StarCraft 2 Goes Ubisoft? (By Mistake)

By Alec Meer on September 9th, 2010 at 9:14 am.


UPDATE: Blizzard are a-fixin’ it, claiming the deactivation thing is an ‘issue’ rather than a decision, and will be sorted in an upcoming patch.

ORIGINAL: While we all knew Battle.net’s careful weaving into StarCraft 2’s fabric meant Blizzard’s latest wasn’t something to be played in an entirely offline vacuum, it allowed the less bewebbed players amongst us to have some singleplayer fun without being chastised. A quick nod to the Blizzardian mothership every 30 days was required, but other than that, carry on Zerging. That may have changed, with the game apparently now losing its activation every time you turn your PC off.

Quoth the customer service guy, following a bunch of players mailing to find out why the 30-day offline mode wasn’t working anymore:

At this time, StarCraft II requires an active internet connection to play. This is stated in the System Requirements on the retail box, as well as our online System Requirements. Without an active internet connection, you will not be able to log in to Battle.net to authenticate your copy of StarCraft II.

The ‘offline mode’ currently only lasts until the computer is turned off, and then requires a fresh authentication. There are plans to review this, but there is no ETA on that.

The solution is simple: never turn your PC off. Who cares about that environment thing anyway? Or stick to sleep mode. Or abandon your right to play your favourite game whilst travelling. Sigh.

“StarCraft II requires an active internet connection to play. This is stated in the System Requirements on the retail box” covers their backs a bit, but perhaps not enough to justify the sudden change to a new system which leaves a lot of people in the cold. Let’s see how those “plans to review this” pan out, anyway – at least the whole real-names mess proved Blizzard do pay heed to protest.

(Here’s a Blizzard guy talking about the 30 day thing back in July, by way of context).

And again, that official update from Blizzard, which cropped up last night between us noting the issue and waking up to finish writing about it. The 30 day thing is apparently supposed to stand, but something may have gone awry. Which doesn’t really explain the “fresh authentication” comment from the admin, but who knows the ways of the internet?

In far happier news, the first official bonus map is out.

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71 Comments »

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  1. HexagonalBolts says:

    I never empathised with people who suffered from games that require online authentication, always thinking ‘it’s not that bad, they need to stop the pirates some how I guess, and who in this day and age doesn’t have the internet?’. Boy, did I see the other side when I moved house and was left internetless for a couple of weeks. It’s infuriating beyond belief. I suspect the problem of the matter is that it’s easy for the companies to justify their actions to themselves because they’re in the same ignorant position I was in.

    Also, I think we need an RPS 4v4 or free for all or tournament or something!

    • SanguineAngel says:

      Me too. been without internet for a month now due to ISP incompetance. So that’s pretty aces and starcraft is a handy drinks coaster.

    • Zanchito says:

      Besides, that way of thinking *MAY* be acceptable *IF* this architecture stopped pirates. Which it doesn’t. As always, pirated products give a better service than original ones, so it’s not surprising so many people opt for them.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Zanchito is right. Their over zealous methods don’t even work. In the end, Pirates play a DRM free game, while we have to be tethered to the internet.

    • Premium User Badge

      Vandelay says:

      Hear, hear, on the tournament/4v4 team. I’ll plug that thread entitled “The Club of Starcrafting” once again. Add your names there and maybe we could get something going. Think we have about 4 or 5 at the moment (although I don’t how the friends adding is going.)

      As for online authentication, I have no problem with a one time process, in the vein of Steam. I really don’t like the idea of requiring a constant connection, particular here in the UK, where ISPs are just not reliable enough, as well as the potential for problems at the game server end. I also dislike limited number of activations. I hate the thought of me suddenly not being able to play a game, because I’ve played it too many times.

  2. Guildenstern says:

    Honestly, is anyone even surprised anymore?

  3. mihor_fego says:

    Sad thing, customers didn’t pull a Silent Hunter 5 on this.

    • subedii says:

      How did Silent Hunter 5 turn out in the end? I didn’t hear it had particularly bad sales, but then I haven’t really heard much about its sales at all.

      That said, for such a niche game, you really don’t want to be making moves to tick off your core fanbase.

    • moltobenny says:

      The didn’t pull an SH5 on it because the game is fantastic, and SH5 was a steaming bowl of rancid, liquidy poopie.

  4. Jhoosier says:

    This can’t end pretty.

    I’d be interested in how many people leave their computer running all the time. I used to back when I didn’t pay the bills, but now that I’ve got my own place I do. I wish I could use the sleep button, but for some reason that’s NEVER worked for me, it always locks up.

    • cliffski says:

      Inability to sleep is common with windows PC’s, but its easily sorted.
      Go to control panel, admin tools, event log, system log, and look at any yellow or red errors that occur just at the time you tried to send it to sleep.
      It should point out what driver or program is causing the problem.
      Alternatively, if your PC never sleeps, but always wakes immediately, its likely to be a setting on a fancy mouse or keyboard. You can verify that in event log too, but if you go to control apnel, system, devcie manager and check the properties of those two thinks, they may have ‘allow to wake PC’ ticked, and you can always untick it.

    • deimos says:

      Some say hibernation is better – moreso if you’re on a laptop.

    • Jhoosier says:

      Thanks for the tip! I’ll give it a shot and see what happens. Oh, the things you learn from gaming sites.

    • Jhoosier says:

      I was referring to my desktop. The netbook I have is the only computer I’ve had in 20 years that successfully sleeps/hibernates.

  5. Archonsod says:

    So the new technique is to sell a relatively benign form of DRM then upgrade it post release? ouch.

    I would say I’d boycott them, but Blizzard would have to produce a game I’m actually interested in for that to be worthwhile. Another thing they share with Ubi, funnily enough.

  6. Sean says:

    Ubisoft doesn’t look so evil now. I predict all major publishers will eventually require fulltime online connections to play all games.

    • Ovno says:

      And I predict that all customers will eventually crack their games even when they have bought them to avoid such a situation, hell I already do this sometimes nowadays so that I don’t have to deal with copy protection hassels

  7. Sarlix Wester says:

    There’s a nice offline ‘patch’ that works quite well. Or so I’ve heard.

    • Sarlix Wester says:

      For those who just want to play a skirmish game in offline mode there is a tool, (no it’s not a crack) called starcraft2 all in one. It’s all above board and available to download from the starcraft resource website Nibbits.

  8. Sup says:

    Well I would also love to play with friends form other continents… But that is also impossible for some reason…

  9. THLoh says:

    Yeah, one of the reasons why I haven’t bought Starcraft II – “The box says active internet required”…

  10. bleeters says:

    Working as intended!

  11. Tei says:

    I use to warez all my games as student (well. not all, but a 90%), and now I buy all my games.. even some of the ones I played as student (to somehow pay for that).

    I dont look at my steam account like “leasing” of “licenses”, I look at it like games I own. I payed full price for these games.

    If one day *something* gets betwen me and my games, I will *destroy* that something will brutality. Say… if my steam account is banned, I will warez all my games,…

    We are on a slippery slope, and every tiny change that gets ourselves near that posibility, is moving me (a paying customer) near the decission to warez all my copys.

    I tolerate ZERO restrictions from the games I own. If the publisher create even the slighy problem for me, a paying customers, I will replace then by the warez networks in the blink of a eye. I am happy paying for my games, but is optional for me, all the games that I buy, I can get these same games from the internet as a iso image and a crack.

    …I bet there are warez “backups” on the net somewhere.. (I am not looked in ages)

    • cliffski says:

      be careful where you throw your anger.
      “I will warez all my games”
      So does that mean that it ubisoft or steam p[iss you off, you will pirate the next games from activision or from 2DBoy, or from everyone, regardless of who they are and how they behave towards their customers?
      game developers are not all some uniform cluster of evil minions. The amount of times pirates email me to say they pirate all their games including mine, because they hate DRM, is sad, given that I don’t even use any DRM.

    • Dawngreeter says:

      To be fair, angry people don’t spend a lot of time questioning why they are angry. They just are. And to continue being fair, it’s not like angry people can be blamed for being angry in this particular case. It is not very fair to a handful of decent people in the industry, like yourself and most of the indie scene. But it’s not very fair to all the angry people that they are treated like scum at every turn when they are just trying to play a couple of games in between school classes or part time jobs.

      It’s shitty all over the place and that kind of atmosphere breeds cynical, inconsiderate assholes. This, I think, is understandable. It will change when things get better.

    • Tei says:

      @cliffski
      You are right. Sorry about my comment.

    • Archonsod says:

      Besides which, as long as you’ve got the games installed you can just get a Steam emulator to avoid the client running foolishness.

  12. Huggster says:

    Why is it still £35 to buy?

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Blizzard don’t discount their games until way, way, way after release.

    • Mr. Brand says:

      Blizzard are not a charity. They have Ferraris to maintain and families to buy islands for.

    • Rich says:

      Keep an eye on SavyGamer. I’ve seen it drop below £30.

      I imagine they’ve carefully worded their T&Cs to allow them to change the strictness of their DRM, without any kind of notice, or being in breach of the Sale of Goods Act (and any US equivalent).

    • cliffski says:

      I seriously doubt every single blizzard employee drives a ferrari. In fact if you work out the hours people work, and the pay in the games industry, it’s not unusual for the local McDonalds staff to be getting a better deal.

    • LewieP says:

      It’s more market forces than Blizzard not discounting it. Whenever any retailer has it available for sub £30 it’s sold out pretty sharpish.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      cliffski: What? Are you serious? Does all the profit go to their shareholders or something?

    • Huggster says:

      I have been checking and the RRP / street price is £45, compared to most games that are £35/£30.

      Is it just a case of “no need to have competitive retail pricing as people will buy it anyway”?.

      Okay I guess a company can charge what they like for a game, they made it, but what its the reasoning behind a higher than average street and on-line price – why is it higher?

      Somewhere in my distant memory I seem to remember Ultima 7 being a “premium price product” – but c’mon – you got a cloth map and fellowship trinket – more like a collectors edition as standard! ;-)
      Plus the box was just pure black with the logo and title. Who does that nowadays? Lush. Like a slab of black obsidian.

    • Starky says:

      It’s just basic supply and demand guys, the demand has not dropped off enough that retailers are having trouble shifting their supply.

      It’s still number 1, and still selling – give it another month and you’ll see a £5-10 discount.
      Assuming it’s still not number 1 in a month, which honestly it might be.

    • Nick says:

      Its highly unlikely that the regular employees have any sort of profit share agreement.

    • Uhm says:

      Hmm. Is it normal for a games programmer to be on a fixed price contract and not an hourly rate?

      If that’s what Cliffski meant.

  13. rocketman71 says:

    Damned Blizzard and their fucking B.Net 2.0

  14. Rinox says:

    Well this is fucked up. I would have never bought the game if I knew this was going to happen. Not that my internet connection is unreliable but what the hell? Doesn’t this somehow fall under misleading customers, Terms and Conditions or not?

    It’s like selling a car to someone and after one month remotely activate a system that makes it mandatory to fuel up every day instead of every week. Even if the small letters say that they are allowed to do this, I doubt it’s in the spirit of customer protection.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Well to be fair it’s supposedly a bug they are trying to fix.

  15. neolith says:

    Nice. And so many people didn’t believe me when I said that it could only get worse…

  16. Sacrovir says:

    I suppose at least Blizzard aren’t complaining about bad sales due to piracy, the death of PC Gaming and how they are only going to work with consoles in future.

  17. MadTinkerer says:

    It’s a good thing they’re fixing it, or I’d be boycotting Blizzard forever (right before I was finally going to try WoW, heh). Since it is a bug and not intentional, I’ll let it slide.

  18. WishCow says:

    Don’t forget to mention the crippled custom game system with it’s popularity rating, it’s nothing like what Warcraft3 or Starcraft was like. Someone (Pardo maybe), said in an interview, that they will release a Blizzard Market Place in the later stages, so my guess is that it’s crippled intentionally, to make it easier for Blizzard to charge for maps.

    • Nesetalis says:

      the crippled system sucks.. but they have said (atleast in blue posts) that they are intending to fix it and make it more like the original concepts (which were awesome and exactly what was needed) it seems they ‘rushed’ the custom map gui.. which is surprising considering how long they took

  19. Premium User Badge

    Chaz says:

    If it was an issue rather than a decision, then why did the customer service guy run with a corporate line that sounded contrary to that?

  20. sneetch says:

    I bought it based on the following article:

    http://kotaku.com/5344013/starcraft-ii-can-be-played-offline

    …Blizzard vice president of game design Rob Pardo, who clarified the single player situation for us.

    “You don’t technically have to (login), but you’ll want to. You can play in offline mode if you want – I just don’t think you’re going to want to. You’ll be giving up lots and lots of features, and why would you want to be giving up features?”

    Turns out you can’t then. Obfuscated, deceitful stuff Blizzard. Of course I shouldn’t be surprised anymore.

    • Simon says:

      It could be argued that the ability to save your god damn progress and/or earn achievements count as ‘features’.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Saves work in offline mode, too, they’re just not saved to the cloud.

    • Simon says:

      My bad, then. But I’ve still missed out on achievements due to losing my connection to the Battlenet authentication server for whatever reason. And as a long-time WoWer, those authentication servers are fickle beasts.

  21. pkt-zer0 says:

    The same bug came up in the beta as well, I think. I know I had way more problems trying to get the editor to recognize I was logged in than I should’ve done.

  22. mavvvy says:

    Cripes, good find. I generally take an even handed approach to DRM. But when the reality is different from what was stated pre-release. That isnt cool.

    The neverending cycle continues, more people pirate…more drm. Honest customer suffers.

  23. A noun says:

    I hate to get in the way of foaming at the mouth DRM hate, but wasn’t the main complaint about the Ubisoft DRM that it required a full-time, uninterrupted internet connection, rather than one authentication per game startup, or per computer boot?

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Yeah. Though there’s a fair bit of bitching directed at Steam, too.

  24. MedO says:

    Just because UbiDRM is worse doesn’t mean the other DRMs are suddenly good. Wasn’t one theory about the Ubisoft stunt that they were doing it to make slightly less draconian systems suddenly look acceptable? Don’t fall for this!

  25. Sonic Goo says:

    You’ll find that WoW requires a permanent internet connection. ;)

  26. frymaster says:

    what’s interesting is not that they screwed up and are now fixing it, it’s the attempt by the original tech support guy to claim that this is intended behaviour and nothing’s going wrong. Either tech support aren’t at all trained, or they’re just totally lazy; either way that’s a serious failure. even a cut’n’paste “please do this thing that we totally know won’t work” answer would have been better, because at least that would acknowledge the issue

  27. jrr says:

    Yesterday I was on an airplane. I opened up my laptop and the Starcraft 2 icon was hanging out on the desktop, laughing at me.

  28. Lobotomist says:

    Another game where : pirated copy > original

  29. Turbis says:

    I don’t care about these things, what bugs me to hell and back is why I am only allowed to have one character on my b.net account………………………………………………………dotdotdot

  30. Azradesh says:

    Wow, I knew you had to authenticate once and thought that was that. Now I find out it has to phone home every 30 days?!

    This is NOT ok and was in no way made clear to me before release in anything that I read about SC2 and I read a hell of a lot about it.

  31. Morkai says:

    Constant connection… WHAT?

    Amazing how the lack LAN play hasn’t caused the end of the world already.

  32. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    I’d be angry but this game is just too much fun for me to worry about it.

  33. YellowSubmarine says:

    “It’s still number 1, and still selling – give it another month and you’ll see a £5-10 discount.”

    I would like to point out this is PARALLEL to the day being pretty much available as a 100% functional warez release from day 1.

    So what really IS the point in DRM?
    The pirates still play. The buyers still buy.
    All you get is a lot more PO’d people on your forums, higher maintenance and development costs and a bad name.

    Seriously wish the CEOs would wake up to the stupidity of this all and that tacking on DRM does not guarantee a more stable stock price or w/e it is the whispering voices in their meeting rooms or head keep lying to them.

  34. Colin says:

    Most employees are going to be on a salary, so every few weeks the same amount of money gets dumped into their account, regardless of if they worked 30 or 60 hours that week. On the one hand drawing a salary is great because you don’t need to worry about changes in your paycheck, on the other hand it’s really rough in certain industries (like the games industry) where if you actually do the math on how much you work vs. the paycheck it turns out to be something like $12/hour at crunch time.

  35. caleb says:

    Steam works offline.

    If there is a major digital distribution system that has a working offline mode than there is NO REASON for this BS.

    The pirates are already playing the single player game. This only effects people who actually bought the game.