Ubisoft: Anno 2070 DRM Works As Intended

By John Walker on January 19th, 2012 at 2:43 pm.

Oh come on Ubisoft, do SOMETHING not stupid.

On Monday we reported the strange discovery by Guru3D that something so simple as changing your graphics card could use up an activation on Ubisoft game, Anno 2070. At the time I suggested that this was perhaps a bug in the DRM Ubisoft uses, Tages, meaning it was overreacting to hardware changes. It seems I was wrong, and Ubisoft have confirmed to us that this is how they intend the DRM to work.

We got in touch with Ubisoft to find out what was happening, asking,

“This sounds more like a bug than a deliberate choice by Ubi. Is that the case? Will there be a fix forthcoming to ensure people can change basic hardware without losing the ability to play Ubi games?”

But to our surprise, the official statement we received in response reads,

“While it’s correct that copies of Anno include three activations and that changing hardware may trigger the need for reactivation, the vast majority of Anno customers never encounter this scenario. On the rare occasion when a customer does need additional activations, Ubisoft customer service is available to quickly resolve the situation, and we encourage those customers to contact us directly so that we can ensure they are able to continue to enjoy their game.”

The Tages system means you can install your copy of Anno 2070 on three separate PC configurations before it will refuse to work. Ubisoft insists that should these all be used up, contacting them to receive a new set of activations is quick and easy, but that’s not the experience Guru3D had. Rather, it took the intervention of BlueByte before they could perform the tests they wanted to do.

Tages is a little odd, however, not offering the option to deactivate an installation. Ubisoft insists this is fine, because when you uninstall it leaves behind a config file on your PC that means it’ll remember itself, and not need reactivating on reinstallation. Of course this makes no sense – should you need to format your PC, or reinstall Windows, that file will be meaningless, and despite not changing configurations, you’ll still be using up an activation.

But most strange is what appears to be a wildly oversensitive reaction to minor hardware changes, right down to objecting if you change just your graphics card. While most DRM software that attaches itself to your hardware configuration will measure this by your motherboard or processor, Anno 2070 and Tages has opted for anything that can be easily swapped out of your machine, which makes no sense to me at all. This DRM, as ridiculous as it is in the first place (as of course it only interferes with legitimate copies, and leaves pirated versions alone), is intended to stop you from installing the same version of a game on multiple machines. So why is it caring if you change graphics card? That is in no way indicative of multiple machine installations, and allowing customers to make such changes without penalty wouldn’t make it easier to repeatedly install the game on all your friends’ PCs.

And this is just how Ubisoft want it to be. Which is mystifying. But then from the publisher who enforce “always on” DRM onto their legitimate customers, it’s hard to know what not to expect.

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179 Comments »

  1. povu says:

    Honestly, I’m not surprised at all.

    • Irishjohn says:

      I know. Depressing isn’t it? Not being surprised, that is.

    • Chalky says:

      And after all of this… I’m pretty sure you can still pirate Anno 2070. So what have they gained from this?

    • Avenger says:

      Actually I am surprised.
      Only because this time it seemed like a bug, as the original article made it to be.

      It made sense that it was a bug.

      So, apparently Ubisoft does not want you to upgrade your graphics card… Ubisoft is OFICIALLY crazy,

      …or they desperately need all PCs to become consoles, overnight.

    • Metonymy says:

      It was thoughtful of them to have the try-before-you-buy version on those torrent sites. It only took me about 5 minutes to notice that this game adds nothing whatsoever to the genre, and has a weak UI.

    • dontnormally says:

      To be fair, in the audio software industry they also often take this approach:

      x number of max authentications, strict rules about when new authentications must be used, prompt customer service.

      Oh wait, “prompt customer service”…

    • Brun says:

      @dontnormally:

      Professional software is a different animal as it is typically much more expensive and governed by commercial licenses (as opposed to end user or consumer licenses), which are usually much more strict, as you say.

    • PopeJamal says:

      “…or they desperately need all PCs to become consoles, overnight.”

      That’s much more true than I think most people realize. General purpose computing is under the crosshairs. That SOPA nonsense demonstrates it all too well.

  2. bit_crusherrr says:

    It’s like they really don’t want to sell games.

    • sinelnic says:

      And in my case, they are being extremely successful.

    • Eclipse says:

      yeah it’s like they really want to say “pirate our games please” to me. If I’d buy Anno I’d feel like a douche, paying to get the worst version of the game.
      I’m a game developer, and I consider piracy to be worse than stealing a retail box from a store (while you download a pirate copy you also help others to do so via p2p, so it’s worse than stealing a box), but I can hardly say anything in cases like this one

    • 2late2die says:

      I don’t think it’s “like”, I think it’s their way of getting out of the market. The just figured instead of doing a press conference and announcing that they will no longer be making PC games they just decided to take this more “gentle” route and wait until no one buys their games.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Not to PC gamers at any rate.

    • SiHy_ says:

      To be fair to them this shit does stop piracy. I wouldn’t even bother pirating a Ubisoft game never mind buy one.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      And it’s such a sham(e) they keep doing this since they publish enough games which are actually quite interesting.

      On the other hand, not having to consider Ubisoft games does save me a pretty penny.

    • DeanLearner says:

      I just went to comment on this post and seeing your reply really, really, really confused me! So much so I can no longer remember what I was going to say…. good day sir!

  3. rocketman71 says:

    Wow. Just wow.

    I guess they won’t stop until they lose every single fucking customer. And then they’ll cry it was because of piracy.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      I’m at a loss as to what a fan of this series (which I’m not yet) is supposed to do at this point:
      - Buy the game full-price to encourage Blue Byte, and therefore tell Ubisoft “good job, your DRM is acceptable”?
      - If you buy it, just accept the outrageous limitation, or use an illegal (in some countries) crack to circumvent the idiotic activation limit?
      - Download the game from usenet or a file-sharing site so it’s hard for Ubi to add the download to their piracy stats (contrary to torrents), and maybe buy the game later in the bargain bin for its perceived rental value?

      As someone who believes that piracy/file-sharing is perfectly moral and natural, but neither polite nor smart if you want the people who make stuff you enjoy to make more (and I also believe that laws should be respected as much as possible, even though they’re not perfect), I wouldn’t know which to pick.

    • Dolar says:

      Honestly, why does Ubisoft just not get just get out of the PC market? Clearly they hate the PC fans and think they are all thieves. Their draconian DRM does nothing to stop pirates, all it does is make every game they produce a nightmare to run for paying customers.

      This game looked really interesting, but I will never purchase it and support the notion that this form of DRM is okay.

    • Jim9137 says:

      Pirate the game, give money to blue byte, cut out Ubisoft from the middle.

      Publishers should realize the best way to combat piracy is to offer better service and competitive prices, not by scaremongering black villain tactics.

    • caddyB says:

      Isn’t that what Uncle Gabe said? Piracy is a matter of service in essence.

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      @MellowKrogoth : back in my more piratey days (before I had a real job), i would fairly often put money in an envelope and mail it to the developers of the games. I did this for games I thought were good, and I had this weird idea that the publisher didn’t deserve a cut. I don’t know why it’s so easy for us to decide middlemen are worthless.

      I don’t know if it worked. I typically didn’t give any identifying information in the letters. A typewriter generated “I pirated your game, and it was great. Here is payment for it.” was typically wrapping the cash.

      I typically sent approximately full retail. Life was kind of easy i guess because back then almost all the game makers for my platforms were in the US, or maybe Canada, so i could send currency they could use and postage was cheap.

      The whole practice seems a little odd to me at this point. I’m not sure I can come up with a good excuse for my 18 year old self. But at the same time it doesn’t seem like an entirely wrong sort of course of action for when you have legitimate objections to the publisher’s actions.

  4. fionny says:

    Ubisoft – Proudly sponsoring heavy handed DRM.

    Get real……….

    Talk about punishing those who actually pay.

  5. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    That’s convenient, it coincides nicely with what i want – ubisoft to sink so hard and fast they never recover.

  6. Palodin says:

    Such a silly company.

  7. Sp4rkR4t says:

    It’s not mystifying at all, I’ve decided that the heads of Ubisoft actually work for another gaming company and are trying their level best to stop people buying the games they produce no matter how good. Well it’s worked for at least one person sitting right here typing this.

  8. MellowKrogoth says:

    What. A. Bunch. Of. Idiots.
    This is completely bewildering.

    They’re basically saying “get fucked” to potential customers like me who like to incrementally change their hardware. Or even who don’t have to add yet another worry to the problems that come with upgrading (backups, remember what was installed, new drivers, new bugs… do I need DRM worries on top?). Of course “the vast majority of Anno customers never encounter this scenario” implies that they have long ago scared away hardcore gamers who build their PC themselves.

  9. MiniMatt says:

    Anno, Driver San Fran, the later AssCreeds – all games I’ve wanted to buy in the last few months but haven’t bought because of their DRM. And I really really wanted to buy Anno 2070 too, would have paid full launch price and everything.

    And no, I did’nt pirate them. I just made do without, causing mild sadness on my part, and a teensy tiny cash flow dent at Ubi.

    • Cooper says:

      Yeah. Driver and this Anno I’d like to play. Hopefully, as with the older UbiDRM nonsense it’ll be patched out in 6 months or so. It’ll also be really cheap by then. I’ve got other stuff to play in the meantime.

    • fearlessgoat says:

      Was really interested in Anno 2070 and was also interested in Driver. Didn’t pick up any of them because of this stupid DRM.

      Bewildering is the fact they have seem not to be listening to anyone.
      When this company goes belly up I hope somebody gets Anno and removes the DRM so I can buy it.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      You guys are like saints of PC gaming. Holy monks with vows of non-piracy. ;)

      I didn’t buy or pirate these games yet either to try and send a message. Fortunately there are many other good games to buy and enjoy. But I don’t exactly feel a monastic calling, and at some point I know I’ll say “eh, what the Hell” and sample them so I can at least discuss the game with my friends who played it…

    • SirKicksalot says:

      Driver has no stupid DRM…

    • MiniMatt says:

      @ SirKicksalot

      Driver requires internet connection – not always on anymore, but still every single time you launch the game. So you can’t play it in the airport, or on a forces base, or when the ropey scrag ends of copper and aluminium we cutely call a communications network goes belly up.

    • KenTWOu says:

      @MiniMatt

      You are right about Driver: San Francisco, but both AC:Brotherhood and AC:Revelations has less intrusive DRM. It requires one-time product registration at first launch. So you can play these games in the airport, or on a forces base…

  10. mentor07825 says:

    I never asked for this.

    • subedii says:

      If you want to make enemies, try to change your graphics card.

  11. SquareWheel says:

    “your copy of Anno 2070″

    If only.

  12. amorpheous says:

    I voted with my wallet against Ubisoft years ago. I’m not missing them one bit.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      I still feel dirty for buying Assassins Creed 2 on heavy sale in 2010.

      Once I finally got it working in spite of their stupid launcher etc… I found a tediously dull game underneath.

  13. Was Neurotic says:

    Well I bought my 1404 and 1701 legitimately, but it looks like a trip to TPB is in order for 2070.

    • Lugg says:

      Word. And if they go and justify their next generation invasive game-breaking DRM by pointing to piracy, I’ll justify piracy by pointing towards their DRM.

    • Avenger says:

      I don’t want to be in a position supporting Ubisoft but, really guys. Not cool to pirate games…

    • Ultra-Humanite says:

      Just like it’s not cool to make DRM that only interferes with paying customers yet that doesn’t stop Ubisoft.

    • Megadyptes says:

      DRM doesn’t justify piracy. You can always just NOT BUY THE GAME. There is no moral justification for piracy as video games are not an essential life requirement.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      Yes they are! Which is why instead of pirating you give your money to a publisher or developer who actually gives a shit about the customer and treats them like they’re actually important.

      Trivia: I once wrote to Stardock explaining that the reason I supported them was their anti-drm stance and I bought all the titles, even ones I wasn’t that interested in, just so support a decent publisher. They sent me a really nice thank you note.

    • Deano2099 says:

      Quick note:

      When someone says “can’t be bothered with the DRM, I’ll just pirate it” they’re not “justifying” piracy. Nowhere in there is a claim that what they are doing is “just”. It’s just that they don’t give a shit. And frankly, if a customer treats their customers this way, why should they?

      No, two wrongs don’t make a right, there’s no moral high-ground to be had from ‘pirating it to teach them a lesson’. And I commend those of you who live your lives by strict morals codes and never act unjustly. Me, I’m much more of an arsehole. I smile when I see bad thing happen to bad people. I don’t believe in the death penalty on principle, but I really can’t get all angry about it when a self-confessed serial rapist or killer or paedophile is put to death. Sure, I guess it’s wrong, but I don’t care.

      There’s a difference between just not caring about what you’re doing to a company through piracy, and claiming piracy is okay.

    • abysterical says:

      removed

  14. ankh says:

    In other news: 461 people are downloading this game right now from the bay of the pirates. (1365 people are sharing said game.)

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      Yarrrrrr, etc.
      Long live the Bay, even though I don’t use it anymore these days, I’m into Steam(Punk).

  15. olemars says:

    I wonder how well it handles laptops that switch between graphics chips depending on power usage.

    • wisnoskij says:

      I Imagine that both Graphics cards are installed at all times and the load just switches between them?
      This should have no effect.
      Meaning, if you see both in your device manager then you should be OK but if you don’t then there is a good chance that it would.

      A similar question, what about laptop wireless cards? They are designed to be turned off completely, not sure if they register as missing or just disabled (or if this DRM would care either way).

    • Bonedwarf says:

      That’s a good question. My new PC was set on the onboard chipset when I first booted as I forgot to switch the BIOS. That would have counted as a change right there without me so much as touching my PC’s innards.

  16. mr.ioes says:

    It’s hard to believe what those guys in charge are like. Do they really think this is a great idea? I mean what’s happening to them when they see the thousands of people downloading their game for free?

    I don’t wanna believe they are that ignorant. There has to be a rational reason for that particular DRM and other awkward DRM solutions in general.

    Someone has to stand up and tell them “this DRM is bullshit and doesn’t give you a single additional sold copy, but rather a few less due to people who refuse buying DRM plagued software.” straight to their face. I wanna read if their response would contain anything that makes sense.

  17. diamondmx says:

    It’s a good thing this stops piracy, or it would seem like a really unfortunate anti-customer move.
    Oh, wait…

    Edit: RPS – do you think you could get an interview with the people who make these decisions? Find out how they convince themselves this is a good idea?

  18. stevendick says:

    I assume they are counting on the ignorance of their customers and have nothing but contempt for the more tech-savvy of us, since we’re a minority compared to the mass market. A very cynical approach that deserves to be punished by a boycott and giving them as much bad press/word-of-mouth as possible.

  19. ulix says:

    Luckily the new Rayman is in 1080p on consoles, so I only had to bother with this anti-customer behaviour with Anno (which is awesome nonetheless).

    I might be interested in more Ubisoft games if the wouldn’t show their PC customers a big middle-finger all the time.

  20. Premium User Badge

    Joshua IX says:

    Whatever happened to the customer always being right?

    • johnpeat says:

      I’ve no idea where that idea came from but it’s THE most retarded statement ever made by people…

      Honestly, I’m no fan of overbearing and idiotic DRM but anyone who thinks that customers are always right has never worked with them…

    • jon_hill987 says:

      The saying really means “the customer, ultimately, pays your wages, don’t upset them”.

    • avrus96 says:

      Too bad Ubisoft’s customers are primarily console gamers.

    • johnpeat says:

      I disagree that the saying means anything – if it ever even existed as anything other than something an angry, ignorant idiot used as some sort of ‘last resort’ argument, it was probably intended to gull customers into feeling better about themselves whilst you gouged their eyes out anyway…

      Honestly, it’s a fantastic sign someone has never worked in a retail or even customer-facing role that they’d even bring it up. Anyone who’s done that quickly realises that a scary percentage of people are self-interested morons and some will amaze you by remembering to breathe…

      Never ask a customer what they want – they don’t know

      Never ask a customer if you can help – that really confuses them.

      and for god’s sake don’t humour them or they’ll come back!!

  21. Maldomel says:

    Can I facepalm? Ok then.

  22. Mad B says:

    disappointing but not surprised.. they also don’t get my money anymore.. adds to my growing list of software publishers using over the top DRM to punish legit purchasers of software..

  23. Lifebleeder says:

    I think it’s funny the way the article ended, with the “from the publisher that enforces always online DRM” line. When Ubisoft does this, it creates a runaway shit storm. When Blizzard does it ala Diablo 3, it’s a “feature” (IE. The consumer is to stupid to realize he cant bring a single player character into multiplayer, even if given prompts), and defended rabidly. Ahh double standards.

    • ankh says:

      Different people having different opinions is not double standards.

    • Brun says:

      While I don’t particularly like what Blizzard is doing with D3, it does confer SOME benefits to the customer by eliminating several major problems that ran rampant in Diablo 2, namely hacking/spoofing/duping and shady gold selling.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      I won’t buy Diablo 3 for the exact same reason as this, and RPS have stated their opposition to single-player requiring online mode as well. You must have been frequenting too many fanboys.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      So you missed the shitstorm in the comment section when DOTA3 was announced to be always-online?

    • diamondmx says:

      I hate the crappy DRM in Ubisoft products, and I hate the crappy DRM in Diablo 3, too. I won’t be buying either.

      For most people, there isn’t a strange dichotomy of “ubi bad, everyone else good”, it’s simply that “ubi worst and most unrepentant, some others also bad”.

    • IAmUnaware says:

      When Ubisoft does this, it creates a runaway shit storm. When Blizzard does it ala Diablo 3, it’s a “feature”….

      When Blizzard did it, there was also a huge shit storm, which was covered extensively on RPS and got mentioned every time they wrote anything about the game for quite a while. In the future, it would help your arguments a lot if you could make them without bald-faced lies.

  24. Khemm says:

    That actually was a reasonable response, if you run out of activations, let them know. Besides, it’s not like Anno 1404 didn’t have the exact same copy protection and it wasn’t eventually patched out.
    And no John, Ubi do not enfore “always on” DRM on anyone anymore.

    You’re making this DRM out to be a HUGE deal when it actually isn’t, it’s significantly less intrusive than what Ubi did a while ago. Unless you’re a paranoid RPS reader like some people here who adore Steam (lol) and hate anything that doesn’t have Valve’s stamp of approval, you won’t even notice there’s any DRM in place.

    • ankh says:

      I’d just like to say that you have my support in your “Steam is shit” campaign. Please keep on spreading the word on behalf of lazy steam haters like me.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      Steam would be better if it was only about the downloads and not about the drms. But it has made setting up multiplayer games with my friends 500% easier with its auto-update, chat rooms including vocal, friend invites, etc. so it deserves some praise.

      For the rest, I think you’re either dumb, or paid by Ubisoft.

    • Duffin says:

      …until you change your graphics card / processor / underwear and your game breaks.

    • ankh says:

      Just to clarify my position (Because everyone cares), I am opposed to UBI-DRM and steam.

    • Khemm says:

      @Duffin
      I can’t imagine anyone who upgrades so often… And if you do, just contact Ubi and you’ll have your activations reset. Again, what is the problem here?

      @Mellow
      I love you too and love your choice of words. “Dumb”, what a word – music to my ears.

    • vecordae says:

      Remember folks: If you find Ubisoft’s DRM setups to be unreasonable, it’s because YOU are the problem.

    • Snakejuice says:

      @Khemm
      Because in my spare time I want to PLAY the games I bought, not writing stupid emails, not calling stupid people.

      When I bought Batman: AC, started it up for like the 3rd time (GFWL had to update and be a general annoyance) to play it for the first time and xbox live complained that my credit card was expired and I had no way of cancelling my live gold subsciption (whatever THAT has to do with PC games?) I tried mailing microsoft and they told me I had to get on the phone during phone hours I just thought to myself – know what? fuck it! I got LOTS of non-GFWL games to play.

      I have still not played Batman: AC and that DRM isn’t even as bad as Ubis so NO FSCKING WAY I’m buying Anno 2070 even though it seems intresting.

    • Brun says:

      I can’t imagine anyone who upgrades to often…

      So, so many terrible ideas have hinged on this very sentiment. To use it as an excuse for UbiDRM makes you as delusional as Ubisoft themselves.

    • Arnisarus says:

      You know … i was this close to amazement; it was a ubisoft article and i hadnt seen Ubi’s tactical defence force…. i got almost to the bottom of the page.

      Honestly, just what is the point. You are fighting a losing battle, some people may indeed like Ubisoft. I imagine there are many more that don’t. But defending this stuff is just lame.

      I imagine someone had to code this god awful drm attempt, which means someone who could have been doing something more productive on the/a game, like making them better, fixing random bugs etc was in fact doing this. Now logically, a game comes out with bugs and people are annoyed, this guy could well have fixed that one bug. On top of that its only affecting the people that PAY for it.

      This response makes it look like i dislike Ubi, which isnt the case. I actually like Anno, a sort of enjoyed the AssCreed games. I am one of the people that would be affected by this however since i get alot of new hardware often. So it does put me off, I havent a single other game that has bothered me with stuff like this.

      Can you really not see why people are annoyed if so then its pretty short sighted of you

    • Duffin says:

      “I can’t imagine anyone who upgrades to often… And if you do, just contact Ubi and you’ll have your activations reset. Again, what is the problem here?”

      So I buy the game and install it on both my computers, using two activations. I then buy a new graphics card (yes alot of people do this I R GRAPHIX WHORE) and put it in my main computer and switch the old card with the even older card in my other computer. Except now the game will only work on one of my machines. So then I have to spend ages chasing up a code which I may or may not receive for a game I’ve paid for? First world problems I know but still utterly stupid.

    • MiniMatt says:

      We are in the depths of recession. Companies go bust on a daily basis. And games publishing, of all industries, is renowned for being volatile and unstable.

      So if Ubi were to go bust tomorrow (and no – I’m not saying that is likely, but it sure as hell ain’t impossible) then who you going to phone up for activations?

      Funny thing is – I don’t own the copyright to any of my records either, or my books, or my videos and DVDs. But if any of the companies who published them go bust (and I’m quite sure many of them have) then my purchased copies will continue to work just fine. I still play XCOM from time to time. I still play Fallout 2 from time to time, I still play Master Of Orion 2 from time to time – these all still work despite the devs and publishers all either being restructured and merged into oblivion or flat out disappearing.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      It was only a matter of time before someone showed up to defend this. Pathetic.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      Just as an aside, saying “Ubi DRM used to be absolutely terrible, so you’re not allowed to complain now that they’ve “upgraded” to “really bad” now” is an incredibly stupid rationalization.

      Goes to show, some people will defend anything on the internet, even deliberately anti-consumer BS.

    • psyk says:

      “So if Ubi were to go bust tomorrow (and no – I’m not saying that is likely, but it sure as hell ain’t impossible) then who you going to phone up for activations?”

      What happens if valve die and shut down steam servers? why do we not get articles on that.

      report stuff but not like fox news

    • Archonsod says:

      “But if any of the companies who published them go bust (and I’m quite sure many of them have) then my purchased copies will continue to work just fine. ”

      Until of course the CD / DVD’s finally oxidise. So about ten years :P

      Actually I’ve come to realise that argument is bollocks. Pretty much any of the old games I’d still play are available cheap off GoG, if they’re not on Steam/Gamersgate et al, and being a lazy bastard I’m far more likely to pay the three or four quid to download the game from there than spend the thirty minutes going through the boxes of games accumulated over the past twenty years or so in my garage. I still keep them ‘just in case’ though. Despite the fact part of me is well aware I’m never going to go dig out 99.9% of them ever again.

    • kud13 says:

      I am trying to think of games that I can’t play with Steam in offline mode…..

      Fallout 3, Bioshock 2, Arkham Asylum, Arkham city…..

      oh, wait! these are are GWFL titles……

    • Chris D says:

      “What happens if valve die and shut down steam servers? why do we not get articles on that. ”

      Fair point let’s talk about what would happen if Steam, the company that has double profits every year for the last eight years would go bust in the foreseeable future. I think it’s unlikely but for the sake of argument let;s say Steam goes bust in five years. Well, how many games that I bought five years ago am I still playing now? Personally I can think of one, maybe, if I push it. I realise some people might have more though so let’s say five, possibly up to ten if you really, really like older games.

      How much is it going to cost to replace those games, which are at least five years old. Maybe a fiver each from GOG or equivalent? That’s assuming you insist on a legit second copy. I’m generally against piracy but I don’t have an ethical problem with it if you already bought the game once.

      So if Steam does go bust in five years you might spend up to about £30 replacing stuff you want to play, assuming you like and replay old games quite a bit and feel strongly enough to pay for replacement copies. That’s about the price of one new game.

      I’m prepared to accept those odds.

  25. JackDandy says:

    But.. pirates really have no problem cracking the crud out of their game. All of this annoying DRM simply isn’t a factor for pirates.

    This only hurts legit costumers. What the hell are they trying to achieve with this?

    • Khemm says:

      Call me again when the pirated copy of Anno 2070 gets all the features that the legit copy has, including all the latest patches.
      Until that happens, you’re talking about different games.

    • FluffDaSheep says:

      The pirated version doesn’t have less features, it just has different features!

      Like launching the game even when the ubisoft servers are having a crisis, or even without an internet connection at all. High-tech stuff.

    • Shooop says:

      My bet’s on a self-fulfilling prophesy. Specifically the one about how it’s not profitable to make PC games.

    • Archonsod says:

      “Like launching the game even when the ubisoft servers are having a crisis, or even without an internet connection at all. High-tech stuff”

      So you can play what pretty much amounts to 10% more of the game than was included in the demo.

      I never get people who bitch about this. I’m hardly living in a big city, and yet there’s six wireless access points visible on my wi-fi card on top of the cabled network. In fact, getting away from the internet would actually be harder than finding a means to connect. So I have to wonder, is there a huge PC scene in Somalia or something, or does Britain just have all the internets?

    • FluffDaSheep says:

      This may surprise you, but not every country has omnipresent wireless internet. And even if they did, there is still no reason why a legitimate customer shouldn’t be able to start a single player game without being connected to the internet. It’s bullshit pirates don’t have to put up with.

    • Brun says:

      Agree with FluffDaSheep. The kind of “oh, no one REALLY has this kind of problem, it won’t be an issue” mentality has been thrown around as an excuse for lazy system design since engineering first emerged as a profession. This is a consumer product – that means if something can go wrong, it will. As such your system needs to be robust enough to handle all possible eventualities.

  26. Nitrium says:

    They can’t even get their own stuff together. The game requires always-on connectivity to have everything available to the player, since some stuff (like research items and bonus items) are stored remotely. The servers have been very unstable, causing all sorts of problems. Also, they had a world event set up to happen each month, with three missions and different objectives – only the first one happened so far and just for two weeks before it was disabled due to some stability problems. They promised a patch and the return of that world event on “the beginning of 2012″ – so far, absolutely nothing – http://forums-de.ubi.com/showthread.php/78340-New-Year-New-Content

    Also, they changed the forums system from an old version of phpBB (or whatever it was) to some new system but some parts of it are still in german – people were a bit lost and one of the moderators had to write a guide on how to switch languages (not before strongly defending the use of german across the game and the board).

  27. netizensmith says:

    Videogames will be a thing of the past for me soon. The list of games I want but refuse to buy because of DRM is growing by the day. So far this year there’s this and Mass Effect 3 and it’s only mid Jan.

    Can someone remind me what was wrong with checking for the presence of the disc as an anti-piracy measure?

    • Khemm says:

      I don’t know, ask Valve, they came up with the idea of internet activations and enforced clients.

      Like I said, unless you’re being paranoid, you won’t even know there’s DRM in place and Anno 2070 is worth every penny.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      No telling you what you should do, but it’s kind of sad to give up on video games, which are increasingly a part of culture. Add a few decades, and it’s gonna be the same as having not listened to any music during the entire 80′s, 90′s and 2000′s.

      Food for thought: I think people, including those with very limited financial means, *are* actually entitled to enjoy all that culture has to offer.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Khemm, Steam isn’t perfect, its launch was atrocious, and anyone who defends its shortcomings are fanboys.

      But understand this: you’re acting exactly like those fanboys, trying to cover up their favorite publisher’s errors. You said that we “… won’t even notice there’s any DRM in place”. Have you got any objective study or numbers to prove that?

      And really, your whole defense of ‘WAH WAH LOOK AT STEAM!’ is getting tiring.

  28. eraserhead says:

    Maybe Ubisoft is led by a pointy haired boss type who has no clue but enforces this DRMocalypse and whom everyone in the company wishes dead?

  29. bwion says:

    Their statement reads less like “yeah, we totally meant for it to freak out when you replace your graphics card” and more like “we will never admit to having made a mistake ever so let’s just pretend that everything is fine”. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see this quietly patched out in a few months.

    Still, completely absurd.

  30. jimjam says:

    Ghost Recon 2 was the last Ubi soft game I bought. Shame as some of the Devs working for them are talented.

  31. Kaira- says:

    Does my mind play tricks on me or did I read somewhere that the activations reset every 30 days?

    • Auspex says:

      RPS makes so much money now that John upgrades his graphics card everyday and is still able to laugh maniacally whilst upgrading despite sucking on a golden egg.

      (Even if the 30 day reset is true this DRM is still not cool)

    • Kaira- says:

      I’d imagine John cooks the golden egg. Above a fireplace made out of week-old GPUs.

  32. Blackcompany says:

    First, great alt text. Probably wishful thinking, but great anyway.
    …………
    I hear ubi just closed a studio recently. Small wonder why. I feel sorry for the rank and file employees working for Ubi, the ones who have no say in such ridiculous decisions as this. Ubi is just an absurd developer terrified of a new generation of gaming. And they are not alone.
    ………….
    Ubisoft uses restrictive DRM in From Dust. They lie about it. They develop a hard-core, strategic, think-first and spare the ammo survival game called ‘I am Alive’ which would be wildly successful on PC, as many of us would love a game like this. Then they cancel it due to fears of piracy. (Have fun trying to market a third person shooter where the goal is to NOT shoot as often as possible, to the console market.)
    ……………
    Truly I do not get these people. How dumb do you have to be to work for Ubisoft? Really.
    ……………
    I don’t know who I pity more: Ubi rank and file employees now, or their stock holders a couple of years from now.

  33. Avenger says:

    It would have been extremely funny if the game had endorsement from any of the two graphics manufactures.

    *Loading screen*
    – “Best played on NVIDIA!”
    – Alright, I was thinking of upgrading anyway…

    *later*
    – “Your game is now invalid. HAHA!”
    – ?!

  34. Shooop says:

    Finally Ubisoft plain-faced admits what we all already knew: Their DRM is meant to ruin PC gaming.

  35. sneetch says:

    “While it’s correct that copies of Anno include three activations and that changing hardware may trigger the need for reactivation, the vast majority of Anno customers never encounter this scenario. ”

    Well, it’d be more accurate to say they haven’t yet encountered this scenario, it’s far more likely that it’ll occur a few years down the line when people change their PCs/operating system and try to reinstall it. People may never encounter this of course, if they don’t play old games, but it’s still a stupid mechanism, I’m ok with DRM where they either add a used activation per month until you get back to your three activations or give you the ability to deactivate an installation when you uninstall it. Having to ask the company for permission to install my game doesn’t sit well with me.

    “On the rare occasion when a customer does need additional activations, Ubisoft customer service is available to quickly resolve the situation, and we encourage those customers to contact us directly so that we can ensure they are able to continue to enjoy their game.”

    Guru3D were waiting, what, four days without a response? I think that counts as a failure to “quickly resolve” it.

  36. MadTinkerer says:

    Goddamn you, Ubisoft. Don’t force me to pirate Anno 2070 just to make it work without this bullshit! You’re just shooting yourselves in the foot here!

    It’s a good thing I have a huge backlog from the Steam Winter Sale to play instead.

    EDIT: By the way, that was the second Winter Sale that I haven’t bought anything from Ubisoft. I’ve already bought EVERY old Ubisoft game that comes without shitty DRM. So there effectively aren’t any Ubisoft games left for me to buy.

  37. DogKiller says:

    Sometimes I wonder if Ubisoft are trying to tank their brand on purpose. I would boycott their games, but luckily, they don’t even publish games I like anymore.

    • Toberoth says:

      Same here. I haven’t bought a Ubi game in the longest time, not because of DRM, but because their games are completely irrelevant to my interests these days.

  38. BrightCandle says:

    I haven’t bought a Ubisoft game since they started the war against their customers.

    I added a lot of companies to my never buy list yesterday when I went through the support list for SOPA. Keep it coming because I can choose not to buy your stuff all day long. I do wish other gamers would get control of their urges to play some games when it contains such horrific corrupting plights as the DRM that Ubisoft churns out, its not in our interests. Protests where these companies loose money when they don’t do as we say do work!

    I might like games but I wont sacrifice my freedoms to do it. Buying games from Ubisoft (and EA) just gives money to the devil to go and lobby your government into censoring the internet and removing your rights to the products you buy. Which as we have seen is pretty effective across most of the Western governments. You are helping fund some pretty evil people and their agenda by buying these games.

    • Archonsod says:

      What can I say? I’m not some filthy peasant who’s going to complain about losing a mere thirty quid, nor do I live in some developing country where a 24/7 internet connection is hard to find. Plus I actually find their hookup with Skype, Facebook integration and mentor / observer features rather useful, and the persistent online profile thing is actually quite fun.

  39. DickSocrates says:

    Amazing. Ubisoft is actually run by a bunch of *****s. No hyperbole, no vilifying. It’s just a fact, they are bad people who hate gamers, but managed to get into the gaming business because of the money. And the idiocy of their bad decisions takes the breath away. They ‘intended’ to implement a feature that makes no sense and hurts the consumer FOR NO REASON.

    Boycott. Just do it, don’t say you will and then don’t. Eff’em. If they stop making PC games altogether, good, we’re better off without their evil presence. Giving them money is supporting people you hate. Why would you do that?

  40. thereisnothingleft says:

    Haven’t got anything to say, just wanted to note like so many others that I will never buy a ubisoft game EVER again.

    I also NEVER pirate games, so I guess I will never be able to play a ubisoft game again.

    Just thinking on my own hardware changes, I would of encountered this problem for any game over 18 months old.

    I am also beggining to wonder if this can actually be legal? I wonder what the ACCC (aussie consumer protection) would do, if anything. Is there any protection for saying that you bought the game when in actual fact you are renting it?

  41. badcynic says:

    I’m so glad I saw this before I bought this game. Honestly, that was close. I guess I need to avoid anything published by Ubisoft. Damn, and this game looked good too.

  42. Nallen says:

    Probably a stupid question; does this apply to my Steam copy?

    • Premium User Badge

      Carra says:

      I was wondering the same thing as there was no mention of 3x and you’re out on the steam page. Else I would not have bought the game.

    • Jip says:

      I was also wondering the same thing, though I wouldn’t be buying it at that price anyway. It is on my wishlist though

    • Network Crayon says:

      @Jip Yeah, same situation.

    • Snakejuice says:

      From the Steam store page:
      3rd-party DRM: Solidshield Tages SAS
      3 machine activation limit

    • Jip says:

      Thanks SJ. Now I feel dumb and lazy for not looking it up myself, but I blame the government because it’s usually their fault…

      I doubt I’ll ever have issues with the 3x machine activation limit, and this game sounds good, but every time I feel myself reaching for the “add to cart” button, something hauls me back again whispering nonsense about “evil”, “overpriced” and how I’ll regret it.

  43. Zarunil says:

    Ha! Take THAT, you silly pirates!

  44. MacGuffin says:

    Great, another ubisoft game that I would have bought but won’t because of DRM.

    And I won’t pirate it either, my money will just go to their competitors.

    Of course any decrease in sales will be blamed on piracy and justify even more draconian DRM schemes from Ubisoft to drive away legitimate customers.

  45. brulleks says:

    Given the number of posts that have already used the adjective ‘bewildering’ to describe Ubisoft’s gradual descent into madness, may I suggest a new adjective to sum the situation up: Ubiwildering.

  46. buzzmong says:

    Well, I quite wanted to play Anno 2070.

    I won’t be though. Not ever by the looks of things. Same goes for all the current Ubi stuff.

    Nice going Ubisoft, you’re facilitating making me spend money on your competitors, because most of them aren’t penalising me for actually buying their products.

    • Khemm says:

      You’re being penalized? How?
      Drama queens.

    • Caleb367 says:

      I was waiting for the Ubi fanboy to show up. How about being penalized by not being able to play the goddamn game you bought. As in, every single pirate can and will play it without having the slightest inch of trouble. Seriously dude, are you a Ubisoft PR or what? This rampant fanboyism is insane.

    • buzzmong says:

      @Khemm

      I’ve been bitten before by UbiDRM. Never again will I buy a product off them that contains it.

      As for you saying that me and others are “drama queens” when we say that legtimate customers are being penalised by DRM?

      Tell my mate that, who bought a proper legit version of Batman Arkham City from a shop and then had to download a pirate version because his legtimate copy simply refused to work due to the DRM (GWFL in this case) and the games support didn’t help at all.
      He’s completed it now and enjoyed it, all thanks to a DRM-free pirate version which worked flawlessly.

      I think that qualifes DRM as penalising legitimate customers don’t you?

  47. netizensmith says:

    This DRM doesn’t stop me from doing the following:
    1. Let 2 of my mates install the game on their PCs and play it without paying for it

    So there’s a form of piracy they haven’t even solved and one that ANYONE can easily take advantage of and possibly even do by accident.

    It DOES stop me from:
    1. Installing the game when Ubisoft go out of business or their servers don’t work or they simply choose to not let me install the game anymore.

    It also lets EVERY PIRATE ON THE PLANET:
    1. Download the cracked version and install it on as many PCs as they like, whenever they like, from now until the end of time

    • Archonsod says:

      You do realise it has an offline mode right? And that the online stuff is linked to your profile, so your two mates would likewise find themselves stuck with the offline mode?

  48. MythArcana says:

    Ubi$oft is a complete write-off and I simply won’t deal with their nonsense; no matter how good the game is supposed to be.

  49. DrGonzo says:

    I don’t think this is unusual or unexpected. This is how most DRM treats new hardware. For example reinstalling Windows after sticking in some new hardware.

    Fuss over nothing I think. Not a big fan of this new OMG DRM every day or two on here. I appreciate what you are trying to do. I loathe DRM. But these articles don’t help. All you really need to do is mention what DRM there may be in the review briefly.

  50. caliwyrm says:

    I wish entertainment companies/consortiums would finally realize that they’re not necessarily competing for my wallet, they’re competing for my TIME. Why would I even *think* of purchasing such potential headaches as Anno 2070 with all the different indie bundles out there?

    I have such a catalog of unplayed games or games with such high replayability that a game has to be really special for me to move it to the top of the list. Headaches like UbiDRM, GFWL, always on net DRM schemes, etc just make my decision MUCH easier when thinking about buying a game. I’ve been playing games long enough that I can easily skip this month/year’s “OMG EVERYONE HAS JUST GOTTA PLAY THIS GAME!” hype.

    Having things like the indie bundles and steam sales also does make it MUCH harder for me to justify spending $30-60 on bug riddled, DRM-infested AAA title games as well. When I can pick up something like HiB for $15 DRM-free I get more entertainment time out of that–even if I only like half the games! How can a glitchy Anno 2070 be ‘better’ than a working Borderlands GOTY that I paid $5 when I got it?

    Steam has proven that customers will willingly throw buckets of money at companies for games at a fair price with DRM *IF* that DRM/service also ENHANCES the game, not diminishes it. Imagine, paying customers are happier with an ENHANCED game, not a crippled one.

    Once upon a time I’d have said “to the usenet!*” but I don’t need or even want to pirate games anymore. It sends the wrong message to the publishers (or publishers *seem* too stupid to get ‘why’ ppl pirated their title). I’d rather spend $10 on a game and play the ever-loving shit out of it (Minecraft anyone?)

    *yes, there was a scene before TPB ;)

    • Brun says:

      This. It goes back to the SOPA/PIPA argument as well. If Big Content wants people to stop pirating their movies/music/games on the Internet, stop treating the Internet like a second-class market full of second-class consumers.

    • Kaira- says:

      I’m yet to see DRM which actually enhances the game itself. Some DRM have these somewhat handy extra services that you can actually get without the DRM.

    • Enikuo says:

      This is the same reason I don’t bother with Ubisoft. I’m not outraged or anything. And, there are several Ubisoft games I think I’d like to play. But, I just don’t want to waste time futzing about with their DRM.