them again…yeah.

      It wasn’t worth it.

    • Veret says:

      Erm…that was supposed to be “long term losses to the Ubisoft brand.” Although I just may start referring to them as “the Ubisoft” from now on.

    • RedFred says:

      I was just thinking the same thing when reading the article.

      Ubi must have lost the same number, or more, customers due to implementing this DRM than would have pirated their software anyway.

      Chances are they will go back and blame pirates for poor sales post-DRM anyway.

  7. Antsy says:

    Good to see industry journalists actually tackling this. We’ve been saying exactly the same thing in the forums since the start.

    • faelnor says:

      “Tackling this” in gaming blogs will have no effect at all. Who tackles that in the gaming press? Does anyone know if there are journos who had the balls to mark down games because of this? And if not, why?

    • Severian says:

      I’ve seen several reviewers make significant note of Draconian DRM in their published reviews.

      For example: http://www.gamespot.com/pc/strategy/thesettlers7pathstoakingdom/review.html

      Gamespot’s review of Settlers 7, “Even if you are only interested in The Settlers 7 for its single-player features, you have to be connected to the Internet and signed into Ubisoft’s online portal to play. Unfortunately, server problems occasionally make the game inaccessible for hours at a time, which is an issue that does not appear to be improving as the weeks pass.”

      I also get the sense that the reviewer would have given the game higher marks if this had not been an issue.

    • Arathain says:

      PCGamer UK has been downright thorough in mentioning the DRM in every Ubisoft interview. Concluding paragraphs have mostly been on the theme of “Good game. Don’t buy it.”

    • jalf says:

      A newpaper here reviewed the Settlers game and basically said “fun game, but stay away because of the DRM”

      And then they gave it two scores. The regular one (4 out of 5, I believe they gave it), and one for DRM (1 out of 5)

      It surprised me that even the mainstream non-gaming press is picking up on this.

  8. Asbestos says:

    Hear, hear!

  9. Alexander Norris says:

    You end a paragraph with “you’re going to see this screen a lot” and yet don’t include a screenshot of the screen in question?

    Pathetic, Sponge. Simply pathetic. Sloppy games journalism at its worst! ;)

  10. Shodan says:

    The arrogance of this DRM is astounding, I can’t understand how they honestly believed this would help anything. I would love to play this, but I’m not gonna put up with this constant connection bullshit, my wireless is too crap to manage it. Ubisoft, get. a fucking. grip.

  11. ChampionHyena says:

    I’ve been wondering about this myself.

    Do they keep this in place because it’s working? Are they seeing increased revenue at the cost of their public image? It certainly deterred pirates–for a while, at least–but is that paying dividends?

    Or are they slowly working up the courage to bite the bullet and admit this has been an utterly ludicrous disaster for all parties involved? Are they worried about taking a PR hit? I don’t think this system could even get further maligned.

    For the love of God, Ubisoft, you are keeping me from buying your games. Do you understand the reality of this? Exchanging my money and being treated like a criminal in exchange for your games–whatever their quality–is not a fair trade to me.

    I absolutely do not understand.

  12. bleeters says:

    Indeed. It’s a shame, as I’d otherwise be very interested in picking up a copy of conviction, but I just don’t have the patience for something like this. My list of developers/publishers I’m prepared to buy from grows thin.

    (Incidentally, not buying them doesn’t mean I download them either, just to be clear.)

  13. Iain says:

    lol just don’t buy bad games

    Number of games with this DRM worth buying: 0

    or, y’know, wait ’till it’s cracked and pirate out of spite

    • Wulf says:

      So, I know you didn’t buy them, you said as much. What I’m curious of is whether you pirated them in order to know that they’re (as you say) crap?

    • TotalBiscuit says:

      Assassin’s Creed II is a fantastic game, don’t be a dumb-ass. Ubisoft puts out good titles, Settlers 7 and SilentHunter 5 were also good, but crippled by terrible DRM.

    • DrGonzo says:

      It’s subjective… Don’t be a dumb arse…

    • Wulf says:

      Indeed, I completely agree, whether a game is good or bad is subjective in every conceivable way and can’t really be anything other. What I’m more curious about is whether Iain pirated those games to find out that they were crap. I’m just interested in his position.

    • JuJuCam says:

      Come on, it’s Iain we’re talking about. The guy who put up a link to the direct download of a Humble Indie Bundle game. Are you really asking that question with a straight face?

      What I’d like to know is how many people who pirate games go on to purchase the game if they like it enough?

  14. ChaK_ says:

    good paper RPS

    Might feel childish but I’m boycoting UBI’s game, plain & simple. And yes, I would have bought splinter without this DRM.

  15. robrob says:

    Looks like the consoles are about to be hit by a similar bout of idiocy: http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2010/05/11/ea_sports_used_games_tax/

    • Corporate Dog says:

      About to be hit?

      Mass Effect 2′s ‘Cerberus Network’ was pretty much the same thing. Not too surprising, given that it’s published by EA.

    • FunkyBadger says:

      Except the EA solution isn’t the same thing, doesn’t require an always-on connection and won’t penalise genuine buyers of the game.

      So not really the same thing at all.

    • robrob says:

      Whoah ok there Mr. Badger. I’m not sure anyone said it was the same thing. And: “and won’t penalise genuine buyers of the game” – I think it probably does. I know we are on the internet superhighway but you don’t need to be quite so antagonistic.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I think it’s more like consoles are being turned into the pc. Isn’t it just a serial number to play multiplayer just like pc games have always had?

    • Rath says:

      What this EA Sports thing basically amounts to is a person being forced to buy one product twice.

      Why the hell is this amount of antagonism towards used game sales by publishers even allowed to find expression? If a car company issued instructions that anyone wishing to buy a used car had to pay the original launch price of said car or else buy a brand new one at the same price, there’d be a furious fucking uproar, but if I want to go down to Gamestation to buy a hypothetical copy of NHL 2011 that’s got a couple of thousand miles on the clock and a little surface damage that could be buffed out, I get the men from EA shaking me down for more cash once I get home with it.

      TANGENTIAL EDIT:

      ^ A situation that wouldn’t even come into being in the first place if EA would even bother doing PC versions of the NHL series anymore (and nor do 2K games either for that matter), as I’d be more than willing to pick up a PC version on day one brand new. That is, if they were decent ports and not the shoddy crap that 09 was.

    • robrob says:

      It’s all part of the shifting relationship between the customer and the software they purchase: from a model of ownership to something more akin to renting. The business advantages to publishers are abundantly clear: subscription fees and more control over distribution. It’s something EA have been trying for a long time now but as the market has evolved, products like MMOs have shifted expectations.

      What we considered unthinkable ten years ago is now readily accepted. I would not be surprised if in a couple of console generations this behaviour becomes codified in EULAs or distribution models to make it explicit that the consumer is only renting the game.

    • Corporate Dog says:

      @FunkyBadger: You totally misread that.

      In all actuality, I don’t mind EA’s copy protection/resale scheme. But then, that’s also because I rarely buy used console games. GameStop doesn’t discount them NEARLY enough to make it worth my while, dealing with Little Johnny’s grape jelly fingerprints all over the disc, and a manual that Fido chewed on BEFORE urinating on.

      I also predominantly buy RPGs, so if it’s a game that I care enough to buy DLC for (and that’s typically what’s packaged in the “buy at launch” boxes), it’s a game that I will have purchased new. From my perspective, I’m just getting some free DLC, which rocks.

      And that leads us to Ubisoft’s DRM scheme, which was designed and implemented by the High Commander of the Bastard Hordes of Bastardulon, a planet in the Andromeda galaxy know for its bastardry. I’m fortunate enough not to be tempted by any of their games that use this scheme, but that may change when/if a new HOMM game comes out.

    • Rath says:

      It’s a shame too, as before the slew of substandard and overpriced DLC for Mass Effect 2 pointed out the direction in which gaming is travelling these days, I had actually started to rethink my opinion on EA from back in the day when their logo superimposed over a Borg Cube was almost ubiquitous within every news story that mentioned them, and look upon them more favourably.

      Now this “used game stealth tax” has set all that back to the point where I’m not thinking of them any more favourably than I do of Ubisoft.

    • archonsod says:

      “Why the hell is this amount of antagonism towards used game sales by publishers even allowed to find expression? If a car company issued instructions that anyone wishing to buy a used car had to pay the original launch price of said car or else buy a brand new one at the same price, there’d be a furious fucking uproar, but if I want to go down to Gamestation to buy a hypothetical copy of NHL 2011 that’s got a couple of thousand miles on the clock and a little surface damage that could be buffed out, I get the men from EA shaking me down for more cash once I get home with it.”

      Not quite. You can still play single player as much as you want, it’s just multiplayer that’s locked out. And they’re also allowing you to buy a multiplayer key alone for a discount price. So it’s more like buying a second hand car and then finding out you need to buy a replacement part from the manufacturer.
      It’s a sensible solution to the retailer trick of selling a second hand game for two quid less than buying it brand new, with the benefit to EA that they’re going to get a cut from the second hand market unless the retailers persist with their stupidity.

  16. Rited says:

    Glad to see you are covering this Phil, it does deserve attention. I already have second-hand anecdotal evidence to go on from friends, but it’s good that RPS are putting it out there too.

    I think the thing is with this kind of DRM for me, personally, is not the principle or the usual outrage over it being draconian and unnecessary (which it is), it’s that it would simply be too distracting for me as a gamer.

    I like to immerse myself in single player games, it’s a fantastic form of escapism after a long dull day at the office. It would simply be jarring and disconcerting for me to keep getting these freezes and messages just because my internet connection tends to drop out a bit. I’d react exactly the same with a buggy title that kept locking up and crashing; I’d just stop playing it if I couldn’t resolve the problem… there’s plenty of other games out there I enjoy that I can play just fine.

    Frankly, I don’t care what Ubisoft do – I’m not a big fan of any of their “franchises”. But I suspect there are many gamers out there like me who are actively avoiding their products because of the impact on the gameplay, and many many others who will buy them anyway but get extremely frustrated after the fact.

    I really don’t see this working out for them for very long, and ultimately I see no other recourse other than for them to (attempt to) quietly abandon it when they finally realise it’s affecting their bottom line.

  17. Vinraith says:

    So far this lunacy has prevented me from getting Assassin’s Creed 2 (bad for me) and Silent Hunter 5 (good for me, from what I’ve subsequently read) so I figure I’ve pretty much broken even. Ubi on the other hand has lost two day-one sales, I wonder how that kind of thing is working out for them?
     
    My biggest concern is that they won’t come to their senses before the next HOMM game, the next Anno game, or the release of another one of their other franchises I really care about.

    • Stromko says:

      I’d be quite worried as well if they still had this system in place for a new ANNO (or Dawn of Discovery as it goes by in my country). I only bought the Venice expansion because it didn’t come with the DRM, and when I took part in an Ubi product poll about a possible sequel I made it very clear that while I very much enjoyed ANNO I wouldn’t buy any game with the Ubisoft DRM in it.

      My internet does flake out from time to time, sometimes for hours at a time, and I couldn’t enjoy any game under those circumstances.

  18. Malcolm says:

    I would probably have bought Settlers 7 by now if it weren’t for the offensive DRM. I doubt I am the only one.

    (Being a software developer myself with a livelihood that depends on licence revenues to pay for my food/mortgage/array of shiny gadgets I don’t personally regard piracy as a viable alternative however much ubisoft as an evil corporate entity probably deserve it in this case)

  19. robrob says:

    Phill, why don’t you crack the game? Do you have a reason for not doing so? Surely this would tackle the symptoms – if not the cause – of the issue.

    • Wulf says:

      Because advocating cracks as a games journalist might be a bit too risky for him, he may have all ready done that, but even if he had he wouldn’t tell us for just that reason.

      For those poor basts who’ve bought the game and are stuck with this nonsense though, I wholeheartedly advocate the cracks.

    • Arthur Barnhouse says:

      Also, suggesting that people who purchase the game should crack the DRM muddies the issue of downloading and playing pirated software. I don’t think RPS is interested in advocating people using pirated software, I think they’d just like to play their games. An all-out boycott is a more principled position.

    • Wulf says:

      I never said anything to the contrary, please don’t misunderstand me, here.

      I haven’t bought any of the games myself, I’m a part of the boycott. The difference is, however, is that I feel sympathy for those who’ve bought these games unknowingly, and I advocate the use of cracks so that they can play their game without having to suffer Ubi’s nonsense.

      There’s no reason why anyone should have to suffer, really, if something can be done about it.

    • Zwebbie says:

      If more people crack it, Ubisoft will only see that more cracks are downloaded. After which they conclude that that’s one more lost sale, which they could’ve won back if only their DRM was better, harsher.

      If we don’t get the game illegally, we’ll show them that piracy isn’t dependent on anything but morality; that not every potential customer is also a potential pirate.

    • Wulf says:

      There’s no harm in cracking the game (or telling people to crack the game) if they’ve all ready bought it though and they’re suffering with the problems, I mean, it only shows us to be basts rather than Ubisoft if we just turn a blind eye. That’s why I say: If you know about the DRM, don’t buy it, if you bought it without knowing then use a crack.

    • robrob says:

      Hi Zwebbie, I’ve got to take issue on one of your points. Something often repeated in this discussion is that downloading the game adds to piracy figures which shows publishers that there is a need for DRM. However there’s no reliable way for them to collect figures on how many people are pirating their software or downloading cracks for it.

      In the case of something like Bit Torrent, the sources are too diffuse to be easily trackable. You might be able to get a snapshot of downloading activity but there’s no easy way to track downloads for a single product over its lifetime. Doing the same with direct download things like cracks would be even more difficult – you would have to work with the crack provider to get any figures.

      Getting actual figures on piracy is incredibly hard to do. The music industry have been trying it for a while now whereas with games no similar efforts have taken place. The truth is nobody really knows the extent of piracy – and certainly not the money lost to it – because nobody is studying it and providing any data.

      So I disagree that downloading a crack encourages DRM. It is an invisible act. I’d also question any illegality involved but that is a huge can of worms which I am not equipped to properly debate. The tone of Phill’s article was much more from the point of view of the consumer rather than the journalist which made it odd that he had not considered the obvious solution of cracking the game. Whereas I don’t expect RPS to endorse such a potentially dubious act, I was genuinely interested to hear why a consumer might avoid doing so.

    • malkav11 says:

      Downloading a crack won’t register, more than likely. Buying the game in the first place, though, shows that you are prepared to put up with their DRM. Don’t do it.

    • sasayan says:

      The problem with buying the game and the downloading a crack is that it send Ubi the message that you’re willing to put up with their awful DRM, so keep on truckin’. Lost sales are the only thing that will convince them what a terrible decision this was.

    • Stromko says:

      We can’t just assume that working cracks are going to be available for all these games, either. Ubisoft fully intends to make an uncrackable game, and they’ll continue to take drastic options to work toward that goal.

      Even if a crack works, it may cause instability, not to mention some sites could harbor viruses and the like.

      Furthermore, any patches (and all these games WILL require patches) will break compatibility with cracks, requiring customers to wait for new cracks which, for less popular titles, may never come.

      Altogether, the paying customer is paying for an inferior product, applying the crack only makes it as good as the free cracked version, not as good as a fully supported, non-DRM’d game that they paid for.

    • Wulf says:

      I have to correct you on a couple of things, Stromko. I think there are things that you’re just not aware of.

      “Even if a crack works, it may cause instability, not to mention some sites could harbor viruses and the like.”

      That’s FUD, plain and simple. Usually, if there are issues with a crack then word gets around pretty fast. The biggest issue in recent memory was the Mass Effect starmap, which was known of on the day of release. Usually cracks are actually more stable than the original game. Anecdotal maybe, but I speak from experience. I’ve watched DRM crash and burn due to environmental elements it doesn’t know how to cope with (such as 64-bit or whatnot), and a crack always solves all my problems.

      Currently there are no known issues with the SKiDROW crack that I’ve seen, everyone who’s tried it is perfectly happy with it. People in this very comments thread have attested as much, so there’s evidence to back up my claims. So a game that works flawlessly and smoothly versus that ridiculous DRM which does interrupt the game, a smart person opts for the crack. Understanding this, everyone should put this down to FUD, because there’s no basis for any claims in regards to crack instability.

      “Furthermore, any patches (and all these games WILL require patches) will break compatibility with cracks, requiring customers to wait for new cracks which, for less popular titles, may never come.”

      This, again, is yet more FUD, but I think you’re operating on FUD unwittingly, here. I don’t think you’re actually aware of things as they are now.

      There are a number of sites out there which are reliable, I’d recommend GameCopyWorld. Also, the chance of a crack containing a bit of malware that even the most average virus scanner can’t catch is infinitesimal. Again, I’m speaking from years of experience with buying games in the past and cracking them, because the DRM invariably causes problems which the crack completely cures. When the Internet was young, your information would be correct, but these days you’re operating on outdated knowledge.

      “Altogether, the paying customer is paying for an inferior product, [...]”

      No arguments there, but you need to understand that if someone has all ready bought the game without knowing of the DRM then they could be helped. Spindoctoring and scaremongering isn’t going to help anyone, and why shouldn’t we help those who didn’t know any better? When did we suddenly become a society that punishes people for not knowing everything, all of the time?

      “[...] applying the crack only makes it as good as the free cracked version, not as good as a fully supported, non-DRM’d game that they paid for.”

      That’s utter nonsense for the reasons I’ve described above. And what I think is that you’re operating out of fear that people have put in your head, and that you’ve had no real world experience with cracks. Either that or you and I have had very different experiences. People can believe whomever they wish to believe. Personally, I don’t like FUD. FUD is used to terrify people so that they don’t realise the amount of choices they have. It’s a tactic used by Microsoft to stop people from realising they have more OS choice than just Windows.

      I’m going to do my best to strike down FUD wherever I see it. And this post? Pure FUD. I don’t think you realise it, I’m not blaming you, I honestly do believe you’re just passing on what other people have told you. But unless you’ve got your own experiences to talk from, your information is incorrect and borne of ignorance.

  20. Azhrarn says:

    R.U.S.E was looking quite interesting until they announced the DRM, glad to see I was right to not pre-order the game anyway.
    As for splinter cell, Alpha Protocol seems to have a similar premise, although with a bit more RPG than Action.

  21. subversus says:

    I haven’t had any problems with this DRM but if the game is cracked already it’s stupid to maintain the status quo. Get rid of it and reap some extra sales.

    But as I said Ubisoft should abandon PC market completely. If people are so stupid to kill their platform publishers shouldn’t bother with them. And I’m saying it as a PC-only gamer. Nobody from customer’s camp did anything to stop piracy – the main reason why customers themselves get sloppy and postponed ports (or get nothing at all). Customers can only whine that publishers are evil, copyrght laws are too restrictive and Geohot is a prophet because he’s trying to bring back Linux to your PS3 (which was taken out because of Geohot’s efforts to crack the system. Reap what you sow.

    But I must say I’m happy that more and more PC gamers are aware that piracy can kill their hobby and start buying games. I hope may be some day piracy will be condemned as shoplifting. May be the industry should just wait out “hard times” for the market, heh.

    • pete says:

      thats bullshit. piracy didnt kill pc games and it will not kill pc games. good studios can create good profit, even without intrusive DRM. look at stardock. they didnt have ANY DRM and they said they did good profit and they will not include any DRM in their games. same with blizzard games. they are heavily pirated, they also have their own (huge) pirate networks(like eurobattle or wow pirate free servers). and they can create gazillion $ profit each year. sims series are pirated and they sell millions copies. same with f3, cod, bf etc etc.
      stupid DRM will not bump sales that much. i dont wanna know how much did ubisoft pay for Uplay DRM and how much do they pay for monthly server upkeep.

    • bleeters says:

      The problem being that piracy rates have, arguably, spirraled considerably in recent years, as you’d expect. So, surely, if piracy was the media-industry-doomsday that it’s continually branded as, sales would’ve dropped dramatically in response? Except they’ve not. If anything, they’ve increased just as drastically. “Piracy is killing PC gaming!” is an argument that just doesn’t hold any water.

      ‘Sides, I don’t condone companies attempting to protect their products on any particular principle. I don’t download things myself. The problem comes when, in this case, they seem to follow a line of thinking that doing entirely the wrong thing is somehow better than doing nothing at all. Who’s suffering from all this DRM? Because it sure as hell isn’t the people it was supposedly designed to combat. The people doing the reaping aren’t the ones doing the sowing.

    • Wulf says:

      An opinion: Piracy isn’t actually anywhere near as big of a problem or presence on the PC as you think it is.

      An observation: Not that many people are interested in downloading games due to the belief that they’re riddled with malware and such, those that do decide to try it are rarely successful as they don’t have the competence to use ISOs, cracks, and whatnot. These people will get fed up and either buy or ignore the game. Very few people successfully play pirated games.

      A conclusion based on the above: Game downloads don’t equal people playing pirated games, just imagine how much the numbers are fudged by people downloading games and not using them, and a small group of successful pirates downloading 20-30 games a week and only playing them for an hour or two before moving onto something else, compared to those who buy the game and will likely spend a week playing that game.

      A theory: Shareholders are greedy, publishers are greedy too so they want to appease their shareholders, and publishers need to explain lost sales to their shareholders. If a game isn’t selling so well on a particular format, they’re not going to come out to the shareholders and say that it’s their fault for making shitty ports and not making games targeted at the demographic of that platform, instead they’re going to blame piracy, both publically and to the shareholders in order to have an excuse. Piracy is a bit of propaganda to cover up a real truth. That truth is that mainstream console games don’t sell as well on the PC as they do on consoles.

      My understanding of things: If there was no DRM and the ports were redesigned to be more suitable to a PC audience (instead of just being generally grotty and poorly programmed) then games would be selling much, much better than they are now. If publishers were to back developers who wanted to make PC exclusives or developers who wanted to make games designed around the PC ethos, they’d see a further rise in sales. As it is, the games are selling a little bit less than on the consoles, I’d bet that the PC only sees about a 10-20% drop in sales, but for the greedy shareholders that’s too much. So… piracy. Piracy is the grand excuse that allows them the luxury of dealing with real problems.

      Why haven’t Ubisoft dropped this DRM? It’d be pretty much admitting that all of the above is true, to varying degrees. They’re doing this to uphold the illusion of credibility in regards to that excuse.

    • bob_d says:

      @ bleeters
      “So, surely, if piracy was the media-industry-doomsday that it’s continually branded as, sales would’ve dropped dramatically in response? Except they’ve not. If anything, they’ve increased just as drastically.”

      Actually, (boxed) PC game sales numbers have been in a death-spiral for years. I’m not convinced it’s piracy that’s doing it, as there are so many other factors in play, but the drop in PC sales does correspond with the adoption of broadband internet. (It also corresponds with rising revenue from phone and console games, subscriptions and online sales so the industry as a whole is seeing more money, but publishers will see what they want to see.)
      Ironically, I think one reason people are moving to consoles is the broken experience they get on the PC thanks to DRM. That Ubisoft will *surely* see a drop in PC sales along with increased piracy and console sales will justify their viewpoint, unable to see the cause and effect.

      @Wulf:
      “I’d bet that the PC only sees about a 10-20% drop in sales, but for the greedy shareholders that’s too much.”
      To be fair, profit margins for games are getting so thin, a lot of publishers would kill for an extra 10-20%, as that could be the difference between continued existence or closing down the studio.

    • Wulf says:

      @bob_d

      Indeed, but they bring it on themselves, really. Publishers are probably going to go the way of the dinosaur, eventually, in our ever evolving economy, and really, with every sort of publisher (see: the music industry) it usually can’t happen soon enough. There will be a rare few who’ll get smart before their end times arrive and change how their business works in order to survive in today’s world, but just will just disappear into the night.

  22. roman says:

    thanks RPS. more news servers need to bash this stupid DRM. i would never-ever buy game with such intrusive DRM. funny is that new games with Uplay DRM are cracked few days after release. totaly useless step ubi. shame that they wont admit defeat and drop this stupid DRM idea and patch their games with cracked exe/dll files. just like they did with R6 vegas2(or was it the first R6V?) and RELOADED crack.

  23. Dr Jerkass says:

    The pirated copy works great, so when will Ubisoft learn that they only people that get hurt by this bullshit DRM are the people who actually want to pay for the game. This doesn’t deter pirates, the crackers see it as a challenge, and then the pirates end up with a better experience than paying customers. Well played Ubisoft!

  24. Snall says:

    I was going to buy this (Not older bro BS) but the DRM of course turned me off like a friggin light. Played it anyway, meh, glad it had the DRM since it wasn’t that great, more of a console thing.

  25. benjamin says:

    Ha ha ha ha, Ubisoft is going down. Right down.

    *Remembers who is working on Beyond Good and Evil 2*

    Great.

    • Grunt says:

      If it arrives with this flavour of DRM baked into it I won’t be buying it anyway. AssCreed 2 didn’t interest me, I probably wouldn’t have bought Splinter Cell as I think the last game jumped the shark a bit but I might have been tempted by The Settlers. All are definite no-no’s now.

      Plus there’s the fact there’s been no news about Jade’s return since the original announcement…no news is not always good news.

  26. Nessin says:

    This is a perfect example of the problem. You bought the game and found out you can’t stand it. Except… you bought the game. All chances you have of bringing the issue to a head just died as soon as you handed over the cash (signed the reciept, hit the submit button, whatever).

    Why? Because Ubisoft doesn’t see anything but your internet tears. They have your money, they have the sale, and they made a profit. Fact is that a LOT of people have bought (or are buying) their current round of games. Maybe they find out they can’t play them all that well, and that they hate the DRM, but chances are they can’t return them. Which means the sales numbers are high and they’ll continue to implement the DRM system. Maybe, eventually, the impact of having this DRM will be felt, but it sure as hell doesn’t seem like its going to be now. Its going to be 6-12 months down the road when Ubisoft releases another couple big hits and find out no one is buying them.

    So, at the end of the day, let me thank you (and everyone like you) who decided they’d be able to handle the game and bought it only to find out that common sense would have prevailed in the end. Not only have you cost me the chance to play what could be a couple decent games (Silent Hunter and Settlers), but you’ve cost me the chance to play some future good hits from Ubisoft that are likely to have this DRM scheme because Ubisoft won’t see an immediate sales hit from it.

    I’m sure many people will say I’m placing the blame in the wrong spot, but it is the CONSUMER which dictates the market. A company will not continue to support a product/practice if no one buys into it. Unfortunately it seems far too many people have bought into this DRM scheme, regardless of what they’re feelings are about it AFTER the fact.

    • jalf says:

      I’m sure many people will say I’m placing the blame in the wrong spot, but it is the CONSUMER which dictates the market. A company will not continue to support a product/practice if no one buys into it

      Nice ideal, but very naive. As consumers, our ability to influence the market is pretty much minimal.

      Let’s say everyone refused to buy the game. What makes you think that would make Ubisoft come to their senses?

      When was the last time you saw any of the big publishers behave as if they were actually sane, understood the business they’re running, or just acted in their own best interests?

      If we all just refused to buy their games, who’s to say that Ubisoft wouldn’t just go bust, taking the games we want to play with it in the grave. We’d be putting them in a situation where they have to demonstrate good business sense to survive. That could wipe them out.

      Of course, this isn’t an argument for buying their DRM-infested crap. I’m staying away from it, and I hope everyone else does too. I just don’t think it’s a given that Ubisoft will realize how much the DRM is hurting their business. But we can hope. And if they dont, it’s ultimately their problem. As consumers we don’t have the power to influence what direction individual publishers go in, but we do have the power to decide which of them get to survive.

  27. Snall says:

    Strangely enough I still do buy STEAM games though, but you can go off-line for that, though I still like GamersGate more.

    • Wulf says:

      Yeah but the offline mode in Steam works flawlessly, I’ve spent weeks in that mode and then just reconnected when it was convenient.

      I don’t think anyone would really care if Ubisoft had exactly the same sort of offline mode implemented, people would just click the offline mode button and think no more of it.

      Steam’s offline mode is far nicer than almost any other DRM you could imagine, because it doesn’t phone home on every launch, unlike SecuROM, Tages, and whatever else you could name. A lot of games on Gamer’s Gate feature SecuROM.

      ‘Nuff said, really.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Wulf

      A lot of games on Gamer’s Gate feature SecuROM.

      A lot of games on Steam feature SecuROM too. In both cases it’s the publisher pushing for SecuROM, not the distributor. Most games on Gamersgate require an online check to install and then never need to deal with Gamersgate ever again, they’re simply yours. Short of being DRM-free, it’s about as light as distributor-attached DRM gets.

    • Snall says:

      Yeah I love GamersGate, when the second STALKER game wouldn’t work for me they gave me a full refund, no problems. (Still no idea why that damn game wouldnt work…)

    • Wulf says:

      @Vinraith

      I know, but my point is is that there are games which rely only on the Steam DRM. For example: The Whispered World. The Whispered World uses Steam DRM on Steam, whereas it uses SecuROM on Gamer’s Gate. And it’s now publically known (even to Gamer’s Gate, who are looking into it) that SecuROM totally butchers the game.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Wulf

      Yes, in the case of the Whispered World, the Gamersgate version doesn’t work as a result of the publisher being massively incompetent. I can think of a few games on Steam that were borked on release, too (Silent Hunter 4 Gold for one, which wouldn’t install properly for months.) It’s a reality of digital distribution that sometimes between developers, publishers, and distributors someone screws up.

    • Wulf says:

      You’re not following my argument, Vin, you keep sidestepping it…

      I’m not sure whether that’s intentional or not, but allow me to restate it one more time: If a game has Steam DRM vs SecuROM DRM then the Steam DRM version is the desirable one. If both games have SecuROM or some other form of DRM then it doesn’t matter where you buy it from. Games which have only Steam DRM have been Universally functional and without problems from my experience, and games that have only Steam DRM can be set to offline mode, which doesn’t dial home every time you start the game.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Wulf

      I get it, I just disagree. SecuROM alone vs. SecuROM + Steam, SecuROM alone wins. SecuROM alone vs. Steam alone is pretty much “flip a coin” to me, they’re both invasive in different ways. If the SecuROM in question involves limited installs I’ll usually go with Steam, if not I’ll usually go with the SecuROM alone option, in either case I’m not going to pay much for the game. It’s also worth nothing that SecuROM’s a lot easier to crack than Steam.

      Most games I buy, though, don’t have SecuROM, so it’s between Steam and no DRM of any note. That one’s a no-brainer. You’ve had generally better experience with Steam than I have, and have a lot more faith in the people that run it, so your priorities are different.

    • Wulf says:

      I’ll break it down a little more, then…

      SecuROM requires a phone home every time the game is started, to my knowledge all installations of SecuROM are like this and my firewall has always told me the same, if you want to convince me that anything other than that is true, I’d like for you to show me, that’s all I ask. But my stance is that SecuROM is invasive because it has a phone home every single time the game starts.

      Steam DRM in offline mode allows one to play a game without requiring a player to login for weeks at a time, I’ve never personally encountered an upper-limit where Steam has said to me that I can’t play in offline mode any more. I usually go online on Steam to poke a group on Steam or such. So let’s say that it’s two weeks (it’s probably longer, but I’m being generous).

      How can you say that it’s a flip of a coin and make out that Steam DRM and SecuROM are equally as invasive when their actual behaviour paints a picture quite to the contrary? Steam DRM in offline mode is far, far less invasive. And that’s why–as I’ve said and I’ll continue to say–I’ll sooner buy a game off Steam if it has only Steam DRM than a version that has SecuROM, Tages, or any other form of DRM (since they all dial home every startup, Steam is the only one that doesn’t).

      By this measure, Steam is far, far more pleasant to deal with, and it’s not right to lump it in with SecuROM or to say that it’s equally as invasive when that’s obviously as untruthful (and possibly intellectually dishonest if you realise that) as any statement could be.

    • Wulf says:

      I will add that I too prefer no DRM. If I see a game on Gamer’s Gate or anywhere that honestly, genuinely has no DRM in any way, shape, or form, then I’ll opt for the version sans DRM over the Steam version. But in today’s climate where one in three releases is riddled with something nasty like SecuROM, I want another option. If I have the option of Steam DRM (which allows me to play for weeks on end with no phoning home) or SecuROM DRM (which butchers the performance of games and phones home on every startup), then I’ll opt for Steam DRM.

      Steam DRM vs no DRM, I go for no DRM, only a fool wouldn’t, really. But my argument is that if we’re comparing Steam against any other form of DRM, Steam is far, far, FAR more benign, and to lump in Steam with other forms of DRM shows that you’re being illogical (or unreasonable, at least) about DRM and thus companies won’t pay as much attention to us if we’re going to fuss any which way.

      If I can play for weeks at a time in an offline mode, I don’t have a problem.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Wulf

      SecuROM requires a phone home every time the game is started

      No, it doesn’t, I have a stack of games with SecuROM that do not require online checks for installation OR on game start. I have some that require online activation to install, and I’m aware of none that require on online phone-in to play each time. I would agree that SecuROM that DOES require a phone home on every game start would in fact be far more invasive than Steam, but I’ve yet to encounter that.

    • Vinraith says:

      to lump in Steam with other forms of DRM shows that you’re being illogical (or unreasonable, at least)

      You’re misinformed about most of these DRM implementations, Wulf. For what it’s worth, if you were right and every SecuROM game and Tages game required phone-home-to-play I’d completely agree with you that Steam (with a functional offline mode) was better. I have quite a lot of SecuROM games, though, and a handful of Tages ones and none of them phone home on game start. Not. One. A few of them have a phone-home-on-install function, which I would consider to be very much equivalent to Steam (if not slightly better, since they don’t ever require me to check back in). A couple of them have install limits (that I wasn’t aware of at time of purchase) and I would consider Steam better than that in principle, though usually it’s easier to crack the SecuROM.

    • Vinraith says:

      One other little note, Gamersgate is the only digital distriibutor that I have ever seen guarantee their users that, in the case of third-party limited install DRM, they will never run out of installs. If the publisher cuts you off, GG says (right in their FAQ) that they will supply a new code as needed. When you buy from them, as far as they’re concerned the game is yours, which is a pretty remarkable stance if you ask me.

    • nutterguy says:

      SecuROM can be implemented in a lot of different ways, it’s up to the studio/coders/publishers how to drastically to implement it.
      Would also add that SecuROM adds zero functionality where as Steam is actually useful.

      Also I think we can all agree that either method is preferable to Ubisoft’s DRM.

    • Grunt says:

      I would also add a belated tuppence to this by saying that while Tages/Securom is between me and my machine, I still find Steam’s hand-holding more objectionable than disc-based copy protection (particularly as that can be bypassed fairly easily). Case in point: I installed Aliens vs Predator (the new one) the other day and straight away encountered Steam asking for activation: fine, this was stated on the box and I accepted it before purchase. But where Steam annoyed me is in the install process, which it wanted to do from an online download when I had the DVD right there in the drive – a minor irritation but one I would not have encountered without it – and then, once installed, the update it wanted to apply. “I’ll let you play your game in a few minutes, when it’s done” it said (paraphrased, obv). As ‘helpful’ as this to many I still resent it, and actively avoid it where I can.

      Further, to play the game without being saddled to any of the dubious community and acheivement ‘benefits’ I now have to go and tell Steam I want to play the game offline – like asking for permission from your parents. This also doesn’t remove Steam’s participation, either, as it’s still the middle-piggy through which the game is launched.

      In terms of visbility to the end-user Steam is far more of a nuisance.

  28. Will Tomas says:

    Fight the power!

  29. DMJ says:

    The shareholders insist on this scheme, and they’re not about games – they’re they money men, not the developers or designers. And they don’t care about the quality of game bought by paying customers because…

    They already have your money.

    An unhappy buyer and a happy buyer have both paid the same price for the game. So where’s the profit in making buyers happy if the money hose sprays the same torrent of cash regardless?

    They’ll sink their long term prospects for a quick buck. They’re running Ubisoft into the ground snatching every penny along the way and when the company crashes the shareholders will lay back on their draconian piles of gold and gems and nod sagely to each other over a glass of port.

  30. Robin says:

    Why aren’t these objectively broken products getting damning reviews?

    http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/pc/tomclancyssplintercellconviction

    I see PC Gamer UK is in there. 87%. Very, very poor. A caveat in a review isn’t going to change Ubisoft’s treatment of their customers.

    • robrob says:

      I think this is the most galling thing about the entire issue. A lot of people will feel cheated by the disparity between publications railing against the DRM and the scores they award the games or their failure to address the issue altogether. Whether or not it is desirable, the Metascore is the bottom line for a lot of games and unless publications have the balls to score them down based on the DRM, publishers aren’t going to change their policies. It would be nice if the magazines had stood up for their readers on this one but their reaction has left me and presumably many others feeling let down.

    • Wulf says:

      If anything, it might have taught people that magazines probably aren’t worth it any more, especially when you can read sites like this one.

      Choices:

      Magazines – reveal either a partial truth or nothing at all.
      Websites – tend to give you the whole story, and the comments fill in the blanks.

      That’s why I don’t buy dead tree gaming rags any more.

    • robrob says:

      The actual content of the magazines are not important – as Robin says, it is the numbers they assign to games which have an impact. Tacking on a sentence saying the DRM is bad and awarding it a high mark does not impact the publisher, they still get a high number out of it. That high number increases the number on Metacritic and more people buy the game.

    • Jeeva says:

      In my eyes, a sentence in the paragraph that talks about the DRM, or even in the summary, simply saying something like “Because of the DRM, we’re docking the game 20-30%” would allow people who don’t care about the DRM to figure out what the score would be in an ideal world (or if they don’t care about the DRM), and send a message to the metascore-loving publishers.

      Which would be nice.

      *Oh, and then actually docking the score.

  31. rocketman71 says:

    Great article. Just:

    1) Download the crack

    2) Play the game

    3) Don’t buy anything from Ubi Soft until they remove their POS DRM from all their games and apologize to PC gamers

    Yeah, probably that last one is the same as “Don’t ever buy from Ubi Soft again”. The way things are, I’m fine with that.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Just make sure you’re not pirating the game to apply that crack.

      When you pirate, you add to the number of people seeding/leeching/having downloaded the game via torrent. This number is then taken completely out of context by people within the games industry’s financial sector to claim that they’re losing billions to pirates, and then we get things like the DEB.

      Even if you think you’re being rebellious and sticking it up to the man by pirating, you’re not. You’re merely making everyone’s immediate future a little bit more shit by giving more power to those who abuse policy makers’ complete lack of tech-savviness.

      So yes, buy and crack, or even better: just ignore the game altogether instead.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Boycott does not mean steal.

      It means do not use.

      Don’t break down for a bad game. Ignore this game, let the silence be your voice. If you talk about it, mention how you didn’t want a Desktop Gremlin cutting your game play off every time your internet had a hiccup.

  32. Snall says:

    I don’t think anyone makes real Bank on a game company DMJ, except huge MMOs of course..

    • DMJ says:

      @Snall: All the more reason for shareholders to slash and burn Ubisoft and save up to buy Activision-Blizzard shares with the proceeds.

  33. Nameykins says:

    I’d really love to pick up the upcoming Prince of Persia title on Steam, but even that version is bogged down with the DRM crap. Even with my pretty solid internet, that means I will not be buying it.

  34. FernandoDante says:

    And yet it costs 60 bucks.

    And yet people buy it.

  35. Lobotomist says:

    Problem is as i see it summed in opening of this article :
    “Ubisoft decided that, in an effort to combat piracy, they’d implement a DRM system so draconian it’d make us pine for the days of SecuROM.”

    Did you see the film “wag the dog”. So called “Wag the dog” is politic term describing old diplomatic tactics. When one scandal is made , another much bigger one must be created elsewhere. And the public completely forgets about first one (or even considers it benign)

    Ubisoft DRM is game industry “wag the dog”

    They will probably not continue using it. But from now on things like Securom will be considered “gamer friendly”

    And than in future something even more horrible will come, and than Ubisoft DRM will be considered benign….and so on , and so on.

    • Vinraith says:

      Bastardry creep at work.

    • Snall says:

      Wag the dog is a bit different from that, it’s more like when they use pirate numbers to do fake math.

    • Lobotomist says:

      “To ‘wag the dog’ means to purposely divert attention from what would otherwise be of greater importance, to something else of lesser significance. By doing so, the lesser-significant event is catapulted into the limelight, drowning proper attention to what was originally the more important issue.”

      But yea. I think the term can be used for all kind of attention diverting tricks.

      In any case.
      We will not longer stress about securom, or internet activation. It will now be considered the “Gamer friendly method”

    • FunkyBadger says:

      Oi!

  36. Eric says:

    Just throwing my hat in as one of the people who would have bought Splinter Cell: Conviction on the PC, but have not done so specifically because of this DRM. (No, I didn’t pirate it either.)

    I also would have bought Assassin’s Creed II on the PC, and did not do so for the same reason. I did buy it on the 360 before this DRM scheme was ever announced, and was STILL going to buy it – again – on the PC, because I liked it that much. Oh well.

    I represent but one lost $100 opportunity, but there are many more like me. I will continue to represent an increasing amount of lost money until this situation changes.

    However large or small a loss it is, I seriously doubt it’s a loss made up by the number of pirates you’re deterring, Ubisoft (in the short term, a few, in the long term, none).

    I feel terrible for the developers. They’re making highly polished, well-reviewed games I want to purchase and play, and now I won’t. You’re actively driving me away as a customer, and I’m pulling as many people with me as will listen.

    • Wulf says:

      The developers are a casualty in this, no doubt, as much as the punter who bought anything wot Ubisoft published.

      The upside is that some (most?) of these developers might leave to form an indie development company, and then we’d see something high quality from them released on the PC without any of this nonsense.

      What? I can dream, can’t I?

  37. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    Woa, you have only been able to play 3 hours!?

  38. Drakkheim says:

    So far UBI has saved me almost $150.00

    Sure I would have liked playing Settlers, Silent Hunter, and Splinter cell, but now I’ve almost got enough for a Kindle.

    And no I haven’t pirated any of them and don’t intend to.

  39. Heliocentric says:

    A word from the pirates please? Have they managed to get lan coop working? I’d be tempted to buy 1 copy, crack it and play 2 player coop. A compromise to the 2 copies i would buy without the drm to play coop and the nothing i would otherwise buy.

    • Wulf says:

      Apparently the SKiDROW crack works just fine. I’m… hesitant to link my evidence here, because I feel that RPS would tell me off, but after looking over a number of threads people have been able to play even online versions, just create a Ubisoft account and you’re good to go. Just remove the lines from HOSTS if you’ve used the previous server emulator.

      So yes, you can buy the game, crack the game, and play online with your legally bought and cracked game.

    • Wisq says:

      IMO, any solution that involves “buy the game” is doing more harm than good.

      People keep saying that if you pirate the game, you’re adding to the number of pirates and telling Ubisoft that there’s demand for their games — a demand that they could presumably convert to sales if they could just make DRM that actually works. And that’s true enough.

      But buying the game is even worse. It tells Ubisoft that there’s demand for their game, and that people are actually willing to put up with their crap DRM. It doesn’t matter if you then go and crack it — they still see the sale and the money from it.

      I’m not advocating pirating the game. I’m advocating boycotting it altogether. And I suppose anyone who has already bought it ought to use the crack and actually enjoy their unfortunate purchase — you’ve already done the damage, may as well live with it.

      But frankly, if someone can’t be convinced to just boycott the game altogether (sigh), I’d rather see them pirating it than buying it.

  40. DarkFenix says:

    I personally wouldn’t have touched Conviction with a barge pole anyway (I can’t stand the Splinter Cell series) but Assassins’ Creed 2 and Silent Hunter 5 would both have been games I’d have previously bought without question, even if they were on the old satanic SecuROM system.

    As a direct result of this DRM I ignored them, waited for a crack, and pirated them. Resultingly I can now enjoy both (well, not Silent Hunter 5, the only suitable place for that was the recycle bin) free of any interruptions caused by my less than reliable internet.

  41. GoldenNugget says:

    Well I’m not going to buy it until it’s less than 20 bucks or so. I heard that the game’s been cracked too and you can play online with legit players with this crack (because there’s no cd-key?).

    • Wulf says:

      You heard right! Your information is completely correct, there’s absolutely nothing blocking online play at all, they thought their DRM would be the only line of defence they’d need, so they didn’t bother with anything else. With that DRM gone you can pretty much do whatever you like.

  42. HermitUK says:

    Conviction would have been a day one purchase for me, given that I like the series a lot. Chaos Theory is still one of my favourite stealth games ever.

    As it is, I’m waiting til it hits bargain bin price, then I’ll crack out the DRM if Ubisoft haven’t done it themselves.

  43. Mario Figueiredo says:

    I think the question is why people bought these games knowing they had a fickle internet connection. I have to ask, Phil:

    Aren’t there any other games out there that you could buy? Did you have to experience the black screen of death to actually understand the unfairness of this DRM? Do you feel your desire to play a game can’t be controlled, at least to the level where you make buying decisions based on corporate policies and respect for their customers?

    • Phill Cameron says:

      Really? You’re saying that I should be dictating my purchases based on my internet connection, or reliability whereof?

      Supposedly, according to Virgin, I have a 20mb connection. That’s easily fast enough to deal with this DRM, but to focus on that would be to entirely miss the point. This is a single-player game. That means I don’t use my internet connection to play it. The fact that they’re arbitrarily saying that I do is the issue here.

      If there was some benefit, any benefit at all from being connected to the internet while playing Splinter Cell, I’d be a hell of a lot more accepting of the restrictions. But, because there isn’t, it’s just interfering with an activity that has always been solitary, and entirely about losing myself in a game world for a few hours at a time.

      So no, I don’t think I should not buy a game like this because of my internet connection.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      No. I didn’t say anything of that. You misread entirely. I suggest you read again.

      Curiously enough your answer seems to indicate however, you still decide to buy the game even knowing full well before you put your money in, that this was an unfair and rotten deal.

      With all respect you deserve (and you do):
      What are you complaining about? It was your choice to buy the game. It’s not that you haven’t heard from comments on this blog and elsewhere on the internet what was the general opinion on this DRM and the risks you would be taking. It’s only bad now once you experienced it first-hand?

      This may look like the bit where I’m happily taking advantage of you and showing no commiseration. But it’s not that, really. It’s just that what drives UbiSoft to these policies is the fact people buy their games. And they do because often they put their desire to play a game ahead of everything else, including a immensely unfair DRM policy.

      So, this is in fact me doing a direct criticism at those who buy and then complain. It’s a more elegant and respectful way of saying “Deal with it!”

    • Phill Cameron says:

      Ok fair enough, I did somewhat mis read.

      I’m not sure if this actually helps my argument in your eyes, but I didn’t pay for it. I obtained a copy of it through journalistic credentials, so, really, the entire article is supposed to inform rather than complain. I’m attempting to raise awareness of just why this is a bad piece of technology, which I don’t think I could without actually playing it.

      And, without having played, and become angry, through playing, I personally don’t think that I could attempt to convey just how frustrating it is to be constantly interrupted while playing the game. That’s my primary intention.

      So yeah, it is only really bad now that I’ve got first hand experience.

    • Tei says:

      “So no, I don’t think I should not buy a game like this because of my internet connection”

      I guest you are not saying what you are saying, but saying something else, and I don’t get it.

      If you don’t have internet, or your internet have frequent conexion problems you sould NOT buy this game or all others with this DRM. Hell.. I bet somewhere in the Ubisoft website this recomendation is made. Is just make sense.

    • Wulf says:

      You’re on the wrong side of this, Tei.
       
      The thing is, if a game has problems running on certain platforms then either the publishers or the community will patch it, it’ll work and everyone’s happy. You’re essentially arguing against this happening. I mean, it’s like saying that if you don’t want to play games you can’t complete due to show-stopping bugs, you shouldn’t ever play even slightly ambitious games. The problem isn’t Phil’s, it’s Ubisoft for not patching a problem that they could solve easily, and it’s the fault of anyone who doesn’t think that this is a problem.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      @Phil,

      Oh! That changes everything indeed. Forget I said anything.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      No, Wulf.

      Ubisoft should not get a free pass. I’m against them fixing it too. Why? Because I want them to go down in flames so the other companies finally get the message that you cannot treat your paying customers like thieves.

    • Wulf says:

      @DJ

      I think you just hugely misunderstood me, because I don’t agree with any of that.

      I’ll sum up what I was saying: Ubisoft is a problem that needs fixing, people who think that Ubisoft is okay as it currently is are also a problem that needs fixing.

    • Wulf says:

      Er, don’t disagree, sorry. I don’t disagree with any of that.

      I would’ve done a speedy edit, but the post’s not showing up in the forums, so this will have to do.

      To stress, I agree completely, I was just misunderstood.

  44. dingo says:

    The real funny thing is that Splinter Cell MULTIPLAYER is cracked as well and even works with the new patches released by Ubi to improve it.
    So the pirates play on their servers costing them even more money hosting etc.
    Ubi failed on so many levels.

    They won’t admit defeat because they are stubborn French.

    And yes I can’t wait until they will crawl back to us and beg us to buy their shit again.
    I hope Yves knows how to bend over…

  45. Fab says:

    I have been a huge fan of Ubisoft games in the past, but since the creation of their latest DRM I have declared indefinite moratorium. The world is full of games, there is absolutely no need to subject yourself to something like this. It’s the equivalent of going to a movie and being obliged to eat popcorn during the whole of it, otherwise you are kicked from the cinema.

  46. anon says:

    Seriously, when will you all commit to a review boycott of games with obnoxious DRM? A large number of people make their purchasing decisions based on professional or blogger reviews. If every time Ubi came out with a game with this shit in it, and it was never mentioned in the magazines or promptly given a 0%, it would start changing minds pretty quickly.

    • Urthman says:

      RPS has comitted to a boycott. You won’t find a review or any other coverage of Ass Creed 2 on this site other than discussion of the DRM problems.

  47. Tei says:

    The 486 PC that host the Ubisoft auth server is not happy either.

  48. RiptoR says:

    Thought it was running on a Texas Instruments TI-34 calculator…

  49. Zogtee says:

    I haven’t bought any Ubisoft games since they started with this crap and I don’t plan to, until they quit. I don’t pirate or crack the games, either. I just don’t care about them anymore. I have a ton of games sitting in Steam that I haven’t had time to play yet, so I really don’t need them.

    Can I have a “lol ubisoft”?

  50. Tei says:

    Giving good ideas to ubisoft:

    Maybe Ubisoft can implement a “gaming cap”, so the auth servers are not overloaded. Something like 2 hours of play a day. Like some ISP that have setup a cap to bandwith.

    Only really greedy players are playing 3 or 4 hours long the game. And are these gamers that are stealing the bandwith to all other players.

    Maybe can monoteize the outtages!, like… the cap can be reduced to 1 hour, and If you want the cap raised to 2 hours, you have to pay a extra!

    • robrob says:

      PARIS, France. In a shock move today, French-based game subscription provider Ubisoft announced their new Strategic Head of Strategy and Making Decisions And That would be relatively unknown industry commentator Tei “Tei” Tei. In a press release this afternoon the company stated Tei “had the vision, drive and moral bankruptcy” that Ubisoft needed “to completely fuck over everyone, ever.”

      Tei was unavailable for comment but sources close to him have expressed bewilderment and despair. “I thought he was joking!” said one fellow commentator. “Christ” he added.

    • DMJ says:

      Tei, you have fallen to the Dark Side. Unless you mend your ways gamers from the future will build a time machine and come back in time to kill you before you made these suggestions.

    • Jad says:

      More ideas: a result of this DRM is that game saves are stored in the cloud. Ubisoft could monetize that as well. $0.25 for quicksaves, $1 per checkpoint save.

      I feel dirty now.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Thank goodness Ubisoft doesn’t read what anyone says about them.

      Otherwise we’d see this enacted.

      Also, good job, Rob. Funny.

    • dog says:

      very funny robrob :D

    • sasayan says:

      @Tei

      Get China on the phone, they’d love this.

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