Newsflash: Ubisoft Turn Off DRM Of Legend

By Quintin Smith on January 4th, 2011 at 10:18 am.

ezio has no internet connection so was in a right pickle

Yes! We’re receiving reports that Ubisoft hasn’t simply dropped its fabled online authentication DRM from future releases, but has turned it off altogether. This Reddit thread shows screenshots of PC gamers playing both Assassin’s Creed 2 and Splinter Cell: Conviction with no internet connection whatsoever following the latest patches. The only time you need an internet connection is now during installation [Edit- And each time you boot the game]. Presumably the excellent Settlers 7 will have received the same treatment [Edit- it hasn't. Not yet, anyway. Guh.] [Last Edit: Ubisoft has now confirmed the deliberate removal of DRM over at Shacknews.].

In case you came to this site off the back of a search for supplies for your rock-and-shotgun business, this DRM caused the single player games it was packaged with to politely save your game and quit themselves the moment you lost your connection to the Ubisoft servers, making them unplayable for gamers with unreliable internet connections, to say nothing of those with no internet connection at all.

Given that Ubisoft dropped the DRM from RUSE, this isn’t quite the most surprising turn of events, but it’s worth celebrating nonetheless. Who’ll celebrate with me?

Take it away, Chromeo.

, .

101 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    AndrewC says:

    But will I be able to play the AC: Brotherhood multiplayer without an internet connection? I bet I won’t. Fucking UbiDRM.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      I demand Hotseat functionality!

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      I demand that every copy should come with 5 free miles of LAN cable!

    • rocketman71 says:

      And PBEM!

      In all fairness, I’m with AndrewC. LAN is needed. So no, I won’t celebrate until that happens, AND I don’t need to check the game every time I start the game. Even Steam offers LAN and offline mode.

      Fuck UbiDRM, indeed. And fuck UbiDRMLite too.

    • Plopsworth says:

      Regarding hotseatness, I think it is sad when console versions of multiplatform games get split-screen functionality and the PC versions don’t.

      Same-PC gaming is great. I understand and appreciate online gaming too, but I think it’s sad that developers leave out several lines of code for the PC releases. I grew up with siblings and a father who liked PC gaming too, and my girlfriend is of the typical casual/adventure/relaxed pace/co-op game persuasion. Four people crammed around a keyboard in front of a 17″ screen was great fun back then. And now with gamepads, it works just as well. I was especially irritated and felt a bit cheated when Borderland’s cardboard slip-cover advertised split-screen co-op, but the actual cover (rightfully) omitted any mention of it. Glad to know that Valve left in the functionality through a few console lines in L4D1 & 2, and I can’t see why the feature has to be completely amputated by so many devs (e.g. Kane & Lynch 2, while split-screen co-op was great fun in the original game).

      Also, re: the actual subject at hand. My interest in picking up AssCreed 2 and Brotherhood has multiplied. Thanks Ubi. Just need to clear some of my backlog and academic/work-related duties first.

    • Barnaby says:

      I couldn’t (respectfully) disagree with you more Plopsworth. Split screen gaming is awful, especially in first person shooters. I love co-op games but this idea has absolutely no appeal. Leave that “feature” on the consoles if you ask me.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      Splitscreen is good. In Borderlands you need to use a savegame editor to trade items between your own characters in singleplayer. On console you can use splitscreen for that. Using multiplayer for trading has its quirks, because you can get “infected” with missions or even game settings of another player. I don’t know if actual gaming in co-op would be so fun, but why not. It sure would be useful for games like Lego Starwars or other. I;m not an elitist, but I consider FPSs a lower grade of gaming, so I don’t really care whether it would be useful for FPS or not. There are games where split screen would be a hit.

  2. terry says:

    Sadly, the Settlers 7 still has the nasty DRM.

    • sneetch says:

      Dammit! That’s the one I was most looking forward to, oh well, if and when they remove it I’ll buy Settlers (and, indeed, Ubisoft games in general, haven’t bought a single Ubisoft game on any platform since they introduced this DRM).

    • Premium User Badge

      diziet sma says:

      As soon as it goes bye byes on Settlers 7 I will be purchasing it as it’s an excellent game and a series I have followed keenly. The largest maps in the first game played 2 player on the Amiga led to some of the most epically long gaming sessions I’ve ever known, 8-10 hours weren’t unheard of.

    • terry says:

      I picked it up during the sale on the basis of PC bloody Gamer saying the DRM was removed, and was aghast to see the perma-online indicator in the corner of the screen upon booting. It’s a great game, and compares favourably to Anno 1404 for me. However, the DRM looks to be pretty integral to the entire game systems of TS7 (there’s an in-game microcurrency which is earned based on your playtime and victories etc) so it’s probably not a simple case of patching it to not call the servers :-(

  3. Urael says:

    *dances*

  4. Hyoscine says:

    That’s great news. I’ll be picking up AssCreed 2 just as soon as the crippling financial burden of Christmas (Steam sales) is behind me.

  5. MrEvilGuy says:

    The damage has been done.

    • Eclipse says:

      agreed, hope they learned something

    • subedii says:

      If their previous history with Starforce is any indication, they’ve learned that they need to make their DRM more intrusive.

    • PearlChoco says:

      Exactly. To play AssCreed 3 you probably will have to buy gameplay time at a registered Ubisoft play-center in your neighbourhood. Under supervision of two Ubisoft Play Safe guards.

  6. Batolemaeus says:

    Too little, too late.

    • skinlo says:

      Too little? What else do you want them to do?

    • rocketman71 says:

      Drop the starting check.

    • abhishek says:

      Even Steam is more intrusive than what they have now. Steam requires a client to be running and it calls home every time you launch a game. If you think this is too much, it’s time to give up on Steam as well.

    • Starky says:

      Someone always says this, and it’s crap.

      Steam does re-authenticate every time you log into steam, but if you are not online so long as you authenticated in the past you can still play in offline mode.

      My GF has been running my steam account in offline mode for over 2 months now still playing all the games installed on it fine. Though I probably should re-log for her sometime soon just in case.

      Will have to remember to turn off cloud saving for torchlight too so she doesn’t mess up my saves.

    • Quasar says:

      But… Maybe Steam should be tougher? Because you’re abusing that functionality to let your GF play your games illegally?

      Not judging, of course. Just pointing it out.

    • Bhazor says:

      Reply to Starky

      … and how many years did it take for Valve to make a functional offline mode exactly?

    • abhishek says:

      Someone always says this, and it’s crap.

      Steam does re-authenticate every time you log into steam, but if you are not online so long as you authenticated in the past you can still play in offline mode.

      My GF has been running my steam account in offline mode for over 2 months now still playing all the games installed on it fine. Though I probably should re-log for her sometime soon just in case.

      Steam will individually authenticate every game that you launch while you are still online. 99% of all gamers use Steam in online mode 99% of the time. If you are one of those, do you realize what that means? It means you are okay with online authentication at launch. Or do you log in to Steam, then go into offline mode every single time and then launch every game? Because that is the only way you are avoiding online authentication at launch.

      Also, since you clearly have no issues violating terms of service by sharing your Steam account and exploiting the offline mode, it is somewhat hilarious that you have the audacity to pretend to have moral objections towards a DRM system that is not only almost identical to one you comfortably use all the time, but is also easily bypassed with a simple crack.

    • Premium User Badge

      frymaster says:

      in regards to steam requiring a client; most DRM systems have an external component; starforce installs a “hidden” (not displayed by default) driver. The difference is, steam’s client runs when you tell it to, and has a nice entry in add/remove programs. You *can* download something from starforce to remove it, but you have to know that’s possible before you can search for it.

      in regards to offline mode: it’s worked, for me, since basically forever. I believe there has been some corner-case bugfixing in recent years, though.

    • mwoody says:

      Someone always says this, and it’s crap.

      Steam does re-authenticate every time you log into steam, but if you are not online so long as you authenticated in the past you can still play in offline mode.

      My GF has been running my steam account in offline mode for over 2 months now still playing all the games installed on it fine. Though I probably should re-log for her sometime soon just in case.

      Someone always says THIS, and it’s crap.

      Steam can be switched to offline mode only when you’re online, which quietly defeats 90% of the purpose of said mode. If you try to boot it after an unexpected connection interruption, it will lock up and refuse to start. If you’re lucky, and playing an older/smaller game, you can run the executable directly, sometimes. Otherwise, you’re SOL.

      Steam is great, but let’s not pretend it’s something it’s not.

    • DrazharLn says:

      mwoody: I can start steam in offline mode. Always have been able to.

      Stop steam from accessing the internet (I used my firewall for this test), then just click cancel on the “Steam Updating” dialogue and after a short wait it’ll give you the option to launch in offline mode.

      Admittedly some of my games (Dead Space, Mass Effect 2) wouldn’t launch in offline mode. Will investigate further.

      After starting Mass Effect in online mode and then trying again in offline mode, it launched just fine. Perhaps because it had been updated, perhaps because I told it to stop reminding me about my product keys (specific error was “Failed to Contact Key Server”).

    • Nalano says:

      I’ve been able to run ME2 offline, without explicitly turning Steam to offline mode.

      In fact, I’ve never explicitly had to prep Steam before cutting off my internet connection, and I should know because I’ve never consciously cut my internet connection – Time Warner has a bunch of times, largely due to line work, but never me.

      But regardless, the point is, Steam checks the games because it can. With Ubisoft games, it must.

      I know we can’t all be GoG, but the most notable issues I’ve had with not being able to play a game wasn’t with Steam but with older non-Steam games with third party DRM that had the limited-install nonsense because every time I reinstalled the OS or swapped out a piece of hardware it thought I was on a different computer.

    • Wulf says:

      Whuf. Steam misinformation does make me so very angry.

      @abhishek

      “Or do you log in to Steam, then go into offline mode every single time and then launch every game?”

      What? What?! Gods, I wish people wouldn’t use their vocabulary emitters to insult something unless they actually knew what on Earth they were talking about. The reason I’m angry about this is because this is misinformation that might be bought by someone. It’s no worse than FUD or spin-doctoring, and wilful ignorance is not an excuse!

      I’ve run Steam in offline mode for up to four months at a time! PURELY IN OFFLINE MODE. This means that Steam has made no incoming or outgoing connections whatsoever. I haven’t had to go online, then go offline every time I launch a game.

      So please… if we want to insult Steam, let’s not do the whole made up reasons pulled out of our apply red rears thing, shall we?

      Grrrah.

      @mwoody

      “If you try to boot it after an unexpected connection interruption, it `will lock up and refuse to start.”

      So you never noticed that you can click Cancel when it’s trying to connect, and that that will bring up the offline mode dialogue? I’ve done exactly what you said, there – lost my Internet connection, stopped Steam, started it, hit Cancel, and gone straight into Offline Mode.

      You’re clearly doing something wrong. It’s entirely possible you haven’t read the documentation.

      Again: Wilful ignorance is not a valid excuse! It never was.

      I’m fine with Steam being picked on for problems it does have (and it does have those), but I get so sick and tired of misinformation and FUD.

    • Saiko Kila says:

      Steam can refuse to start in Offline mode if you accidentally clicked on any game which was not prepared to be run in offline mode. Which includes every game which is flagged as “to update”. Or if Steam remembers that it needs to update the client for that particular game, even if the game is updated. If someone has hundreds of games, or keeps some of them not updated (for a reason) it’s very easy to have some games unprepared for offline. Offline mode is very finicky, and defending it is a waste of time. Theoretically it should work better with only couple of games, but I remember when it stopped after two weeks, without plausible reason, and the only game I was playing then was Sword of the Stars. One day Steam simply stated that the game was not ready and I had to connect (which was impossible at the time). On Steam forum there are tons of people with problems like this. Steam offline is good when it works, but it’s not really dependable.

  7. Ubiquitous says:

    OH hooray! Rejoyce fellow computer gamer friends, for we have triumphed in ferocious battle against the horrible ubiderm!

    Now I can play Brotherhood and not support an evil form of copy protection. Yey.

  8. Tom OBedlam says:

    Our name is Chromeo and we are in control

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      Oh it’s good. Not bad at all Quintin, certainly a superior choice to anything Kieron gave us. >.< But it just ain't O’Bryan

    • Wulf says:

      I actually really liked Kieron’s taste in music, it often introduced me to the most bizarre forms of pop that I’d ever seen.

      I have a good friend like that, a werewolf fan who’s in his forties from New Zealand, he… knows things about rock that no person should ever know. Ever. He’s a living history of rock, and he has a song for every occasion. Some of the things he just randomly links are completely and utterly baffling. And also wonderful at the same time. I frequently find myself asking if rock were ever actually quite as zany as that, but then I remember… yes, yes it was. It all was.

  9. McKnight says:

    Of course if you guys had done some more research you would have found out that right now it has NOT been implemented in all their games (Settlers 7 definitely still needs an online check) and even with AC2 people are reporting problems with local saves among other things if playing offline.

    It’s definitely a step in the right direction by Ubisoft but we shouldn’t be so quick to exonerate them yet.

    -edit- of course you edit it in as soon as I finish posting it, hats off to you guys yet again :)

    • Premium User Badge

      HermitUK says:

      I was also under the impression you still need the online connection every time you boot the game up. It authenticates with the server every time you launch the game, but after that point will run fine even if you net connection drops during play (in theory).

    • McKnight says:

      Not in Settlers 7 (and as far as I know Silent hunter remains the same but I can’t confirm that), you still need to be connected at all times or the game will prevent you from playing.

      But yes, connection will be tested on boot-up every time and not just on installation as Quintin wrote.

    • subedii says:

      More to the point, none of this is official. Ubisoft haven’t said anything about dropping the requirements.

      Even assuming this currently works for most people, it’s just as possible that this is a bug that Ubisoft intends to “patch” out.

      I’m not going to make any calls on this until Ubisoft come out with an official statement saying “Yes we’ve cut down the DRM on Assassin’s Creed 2″.

  10. Serenegoose says:

    Frustrating. I didn’t buy Conviction on account of this DRM still existing. Well, I’m sure I can find it for an affordable price somewhere. If it doesn’t require an always on DRM to play come the PC release of Brotherhood, I shall be a very happy lady. :) (with a hidden blade SHHH)

  11. Premium User Badge

    Seniath says:

    Could they not have done this before the Steam sales? I was eyeing up AC2, but decided against it given this prickly issue.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Yeah, I’ll be waiting for the next sale too. Mostly because my wallet is too exhausted right now.

      But everything is forgiven once it’s removed from ALL Ubisoft games. It’s about time. (no BTTF reference intended)

      [EDIT - Well not quite all forgiven yet then.]

    • Premium User Badge

      Hidden_7 says:

      Yeah, interestingly enough I wasn’t even considering AC2 even with those nice sales because of the DRM, but the second I heard about this I went right to Steam and considered buying it at whatever the current full price is.

      Ultimately I’ll wait, because this isn’t official yet, and still seems to have some issues to iron out (plus I still have lots of unfinished games to play), but this game would have been a Day 1 purchase for me, were it not for the DRM. With it I wouldn’t even buy it for ridiculous five dollar sale prices.

      I hope you learned your lesson, Giant Faceless Corporation.

    • TheTingler says:

      AGREED, I was happy to see it was gone, but incredibly frustrated that I’d missed my Steam sale opportunity. Really want to play that game, but sadly it’s probably not going to be on my favourite gaming platform.

  12. Sergey Galyonkin says:

    I really disliked this DRM when it was announced, but picked up Settler 7 anyway. Surprisingly I didn’t have any problems with DRM in this game. And I had some problems with Steam (especially this Christmas when I couldn’t install games), so Ubisoft protection scheme wasn’t as evil as everyone painted it.

    Game sucked though – played more like a math puzzle than a settlers game.

  13. pi8you says:

    But is this a “Games have been out for X months” drop or a “Now and going forward” drop?

    • McKnight says:

      Well if you use “RUSE” as the latest example and then look on this one would expect that it’s a “now and going forward” move but I don’t think any official statement has been made by Ubi.

  14. Ravenger says:

    Still not good enough – needs an offline mode at least.

    And it’s very bad practice not to inform your customers of changes like this. They have the email addresses of all purchasers of the games because they require an account to run them, so they could have notified their customers of the change easily.

    But then they did the same thing with Far Cry 2 – sneaked out DRM removal in a patch and didn’t tell anyone. The Steam store page for FC2 still claims it has limited activations, so that incorrect info must have cost them some sales.

    • Dao Jones says:

      “The Steam store page for FC2 still claims it has limited activations, so that incorrect info must have cost them some sales.”

      One would be me. Oh well. Back to Amnesia. =D

  15. Qark says:

    Oh dang it I was going to buy Settlers in the Steam sales but the DRM turned me off.

  16. Greg Wild says:

    Almost a win. Just need to kick the check on launch and then I’ll break out the party poppers.

  17. RegisteredUser says:

    WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF WTF

    I would have possibly considered buying AC in the steam sale had I known the DRM would go.

    This shows just how infuriating all of this DRM BS really is to potential customers.

    On a side note, I would have also bought The Witcher if Cockup Project hadn’t promised to and already before prosecute/d P2P users.

    This whole “We hate you and want you to rot in prison for not causing us any reliably reproduceable fiscal damage whatsoever” attitude of holier-than-thou publishers/devs that probably have drives chock full of “given-by-friends” MP3 collections at home pisses me off so much that it hurts.

    I just wish more people would straight out boycott DRM, yet AC2 was place 1-2 of the best selling items on the sale day on steam. This makes me a sad panda, because it shows people are willing to swallow almost anything to get their addiction fix rather than trying to make the game purchasing world a better place.

    • Ysellian says:

      Same here! If it wasn’t for that stupid DRM I would have gotten AC2 as well and so the question is why the hell didn’t they do this during the steam deals? I’m sure it would have had a much bigger impact.

      One can only hope they’ll officially announce it with a another steam deal…

    • suibhne says:

      Help me out here with your side note… What’s wrong with CD Projekt suing file-sharers? I mean, it might seem a little heavy-handed, but they are going after illegal activity that might have an impact on them – which kinda seems to be their right. On the other hand, leaving off DRM on their product means that legitimate customers will never have to be inconvenienced…ever. So I get that you might be irritated by this if you’re a pirate, but I don’t see the issue otherwise.

      Well, that’s not totally true. You could also be irritated on principle, I think, because of the disproportionate penalties applied by many national legal systems (:glares at the US:) for copyright infringement. But it seems to me that this isn’t exactly CD Projekt’s fault.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Actually they did this during the Steam sales, just hasn’t been widely reported.

      As for CD Project, it’s important to note that they’re not suing filesharers. They’re employing a company to send threatening letters to those it suspects of file sharing, demanding money. It’s important to note that said company has never successfully prosecuted a single case against a filesharer.

  18. a.nye.123 says:

    Harrumph. Splinter Cell: Conviction would have been a must-buy in the Steam sale had I known about this.

  19. SquareWheel says:

    Strangely enough, my internet connection dropped out while reading this article.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      That’d be the new RPS DRM.

    • Mana_Garmr says:

      It’s all part of their new plans.

      Soon they’ll move the comment box up beside the articles and you’ll be required to write a continuous report on what you think about the article while you read it or all the text will disappear.

  20. chiroben says:

    For some reason the final scene of Return of the Jedi springs to mind. I am picturing the whole socially-stunted fraternity three feet tall and dancing and rejoicing. I know I am.

  21. Navagon says:

    They didn’t drop the DRM from RUSE. The deal had been signed for it to use Steamworrks before UbiDRM came into effect.

    It’s a start. But still, needing to authenticate every time I run the game still means it will need to be bloody cheap before I consider it (AC2).

    • subedii says:

      No, they did drop it from RUSE. When UbiDRM launched they definitively said that they refused to depend on a system like Steamworks because they didn’t feel it was secure enough. Unlike their new DRM system which was crack proof.

      Going with Steamworks for multiplayer doesn’t change that. RUSE was known to be a steamworks game for a long time before it release, but they only made a specific announcement that Ubisoft’s DRM wouldn’t be in it in the very last month before release.

      Going into personal conjecture here, but I feel the reason they dropped the DRM from RUSE was specifically because of the anti-hype the game was getting because of it. It was already releasing at a bad time. Ubisoft panicked at the lack of attention the title was getting and made an 11th hour decision to ditch the DRM altogether in the hopes of drumming up more interest before launch.

    • Navagon says:

      “Going into personal conjecture here, but I feel the reason they dropped the DRM from RUSE was specifically because of the anti-hype the game was getting because of it.”

      That it was ever a UbiDRM game strikes me as conjecture too. They may have been slow about announcing the DRM in the game but that doesn’t really tell us anything as most publishers don’t make any such announcements until the last minute. We still don’t know what DRM will be used in the retail versions of The Witcher 2 for instance. Hell, not even CDP know that.

      Ubisoft have been swinging like a pendulum from one extreme to another on the subject of DRM. Don’t forget that they released a slew of DRM free games just before UbiDRM was announced. So does it really strike you as odd that they’d sign up a game to use Steamworks one minute then conclude that Steamworks isn’t secure enough the next?

      UbiDRM is very firmly integrated into the games it infects. More so than Steamworks. I highly doubt they’d be able to drop it at the last minute of development even if they wanted to.

  22. Premium User Badge

    Sagan says:

    They should have done this before the Steam sale. It’s not like I’m going to buy a game now…

  23. Avenger says:

    Oh Ubisoft, WHY DIDN’T YOU DO THIS during the Steam sale!?

    Really, their lack of business logic is astounding…

    • Navagon says:

      By now it’s really not surprising at all. In fact the only thing that is surprising is that they remain one of the most established publishers out there and haven’t gone the same way as many other companies with zero business sense during the recession.

  24. Tei says:

    I want to think some egotistical maniac at Ubisoft have learned something, but I am not that naive, probably such dude will blame this on piracy, or solar sun flares, or cosmic rays or maybe standard statistic deviations and random number degenerators. Everything else,… but his own egotistical stupidity tryiing to force in gamers somewhat that we can’t still deliver: permanent and reliable Internet connexion.

    Still, having to be connected to start games ban the use of Ubisoft games in trains, or remote areas. Like wen you are bored in a train, you really don’t need to play videogames. You are stuck in a train for maybe 3 hours. With a portable computer on your lap. Bored. With the games installed in the laptop.
    … Is still stupid, and will hurt more real customers than the warez people.

    Maybe because Steam is soo unsucesfull, thats why no one copy the balance of DRM / no-DRM of Steam. Like the ability to play offline. Magic updates. And Hats.

  25. Centy says:

    It’s too late as many have said the damage has been done and they only have themselves to blame. Still this is a nice little victory for all us paying customers who rallied against it.

    • SuperNashwan says:

      It’s not too late for Ubi to come out and officially say “We were wrong, we’re sorry”. I doubt they will though, because that would be far too classy and un-corporate for the kind of institution they are.

  26. Choca says:

    Meh, I’ll wait for an official confirmation.

    You never kow, they’re so clever with their DRM that the removal of this annoyance might be a bug…

    • D says:

      Maybe someone was working on a patch from his laptop on vacation, without internet, and was using one of the many UbiDRM cracked DLLs, accidentally included it in his changeset.

  27. Premium User Badge

    VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    This change came into effect a day or two before the games went on sale on Steam. As there has been no official announcement, this could very easily be a temporary decision to prevent the DRM servers from being overloaded by the sudden influx of new players purchasing AC2 or SC:C on Steam–a situation which, if you recall, occurred when AC2 launched, and prevented a lot of people from playing it at all, no doubt resulting in high support costs for Ubisoft.

    They turned it off, they can turn it back on again just as easily. Don’t believe it’s gone for good, at least until Ubisoft makes some official comment about it.

  28. patricij says:

    I still hate UBI management for shafting euro folks with high prices (even when discounted, we are still being shafted) and their scheming how to annoy us with various DRMs

  29. The Great Wayne says:

    That’s a zen lesson to be taken for Ubisoft. Don’t break like the oak, bend like the reed.

    You just can’t fight piracy with DRM bullshit. What is made by humans even in big studios can be broken by humans, provided they are motivated enough (which pirates are, I’m guessing it’s a challenge question). In this case Ubi lost paying customers to the DRM shenanigans, and still it was cracked in a matter of weeks.

    One day they’ll just realize what’s best to fight piracy is product quality and honest pricing. I’m not sure however that shareholders are comfortable with those concepts.

    • subedii says:

      The PS3 was recently cracked wide open. Considering that was a closed system, who exactly thinks they can really secure an open one like a PC?

      Ultimately, the old adage holds. There is no cryptographic solution to the problem where the attacker and the intended recipient are both the same individual. At some point, the game has to be rendered into a playable form.

      Assassin’s Creed 2 however did remain uncracked for its first month of release (which is the most crucial sales period). Given everything they’ve ever told us about piracy and how it works, they should have seen massive sales for the PC release of the title, well into the millions. And yet, they’ve remained curiously quiet on this aspect. If this was truly the massive success of DRM that they pegged it as, it would be interesting to see the sales stats for Assassin’s Creed 2.

    • Premium User Badge

      UW says:

      The thing about this is, the only reason it took a while to crack is that it was new DRM, that’s pretty much going to be true of most DRM. Any game that is released on this DRM system now will be cracked instantly, just like any other protection.

      In order for a strategy of releasing games which cannot be pirated on release to actually work, they would need to develop a new DRM system for every single new game. Which is not cost effective, and would never be justifiable financially.

      Piracy is obviously an issue, but I’m pretty sure that the pirate mentality is generally that they will only get what they can get for free. Considering all downloads lost sales is ridiculous, and I feel the only way to bring people around to actually purchasing games is to improve the value of the product.

      1) Make good quality games that people will be glad to pay for
      2) Make the experience of buying the game AT LEAST as good as pirating it.

    • sneetch says:

      Doesn’t the Ubisoft DRM system work by having the user download parts of the code, models or other game assets as they play? Therefore future games will not be cracked instantly. Realistically speaking they can only be fully cracked as and when the cracker completes the game 100%.

      I despise the system but at least it makes them “work” to beat it.

    • Theory says:

      The PS3 was recently cracked wide open. Considering that was a closed system, who exactly thinks they can really secure an open one like a PC?

      Sony’s private key could be deduced from the output of a poorly-designed crypto component, allowing anyone to sign their own code. It’s the equivalent of getting a password to the admin account and logging in; it doesn’t mean that the security system itself has been compromised (even if the effect is, for now, identical).

      It is totally possible to create a secure system so long as the hardware does not allow arbitrary code to run. Eliminating that remotely is a given — thus the games downloading important files from Ubi’s servers — while eliminating it locally is what trusted computing is all about.

    • subedii says:

      Trusted computing only works when the client machine is actually trustworthy, and can’t simply pretend to be. Which is why Ubisoft’s DRM didn’t work. If for example you can run everything in a VM and get the necessary information without the game knowing any different, then how is that preventable?

      The only real solution is things like OnLive, where the client is literally a dumb terminal for streaming media, and the actual game is being processed elsewhere. And unfortunately, that looks as if it may eventually become the popular option.

  30. Mr Chug says:

    It’s worrying that it’s not official- I remember seeing that Ass Cred 2 recently had the DRM changed from ‘revert to last checkpoint/save’ to ‘pick up from where you left off once connection comes back’ but that came with a hefty update and patch notes. Wait and hope, I guess.

  31. Heliocentric says:

    The sneaking games had their drm sneaked away?

    Or how about

    The biggest story of 2010 stays in 2010?

  32. malkav11 says:

    Yaaaay! Ubisoft scales back their DRM to still crippling and awful, and only on certain games, but it is a victory and they have relented and yaaaay!

    No, sorry, this is an improvement, sure, but like with Bioshock and the deactivated install limits, it still requires an authentication server to survive into the future without any actual guarantee that said server -will- survive into the future. It’s a step forward into a more DRMed, more awful future that you folks are hailing as victory because it’s -not as bad- as it used to be.

  33. bansama says:

    this DRM caused the single player games it was packaged with to politely save your game and quit themselves the moment you lost your connection to the Ubisoft servers

    That’s not correct. The game never booted you out if it couldn’t connect to the server. It only paused your game. You could opt to quit the game or you could simply wait for it to reconnect to the server at which point, the game would unpause.

    Oh Ubisoft, WHY DIDN’T YOU DO THIS during the Steam sale!?

    Actually, people discovered this (and posted about it on the Steam forums) at least a week before the year end sale started.

  34. Alaric says:

    Why is everyone so happy? This is not really that much of a victory. The change is minimal, and doesn’t affect a larger underlying problem. Legitimate customers will still find themselves in DRM hell as often as before.

    In fact, if I was to speculate, I’d ask whether Ubi did it for PR or maybe because their infrastructure had problems processing all of these games reporting back every second.

    As one of the Avault readers posted: “that is posture to a better direction, not quite a baby step though.”

    • subedii says:

      Whilst I also feel this isn’t really something worth making a fuss over (at least not yet), I doubt it’s a marketing thing. Otherwise Ubisoft would have been the ones harping on about how they’ve dropped the DRM requirements (similar to what happened with Mass Effect), in what others have already said best would be a “Door to the Face”.

  35. crainey92 says:

    Can’t say things like this have ever affected me so meh.

  36. Mac says:

    Now they just need topatch AC2 so that it recognises the trigger buttons on a wireless 360 pad … I mean seriously WTF ???

  37. HeavyStorm says:

    Two things:

    - SPAM above.

    - We should be celebrating. This is a victory for gamers.

    • subedii says:

      With regards to the second point, Ubisoft haven’t released any official statement on the issue. For all we know this is a bug that they intend to fix. We also don’t know how extensively this actually works, I’ve been hearing mixed reports about that and none of the major gaming sites seem to have tried to replicate it themselves, they’ve all been posting back to Reddit as the source.

      I’m going to wait for when / if Ubisoft makes a statement.

  38. Dances to Podcasts says:

    Ok, Ubi. You can release Beyond Good & Evil 2 now.

  39. dogsolitude_uk says:

    I’ll second Malkav11 above… The following questions and points spring irresistably to mind:

    1 – The games still require online validation on starting, I see…
    2 – Is there any guarantee that the servers will still be there in 5 years time? 10 years? I still play Thief, a game that is 12 years old, on my current PC. It’s been installed on a total of four machines. How about Morrowind? That game is 9 years old, still modded, played and enjoyed by folks. You can even still pick up second hand copies complete with paper map and manual.
    3 – What’s happened to activation/installation limits?
    4 – Will you be able to re-sell the game to someone else?
    5 – Are you limited to installing on only one PC? I have three PCs, plus two ‘dead’ ones in the corner and two laptops…

    I’m going to keep the champagne on hold. Unless you can boot the damned thing without asking permission from Ubi, resell it and/or keep playing it ten years down the line it sure as hell isn’t ‘yours’, and you’re just renting it from a company whose morals have been shown to be rather dubious at best.

    So no, still no sale here, Ubi.

    • Premium User Badge

      Devan says:

      Agreed, that’s a good way to look at it.

      As a side note, it seems like publishers are doing a two-steps-forward-one-step-back dance with DRM and restrictions. Whether or not that’s intentional, I don’t know, but the result is that over the long run we’re getting deeper and deeper into territory where we don’t want the industry to be.

    • malkav11 says:

      I’m pretty sure it’s intentional, and I wish people would quit buying into it.

  40. Kevin says:

    Anyone know what of the DRM of Silent Hunter V? Mind you, the bugs will still keep me away from that game, until it goes on sale at least.

  41. mbourgon says:

    Here’s what I want: UBISoft to announce that this new status is true, that this WILL CONTINUE to be the case, and that this was a mistake. Seeing some guys on the internet do it doesn’t mean they won’t turn it back on in two months. Tell me that this is a mistake and that you have no intention of repeating it.

  42. Jambe says:

    ’cause you’re my tenderoni.

    /o/

    ’cause you’re my tenderoni.

    o

    t-t-tenderoni

    |o|

    no matter what i came here to do

    o/

    This is progress! Now if we can just get a fully-offline mode.

  43. Grey says:

    I always love Ubisoft, and love the way their DRM got cracked less than two months.

    Nice one Ubi.

  44. Vinraith says:

    As stated elsewhere: pleased to see Ubi take a step towards sanity, but probably won’t buy anything from them until they take one more and implement an offline mode.

  45. Coillscath says:

    Still nope.

    There are too many games I still want to buy, but can’t afford. Being able to cut out an entire publisher’s worth of titles is very handy when you’re on a tight budget.

  46. majestyk says:

    Never forgive, never forget. I’ll be waiting for AssCreed to be available for 5 bucks or less, otherwise I won’t touch it. And just because of my sense of ethics I also won’t touch a pirated version.