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Ubisoft's Driver: SanFran Has Always-On DRM

Driver: San Francisco without internet access.

At a certain point you have to wonder if Ubisoft is in the midst of some spectacular version of a Producers-style attempt to treat PC customers as abysmally as possible for some unknown goal. In the last couple of weeks they’ve bumped PC release dates on their last two games (Call Of Juarez and From Dust) just days before release – rather spitting in the eye of pre-order customers. And now they’ve now ensured that those looking forward to playing Driver: San Francisco can distract themselves with the knowledge that it will carry Ubisoft’s loathed DRM that requires you always be online to play both single- and multiplayer.

It’s a bit like a car manufacturer introducing a new type of car immobiliser that won’t let it start when it’s raining, and then proudly declaring they’ll be installing it in the next model too. Ubisoft’s always-on DRM doesn’t work. It’s not ambiguous. Most their games that have had the bloody thing enforced upon them have proven a miserable mess for players who just want to enjoy the game they’ve legitimately paid for. Instead they find that if Ubi’s servers are down (and in the current LulzSec-inspired culture, it’s hard to imagine this won’t happen after major releases). Or if there’s a drop in their internet connection, they simply can’t play.

To be clear, Ubisoft have confirmed for us this is the full version of this DRM where the single-player game will simply stop working at any point if your or their connection falters.

Even if the system weren’t a gross mistreatment of customers, unforgivably stupid and spiteful, it’s a DRM designed for a universe other than this one. My home internet, with the extremely reliable Be, drops frequently. A noise on our BT line causes problems, along with normal service outages, sudden blips, and all the times I trip over the phone wire and pull it out of the wall. Let alone if I want to do something crazy like, I don’t know, play a game outside of my house.

But wait, there’s more! Console customers now have Ubisoft’s U-Play nonsense that emulates other publishers’ attempts to take away basic consumer rights that prevent the purchasing of a working product second hand. So the hateful treatment of legitimate customers is being spread around.

Astonishingly, Eurogamer reports, when one customer complained on Twitter about the PC DRM, Ubisoft replied saying,

“Bear in mind though that the PC version of DRVSF is released simultaneously to consoles.”

Whether this was intended as an arch comment on the inevitable eleventh hour delays Ubi is frequently imposing on PC releases, or just plain rudeness, it’s an extraordinary response. Really? You think we’re supposed to be delighted when you don’t screw over PC customers with last-second “delays”? That’s supposed to make up for the idiotic and game-breaking DRM you needlessly impose upon paying customers? Good grief. Never mind that on current form, if they were going to announce a delay on the PC version, currently due on 2nd Sept in the UK, they’d not be doing that before the end of August.

EDIT: Oh, this one just keeps getting better. As reader Anarki points out, Ubisoft have now tweeted confirming the driving game will not support steering wheels!

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John Walker

Senior Editor

One of the original co-founders of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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