Ubisoft BlueByte Changes Anno 2070 DRM

By John Walker on January 21st, 2012 at 11:50 am.

Such liberty.

If making a fuss keeps working, it’s only going to encourage us. In the last week we’ve – among others – reported on the extremely peculiar choice in Ubisoft’s chosen DRM for Anno 2070, to have it use up an activation every time you do something so simple as change a graphics card in your PC. Assuming this was a mistake we contacted Ubi, who genuinely surprised us by coming back to say it was completely intentional, wasn’t a problem, and that was that.

Well, after attention was brought their way, co-developers BlueByte got in touch with Hilbert Hagedoorn at Guru3D – who first brought the issue into light – and gave him more activations for the game. And now it’s just been reported that they’ve changed the DRM such that the game will no longer spit up if you switch a PCIe slot.

Bluebyte got in touch with Guru3D to say,

“Just wanted to let you know, that we now remove the graphics hardware from the hash used to identify the PC. That means everyone should now be able to switch the GFX as many times as he/she wants.”

Which is splendid news. Although obviously something that never should have been an issue in the first place. Bluebyte are owned by Ubisoft, so in some sense this is the publisher responding too. But they’ve issued no public statement, nor followed up on the “tough luck” statement they sent to us. Which doesn’t seem the best way forward for public relations.

So there you go. You, the legitimate customer, are now allowed to change hardware in your machine and still play the game you purchased! It’s a new dawn for consumer rights.

Oh, and that means you can finally read Guru3D’s test of the game

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139 Comments »

  1. LionsPhil says:

    Are you seriously celebrating that Ubisoft have decided to repent from breaking all five of your fingers, to only break four?

    This isn’t even a removal of the activation system. They’ve just made the set of hardware it keys on slightly less insane.

    • AshEnke says:

      I think they were being sarcastic.

    • mr.ioes says:

      I would be … annoyed if I wrote a sarcastic article and the first post would be “dude, are you fucking serious?”.

      It’s one step closer to complete removal of DRM so I can buy that game.

    • LionsPhil says:

      While I’m sure “it’s a new dawn for consumer rights” is, “which is splendid news” seems worryingly sincere, along with the notion that customer complaints have actually had meaningful impact, rather than being fobbed off with the smallest possible change that doesn’t solve the underlying problem but does make people feel that they’ve made a difference and that the DRM isn’t so bad any more.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      This is no celebration but a news post (it even says in the post that the issue shouldn’t have been there in the first place) and why shouldn’t it be mentioned and appreciated?

    • Khemm says:

      Ubi has a habit of removing DRM after a while – look at Anno 1404 – it is probable Anno 2070 will get the same treatment.
      This DRM is much more reasonable than perma-DRM like Steam, which will NEVER EVER be patched out.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Except Steam lets me install an infinite amount of parallel copies, and even encourages it with savegame syncing when the game supports it. Oh snap!

      (And now on RPS, another very, very, long and stupid comment thread about how one flavour of obnoxious DRM is less bad than another flavour of obnoxious DRM.)

    • Kent says:

      What do you guys mean? I have Annoy 2070 on floppy disc and there’s no DRM/Steam on it there.

    • Khemm says:

      @Lions
      And you can only play one copy at a time anyway. OH SNAP!
      And if the Steam servers have a hiccup, you won’t activate your game, let alone install even. OH SNAP!

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yes, because anything else would be piracy. You know, that thing you’re saying is a huge evil downthread, while simultaneously espousing that people should pirate Steam games.

      It would be all lovely and golden to go back to the early CD era where the closest to DRM was that copying CDs was really very expensive, but those days are past and sadly publishers aren’t naieve enough to believe that people will buy games on the honour system.

      So you get a shackle on your left hand or your right one. They’re both shackles. They both suck. At least one of them has a function beyond just being a restraint.

      Edit: Ah, and you added a bit:

      And if the Steam servers have a hiccup, you won’t activate your game, let alone install even. OH SNAP!

      I hate to break it to you, but all forms of online activation require you to be online, be they machine-locked, account-locked, one-time, or permanent. The one saving grace is that if you have already installed a one-time-activation game you can then tolerate future hiccups. Steam is in this category for singleplayer games*, if and only if offline mode feels like working. Most machine-lock DRM is. And it’s still awful, because that’s completely useless ten years down the line when the retro itch needs scratching but that install is long gone.

      * I believe TF2, at least, will throw you off servers if your Steam connection (the login one, not the Friends network, else nobody would ever get a complete round in) throws a wobbly, even if the game one is OK. Yes, this is shit.

    • UnravThreads says:

      Khemm; The Settlers 7 wants a word with you…

    • jasonbecker says:

      @Khemm why would you care? you have two hands, you can’t play on 57 computers at the same time…

    • Unaco says:

      @Khemm,

      Yes, I can only play 1 copy at a time. How many copies of the same game do you play simultaneously?

    • Khemm says:

      @jasonbecker
      So what is it about this pro-Steam argument “I can install my games on 100 PCs!”. It’s bullshit, why would anyone want to do this. Same for TAGES – why do you need to install your game on more than 3 machines during a month, what for? I can imagine your desktop and maybe a gaming laptop, but that’s 2 machines.

    • Chalky says:

      Yes, because it’s impossible for anyone to imagine having more than 3 systems. Such an outrageously high number.

      There is absolutely no legitimate DRM reason to limit the number of PCs that you can install a game on. The only reasonable limit is how many systems one copy of the game can be played on simultaneously.

    • Unaco says:

      @Khemm,

      I have 2 Home Desktops (1 in study, 1 downstairs), a laptop, and a desktop in my Office. That’s 4 there.

    • Archonsod says:

      “There is absolutely no legitimate DRM reason to limit the number of PCs that you can install a game on.”

      Unless of course the license is per-seat / system. And if you can convince Microsoft that’s illegitimate by all means do so.

    • johnpeat says:

      Khemm is just being a dick – the ONLY limitation of Steam is that it doesn’t allow you to let your mates play your games on their PC (without depriving you of the ability to play them on yours at the same time).

      You can ‘patch out’ Steam anytime you like – as easily as doing a NoCD patch. You lose the ability to play online and do all the other things which it offers – but if you don’t like Steam, go ahead and hack it out by all means.

    • malkav11 says:

      Ubisoft has no such history. They scaled back the DRM on a few games (Assassin’s Creed II, Splinter Cell: Conviction, and From Dust, to my knowledge) to merely unacceptable levels after massive public outcry. They haven’t touched the DRM on the vast majority of their games. Anno 2070 is the first entry in the series that’s interested me at all, so I’ll take your word for it that DRM was removed from one of the older entries in that series, but if so it’s not part of a general Ubisoft pattern, and may have more to do with the developer.

      And this particular change to Anno 2070, while clearly a step in the right direction, does not fix the fundamental issue of the DRM itself or make buying the game any more palatable to me.

    • DK says:

      “And you can only play one copy at a time anyway. OH SNAP!”
      Steam has an offline mode. It works. If it doesn’t for Anno 2070, that’s a problem with Anno 2070, not Steam.

    • Chalky says:

      Unless of course the license is per-seat / system. And if you can convince Microsoft that’s illegitimate by all means do so.

      How many games have microsoft released with a per-seat / system license?

    • Slow Dog says:

      @Khemm

      You can even play the same Steam game on two separate computers at the same time. I’ve done this to play Flatout 2 vs my son, and all it takes is having one of them logged out. Other games may be more stringent.

    • Shooop says:

      How long have you been reading RPS? Don’t you know by now excessively dry sarcasm is one of their cornerstones?

    • Tams80 says:

      Why are we even have such a lengthy discussion on this?! O that’s right, because LionsPhil can’t detect sarcasm.

    • Duffin says:

      Is this Khemm guy pulling my fucking chain?

    • LionsPhil says:

      Nah Tams, it’s because people are being quick to be snappy little arseholes on the Internet without even reading the preceeding posts in the thread.

      So, you know. The usual.

    • MattM says:

      The issue isn’t whether I would need 3 or 5 or 7 activations. The issue is that I need to check with ubisoft when I want to install my game. I don’t have faith that they will maintain the activation servers. Based on their past behavior I believe that they will have large amounts of server downtime frequent unpatched bugs and that they will switch off servers permanently in a few years with no patch to remove authentication. The same holds true for EA. Actually it goes double. Although titles are released in pretty good condition, they have almost no post release support.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      In the space of two weeks my desktop PC died, and my Windows install on my Macbook died. With limited activations I lost two right there.

      Also I have 5 computers in my house. Mine, my Macbook which is bootcamped, my wifes PC, and my kids have a laptop each too. While I’m the gamer, there’s a few games, like Terraria, they all like.

      I have NO issues with Steam at all. Install the game, switch it to offline mode, jobs done. It’s very rare a game will fail to run and if it does you put it online, run it once, go offline, it’s fine.

      All this talk about only being able to play on one machine at a time is horseshit in most cases. My kids were sitting playing Terraria together earlier. And Star Wars Battlefront. And Garry’s Mod. All in Steam. No issues at all.

      And before anyone starts on this license bullshit about only one person allowed to play at a time, when a group of people decide that a rule should be enforced that even the MPAA and RIAA don’t enforce, you can all go to hell. Until such time as the MPAA tell me I need to buy one dvd per person watching a film, or the RIAA tell me I need to buy one CD per person in the room listening, the software industry can play hide and go fuck themselves on this “One purchase, one person” bullshit.

      On the OTHER side of the coin, I bought rFactor 5 years ago and that came with 5 activations and I just used my 5th.

      Oh, and try Elicense controlled software. When both my computers died, due to garbage customer service I was stuck for almost a month unable to use a whole bunch of games licensed with that crap. They give two licenses. That’s it. You can deactivate, but you can’t on a dead machine obviously. Contacted them a week before Christmas. Heard from them last week. Now I don’t have the lovely Christmas holiday to play them during, I have them all back…

      DRM = Digital Rights Molestation

  2. Lost says:

    Does this mean that I shouldn’t have any more objections to not play the game?

    • Riaktion says:

      I really would like to play this game, enjoyed Anno 1404… but.. I am in the same boat.. dunno if I want to really “support” this DRM craziness.

      It’s just nuts that LEGITIMATE gamers jump through all these hoops and the game still gets pirated and they have none of this trouble.

      I’ll always be a legit gamer, I love the past time too much to undermine it, but man alive they shoot themselves in the foot sometimes don’t they?

    • Khemm says:

      @Riaktion
      Anno 1404 had the exact same DRM… Besides, you’re implying that the pirates get access to all content the legit copy provides, which is NOT TRUE. They don’t even get all the latest patches.

    • Arona Daal says:

      I for my part believe this is to stop People from giving their games to Friends or to sell them. Pirates have never been stopped by any DRM i know of. Hell, they seem to welcome each new Challenge.

      Maybe RPS can ask UBI next time what *exactly* DRM is trying to stop.

      I for my part find the shrewd Business Tactics in such relative fresh Markets always morbidly interesting.

    • cliffski says:

      if the game appeals to you, you really SHOULD get it. It is one of the best games I’ve played for ages, and well worth the money, there is a LOT of gameplay in there and it looks lovely.
      I’ve already clocked 10x the hours in 2070 than I did in skyrim.

      The DRM is unfortunate, but I have to say, that install limits have never bothered me, or affected me. The always-online thing is a pain, but just go offline the first time you play and stay offline forever. AFAIk that works.

    • malkav11 says:

      If you had an objection to the DRM, you should still have the same objection to the DRM. It’s virtually unchanged.

    • Riaktion says:

      I didn’t realise 1404 had the same DRM, I’ve installed it on a few different machines with no trouble.. I don’t even recall it going online to do anything.. are you sure?

      Regarding the comments about install limits, yeah they have never bothered me, but then I tend to keep my games for years and years (like a lot of people) and I’d hate to install it in 15 years time after a few upgrades and get told I can’t.

      I suppose I just don’t want to encourage it.

    • PodX140 says:

      Khemm, you hate steam, we get it. Every thread about ANY game you seem to link to steam and DRM and how ubisoft is great and all that jazz. You also hate pirates with a vicious passion that not even photoshop developers can match.

      But you have to stop making up facts. Pirates DO get access to the latest patches, they DO not have to put up with any of this DRM, and it IS more convient of a process for them.

      Also. Why are you telling people to go back to consoles because they don’t have a 100% internet connection? Because by my process you’re more tied down with a console, TV, wired ethernet, and whatnot than with a laptop which you can take anywhere. I play my games at school for the vast majority of my gaming. I do NOT have internet every second I play, I’m lucky if I get it every 5 minutes. Ubi DRM |||IS||| a problem for gamers such as me, and we have every right to speak up about it.

      Finally. Purchasing the game does support the DRM and ubisoft. High sales means that people are happy to put up with the DRM and will do so in the future. See: BF3, Diablo 3, ect. So don’t say otherwise because how does Ubisoft cite their DRM is fine? By saying their sales are still fine. They actually said this in an interview a while back.

    • drewski says:

      @ Riaktion – yes, it’s the same DRM. 3 hardware configurations per legitimately purchased copy, after which you need to email them for more activations.

      The key is that it’s hardware configurations – you can install it as many times as you like on a machine, even with an OS reinstall, without “using” an extra activation. And because you get three configurations per copy, you could install it on, say, two different versions of a gaming PC and then again on a laptop, without ever hitting the activation limit.

      The only difference was the graphics card thing – now they’ve removed that, it’s exactly the same DRM as is on Anno 1404.

    • ulix says:

      I would advise aganinst playing it (now).

      You should wait until it is patched two or three more times. It still has many little bugs and balancing problems, and most ridiculously you cannot build any decorative buildings (apart from a few introduced in the first patch).

      They promised that this Anno would have the most decorative buildings of any Anno, and it shipped with zero. Now it has half a dozen, but as I said the situation is quite ridiculous:
      The NPCs can build many more decorative buildings, the player just can’t access them, even now, 2 months after release. They are obviously in the game, but the legitimate customer is barred from using them.

  3. jrodman says:

    So.. what if my computer fails or is replaced three times. Over some years. What then?

    • jrodman says:

      (I am on macbook pro #3 in 3 years… not a glowing endorsement of Apple, but hey.)

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      In case of Anno 1404 you could get into contact with the support and get new activation keys. Maybe the publisher is going to do something similar here?

    • jon_hill987 says:

      I think it is Ubisoft’s intention that you buy Anno 2071 when your computer breaks three times.

    • Mattressi says:

      Then you’d go to the good gentlemen/ladies at The Pirate Bay who will treat you as equals and help you get your game running as it should. It will also serve as a lesson to you for buying games from shady, back-alley sources such as Ubisoft.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It is Ubisoft’s intention that by the time your computer breaks/is replaced/is upgraded three times, Anon 3071 will be out and you should be buying that instead of playing the old one.

      Planned obselence is a great totally, totally unintentional “side effect” of modern DRM, be it machine-activation-locked (stuff like this) or online-account-locked (stuff like Steam, although I believe we’ve yet to see one of those conk out on the right kind of timescale).

    • Khemm says:

      @Mattressi

      Good luck getting the latest patch and all features that only legit copy of Anno 2070 provides with your pirated crap, you miserable thief.

      On the other hand, you’re right – The Pirate Bay gives you access to all Steamworks games with 100% of the content enabled and it has Steam DRM removed. Go bitch about Steam DRM now.

    • Caleb367 says:

      As it’s a matter of days or weeks at worst to get un-DRM’ed cracks, AND that Ubisoft’s DRM is such a massive crap they themselves rush to patch it lousily to avoid losing even more sales AND reputation, I’d say we have yet another case of rampant Ubisoft fanboyism / PR spin. I’ll say that again, Khemm: Ubisoft ain’t gonna promote you or give you stuff for free if you play the raging fundie online. Give up, you’re wrong and you know it.

    • Khemm says:

      @Caleb
      Blue Byte patches the game, not Ubisoft.
      What I know is that I’m enjoying the GOTY 2011 known as Anno 2070 and you prefer to talk about imaginary “lousy” support, waaah Ubi is evil or other such bullshit. Back to TF2 hat wearing, shoo.

    • Mattressi says:

      Haha, Khemm, I’ve got to assume that you’re trolling, given the ridiculousness of your responses (seriously, “back to TF2 hat wearing) and the number of them. Regardless, I’ve decided to grace you with a response from me. I haven’t pirated Anno and I never intend to. Hell, the only games that I’ve pirated were games that I already owned (games that I bought without checking their DRM and games given as gifts laden with DRM). But I can see how you’d assume that I am a game “thief” (once again, piracy = copyright infringement /= property theft) since I told someone to pirate the game that they own in order to play it later…

      The point of my post was to point out the ridiculousness of DRM – that pirates are generally more friendly (and certainly let you have more freedom with your game) than the companies that sell the; which is a bit ridiculous. Hence my suggestion to not buy from Ubisoft (notably different from “don’t buy from them – pirate their games instead”).

      ETA: Thought I’d pre-empt the inevitable “OMGZ STEAM FANBOI” comment. I don’t like Steam either. I don’t like that playing games offline is difficult and I despise their auto-updating even when you tell it not to. I dislike DRM and don’t have a preference for which way I get screwed over – though at least with Steam it’s a little more gentle than Ubisoft’s DRM. It still sucks though, which is why I only buy games on Steam if they cost less than $5 – then I feel like I’m only renting it. Ubi, however, charge $79.99+ over here (Australia) for their horrible DRM-laden games.

    • Caleb367 says:

      I’m more and more certain Khemm is either a 12 year old troll or a 12 year old fanboy, and I can’t tell which is more childish. The “TF2 hat” thing is the icing on an impressive cake of failure.
      Kid, lemme explain that to you again, very very slowly, as it goes with less-than-bright individuals and/or fundamentalists: you may well make up crap to cover your Favorite Of The Week. You may well yell and bitch like a rabbit high on meth. You may well try to switch focus from Favorite Of The Week to Other Thing I Don’t Like. That doesn’t mean anything of what you said must be true, and neither that anyone has to believe your made-up claims or suffer your preschool insults.
      All this considered, I could easily say that Ubisoft must have the worst DRM ever and be the crappiest publisher in history, as its average defender sounds like a hormonally-challenged immature boy.
      Moreso, I’d like to know why you throw a hissy fit anytime Ubisoft gets mentioned even in passing in less then stellar terms. I’m really curious to see you come up with a believable argument, even if I really doubt about it, as your entire behaviour reminds me of the retarded “console wars”, PS fanboys vs. XBOX fanboys.

    • John Walker says:

      Give it a rest, all of you.

    • drewski says:

      @ jrodman – you can contact Blue Byte’s customer service and get extra activations.

  4. rocketman71 says:

    “So there you go. You, the legitimate customer, are now allowed to change hardware in your machine and still play the game you purchased!”

    Nope. They said “Just wanted to let you know, that we now remove the graphics hardware from the hash used to identify the PC. That means everyone should now be able to switch the GFX as many times as he/she wants.”

    Who knows what else is included in that hash. The HD where the game is installed?. The audio card?. The motherboard?.

    Sorry, but this DRM is BS, graphics card included or not, and as with all the rest of the Ubi Games, I’m not buying until they drop it. And it’s a pity, because I love Anno games and have most of them, and this one doesn’t look half bad.

    • drewski says:

      “With regards to the activation system, a PC configuration consists of the most important hard- and software components of your computer, including the operating system, the CPU, the motherboard and the system hard drive. Small changes such as exchanging the graphics card or adding RAM are not considered changes to the PC configuration and therefore do not require a new activation. ”

      FYI. That’s from the 1404 FAQ, but it’s the same TAGES DRM so it’s probably the same.

  5. Kaira- says:

    Does anyone happen to know if the activations reset? I remember reading from somewhere they reset every 30 days, but I haven’t really found any source for it.

    • KenTWOu says:

      The Chronicles of Riddick™ Assault on Dark Athena has Tages
      http://store.steampowered.com/app/9860/
      Its Steam page has this notice: After activating the game for a third time TAGES will start a 30-day timer. After 30 days you will get that activation back up to 3 total activations.

      Also Tages site has additional info about activations
      http://www.tagesprotection.com/main.htm
      A time based incremental activation count can be used to re-credit the SN without requiring the end-user to bother about his activation count.

      We provide three possibilities: first activation, last activation and each activation time based auto-increment. The publisher can choose any type and define the number of days after which the auto-increment will be effective.

    • drewski says:

      I don’t believe Blue Byte have selected that option with their implementation of TAGES.

  6. povu says:

    Looking forward to the inevitable next Ubisoft DRM disaster. Far Cry 3, anyone?

  7. Cryptoshrimp says:

    Poor, poor Blue Byte, having to live with the abusive Ubisoft.

  8. Khemm says:

    People seem to forget that by buying Anno 2070, you do not support DRM… you support BLUE BYTE and THE GAME, which represents a wonderful genre.
    Your dumb boycotts only mean the probability of getting more building sims is decreased. You’ll be stuck with your precious Steamworks-enabled Call of Dutys and other shit.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Predictable and tedious axe-grinder is predictable and tedious.

    • jalf says:

      Sure, I support Blue Byte by buying the game. But how do I *not* also support DRM?

    • Khemm says:

      @jalf
      How do you support DRM? Companies look at the sales of games, the less they sell, the more restrictive DRM they’re likely to put into their future products. If game X sell great, you can bet you’ll see more games from the franchise, more games like it even and the DRM won’t get any worse.

    • Navagon says:

      I’d rather city builders died out completely than continue on like this. This is like putting a poisoned apple in front of a starving man and telling him it’s poisoned. Even if only psychologically, he’s better off without it being there.

    • Khemm says:

      @Navagon
      You can’t be serious. This DRM isn’t anything new or anything OHSOTERRIBLE. Go back to your xbox already, you do not deserve to call yourself a PC gamer.

    • Prime says:

      Which, LionsPhil, has to be the height of hypocrisy coming from someone banging his own drum against Ubisoft in this thread.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Oh no, someone on RPS said a bad thing about Ubisoft in a news article about Ubisoft doing bad things! AXE-GRINDING! AXE-GRINDING!

      Steam, on the other hand, is only part of this conversation because Khemm has an entire redwood up his wrong-un about it, and the splinters in his prostate translate into a huge stiffy for any other DRM solution.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Go back to your xbox already, you do not deserve to call yourself a PC gamer.

      Really now, who would voluntarily want to identify with “your side”?

    • cliffski says:

      I agree with the sentiment that buying this game supports city building as a genre, and that is a good thing. In some cases, the DRM may suck, but honestly, if you have a decent net connection, and don’t buy a new PC 3 times a year, this DRM is unlikely to affect you, given that you can play offline. (Granted it’s a bitch if you are online and their servers die, and that *has* happened once to me.

      Nobody cares *why* you don’t buy the game. Ubisoft shareholders to not read QT3. If sales of anno2070 are poor, there will not be a next game, and as someone who loves the series, I’d hate to see it die.

      Sim City died as a series, Anno could do, if people don’t buy it.

    • InternetBatman says:

      If you really want to split hairs, you’re not supporting the developer. You’re supporting the publisher, by giving them money which they may or may not choose to distribute to the studio by greenlighting another project. The project heads may get a cut of the total sales, but not the whole company. Sadly, it’s not unheard of for a successful game studio or developer to go under, be forced out, or shift to a shitty cash-grab game by the publisher. They usually base these decisions on the profitability, but its not a given.

      So in short, the money goes to the people who made the decision to put the DRM in first, not the people who made the game.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      My take on this: if a game is laden with this sort of DRM I don’t buy it, no matter how much I want to play it.

      If the series then dies, so be it. I’d rather that that to enable them to hamper my ways of consuming products I payed for. It’s pretty easy: I’m a consumer before anything else. I don’t have any obligations to prop up Ubisoft or the industry in general. That’s not my task. My task is to get the products I want at the price that I want and with the DRM that I want. I can’t give two figs about companies closing as a result.

    • malkav11 says:

      If Blue Byte want my money, they should release their games without activation-based DRM or any other form of online requirement. If they can’t do that with Ubisoft, then they should find another publisher to work with, or self-publish their games. If Ubisoft wholly owns them, then, well…sucks to be them, doesn’t it?

    • Vinraith says:

      I agree with Navagon’s “poisoned apple” analogy, myself. I love city builders, I love the Anno series, but if my options are to let that series die or tolerate this kind of DRM, I’ll let the series die.

    • D3xter says:

      Same here, if a game contains Activation limits or Always-On DRM (be it Mass Effect (1), Assassin’s Creed II, Anno 2070, Batman: AC, Diablo III etc.) I don’t buy it… no exceptions.
      It’s even more infuriating/frustrating if there’s games you already own like Crysis or Risen, which you might want to buy Online just for the sake of ease of use, but they deliberately included said Activation Limits in the Online versions of them…

      I both know out of past experiences that some of these kinds of retarded DRMs can break games from running on new operation systems and I don’t want to have to go around and call 20 developers in turn (if they even still exist by then) to ask for permission to be able to play games just cause I decided to change my hardware and install a new system etc.

    • PodX140 says:

      “Steam, on the other hand, is only part of this conversation because Khemm has an entire redwood up his wrong-un about it, and the splinters in his prostate translate into a huge stiffy for any other DRM solution.”

      I’m sorry, but this is Khemm’s deal 100% of the way. As much as I don’t agree with the rest of what you’ve said (or not bothered to read it, sorry! :P), this is spot on.

      Khemm, buying this says you’re ok with the DRM. I would rather the series die than this DRM become standard for other publishers. That’s FINAL.

    • Khelavaster says:

      You may be supporting “city builders” by buying this game, but as long as playing a city builder is fun, people will continue to make such games, and I would rather have them made by companies that deserve my money.

    • Navagon says:

      Sim City died as a series because EA just stopped making proper editions to the series after Sim City 4 DE. I don’t think that SC4 sold badly – it still seems to be selling now.

      Equally 2070 has been riding high in the Steam charts despite the massive PR disaster surrounding Ubisoft’s utter contempt for anyone who dares buy it.

      If a gap in the market exists then there will be someone who comes along and tries to fill that gap. I’d rather someone less customer hating like Paradox released a city builder than bloody Ubisoft.

    • drewski says:

      Oh noes!

      With all due respect to Blue Byte, they’re not the only developers in the world who are capable of making a city building game. If they stop making their games, sooner or later someone else will, and maybe they won’t burden it with nonsense DRM.

  9. kuddles says:

    I really don’t understand what the fuss is about at this game at this time. This type of DRM where you lose activations when you change your hardware has been around for well over 5 years on multiple titles at this point.

    • Khemm says:

      Let me explain, the majority of so called “PC gamurs” in a nutshell:

      Ubisoft = EVIIIIIIIIL. DRM usually ends up being patched out after a while, but who cares. Some of the best PC-centric games ever made… who cares? EVIIIIIIL.

      Valve = AWEEEEESOME. Steam DRM will infest your copies even after Valve is gone, but who cares. No new games, more recycled shit, more useless TF2 updates and hats. AWEEEEESOME, Gabe, let us lick your boots.

      EA and Origin = the exact same functionality as Steam, superior download times, the exact same features, superior patching process. Who cares? EVVVVVVIIIIIL!!!! DRACONIAN DRM (rotfl, the irony – it’s less restricitive than Steam)!!! SHITTY CLIENT (the exact same as Steam)!!! EVIIIILLLL!!!

      Conclusion: it’s not about logic, it’s about FANBOYISM. If it’s not made by Valve or approved by Valve or not Steam = it’s draconian, it’s evil, it’s bad.

    • Yachmenev says:

      Khemm:

      You really don´t have that much experience with Steam and other platforms do you?

      How Steam differs from other DRM schemes like Tages – Not hardware bound, no limited activation, and it compensates the requiremt to run the games through the client by adding features that people actually want. Tages, Securom and the likes of those brings nothing of value to the customer.

      It really isn´t that hard. And that you might not want the benefits of the Steam platform doesn´t mean that other people also doesn´t want them.

      And no, Origin doesn´t offer the same thing as Steam. It tries to, but is so far a poor mans Steam client, with much worse EULA that they actually practice.

    • Khemm says:

      @Yachmenev
      I get 95% of the “features” I want with xfire or just by adding my game to the Steam client – and that’s without the DRM attached.
      Steam gets directly in the way between me and my game, Gabe could as well provide free cookies with his DRM and that wouldn’t change anything. Sugarcoating a pile of cow dung doesn’t make it any less disgusting.

    • sephiroth says:

      kuddles:
      crucifiction has been about for thousands of years doesn’t mean its a good thing

      Khemm:
      steam has its flaws for sue but if valve go belly up they have codes that will disable the DRM in steamworks titles so in theory you can still play them. would be nice to see some new games from valve I’m not in to virtual hats.
      Origin does not exactly equal steam, first of all the horrible EULA includes that nasty hardware snooping that steam doesn’t (otherwise they are fairly similar). second as a shop origin has full priced everything and a tiny selection, steam has a massive selection and awesome dicounts.
      both DRM yes I agree and dislike both on that front but at least your not going to get all your steam games blocked cause you qutoed someone elses bad language on a forum that is somehow pasingly related to valve unlike and EA forum and origin

    • FluffDaSheep says:

      I should know better but here goes.

      @Khemm: “Ubisoft = EVIIIIIIIIL. DRM usually ends up being patched out after a while, but who cares. Some of the best PC-centric games ever made… who cares? EVIIIIIIL.

      Valve = AWEEEEESOME. Steam DRM will infest your copies even after Valve is gone, but who cares. No new games, more recycled shit, more useless TF2 updates and hats. AWEEEEESOME, Gabe, let us lick your boots.

      EA and Origin = the exact same functionality as Steam, superior download times, the exact same features, superior patching process. Who cares? EVVVVVVIIIIIL!!!! DRACONIAN DRM (rotfl, the irony – it’s less restricitive than Steam)!!! SHITTY CLIENT (the exact same as Steam)!!! EVIIIILLLL!!!”

      I think you might misunderstand why people hate on Ubisoft and Origin. It has little to do with being evil. Well, maybe in EA’s case.

      Ubi DRM = stupid, ineffectual, draconian, pointless. Doesn’t do what it sets out to do at all, only hampers users. Game copies should be tied to users, not their hardware, and having to log in every time you play is a big no-no for single-player games, even if you can’t imagine the problem. And if the DRM is going to be patched out, why piss people off with it in the first place?

      Steam = better service than pirates, basically. Can install and play games anywhere; need account, password, internet to install and activate. Once that’s done, don’t even need internet to play single-player games. Effective with minimum amount of fuss AND added value through background updates, friends system, server browsers, etc etc.

      Origin = potentially invasive software and shady EULA, arguably EVILLLLL. Not to mention the whole forum-account banning thingamajig. Not much personal experience here.

      The argument against Steam that ‘if Valve goes tits-up you’ll lose all your games’ can be leveled at all three of these.

    • johnpeat says:

      Khemm used a notable expression there “my game”.

      It’s not “your” game – never was, never will be. All you do is (maybe) buy a plastic box and disc and (always) a licence to install software for use within the terms specified.

      Those terms vary wildly – WoW is useless unless you shell out money every month, games will lose online features over time, games will stop working on newer OSes, some games require third-party software (like Steam) to work (or to be hacked not to) etc. etc.

      It’s never “your game” and behaving like it is makes you sound about 10 years old.

      Fortunately, you always have a choice – you can usually buy games in different ways with different limitations and where you can’t, you have the choice not to buy it at all (whether you then pirate it is another issue entirely).

      Stop with the tweenage “gets in the way of my game” nonsense tho eh?

    • malkav11 says:

      @Khemm:

      DRM doesn’t usually end up getting patched out. If there were a consistent, reliable history of DRM being patched out of games, DRM would not be nearly the issue it is. But in fact that happening is so vanishingly rare that I would be able to name only a few instances of it occurring in the last two decades. (The Witcher 2, Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2, the ARMA games, off the top of my head. No doubt there have been a few others.)

      Also, while there’s been some wibbling about how much Ubisoft games suck, I personally feel that the reason they’re so evil is that they’re shackling awesome games I really want to play with this immoral bullshit that I absolutely will not support with my money. I want to buy these games, Ubisoft! I want to play them! Get your goddamn filthy DRM OFF THEM.

    • LionsPhil says:

      For the sake of listbuilding, back when Epic loved us, they did post-release patches that removed the CD checks from UT99, UT2003, and UT2004. Along with free shedloads of what would today be called DLC.

      Civ IV’s final expansion pack (BtS) removes the CD check, too, although annoyingly the “expandalone” way those install means it doesn’t remove it from the base game it installs alongside.

      That we’re listing this side, though, I think indicates that they’re the exceptions, not the rule.

    • D3xter says:

      On the differences between Origin and Steam: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/experienced-points/9359-Dear-Origin-You-Stink

      Besides, last time I looked (only really had to use Origin because of Battlefield 3 and SWTOR luckily came without) Origin was just a major annoyance and pain in the ass, about as much (if not moreso) than when Steam launched back in 2003, I didn’t NEED or WANT Origin at any given point, seeing as Battlelog was completely separate from it (even with an entirely different “Friends List”), it doesn’t offer a Server Browser, it doesn’t offer me a feature to take and upload screenshots, it’s “Cloud Save” system can at best be described as broken, it doesn’t have Achievements, mod-download tool (soon with Skyrim and likely more later), it doesn’t offer any meaningful Stats, it doesn’t offer me any deals or the likes, it doesn’t have any events/sales or community features, voice-chat or ability to gift/trade games to/with people, it doesn’t share any information with you and there’s always the fact that EA, a publicly traded company known to do lots of things as long as it makes them money is behind it and its history of happily banning people and treating developers like shit. On top of that it looks like an App I could have designed with Flash Builder (as in rather bad).

  10. Paul says:

    I feel for Blue Byte…they should buy themselves out of that horrible clueless idiotcompany that is Ubisoft.

    • Khemm says:

      That terrible Ubisoft funding such a great game like Anno… Terrible company, terrible indeed. Evil, EVIL, EEEVIIILL!!!

    • Delusibeta says:

      It’s more the “Ubisoft requiring TAGES limited-activation DRM (which is bad enough) that requires a new activation if you replace the graphics card (until now)”. Why limited-activation DRM is still being used is beyond me.

  11. sephiroth says:

    well its better so thats at least one good thing.

    I am interested in this game but as a hardware nut that is always changing my system I avoid any game with this sort of drm. My current setup hasn’t changed much in the last 12 months due to not really having much need nor the money but thats normally not the case.

    I change mobo and cpu (normally) every 6 months to try out new hardware configs its my hobby so when a game becomes unplayable because of greed on a publishers end it harms them as I just stop buying from them. Windows activations is bad enough but at least they are ussally willing to allow me to explain it to them and I can ussally get through an entire iteration of windows on 1 purchase. game publishers just say no or don’t reply at all and what if i want to play the game again in like 10 years? not that many new games are good enough for that to be likely

    • Khemm says:

      If you change it less often than a month, this DRM won’t affect you.

    • sephiroth says:

      would love to build a new system every month but unfortunatly my money tree isn’t working.

      Sersiously tho why should it matter that I change my hardware? its still for my personly use

      Supporting the PC industry by buying new hardware for no other reason that I like doing it seems a really daft reason to punish me.

    • irongamer says:

      Looking further down the road I find this type of DRM extremely dangerous as it indirectly erodes away at the idea of modular/agile gaming hardware systems. If this DRM scheme becomes the standard and evolves, hardware will move further toward canned boxes. Upgrading will involve shooting the old system in the head and picking up a whole new system. I find this likely trend extremely regressive.

  12. olver says:

    Khemm, I’m not sure that making the exact same argument in reply to everybody has quite the pithy, strengthening effect you are hoping for. Almost the exact opposite, indeed.

    • Mattressi says:

      NOOO!! You must make AGGRAVATED, semi-CAPS replies screaming about how EVERYBODY who disagrees with you is a PIRATE, THIEF and STEAM FANBOY!!

      (Straw man for Khemm’s multiple straw men; seems fair to me)

    • Khemm says:

      Except most people here are hopeless Steam fanboys. FACT.
      Many visitors are even happy to admit they pirated/are going to pirate certain games and RPS staff doesn’t care = they accept piracy. FACT.

    • subedii says:

      Saying “FACT!” At the end of every sentence doesn’t make it so, unfortunately.

      Rather, if you took the time to actually read people’s responses you’d see a fairly diverse but valid array of reasons why people are willing to accept what Steam does but not what Ubisoft does.

    • Pointless Puppies says:

      @subedii:

      Saying “FACT!” At the end of every sentence doesn’t make it so, unfortunately.

      I did get a hint of nostalgia, back when I practically lived in GameFAQs forums, where people were indeed delusional enough to think that saying “FACT!!!!” at the end of every sentence did magically turn it into a fact.

      At this point Khemm is nothing but the court jester, running around with every single Ubi-DRM-related article and making a complete fool out of himself copy-pasting the same tired and flawed arguments across the entire comment thread. It’s quite amusing and I must admit he’s a pretty good troll, but alas everyone piling on him is slowly breaking his psyche, forcing him to resort to the amateur troll behavior of ‘FACT!!!” and “U DON’T DESURV TO BE PEE CEE!!!” shouting.

      Guys, our little troll is dying. Can’t we do anything to save him? :’(

  13. Zarunil says:

    This form of DRM makes zero kind of sense. I’m glad they removed it. What genius came up with it in the first place? It is beyond my understanding how this can possibly affect anyone but legitimate buyers.

    Ubisoft and their DRM… WTF are they thinking. Meanwhile, pirates are enjoying the game and laughing.

  14. Vinraith says:

    My overwhelming sense has been that BlueByte are not only good developers, but pretty good guys in general. It’s a real shame that they’re not only published through, but actually owned by, Ubi.

    This is the consistent problem with Ubisoft, actually. They’re scum, but they’re squatting on some of the best and most unique game developers out there.

    Edit: Replace every instance of “BlueByte” in this post with “the developers” since Related designs should be in there too.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah. Best I can tell, Blue Byte are still the same entity they were in the ’90s. Seeing this happen to them is pretty tragic.

    • pertusaria says:

      I’m slightly confused. According to Wikipedia*, the Anno games are developed by Related Designs, another German studio, and only published by Blue Byte, even before Blue Byte got swallowed by Ubi (and Related is 30% owned by Ubi since 2007). Blue Byte still gets credit as a developer for the Settlers games, among others.

      *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Byte and links from that article

      If this is the case, why is nobody praising Related for Anno 2070′s good points? (Disclaimer – I haven’t played it, so I’m just going by the praise it’s received.)

      Apologies if this is a really stupid question – I wasn’t really aware of the Anno games until 2070 came out, so I don’t know their history well.

    • Vinraith says:

      If this is the case, why is nobody praising Related for Anno 2070′s good points?

      Mostly because I’d forgotten that. Time to edit…

  15. cjlr says:

    It’s too bad that due to the naming conventions we’ll never get a 1900s version of the series. I’d really dig me some turn of the century citybuilding.

    And as for this?
    I feel very sorry for BlueByte, who are stuck with Ubi’s idiotic policies. The only good thing about that company is that they occasionally throw some work my uncle’s way.

  16. Vinraith says:

    This seems like a good place to drop a link to Paradox CEO Fred Wester’s take on all this:

    http://www.pcgamer.com/2012/01/21/paradox-ceo-surprised-people-still-use-drm-blames-company-politics/

    See that Ubi? That’s why Paradox gets my money and you don’t.

    • LionsPhil says:

      But aren’t recent Paradox games (e.g. Magicka) Steamworks DRM’d?

    • Kaira- says:

      It seems that some of the games published by Paradox use DRM (Magicka and SotS II = Steam, if I remember correctly original SotS = Starforce, Majesty 2 = GOO apparently). But I don’t remember any games developed by Paradox having DRM.

    • Vinraith says:

      @LionsPhil

      In Magicka’s case the Steam package was at the request of the developer (Pdox published) to accommodate multiplayer, in SotS 2 it was at the request of the developer to centralize patch distribution (which I think is bullshit, but that’s neither here nor there). No Paradox developed game has ever had Steamworks, and they’ve been pretty clear that they never will. They’re supposedly working on their own (optional) update service so that future developer requests can be met without having to go to a third party.

      @Kaira

      SotS never had Starforce to my knowledge, it’s just a CD key and nothing else.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I see. I wonder if Valve don’t allow you to do Steam multiplayer etc. integration without also getting Steam DRM.

    • Vinraith says:

      @LionsPhil

      It depends a bit what you mean.

      SotS2, for example, is using Steam solely as an install and update tool in principle. That is, once the game’s installed, you don’t have to launch Steam to launch the game (you can just run it direct from the .exe, “DRM-free”). Still, because of the Steam integration you have to use Steam to install and update it, so it’s not like it’s actually DRM-free.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Actually using Steam’s DRM is indeed what I mean, which I believe is the case for Magicka. Can’t remember I’ve tried just launching it without…it took so much chicken-waving to get working at all I don’t really want to rock its little boat.

    • Vinraith says:

      I just tried it and no, it doesn’t appear that you can launch Magicka without Steam running. Then again, for the MP suite, I suppose that sense in that you wouldn’t be able to launch the MP part of the game (which in Magicka’s case is basically the whole game) without firing up Steam anyway.

  17. Kossak says:

    Who fucking cares, no normal gamer buys any Ubishit games. I have 500 games on steam, but if i want to play ubisoft game i always pirate it instead of buying.

  18. Heliocentric says:

    Too little, I’ll never say too late. I don’t want any more drm bs, stop fearing resales ubi, most stores won’t even take second hand pc games anymore, because let’s be honest, it’s not about pirates.

  19. wodin says:

    At some point in the future a court case with regards to consumer rights will go through by someone who is peed off enough and can cover costs in case they lose..though the way things are going I very much doubt they will lose.

    This case will end up finishing off any DRM that could mean you can’t play a game you actually bought..not rented but bought.

    I’m sure to god consumer rights will be all over it!

  20. Tams80 says:

    I’m not too bothered by having to ask for more activations so long as it is quick and easy, oh and free. Attaching this system to the graphics card was going too far, as you may end up needing to ask for more activations rather too often.

    If a company continues to provide access to more activations and if they remove the DRM if they can no longer provide such access, them I’m not too bothered either. I don’t have much confidence in this though and I would prefer no DRM.

  21. Jorum says:

    The real issue here for me is simple.
    In five or six or ten years time will I be able to play this game?
    (especially as it’s the kind of game you could want to go back to time and time again over the years)

    Will it decide that I’ve changed my PC so tough, and Ubisoft no longer support so tough?

    If I decide on a whim I want to play Homeworld I can just get the CD from shelf and off I go.

    Imagine if DVD’s came with a sticker saying “Will not work if you buy new DVD player or television”.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Bear in mind that even if it wasn’t for the limited number of activations based on detecting different hardware, the requirement to talk to the publisher’s (or DRM middleware company’s) activation server is another longevity knobble. How long after a game is end-of-life do you expect business-minded individuals to keep paying to keep said server up? Will the game still be able to find it once the developers have gone bust, and the publishers have changed to wearing someone else’s name? How many games on CDs with launchers from the late ’90s/early ’00s can still find automatic updates, or even link to the right website for the game?

      This is somewhat mitigated with big, unified activation systems like Steam and Origin, since at least games both old and new depend on the same server(s), so DOOM gets the same lifespan as Half-Life 4. But “too big to fail” is a really, really bad argument to lean on.

      OnLive is the absolute extreme of this problem. Pray it never gets exclusives; but its effectively impervious DRM probably means that’s inevitable in time.

    • johnpeat says:

      @Jorum “In 5-6 years will I still be able to play this game?”

      Probably not – and that applies to most games released in the last 5-years tbh.

      It’s not like it’s easy to play some older PC games without a LOT of faffing about and as games get more complex and their online components become more integrated, that’s a situation which is going to get worse.

      Hell there are games on Steam NOW which don’t work with W7 – or with recent versions of some graphics drivers etc. etc. – and the only chance of a fix comes if the driver gets fixed (as the game is long unsupported)

      If you keep thinking about games in a “long term ownership” way, you’re in for a LOT of disappointment. I’d suggest you buy games you want to play NOW and play them NOW and anything else you see as a bonus…

    • malkav11 says:

      It’s true that there are aging pains with games, but unforeseen conflicts with newer hardware and software do not excuse creating deliberate obsolescence. The heritage of the medium can and should be preserved, and sites like Good Old Games prove such endeavours can even be commercially successful…but those games didn’t have a built in time limit.

    • NathanH says:

      If it reaches the point where you can’t play a game you paid for because the DRM server has gone away, I doubt you would find anyone who would claim that an otherwise-illegal download would be morally unacceptable. You probably have a decent legal case too. Finally, whoever might pursue you for damages is, by assumption, not going to. So you’re pretty safe in this case.

    • malkav11 says:

      The “well, it’ll be cracked, so you’re fine” argument doesn’t hold water. The possible success of criminals in circumventing DRM does not make it okay for the companies to put it on there in the first place. Besides, either a) the DRM is cracked, both on the original release and any patches/DLC/etc, and preserves original functionality while not introducing new problems, in which case the DRM has failed and should be immediately patched out as it is no longer serving any purpose and merely inconveniencing legitimate customers, or b) it actually serves the desired purpose and either the game is never cracked or all legitimate functionality is not restored, in which case if the DRM servers are ever turned off, the legitimate customer and posterity are both fucked.

    • drewski says:

      Blue Byte have specifically stated that if they ever get shut down, they’ll release a DRM removing patch for at least Anno 1404. You’d expect 2070 to be the same…

  22. Roshin says:

    But if the DRM was “working as intended”, why would they ease up on it?

    These back and forth shenanigans from UBI annoy me. First they slap you across the face with the DRM glove and then they remove it. Then it pops up in another game and gets taken down again. And all this without any official comment. I mean, seriously, wtf are they doing over there?

  23. My2CENTS says:

    So they removed the part that made the fuss around this DRM and people think this is progress? Ubisoft your games are ruined by your incompetence. For god sake SecuROM is proven to be as a standard as protection/DRM, but you choose a veteran like TAGES? Please… you got what you deserved.

  24. Xaromir says:

    Still not buying it, boycotting this got way to many bragging rights attached to it. No seriously: Pfft!

  25. jimjam says:

    YAWN…………………..
    I’ll ignore this ubi game, Amen.

  26. drewski says:

    I might buy it for under $5, my standard maximum price for DRM crippled games.

  27. RegisteredUser says:

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I own several dozen titles on Steam.

    If however for some reason my internet died and the techs would have a week or two until they would come to fix it, I would sooner download a NoCD crack via a nearby internet cafe or with a WLAN stick or by going to a friend’s place than not play the game I bought only because steam or the DRM needs to go online first before I am allowed to enjoy it.

    And I can’t speak for others, but at that point I am pretty insanely fucking glad piracy and cracking exists and would actually pay the people _cracking_ the DRM of titles with it money to go on doing that in the future.

  28. Ultra-Humanite says:

    How much you want to bet if you change the sound card the same process will be repeated?

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