No PC Demo For Driver: San Francisco

By John Walker on August 9th, 2011 at 5:00 pm.

We need a demonstration about this lack of demonstrations.

As part of what can now only be interpreted as Ubisoft’s ongoing campaign to ensure Driver: San Francisco is the most hated PC game of all time, not only will it include their abhorrent ‘always-on’ DRM (meaning everyone from those without a reliable internet connection to those in the armed forces can’t play it), but there’s also going to be no demo! The consoles get their demo of the game tomorrow, but according to Ubisoft, “There are no current plans for a PC demo.” When we asked why not we were bluntly told, “We have no information on any PC demo planned.”

The lack of a demo ensures PC users can’t legitimately try the game out before deciding whether to purchase. The DRM ensures anyone without a permanent internet connection cannot play a legitimate version of the game. It is hard to understand what Ubi think they can achieve through these measures, and we’re currently seeking to speak to someone at the company who is involved in these decisions to find out. One thing is for sure – the conspiracy that they’re trying to abandon the PC as a platform is surely nonsense. They’d simply not make a PC version if they wanted that.

And it is my belief that cries for “mass piracy” of the game are massively naive. That would not send any useful kind of message to anyone. In fact, if people were to refuse to even pirate the games, I think that would send a far stronger message.

Whatever is going on, it’s impossible not to feel let down, if not downright insulted, by the treatment of PC players by Ubisoft. It’s something we’d really like to see changed, and we’ll do our best to find out what’s going on.

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96 Comments »

  1. President Weasel says:

    I sincerely believe this game will be a load of old arse anyway. No demo, no sale. No loss on my part; to be honest, there’s a pretty good chance I wouldn’t even have bothered playing a demo had there been one.

    And had I played said hypothetical demo and liked the game, I would probably still not have bought it because of the DURM. Stupid DURM.

    • dskzero says:

      There is always those funny demos that need you to replace certain files.

      To be honest, I don’t know what games this is, so unless I try it, I won’t buy it.

  2. skinlo says:

    Well this is just turning into a joke really.

  3. Nero says:

    Just to get this over with…

    What a shame.

    • Persona Jet Rev says:

      What a shame.

      The game looked fun, but no demo and no motivation to torrent a ‘try out version’ = no sale.

  4. Azradesh says:

    Problem is, if it isn’t pirated they say, “Ha! You see the DRM worked” and if it is pirated, “We need stronger DRM”. And if no one buys it they’ll blame it on the pirates, and if it does well they’ll say the DRM worked.

    *Sigh*

    • Gormongous says:

      The only success for gamers will be if the game sells like hotcakes on the consoles and not at all on the PC, with no noticeable incidents of piracy.

      That is, if Ubisoft doesn’t choose to whitewash that as “PC gamers just aren’t interested in racing games.” Yeah, racing games with no demo, no wheel support, and draconian DRM. What a shame.

    • Nalano says:

      @ Gormongous
      “The only success for gamers will be if the game sells like hotcakes on the consoles and not at all on the PC, with no noticeable incidents of piracy.”

      Yeah, then they’d just say that the PC is a dying market.

      Really, all forms of protesting via your wallet are, well, not so much naive as pointless. Do what you want, they’ll react however they wish.

    • Enikuo says:

      I’m curious – what kind of DRM would be stronger than always-on DRM?

    • hjarg says:

      Lad with crowbar standing behind your back 24/7 and if you either think of pirating the game, bypassing copyprotection, loaning it to the friend or throwing it into trashbin, you’ll get smacked.

    • Nalano says:

      This is Fred.

      Fred will be living with you for the next six weeks. If you think of copying your game, reverse-engineering it, or using cheats, Fred will remove your spine via your throat.

      Because of Fred’s living expenses, this game now requires a small bank loan in order to obtain a limited license, as well as dental records and two letters of recommendation.

      Should Fred punch out your teeth for any reason, the dental records will be waived for a nominal fee, though you will have to call our hotline and explain in clear diction why he ventilated your mouth.

      We hope you enjoy our game, and since we have your credit information on record, we will automatically sign you up and charge you for any future games we may or may not publish. Opting out of these automatic payments is a simple and easy process, through which you may speak with Fred.

    • Navagon says:

      @ Gormongous

      But that’s already the case. PC sales have dropped through the floor and Ubisoft are touting their DRM as a success. They’re flat out retarded. They don’t want piracy. They don’t want sales. They don’t want people to go near their shit for any reason and under any circumstances.

    • iainl says:

      Oh that it were that simple. You see, in Ubisoft world, everyone has a console or two, as well as their PC. Piracy affecting their PC sales don’t bother them half as much as the idea that you might pirate the PC release instead of buying a console one. They think that if insane DRM scares you, but you would have liked the game, you would just get the console game.

    • malkav11 says:

      It’s not a racing game, FYI.

  5. jay35 says:

    This game looks lame so it’s easy to just dismiss the bigger issue here, which is Ubisoft’s idiocy.

  6. Alexander Norris says:

    Unsurprisingly.

  7. Thorz says:

    No demo? Tacky looking game? Stupid DRM?
    No thanks.
    I wish Ubisoft would sell the Assassins Creed IP and dev team to a more competent publisher. Then I would never have to deal with them again.

    Also looking at the Steam page they have cut 4 modes from singleplayer and 3 cars from multiplayer and you can only get them if you fork out another £5. I thought this couldn’t get any worse.

  8. DarkNoghri says:

    I’m gonna drop this here.
    http://www.pcgamer.com/2011/07/28/ubisoft-our-drm-is-a-success/

    If that doesn’t pull up (the site was having issues not two minutes ago), here’s a sample quote, from Ubisoft: “Ubisoft see the DRM as a success. Speaking to us earlier today, a Ubisoft representative admitted that the developer has seen “a clear reduction in piracy of our titles which required a persistent online connection, and from that point of view the requirement is a success”.”

    • Alphabet says:

      They must have Richard Feynman analysing the data if they can figure out the causality between their DRM and fewer people torrenting a game.

    • mpk says:

      If their games are being cracked so that they’re not writing home all the time, how do they know piracy has went down? Tracking torrent popularity?

    • Mattressi says:

      So it’s quite clear that all they want is less people to pirate their game, rather than having more people buy it.
      I agreed with John when I read this article a few minutes ago, but after reading that article on the criteria Ubisoft use to determine their DRM’s “success”, it seems quite obvious that pirating the game would hurt more than not getting it at all. Still, it’s not the message I’d like to send – I’d rather show that I’m so disgusted with them that I won’t even pirate it (especially so because I don’t like racing games and I also tend to hate Ubi games with or without DRM – I’d rather not waste HD space with it). But, in light of Ubi’s comments, I almost feel compelled…

    • Nalano says:

      Wouldn’t the existence of torrents basically prove or disprove whether their DRM worked, not necessarily the popularity of them?

      If someone cracked your DRM, your DRM is cracked. There’s really no half-way in this.

    • Dionysus says:

      Yes. It just means your game is too uninteresting/shitty for many pirating types for waste their bandwidth on. Congrats to them, if that’s their aim.

    • President Weasel says:

      What about the point of view of increased or decreased sales? As in the only point of view that actually counts when it comes to whether something was a success or not?

      With the DURM on it, will it make more money or less money than Ubi expected? I suspect less (and not just because it doesn’t look all that great and the franchise doesn’t excite people much but some suit at Ubi probably put some really optimistic numbers in the projections to keep the share price high).

  9. Dasos says:

    Ahoy friends!

  10. Zaxwerks says:

    Ubisoft – the suppurating polyp on the sweaty hairy bottom of a fat chick with terminal B.O.

    It’s true, I looked up the definition in a dictionary.

  11. AndrewC says:

    I rather like the look of this game. A shame.

    But this is so actively mean, so obviously worse than for other platforms, that I find it difficult to believe it is just incompetance or lack of care. Which means it probably is.

  12. Ignorant Texan says:

    I think if you substitute ‘Ubi’ for “Belgians’ at ~1 minute into this video, it would be the best response.

  13. Alphabet says:

    Well, obviously the game is crap, or they’d at the very least be more available and friendly to the press. This is becoming like one of those movies they don’t allow critics to see before release. They’re not the best movies.

  14. JohnnyMaverik says:

    Bah, first Pirate in 2 years by the looks of it. Good job Ubisoft, 10/10 for combating piracy.

  15. patricij says:

    Sod off, UBIsoft…
    That is all.

  16. Carter says:

    I can’t say I’m going to miss this to be honest, last driver game I played and actually enjoyed was the original on the PS1

  17. Gnoupi says:

    Good anyway. Too many releases the next days and month, so it’s good to see publishers making it easy for us to take games off the playing time.

    Thank you, Ubisoft, for pushing me to play games from other publishers.

  18. Jimmeh says:

    I find it amusing that it would be more convenient to play the cracked version of this game regardless of whether it was purchased legitimately or not.

    If I do buy it, I will probably still download the cracked exe in order to bypass the DRM kicking me out whenever my interwebs fall over.

    Not sure where that puts me legally. Common sense would suggest that my usage was acceptable, but since when was copyright/licensing law ever hindered by that :-/

  19. DemonClaw says:

    This is weird stuff, nobody want’s to buy it cause how ubisoft is acting (or maybe then just people that still buy at retail and dont know off this stuff BUT i doubt it will be pirated much just cause many people don’t wanna play it .. so if that happens ubi will think drm worked.. not much win for anyone

  20. Sivart13 says:

    I’m still probably going to play this game because I live in San Francisco and rarely get the chance to race around it teleporting from car to car.

    I hope it reviews okay.

  21. cluddles says:

    Indeed.
    A game with shonky DRM and no demo.
    Not a game for me.
    Indeed.

  22. Longrat says:

    Goody, now I have no qualms as to not buying this game!

  23. It's not me it's you says:

    So considerate of Ubi – between the DRM, poor peripheral support and no demo I won’t even have to consider buying this game!

  24. Gar says:

    Don’t worry, I’m sure someone (if not several people) will prepare a “demo” for us. I doubt I’ll be bothered with accessing this demo, but I do believe that mass pirating of this game along with letters to Ubi will send the strongest message in light of their recent press release others have linked to here in the comments. Of course buying it as well if the game is enjoyed would be recommended as long as it pirated too. We need to show them that DRM doesn’t work, we are interested in the game, and their method for managing PC releases is asinine.

  25. Jaime says:

    Well, when I consider these possibilities:

    - The decision makers at Ubisoft are insane/mentally retarded.
    - This is somehow part of a plan to abandon the PC completely.
    - They just like to annoy PC gamers.
    - They have data that suggests their DRM is a success.

    I know what Occam’s Razor leads me to believe.

    I mean, I hate the Ubi DRM and I’ll never buy a game that’s using it, but am I really the only one who thinks that these guys may actually do the right thing? Strictly from a financial point of view?

    • Pinkables says:

      I can’t believe that they are blithely sabotaging their own market. I’m sure they’re doing what’s in their own best interest, whatever that might happen to be. Nothing is to say that their idea of success is something that we would welcome as PC gamers though.

  26. ResonanceCascade says:

    I actually started a publishing company just to see if I could out-Ubisoft Ubisoft at their own game. It’s called Derpysoft. Every game I release requires that I physically kick you in the balls five times before you can buy it. If you’re a woman, you are required to undergo expensive sex change surgery so you’ll have testicles for me to kick.

    After that, you’re forced to activate the always-on DRM, which is a webcam that broadcasts directly to me so I can see if your facial expressions look like those of someone who might be contemplating pirating my game. If you look suspicious (or for any reason, per the TOS) I am granted full permission to give you a bengay enema and send the pics to your grandmother.

    So far my piracy levels have been exactly zero, proving that Ubisoft might be on to something after all.

  27. byjimini says:

    No demo usually screams “it’s gonna be shit!” in my ears. Best thing to do is let it come out and flounder, they’ll fix the likely game-breaking bugs and within a few months it’ll pop up on Steam for a fiver, from which Ubisoft won’t gain that much money.

    Now that’s how you stick it to the man.

  28. I LIKE FOOD says:

    Are they doing this because someone or some people in charge have something against PC gamers? It´s like they´re trying to punish the paying crowd for what the pirate crowd is doing.

    • Jaime says:

      Maybe? Or perhaps their sales figures suggest that games with the always on DRM sell better?

      Which sounds more likely?

    • I LIKE FOOD says:

      Far more likely they actually want to mess with PC gamers. Since they sell more on the consoles anyways they probably get some giggles out of all the hate they receive.

      I will never in my life buy a game with DRM that punishes me for buying it.

    • Nalano says:

      Neither, because one’s too punitive and the other’s too rational. I don’t expect a corporation to act rationally.

      Plus, it’s extremely difficult to track trends in purchases solely on one factor when your business cycle is counted in years and is wrought over several different genres with varying interest during tumultuous economic times.

    • Jaime says:

      @ Nalano

      I don’t know. I’d argue that the sales figures of

      a) Assassin’s Creed 1 on PC without the DRM
      b) Assassin’s Creed 1 on consoles
      c) Assassin’s Creed 2 on PC with the DRM
      d) Assassin’s Creed 2 on consoles
      e) Assassin’s Creed 2 on PC after they dropped the DRM (They did, didn’t they?)

      are enough to make an educated guess. And that’s just one series of games. The data they have might not be decisive, but it’s much more than what we have. Which is nothing.

      I’d very much like to believe that such a strict DRM hurts sales or at least doesn’t improve them, but I haven’t heard a better explanation for why Ubisoft is going back to it yet so… I can’t.

    • Mr E Meats says:

      I’m sure that it hurts sales, it’s sort of slow thinking to think it wouldn’t. Fact of the matter is the DRM will be cracked again the same way AC2 was cracked. I think too many people underestimate the bored IT students and what they can accomplish outside of writing their thesis.

      On a side note, I never expected Driver to get another game, but I think it just goes to show how badly Ubisoft needs new IPs.

    • Jaime says:

      @ Mr E Meats

      Well, a short search on google seems to indicate that it took almost 2 months until a crack for Assassin’s Creed 2 appeared, and allegedly there were problems with it.

      So apparently, IT students aren’t underestimated and the DRM worked very well.

    • Mr E Meats says:

      When it first started working, it allowed play but you couldn’t do any of the in game quests, until a working server emulator was made. The point is, if it’s the same(or similar) DRM to AC2′s, there is already a server emulator that can be re-purposed, I just think it’s somewhat pointless to release a game with the same DRM that was broken a few months after release anyways.

      It also strikes me as odd that a company thinks a few months of working DRM will force pirates to buy the game as opposed to say, waiting a tick and playing something else till the game is cracked.

    • Nalano says:

      @ Jaime

      A PC isn’t a console. Hell, console ports (or as they’re called today, “multi-platform games”) even get separate reviews and are received differently between PCs and their native consoles. As such, comparing a PC game with its console brother is not a 1:1 ratio.

      And it took three weeks to fully crack AC2. It took two months to come out with a “cracked AC2 for dummies” auto-installer. That’s right: Hackers have better customer service.

    • Jaime says:

      @ Mr E Meats

      Well, if you follow that line of thinking, you could say that it sounds odd that publishers think people will buy full price games at all, when they could easily play something else for a few months and then buy the game heavily discounted.

      @ Nalano

      Even three weeks sounds good to me. That’s when most units are sold, and at full price, too.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to believe there’s another explanation for Ubisoft’s behavior, I just haven’t heard of any that makes sense to me.

      The only other one I can come up with is that Ubi somehow wants to shift sales to consoles, and this is the only way to accomplish this without not doing any PC ports at all, and thus losing the purchases of the PC only gamers. But that would mean that a) a copy sold on a console is somehow more profitable, which I don’t believe is the case even with the higher price point (Are there any numbers for this?) and b) the DRM at least doesn’t cause a significant drop of sales.

    • Nalano says:

      “Even three weeks sounds good to me. That’s when most units are sold, and at full price, too.”

      If a game’s sales can’t last past the first three weeks, it’s a crap game.

    • Kamos says:

      If a publisher doesn’t expect its own game’s sales to last past the first three weeks, and relies on hyping console kids to death instead of relying on people actually liking their game and recommending it… Really, it can’t be a good game. Not really.

  29. ArcaneSaint says:

    The demo version’s code is probably one line different from the full version, and they’re afraid PC gamers will be smart enough to go to game.ini and change “FullGame = 0″ to “FullGame = 1″. Whereas on the console version they can charge like 60$/€/£ for that. Yeah

  30. Electricleash says:

    Ubisoft decision-making… the real reason for the London riots…

  31. Kohlrabi says:

    It’s really outrageous that it’s more important for Ubisoft to make a point with their DRM against pirates than to sell a game on a platform they have a team of hard working people develop for. And this further proves that they don’t want to sell a product on the PC. I simply can’t grasp that.

  32. Kill_The_Drive says:

    There’s something I don’t understand. In order to pirate something, it needs to be cracked. It doesn’t matter what kind of DRM it has, it will be cracked eventually. Everything has been, even UbiDRM games.

    Technically this will only mean more people illegally downloading the game, because they want to be able to play it offline. That’s what I would do, but I’m not going to buy this. Ever.

    • Jaime says:

      The obvious answer would be that cracking this kind of DRM simply takes longer. I’ve read a few times that it took a few weeks until working versions of the always on-games appeared on torrent sites.

      It’s a well known fact that the most important time for a new game are the first weeks. The whole point of DRM is not to make games uncrackable, but simply to help out during the time when sales are strongest.

    • faelnor says:

      Exactly. So the only other logical thing to do when you have such DRM is to ensure maximum visibility of your game during and before the grace period. Providing a demo that all will like is probably a good start. Oh, wait.

  33. MOKKA says:

    Maybe this is some kind of weird social experiment where Ubisoft tries to answer the question: “How much can I piss of my customers without losing a significant amount of sales?”

  34. Daiv says:

    Ubisoft are locked in mortal combat with their arch-nemesis: Their own customers.

  35. PoulWrist says:

    I wasn’t interested. Downloading a 7gb warez version, of a game I am not interested in… Hm, who knows. I’ve got too many games in backcatalogue already.

  36. acidtestportfolio says:

    oh no what will i do for my bloated car chase slash action movie shenanigans

    looks like it’s back to playing type hard

    • bhlaab says:

      are you crazy?? you are seriously missing out on the new chapter in the illustrious and critically acclaimed driver series??

    • acidtestportfolio says:

      i am sadly trying to pretend that the dancing people are the cars and the flashing alarm lights are the police officers

      oh welllll :(

  37. Axyl says:

    Well, i’ll be torrenting this crap outta this one then.

    I will never buy a game again without knowing first if it’s worth my money.
    Reviews only help so far..
    Ditto demos tbh, but at least it’s a gesture of openness prior to purchase.

    What with this game having many many things wrong with it, and we’ve not even gotten to the gameplay as yet..
    Then this one stands very little hope of getting any money from me..

    But, as always, once torrented, i’m VERY open to being pleasantly surprised and therefore earning a legal purchase..

    Tho i’m not holding my breath. This is getting stupid now.

    • PodX140 says:

      Agreed 100%. I have not purchased a game that I have not pirated. PERIOD. I have made the mistake of purchasing games without trying them in the past (Hrgh Operation Flashpoint 2 Hrgh) and I will not make that mistake again. And to those who say, why bother purchasing? I have purchased, after downloading recently: MoW (3! copies. Recomendations from pirates to friends, wow, who ever would have thought?) Minecraft (10? at least? copies.), even Terraria (3 copies), which I never play multiplayer.

      So yeah, Piracy != lost sales. Bad game and DRM = lost sales.

  38. faraany3k says:

    Guys just pirate the game and check for yourself how it plays out. Who needs a demo anyway.

  39. Harkkum says:

    Although I have in the past seen the ratio in Ubisoft’s anti-piracy policy, this indeed strikes somewhat odd. If you have a demo version available, why on earth not release it on all the platforms you are about to release the game to? Makes absolutely zero sense.

    They can’t in all seriousness think that someone would mischievously spread the demo version on all of the torrent sites! Those rascals. Will be interesting to see what kind of an answer they have for this. Their mid-summer mayhem with delayed PC releases and now this really makes me wonder have they run out of assets to keep air conditioning running.

  40. etho says:

    Couldn’t you play the demo on a console, and if it is good and you are daft and like playing driving games on a keyboard, you could buy the PC version? I mean, the game will be rubbish anyway (hasn’t anyone ever played a Driver game? They’re terrible!) so it seems kind of irrelevant.

  41. BrightCandle says:

    As a group gamers are terrible at acting on mass, the various boycotts in the past have shown that. UbiFuckers can do what they want because when they release a game that people want, they buy it, regardless of the protection that it has. While the anti-drm group is vocal its a relatively small one which isn’t reaching gamers widely enough to hurt UbiSoft in the financial pocket. Lets not forget also that Blizzard is behaving just as badly with Diablo 3, will you boycott that on the same principles?

    We have probably lost the war in DRM already, opposition has been minimal in the grand scheme of things.

  42. omicron1 says:

    We have no info on any purchase planned, PC or otherwise.

    Take that, PC-hating maniacs.

  43. SquareWheel says:

    I’m glad. I already didn’t want to buy it due to the DRM, but this makes my decision much easier.

  44. Robin says:

    The longer this carries on, the more I’m convinced there is some Uwe Boll-style financial shenanigans behind it.

    Something is happening that creates business and revenue for the DRM provider, which is disconnected from the impact on sales that this will have on (the already marginal) PC SKUs of Ubi’s games. Let’s say, they’ve signed a license which means Ubi pay up-front and use the tech on ‘N’ PC releases a year before a specified date. The underlying reason being that it’s advantageous to shift the money between entities in this way (maybe it ducks tax, or is eligible for R&D credits, or spreads their assets around geographically).

    Pure speculation of course.

  45. laddyman says:

    Ubisoft seems to have become hell-bent on spitting on their developers so as to ensure that the game will be a flop (not that I expected this to do too well, either).

  46. Muzman says:

    “There are no current plans for a PC demo.” When we asked why not we were bluntly told, “We have no information on any PC demo planned.”

    Hah. Have they finally replaced PR monkeys with chat bots?
    Try asking it again:
    Why is there no PC demo?
    I’m not sure I understand the question.
    Why is there no PC demo?
    Why do you think there is no PC demo?
    Why is there no PC demo?
    How does no PC demo make you feel?
    Angry!
    That’s sad. Have you tried talking to no PC demo?

  47. Wozzle says:

    I had 0 interest in this game, but because of all this stupidity I kind of want to pirate it just for lulz. But, then, that would probably just validate their tomfuckery in their eyes.

  48. Ondrej says:

    I think RPS should openly say at the end of the (upcoming, surely) WOT: We recommend you not to buy this game, since we cannot support the publisher’s decisions. Or something.

    RPS has a strong fanbase, therefore your word carries a lot of weight.

  49. James says:

    If DRM reduces piracy but fails to increase sales, is it still a success?

  50. vodka and cookies says:

    I’m surprised they haven’t turned to Perry’s Gaikai which is what exactly this kind of thing is for.
    * Ubisoft can be bothered putting the work in for a PC demo
    * Doesn’t want to give PC warez scene a heads up about the games code by deploying a demo without internet DRM.

    So stream the demo over the net from a server with a fixed hardware setup.

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