Ubisoft Asking DRM Questions – Here Are Some Answers

Don't stare too long into their eye.

It’s fair to say that RPS has taken Ubisoft to task over its DRM decisions. The company has made some extremely poor choices, that have overtly harmed people’s experiences legitimately playing their games, and no evidence of any reduction in piracy as a result has been shown. However, rather than backing down in the face of the enormous outcry, Ubisoft continued to push it, even telling PC Gamer that they viewed it as a “success”. The hubris, combined with the continuing downtime for single-player games, reached a point where things went from bad to ludicrous. But could things be about to change? Ubisoft’s digital boss, Chris Early, told Eurogamer that he’d like to see the need for DRM to go away. Blimey.

We have tried repeatedly to arrange an interview with anyone at Ubi who is responsible for making DRM decisions, expressing that we wanted not only to give them their say, but also to offer us the chance to argue the case why their choices have been so bad for gamers. But despite our frequent attempts, responses have come there none.

But what would our arguments have been? Well, first of all we’d obviously point out that there is zero published evidence we’ve seen that demonstrates any efficacy for DRM, and make the obvious remark that it’s a system that only punishes legitimate customers, and barely impedes pirates. But then we’d move on to argue how they could create customer loyalty that would engender a relationship that makes people more likely to continue spending money on a particular game, and be more enthused to spend money on further games. Someone who found their copy of Anno was basically unplayable for them is unlikely to forge on with any further sequels. Someone who found their copy of Anno constantly rewarded them as a player, offering excellent new content, community events, and an evolving experience, well, they just may. But flipping crikey, take a look at what Early told EG.

“I don’t know that there is a perfect answer today. There are some technological answers. There are some design answers. There have been different approaches from different publishers at times, some doing no DRM and just assuming it’s the cost of doing business. Some are doing a very strict DRM. Some doing an on-going content revision. I don’t think we have a single, good answer yet. The interesting thing will be, how do we create enough value that that need for DRM goes away?”

It’s a big statement, and a very pleasing one to see coming from Ubisoft. I hope it isn’t just a hypothetical question, but rather something the company is enthusiastically working on. Early does hint that they’re currently working on it:

“As we continue to keep our player at the centre, we want to find ways that don’t inconvenience that player who is paying for it,” he said. “We’ve had a variety of degrees of success as we wind our way down that path. Our plan, our hope is we stay on the less intrusive, less cumbersome side of that path as we go on.”

Peculiar use of “stay”, certainly, but definitely promising news. However, there are a few more points we’d like to put across to Ubi bosses, and while they currently won’t speak to us, we’ve a sneaking suspicion they’re reading. While asking the right questions, there’s a core philosophy that’s still skewed. Early told EG:

“Is it fair for someone to enjoy our content without us receiving some value for that? I think at the core of that is, no. Otherwise, other than works of charity, there would be few games made. The balance, however, is, how do we do anything about that and not harm the person who is giving us value for that?”

Firstly, issues of what’s “fair” are not relevant. Ubisoft isn’t a child having its toys taken away, but “fair” is a word we keep hearing from those arguing for DRM – Early may have just been using it off-the-cuff, but it’s a sentiment which is prevalent and so merits dissection. The piracy situation will never be sensibly addressed so long as corporations continue to argue for what’s “fair”. Is piracy “unfair”? Possibly, but that doesn’t change anything. Such a position would only make sense if you were having an ethical debate with the opposing side, and no one is. Some who unlawfully download games may use bullshit “ethical” arguments to justify their actions, with rubbish about how they’re doing it to take a stand, or get revenge, or punish, or defy the corrupt, but what they’re doing is downloading a game without paying. I’m not taking a side on whether that’s wrong or right, I should stress – that would be falling into the “fair” mistake – but simply saying that while a very few who pirate may pretend theirs is an ethical position, they’re still getting a game for free.

(And to stress this point, compare it to any other crime, and indeed a crime where something is actually physically stolen, like burglary. Burglary isn’t “fair”, obviously. But you’ll note there’s a distinct lack of “Don’t Burgle: It’s Not Very Nice” campaigns being run.)

Secondly, so long as companies continue to say phrases like, “Otherwise… there would be few games made,” we are going to get nowhere. Here is some reality:

Piracy probably began around 1977 with the Apple II, and got into full swing by about 1982. Which is why videogames died out in around July 1984, and we haven’t had any since… Oh wait, hang on – according to my files there have been games since 1982! Good heavens, hundreds of thousands of them! Piracy was so rife during the days of the Spectrum that blank cassette manufacturers became oligarchs of space, then again for the early days of the PC (we stood out from the crowds in my house by having an actual boxed copy of Doom – people would say, “Wow, I’ve never actually seen the box!), the PS1, and most recently, the Nintendo DS. Each most pirated platform has not become a “charity”, nor seen “few games made”, but instead been the most prolific and successful of their time. I am not saying that piracy causes success. You could. You could say it out loud, and see what madness ensued. But I am saying that piracy does not, and has never, caused fewer games to be made. The suggestion is egregious and utterly without truth. With more games being made today than at any point in all of time, just being conscious is enough to see through that nonsense. So why are big corporations still bringing it out? That should stop.

Piracy is going to continue. Not liking it, thinking it objectionable, or being utterly offended by it, doesn’t change that. DRM isn’t going to stop it. Hand-wringing and ethical pleas aren’t going to stop it. However, look at PC gaming right now and what do you see? Hundreds of thousands of people handing over millions and millions of dollars for games that could be free, or don’t even exist. From the Bundles to Kickstarter to donate buttons on websites to pre-orders for indie projects, gamers are delighted to hand over their cash. Gamers want to invest in companies whose games they love, to ensure games they want become available for them to play, and to celebrate creativity. And if you look at all these things, these Kickstarters and bundles, they’re all promising no DRM. Because DRM is the very opposite of all those aspects Early cites: not harming gamers, creating value, less intrusive, less cumbersome…

Ubisoft are now thinking in the right direction, and I think they’ll be astonished by how quickly gamers will turn their affections around. The announcement that the utterly wonderful Rayman: Origins would be coming to PC after all, and DRM-free, was instantly met with delight. People love very many of the Ubi franchises, and have been seriously hurt by how the latest instalments have been encumbered. A new Anno, a new Settlers, that instead of being broken for legitimate customers instead celebrates them, gives them new updates and content, engenders an enthusiastic online community, and goes out of its way to feed the profits back into making the games even more enjoyable, will quickly gain Ubi a reputation for being a publisher to invest in. The answer is not, as Early hints, making games so embroiled in the cloud that pirated version doesn’t work properly – it’s to make the cloud games are in so brilliant that people wouldn’t want to be missing out on them. That, I think, is the crucial shift in attitude needed by the company to finally break free of the trap they’ve built for themselves. It’s not about finding a way to beat pirates. It’s about finding a way to reward customers. And you don’t do the latter as a means to the former, or you’ve completely missed the point. You do the latter because you’re a business who should want fiercely loyal customers, and the rest will follow.


  1. Meat Circus says:

    The need for DRM can never go away because THERE WAS NEVER ANY NEED FOR DRM.

    Mummy wow, I’m a big girl now.

    • Groove says:

      Your first sentence is much more profound than the second.

    • MajorManiac says:

      Meat Circus, that comment fits perfectly with your avatar.

      • Premium User Badge

        geoffreyk says:

        HA! Because it starts out awesome, and ends on a bad note! Just like Psychonauts! After whose terrible last level his account is named! Your comment was hilarious, and I get it!

        • Vagrant says:

          If he truly meant avatar instead of username, then it’s a System Shock reference. Never played the game, so I can’t make a not-witty comment on how it compares to his quote.

          • Trousers says:

            But this is the internet my friend. Do not let your ignorance of a subject stop you from making witty comments or forming a hard-line opinion and refusing to alter it.

        • Suits says:

          If Ubi had the rep of most other companies I would’ve pre-ordered Rayman Origins, just waiting for the green light now.

  2. Paul says:

    Well, now I just hope some higher-ups at Ubi are reading RPS and do not miss this article.

  3. Simon says:

    Hear! Hear!

  4. Senthir says:

    I’m one of those people who has been hurt(multiple times, in fact) by buying a game and having the DRM make it unplayable. It was really easy to never buy a Ubisoft game again(except Assassin’s Creed…i’m weak) when there’s hundreds of great Indie games being made these days that are totally DRM free where I’m virtually guaranteed they’ll work.

    Just something to consider.

    • Ridnarhtim says:

      Thankfully, or unfortunately, Heroes VI is rubbish, so even one of my favourite series isn’t getting me to go back to Ubisoft.

      • Khemm says:

        You can’t be serious. It’s the best HoMM since 3.

        • Ridnarhtim says:

          I found it dreadful. Confusing UI, simplified wherever possible, unbelievably buggy, and of course the town screens, only 5 town types…

          I played it with my dad for a while, and it was NO fun whatsoever.

          It’s the worst in the series (that I’ve played, I never played the very first).

        • Spider Jerusalem says:

          it is the best homm since homm3. it is also rubbish.

          • Jim9137 says:

            I hope you mean ‘since’ in the fashion that ignores HoMM2.

      • MisterBungle says:

        Heroes 6 was a decent game that was totally ruined by the “always on” DRM. I paid the full £35 for it on the day of release, and bitterly regret that, as it kept crashing out when I was playing. After it crashed after a 1 hour boss battle, I went to “offline” mode, only to find I couldn’t use my save games and had to start again, none of the dynasty weapons were available, and you’re constantly reminded that you’re in OFFLINE MODE IN BIG RED LETTERS when you’re on the save screen or main menu.

        Activate once when I buy the game, give me all the content, or else I will never buy your games again.

        I spend a lot of money on games.

    • subedii says:

      Ditto for me as well, although one of the most egregious examples was in fact an Ubisoft game in my case. Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, complete with Starforce (had no idea about this at the time). Would install on Vista, however, Vista actually outrighed PREVENTED it from running (not even an OK / Cancel box) because it was trying to gain Ring 0 access to my DVD drivers. This, Vista helpfully informed me, is behaviour plainly in the realm of malware and as such it would not allow the program known as “Starforce” to run.

      I’m extremely glad it did so as well. Why? Because the LAST time Starforce managed to install itself on my system, it caused complete chaos with my DVD drivers, and caused windows to constantly crash. I’m talking every session. Uninstalling it didn’t change this either. In the end, because of Ubisoft and their idiot obsession with DRM, I had to perform a complete system reformat just to get things back to normal again.

      Needless to say, with Ubisoft’s attitudes as they are, I haven’t freaking touched an Ubisoft published game since.

      • Wut The Melon says:

        Oh, that sounds familiar. Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones was my very first video game, and because I had no idea at the time how used copies worked and since I had heard very often of friends borrowing games from other friends, I asked a friend of mine if I could borrow his copy. He said yes, but little did I know: you can’t ‘legally’ play used games on PC, and he had given me a pirated copy. I really enjoyed it and got into gaming (that’s why I’m here), but, because I’m a good guy, I decided to buy a legal copy of the game despite already having played it multiple times. I thought it unfair to play a pirated copy.

        So I bought the legal copy, which came with Starforce DRM (I knew nothing about DRM, thought it sounded shady at first). Installed it, I knew it was legal so it’d be fine, right? Nope. Crashed my system, couldn’t even system restore. Somehow that Starforce stuff tricked my PC into thinking it was Vista, so obviously it wouldn’t even boot anymore. Did not have a recent backup.

        Needless to say, since then I do make backups and I am extra careful when I know a copy of a Ubisoft game is legal. Because in their case, legal means more likely to harm your PC than pirated.

        • Mattressi says:

          Yeah, if you can’t stop yourself from buying an Ubisoft game, at least do yourself a favour and don’t install it – just install a pirated version. Unless the game’s been out for a while and the DRM has been confirmed to only annoy the crap out of you, rather than potentially destroy your system, it’s always safer to just use a pirated version. I will never forget the day Starforce latched itself to my old computer. It never had a chance :(

          Of course, if you pirate it after buying it, Ubisoft will probably just put more DRM on their terrible products, since the piracy rate is so high (I really wonder what percentage of paying customers pirate the game after they buy it?). Not that it really matters, since you can always pirate the next game too, to get around the even-worse-for-the-customer-but-not-the-pirate DRM put on it. Luckily I don’t have these issues any more, since Ubisoft seem to have stopped making decent games several years ago.

    • Kadayi says:

      How was the game made ‘unplayable’ as a matter of interest?

  5. nasenbluten says:

    Assassins Creed 2 was the last title I bought from Ubisoft.

    Ubisoft UPlay, EAs Origin, GFWL, SecuROM, forced online activations

    • nasenbluten says:

      Not even once!

    • Khemm says:

      Learn what UPlay actually is before bitching, because UPlay isn’t DRM, it’s something that is actually neat and rewards paying customers with cool stuff.

      • nasenbluten says:

        I have seen it, a cumbersome forced launcher with achievements, a news-feed and some links.

        neat? maybe for you, unnecessary IMO.

        • Khemm says:

          There’s a simple launcher which is hardly cumbersome or forced – it gives you links to the forums, updates your game and provides a shiny play button, countless games had such launchers even in the 90s, so don’t be ridiculous – AND there’s an achievement system which is a separate thing which you can access from the launcher or while in the game if you want to. Said achievements span across all Ubi games and provide in-game rewards.
          It’s really well done.

          • nasenbluten says:

            When I pay 60 € for a game I don’t want achievements or rewards, I expect to play the game with minimum hassle and without any limitations. UPlay is DRM sugarcoated with those “features” you like. When it goes down, this happens: link to static2.cdn.ubi.com

            I remember trying to play AC2 for days with their servers unavailable almost everytime I tried. I had to crack my copy weeks later to actually play it without trouble. When a pirated copy is a better product than a paid one something has gone horribly wrong with their logic.

          • speedwaystar says:

            right…. i think we’ve established which particular company you’re a shill for now.

          • Khemm says:

            Uplay =/= DRM. Don’t confuse the two.
            Games like HoMMVI and Anno 2070 were fully playable offline, their online based profiles weren’t for obvious reasons during the transition. When Steam is down, I can’t install games from the disc even. Same thing.

          • lurkalisk says:

            While frequently accompanied by DRM, Uplay is entirely separate. I’m really not sure how someone could think Uplay a DRM scheme, unless they just saw Uplay logo and decided that was enough evidence.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            @Speedwaystar – Don’t be the idiot throwing around baseless accusations with absolutely no thought what so ever. Khemm is very well known in the RPS community, unlike yourself and he may be many many things, but a corporate shill is not one of them!

          • nasenbluten says:

            If UPlay is not DRM then lets see how well can you play the games you purchased and binded to your UPlay account when Ubisoft decides to discontinue support or shut down the service in a few years.

            link to help.support.ubi.com

    • His Dudeness says:

      Same here and I won’t reward them with my cash for being twat waffles. They can discuss the finer points pro or contra DRM all day long, until I see action by UBI’s dropping their draconian measures my wallet stays closed for them.

    • Iain_1986 says:

      You forgot Steamworks from that list.

      You could still have Steam without the DRM, but we don’t. I’m for *all* DRM to go. Liking one and complaining when other companies try to do it too seems nieve to me. When you have people saying “I won’t buy it until its on Steam”, there will always be someone who says “Imagine if they said that about our own store?”.

      • Brun says:

        Steam and Steamworks DRM are not the same thing. When distributing a game on Steam, publishers or developers have a choice of DRM – they can use Steamworks, they can use their own DRM product, or they can use no DRM at all.

        Having your game on Steam does not automatically mean it uses Steamworks.

        • Khemm says:

          If they’re not the same thing, then tell me why every single release that comes with Steamworks requires that you go through the DRM layer.
          The only exceptions to that rule are smal indie games which are exclusive to the Steam store.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            I do agree in principle, but the very fact that there are exceptions proves that it is possible to release a game through steam and for it not to have DRM.

            Not that steam are going to make that easy to achieve.

          • Milky1985 says:

            So UPlay by your own words is not DRM, despite purchases being locked to a single account.
            But steam which operates a similar system (reguardless of steamworks) is DRM (basically because its all locked to a single account). Is there something i am completly missing out on here or is there just an anti-steam bias in play.

            (Disclaimer: I think they are both DRM in a limited form, but currently steam is currently the nicer of the two)

        • zakihashi says:

          Even games who don’t use steam works, which you buy on Steam, MOSTLY start steam when you start the game, even if in no way, it actually use Steam, beside forcing you to keep a program not even related to the game running.

  6. reggiep says:

    As best I remember, DRM seemed to take hold back in the SecuROM days. It seems to me the SecuROM people did quite a number on game studio execs as far as convincing them DRM was necessary. It’s kinda like how 60% of Fox News viewers think Saddam Hussein bombed the US on 9/11… It’s really hard to argue the truth when the people listening only want to believe otherwise.

    • bwion says:

      It’s much older than Securom. There was DRM (though it was called copy protection back then) on a number of commercially-released games for the Commodore 64 in the ’80s, and I’m sure that wasn’t a unique situation.

      I agree with your general point, though. I’ve long thought of DRM as a scam (not unlike a protection racket, though in this case it’s not the DRM-makers who are also pirating the games), but it’s publishers who are the target, not consumers.

    • InternetBatman says:

      It’s been around forever in different forms, some of them more annoying than others like disc switching and code wheels. I think DRM became an issue with online activation and securom stuff because it became more cumbersome and pernicious than the precedent of CD codes.

      • andytt66 says:

        Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade on the miggy had the best copy-control ever.

        Came packaged with a replica of the Grail Diary, which you had to pore through to discover which one of the 30-odd grails in the cave at the end, was the one that wouldn’t kill you.

        link to wired.com

        *This* is the cup of a carpenter.

        • yougurt87 says:

          Maniac Mansion had something like this as well. You could play a little bit of the game but in order to get past 1 door you needed to look through an actual book for the code.

    • phlebas says:

      Spectrum classic Jet Set Willy came with a coloured (and thus not photocopiable) grid of codes you had to use to unlock the game. My bought copy came without (quite likely someone had bought it, copied it, kept the grid and returned the game to the shop) so was useless. I am a pioneer in the field of getting shafted by DRM.

      • Icarus says:

        My boxed copy of Uplink (Yes, those actually exist, I bought it back in 2001-2 or thereabouts from the Gamestation in Hull) had a black-on-black grid. Matt black backing, and gloss black numbers. Good luck photocopying THAT bad boy…

    • Innovacious says:

      I remember OLD games that would ask you for stuff like “word 32, on page 4 of the manual” to prove you actually had the legit boxed version.

      • rapier17 says:

        I remember using Codewheels for, I think, Lucasfilms: Battle of Britain ‘Their Finest Hour’ & Monkey Island 2. Ahh memories… Mind you, that form of copy protection didn’t work. My father worked as a computer engineer during the 80s and the games he brought home were on previously blank floppies & with the codewheel photocopied & glued onto card.

        • Innovacious says:

          Haha, same for me. I think in the late 80s/early 90s we only owned about 7 or 8 games. My Dad would come home from work with boxes filled with unmarked floppies for the Commodore 64/Amiga. All games. The only marked ones had passwords and and other things needed to play wrote on them.

      • Therax says:

        My favorite classic manual-based DRM was for the original Civilization. It would present you with the icon for one of the games technologies, and ask you to name the 1 or 2 prerequisites techs necessary for research. It a) protected the game against those who blindly copied the discs, b) taught you valuable information you could use in game, and c) obviated the need for a reference manual once the player had learned the tech tree by heart.

        Red Storm Rising did something similar. It showed you a picture of one of the game’s submarines and asked you to name it. Again, useful in-game information, and for a frequent player, no need for the printed material. My memory’s a bit hazy, but I think Their Finest Hour asked you to do the same by identifying one of the game’s aircraft. I still remember what a Juliet-class Soviet cruise missile sub looks like from 15 years ago….

        • RegisteredUser says:

          Shout out to my Red Storm Rising brother.
          I actually owned that; ironically enough it did not run on the C128D, only on the original C64. Sad, but true.
          Spent more time reading the manual and got more enjoyment out of that than the actual game, which I ended up playing over at a friend’s house with an actual C64.

          Back then the promise of what a game tried to do was so much bigger than the game itself often..but it also was part of what made games great. You could literally taste the ambition and the excitement of what this computer simulation world had opened up.

  7. Ravelle says:

    I’m also one of the people that are locked out of the game because I had re-install my pc and my activations ran out.

    • lightstriker says:

      Contact support. They give them out Willy Nilly.

      • Ravelle says:

        I did and they told me my cd-key was not known in their database and that I have to contact steam.

  8. Ridnarhtim says:

    “He’d like to see the need for DRM to go away”

    The implication being that, once there is no more piracy, they will get rid of DRM? So, never?

    • deke913 says:

      That was how I interpreted that statement as well.

    • subedii says:

      Same here. Basically never.

      It’s a statement along the lines of when a politician is compelled to give the appearance of an apology, so issue a statement saying something like “I’m sorry that you were offended”. It being a non-apology in that they didn’t actually apologise for doing anything.

  9. djbriandamage says:

    The answer is so obvious: positive reciprocity. Give us incentive to buy and we will buy. Doy!!

    Ubisoft has zero concept of this. “Ubisoft”, “Starforce”, and “bear trap” all share the same space in my brain – examine thoroughly before considering the prize hidden within.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      I’ll take a bear trap over StarForce any day of the week though. And I’ll take this chance to piss and moan about my copy of Splinter Cell Chaos Theory not working again. I still haven’t forgiven them that.

  10. My2CENTS says:

    If Ubisoft have good analysts they’ll see that you can’t fight pirates, when crackers have better programmers among them. I honestly don’t care about them though, because aside from Splinter Cell i play nothing they produce or publish, but a few friends of mine were affected by this insane DRM and to be fair they won’t play Ubi title anytime soon. My suggestion to Ubi would be to suck up to a proven DRM platform like Steam that is useful, but not over-restrictive or in the end you know admit defeat, focus and content and hope for good sales based on the content itself. I can’t see their DRM as a success when the game is available on the torrent sites and is playable even offline.

    • InternetBatman says:

      I’d just like to point out that crackers are doing a public service. Some people seem to like giving them a bad name, but they make games better. I crack almost all of my non-steam games with DRM and I haven’t pirated in years. I think Max Payne 2 even used the crack on the Steam version of the game.

      I’m not saying that you were saying they were bad. I just don’t want them to be lumped in with pirates.

      • deke913 says:

        I am familiar with the “no disc” cracks and I wonder if these guys will be happy or sad when\if we go to an all digital media. I haven’t bought a retail box in at least 3 years.

        • InternetBatman says:

          I just download the cracks. I don’t pay attention to the scene, but I imagine data is data to most of them. I think thing that’ll kill cracking efforts is when large amounts of data are kept server-side, basically making single-player MMOs.

  11. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    The day DRM goes away PC gaming will become extinct. For every zero DRM success story there are many more in the opposite direction.

    A 1 time online or offline via phone activation & no disk based protection is all the DRM you need who would argue against that model if it meant PC gaming continued to attract investment. Look @ 2011 $18.6b worth of PC games sold most with some form (or several even) DRM so unless you live in a dream world its not hard to imagine little will change anytime soon.

    How could you argue that dropping DRM altogether would increase that $18.6b to XYZ more as its unlikely in a global downturn that no DRM would dramatically make any difference is it!!!

    • John Walker says:

      Please name some examples of DRM-free games that have been destroyed by piracy, along with evidence. Thanks!

      • lightstriker says:

        Please provide some examples of DRM FREE games that have done better than they would have with any DRM.

        Oh, and evidence.

        Good luck.

        I’m aware that I sound snide, but this attitude quite annoys me, and it appears in your article as well. You are arguing that the lack of evidence in favor of something, that hasn’t been particularly publicly studied (and, I’ll add, is a very complex thing) is proof of the negative. That’s not a valid argument, and that is even before we realize that you are trying to state that the lack of the extreme case (game destroyed) is evidence for the lack of the bad case (revenue lost), which is… I believe that would be a strawman, although I will admit my knowledge of fallacies is not perfect.

        I AGREE with your point. I think that DRM is at best inconvenient, and I think the absolute best case would be no DRM at all. In fact, I generally even try to avoid Steam for that exact reason, which means I’m possibly more extreme in my avoidance than the vast majority here (and which is to my sincere dismay, rather difficult, but I digress), but I don’t somehow believe that my disagreement with it instantaneously means that right now it is the wrong thing for companies.

        What I DO, however, take issue with is the way you’re making your argument. A statement like the one you’ve made in the above post is, I believe, quite clearly not actually designed to prove a point. It’s simply a way to gather support from people who already agree with you, basically, to be slightly vulgar, circlejerking in its purest form.

        I find myself forced to take issue with portions of this article as well. Comments like this: “Piracy probably began around 1977… [etc] ” are, although clearly designed to amuse, greatly simplifying the situation: the degree of convenience for pirating back then was, I believe, notably lower, and until I see facts either way I will sincerely believe that pirating was much less of a factor, and that’s notwithstanding the fact that the relative lack of DRM is hardly evidence in favor of companies not WANTING any, or believing it would be better to have some. DRM was hardly as advanced by any reasonable standard as it is today.

        I understand that this is a topic that people become passionate about, but, although this is a blog, it’s also viewed by many as a journalistic site. It’s a tough topic to discuss, and this “Black and White, with us or against us” hyperbole is, in my opinion, doing your site and your readers no favors.

        This site has done brilliant opinion pieces with FACTS before. In fact, your articles the violence in video games arguments (Where, I’ll note, the lack of your opponents facts was heavily criticized…) was the reason I started following this site in the first place.

        Thank you
        -Nameless Internet Dude #1834

        • John Walker says:

          The claim is that the lack of DRM causes games to die. I don’t need to prove something else entirely. Oh, and rather importantly I haven’t claimed that not having DRM increases sales.

          I am responding to the claims made (as in the comment above) that piracy has caused companies to close/games to fail. I’m asking for evidence of that. I’m not sure how your objections apply.

          • lightstriker says:

            My post was about the article as a whole, using that sentence as a launch off point.

            If your claim is that no DRM is the correct way to go for companies, but you don’t believe it raises sales, I must admit I find myself confused. After all, the companies known for viciously loyal customers are hardly the ones whose rallying cry is “No DRM” (Valve, Blizzard, Bioware, coming to mind for starters)

            @Rocket: …that’s not proof :D lol. Arguments structured like that are in fact what I’m directly arguing against. Your personal beliefs and behaviors are not indicative of trends as a whole, the same way that people saying they’re choosing to vote republican does not mean that republicans will win this year, and vice versa.

          • rocketman71 says:

            @lightstriker: no DRM raises sales. Proof: I bought Prince of Persia reboot only BECAUSE it didn’t have DRM. I’m sad about that, Ubi didn’t release any numbers and claims that it was pirated to hell (yeah, unlike any other single game in the world, PC or console), and used it as an example of why DRM was needed.

            DRM lowers sales. Proof: me and all my friends haven’t bought almost a single game from Ubi since they started using their stupid DRM scheme (Trackmania 2 being the exception for some of us), or a game from EA since Origin / BF3 lack of dedis, or a game from Activision since they dropped dedis and LAN support with MW2.

            The only DRM we tolerate is Steam, and that’s because of the sales and a lot of other things they do right (unlike those idiots at Origin). And yes, we would prefer no DRM at all, but sadly things are what they are nowadays.

            And hey, there’s still thousands of great indies out there with no DRM.

            TL;DR: I will not buy a single Ubi game until they drop all DRM for it and (in case of multi) add LAN support. I just don’t believe a word of what they say anymore.

          • Kaira- says:


            Nice anecdotal evidence you have there. Shame that it means fuck all in the grand scheme of things.

            What is it with DRM that makes people forget about rational thought and good, backed up arguments?

          • Lemming says:


            2 minutes Googling found me the following:

            Ebook drm drop increases sales 104%

            DRM study

            Granted, the first one is for an ebook not a game, but the principle is the same. The second one is an actual academic studies results on the matter.

          • Sweetz says:

            “What is it with DRM that makes people forget about rational thought and good, backed up arguments?”

            Yeah unlike other arguments on the internet, right? o_O

            There’s a dearth of good evidence to support either side of argument, and a big chunk of the discussion relies on the ability to predict the behavior and motives of people – something which can’t be accurately be predicted. So anecdotes, speculation, and the claims that publishers and developers make is all there really is to go on for such arguments.

            I think the best, and nearly only, decent piece of evidence in the great DRM debate, is something Valve said in an interview a while back where they mention that for the few games where the DRM was new and took a while to be cracked (like the first Assassin’s Creed, which AFAIK, took something like a month to fully crack), there’s was basically no notable change in sales at the point when the DRM is cracked. I.e. if potential pirates (as a percentage of the potential user base spread over a period of time) were buying the game before it was cracked, and then pirating it afterwards, you’d expect a corresponding dip in sales. Instead, the sales charts of those games pretty much echoed with any other new release, including those with no DRM or 0-day cracks. Of course, they didn’t release actual numbers since sales data is as confidential as always, so it’s still somewhat anecdotal, but at least anecdotal from people who do have data to back it up.

        • Lycan says:


          lightstriker says:

          Please provide some examples of DRM FREE games that have done better than they would have without any DRM.

          Oh, and evidence.

          Good luck.

          Huh? Say again – DRM FREE and “without any DRM” are essentially the same thing…

          • lightstriker says:

            bleh, typo :D

          • Lycan says:

            Okay, no worries. But to come back to your question:

            I don’t have any specific examples of games that went DRM free and were spectacularly more successful. However, the ridiculous popularity of GOG as a digital distribution platform for games that are also available on Steam (for example) is testament to the fact that DRM annoys enough legitimate customers to be a factor in their purchasing decision. As anecdotal evidence, I can only offer a recent (heated) argument I had over on the Steam forums just for suggesting I wanted the BG and BG2 games to come to Steam. The uproar over “WHY WOULD YOU WANT IT ON STEAM WHEN THERE’S GOG AND IT’S DRM FREE???!!” was not fun for me, but it did drive home the point that going DRM free is a legitimate business strategy in the current climate. The same was also pointed out by the RPS writer who wrote this piece, when he referred to the Kickstarter projects. In today’s climate, it’s simply the thing to do.

            To clarify, I have no opinion on DRM’s effect on piracy – I think it’s a complex issue and is affected by a slew of other factors, including (sadly) peer pressure.

          • Ragnar says:

            For old games, I will usually go with GoG over Steam because the GoG version WILL work on Win 7 64, while the Steam version MIGHT work. The extra effort GoG puts into making the games work is the extra value I need to go with them.

            That said, given the choice, I’ll usually go with a DRM free version, because that way if I find a game that I think my wife would like, I can just put it on her comp. I don’t have to buy a 2nd copy, or use a crack. I can just install it guilt free, and that makes me feel good, and makes me more likely to support that dev / service in the future.

        • wyrmsine says:

          the degree of convenience for pirating back then was, I believe, notably lower, and until I see facts either way I will sincerely believe that pirating was much less of a factor,

          Well, I can’t supply an actual fact, unfortunately, and I wish I had a photo of the several boxes of pirated games for the Apple II and Commodore 64 I had when I was a kid. I can tell you that piracy was about as convenient then as it is today, and that several publishers did try everything they could to prevent it.

        • RegisteredUser says:

          Kickstarter is a close enough excuse for an argument here: The projects would not exist without crowdsourced funding, and people in turn would not finance DRM they would eventually suffer unto themselves.

          At the very least, it is a tangible and valid argument to say that more people would be willing to finance a product they know comes without restrictions to themselves rather than include restrictions if given a choice themselves(as it provides them with more options => rational choice theory).

          Thus potential sales would be less or 0 with DRM, and > 0 (tens and tens of thousands) without DRM.

          Thus an example is given and an argument is made and you can go sod off again now you … DRM troll.

      • jezcentral says:

        Not that I agree with Mr GAMR4LifeBOYEEEEZ, but although it hasn’t been destroyed yet, Project Zomboid was kicked in the teeth by pirates when their update server was overwhelmed by pirated copies. This physically cost them money, not just a notional lost sale.

        And the Titan Quest dev was convinced this was the case. The 90% piracy rates claimed by the like of Crytek and 2D Boy meant that if just 10% of pirates purchased their copy, sales would have almost doubled.

        link to rockpapershotgun.com
        link to rockpapershotgun.com
        link to rockpapershotgun.com
        link to gamefront.com
        link to pcgamer.com

        EDIT: Apologies, as mr.ioes says, it was a publisher of Titan Quest, not a dev. However, I’ve kept it in as he makes the same point I did about only needing 10% of pirates to become buyers to double sales.

        EDIT: Obviously, Project Zomboid has many other problems and 2D Boy would be appalled at the idea of putting DRM on their games.

        • InternetBatman says:

          wrong place.

        • mr.ioes says:

          There’s little doubt that Titan Quest was not destroyed by piracy. However, DRM wouldn’t have changed the unfortunate outcome. And that’s John’s point, afaik.

          • malkav11 says:

            Actually, by all accounts it -did- change that. Specifically, it made the game look like a buggy heap of crap and gained it plenty of negative word of mouth. (From pirates, sure, but word of mouth is word of mouth.)

      • Torgen says:

        John, your sentence here: “But I am saying that piracy does not, and has never, caused fewer games to be made.” I have to disagree with. I remember reading an interview with Dan Bunten who said that MULE was pirated so much that it crippled the company. That struck me particularly hard, since the Buntens made so many of the games that defined my introduction to gaming.

        I’m looking for citation, but haven’t found it.

        • John Walker says:

          I’m pretty certain he didn’t provide any evidence to support this.

          • Torgen says:

            I’m pretty certain you haven’t supplied any evidence for your sweeping generalizations either, so careful where you swing that hammer.

          • Enikuo says:

            The evidence for John’s claims is that there’s a ton of games and a ton of resources to get pirated games. Reference: the internet.

        • deke913 says:

          Even so, that still would be qualified as speculation as it can’t be verified. No dev wants to believe that their product wasn’t liked. And that isn’t to say that he could not be correct, just that it is unable to be proven.

          • Torgen says:

            Do you really think MULE wasn’t liked? If you were 30 years old or more, you’d know what an impact that game had.

            It seems it was Computer Gaming World that said that MULE was the most pirated game of all time (“All time” being the mid-90s.)

          • Premium User Badge

            Hodge says:

            “The game (M.U.L.E) sold reasonably well (despite being the ‘most pirated game’ at the time according to the publisher of Computer Gaming World.”

            CGW also quotes a sales figure of around 30,000 for the original Atari 400/800 version, which for a single platform title in 1983 is pretty impressive.

            “While ‘M.U.L.E.’ sold fairly well at around 30,000 copies (well enough, anyway, that when Arkansas Times reporter Mel White visited the Ozark Softscape offices for a cover story on the company in 1984, there was a gold disc on the wall signifying that the various versions of ‘M.U.L.E.’ had made over $1 million in sales), it was Ozark Softscape’s next title, “Seven Cities of Gold” that pushed the company into the big leagues, selling five times that.

            Crippling the company, indeed.

          • HothMonster says:

            ” it was Ozark Softscape’s next title, “Seven Cities of Gold” that pushed the company into the big leagues, selling five times that.””

            Well its a good thing they eradicated piracy before Seven Cities came out…

        • InternetBatman says:

          This is going to sound kind of harsh, but I think that it’s important to take some of the developer’s claims with a grain of salt. For instance, the developers at Iron Tower (I think it was them) claim that piracy is why they didn’t sell enough copies of Titan’s Quest. But when you look at it, it’s a Diablo clone with firm 77 on metacritic. Meanwhile the Torchlight people have been successfully making Diablo clones since Rune.

          Similarly, Crysis has been one of the more consistently pirated games on PC, but that’s because people don’t want to pay full game price for benchmark software. It was famous for its required specs, not its gameplay.

          A lot of the claims come from developers who didn’t release a great game, who want more money even though they got enough to support development of a future game, or who are conflating other problems with piracy.

          • Ragnar says:

            This too is speculation. I’ve heard explanations for Titan Quest ranging from piracy to poor marketing, but who can say? Ratings, as you said, were decent to good, but my friends and I were lost to WoW at the time, so it didn’t even matter.

            Crysis, on the other hand, got very good reviews. 90+, game of the year, best shooter, etc. The marketing was there, the gameplay was there, the ratings were there. It sold well, just not well enough. Maybe their expectations were too high? Again, my friends and I were lost to WoW at the time, so we weren’t buying it.

            I think it’s clear that a pirated game is not a lost sale, but how do we actually measure the effect of piracy? Release the same game on Steam, Amazon with a CDKey, and as a DRM free digital download from the dev?

          • frenchy2k1 says:

            Game success is a fleeting thing and it’s very hard to predict.
            Take an easy counter example: “Beyond Good & Evil”. This game had creator recognition (same guy as Rayman), was critically acclaimed (83%-88% for PC/console), but is said to have been a commercial failure. Now, the problem with that is this is all we get from publishers. They won’t really tell you why they consider it so (sold 1M+, but did not recoup development anyway, like LA Noire or Starcraft 2 or just flopped). In all cases, lots is left unsaid, from the amount of units shipped (they hardly ever give those unless they break records) to their expectations (were they realistic?).

            Piracy is blamed very often for game failures, but it is very difficult to quantify the effects.
            Take the Wither 2. It’s been considered a resounding success by its makers, CD project Red, while selling around a million units. It’s a PC only (for now, Xbox version coming soon) game, sold both at retail (with DRM, stripped by the first patch to remove technical problems) and online through GOG DRM-free (from day one). Lots of publishers would consider shifting “only” a million units a failure, yet CD project is happy They also remarked that although they shipped a game DRM free, the pirated version was the retail one, with DRM stripped. Go figure…

            TL;DR: the effect of piracy on the market is hard to quantify. An easy parallel is music and MP3 copying: noone knows how much is really lost to it as the best years for music where the ones with napster…

          • HothMonster says:

            “(with DRM, stripped by the first patch to remove technical problems”

            actually they always planned to remove the DRM from witcher 2. They made announcements prior to the games release that it would be patched out on day 2. The goal of the DRM was to prevent pirates from playing it before release date. So they coded it to require communication with a server they didn’t turn on until release day. On release day everyone who had pre-loaded connected to the server and got the other half of the encryption code so they could play. Anyone who bought it after day one got a DRM free version.

            They also knew that as soon as the server went live the pirates would get what they needed to crack it so there was no reason to leave the DRM in place past that first day.

        • Hematite says:

          Found a very interesting interview linked as a wikipedia cite:
          It is well known that although a masterpiece of gaming, “M.U.L.E.” wasn’t a commercial success? How poorly did it do in the marketplace?

          Actually, given some caveats, it didn’t do all that badly. It sold 30,000 copies, and for a game whose home platform–the Atari 800–went out of production just months after its release, that ain’t bad. Also, although we ported it to the C64 it had a very poor solo capability but still sold good numbers there too. Finally, I know from data sources other than sales numbers that it was as widely distributed as “Seven Cities of Gold,” which sold five times as many copies. It was during the days when players would say “Have you heard about “M.U.L.E.? You want a copy?” Ironically, all I have left of the game are a few protected copies that I don’t know how to duplicate even for friends!

          So there you have it! … whatever ‘it’ is. Very interesting actually. She doesn’t sound bitter about the ‘widely distributed’ copies, and mentions that the home platform was canned right after the game was released. Perhaps this is a story about how lax DRM saved a game which would have otherwise sunk into obscurity as retailers stopped stocking for a dead platform? Or not? It’s definitely not simple though.

          Edit: forgot to include link to original:
          link to dadgum.com

      • Navagon says:

        Which can’t be done given the fact that many games simply just fail. A great many having had DRM of some description.

    • djbriandamage says:

      I hate to admit it but you make a good point with your comment about attracting investment (as in venture capital and publisher investment).

      Let’s see where this Kickstarter fad goes, though. Funding a project with the promise of no DRM is an extremely creative strategy where the general public absorbs the risks publishers are so afraid of.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Sir, you are wrong. You are wronger than Wrong Mickey McWrong the wrongsmith, from the little town called Very-On-The-Wrong.

      Gamers have money, and recently we have seen a veritable firehose of money from gamers in the form of Kickstarter. Gamers throw money at games they want. Sometimes gamers will give MULTIPLE TIMES THE COST OF A RETAIL GAME to see a project they want come to completion.

      So you, sir, are wrong.

    • InternetBatman says:

      That is impossible to prove since most major games have come with DRM for a long time. It’s far rarer to see a game without copy protection, even among the indies, and most of them that I can think of were either very successful or didn’t have a high rate of piracy.

      • John Walker says:

        World Of Goo made two men into millionaires, and had a piracy rate of about 87%.

        • cliffski says:

          Thats interesting. You accept world of goo’s 87% piracy rate figure, because they never complained about piracy. I bet if they had railed aggresively against piracy whilst mentioning that figure, you would be trying to debunk it.

          • TechnicalBen says:

            Nope. I see no one every trying to “debunk” that piracy exists. But trying to debunk the idea that “piracy = poor games makers”. If you become millionaires anyway, how have you been harmed?

            Anecdotal, but an example, is how I did not buy World of Goo due to “DRM”. Well, not DRM, but the other tricks publishers pull. I logged onto the website one Friday night, and decided to buy the game, but being tired I left it till Saturday. What happened? They suspended all their sales because the Console Publishing deal they got put an embargo on sales or imports. The publisher stopped me giving them my money. That’s an ultimate fail in my book. :(

        • Kadayi says:

          I’m fairly sure the World of Goo guys would of preferred it if less people had pirated the game and more people had bought it regardless of how much they may have made in the long run (citation needed on that ‘millionaires’ statement BTW). Also unless your ideal PC gaming future is one where all we have is side scrolling platformer indie games made by bedroom coders, a piracy rate of 87% as a result of no DRM isn’t going to cut the mustard when it comes to green lighting multi-million pound AAA titles with hundreds of developers livelihoods on the line when it comes to revenue generation. This idea that development studios should wholly rely on the goodwill and honesty of the audience to cough up is somewhat akin to expecting them to consign themselves to the role of street musicians busking for change.

          • Enikuo says:

            “by the way, just in case it’s not 100% clear, we’re not angry about piracy, we still think that DRM is a waste of time and money, we don’t think that we’re losing sales due to piracy, and we have no intention of trying to fight it.”

            link to rockpapershotgun.com

          • Kadayi says:


            Well being ‘angry’ about piracy tends to bite you is the ass in interviews. However I doubt if someone was in the room with either of them and said ‘oh yeah I totally pirated that game you made’ they’d be fine with it.

          • HothMonster says:

            They would probably say “why?” and take it from there. Associating your piracy rage is as stupid as me associating my piracy indifference to ubisoft.

          • Enikuo says:

            I think the salient point was that they think it’s a waste of time and money. They don’t see pirates as lost customers, which is what you’re implying.

          • Kadayi says:


            Well at their level it might well be, but that same rule doesn’t apply to AAA developers who are making a high level product with considerably more on the line. No bank is going to lend you finance if the metrics say 87% of users aren’t going to pay you a cent. Still the whole indie scene astounds me in terms of how generous people are towards it (the money received is at odds with the development man hours Vs most AAAs). Dear Esther an hour and a half of game for £7, yet you have people like Brun further on basically claiming piracy is a resultant of AAA games somehow not providing value for money when it comes to entertainment. Vs pirates in fact just being freeloading scumbags. I can’t think of the last AAA I played that cost me £5 for every hour of entertainment I got out of it.

    • Jimbo says:

      You would need access to a parallel universe to prove it one way or the other, John. That’s kinda the problem with this whole debate.

      All that should matter to the company is whether their DRM increases or decreases sales, but that’s impossible to measure so they can only go on their best guess. Which is why they keep changing their policy every other week.

      I would think it’s almost a certainty that always-on DRM reduces piracy, but whether it reduces or increases sales in the process is anybody’s guess.

      • HothMonster says:

        “I would think it’s almost a certainty that always-on DRM reduces piracy”

        Why do you think that? Unless the its always-on in the form of having a large majority of the content is stored remotely it is just as ineffective as other DRM.

        • Jimbo says:

          Because any amount of hassle is more than no hassle. Even if it only holds up for launch day it’ll reduce piracy to some extent.

          • HothMonster says:

            Meh, if you know where to download the files you know where to download the crack just as easy. The question then becomes what is more of a hassle living with the drm or downloading the crack. To say people would have downloaded it if they also didn’t have to download the crack that is usually packaged with it is a pretty weak argument.

            Whether or not 24 hours delay can get people to spend money if they were planning to pirate…I doubt it but I’m sure there are a few. You have to look at why people pirate and see which of those reasons may be effected by a delay. I can’t afford it, I can’t get it where I live, I want to try it first, and fuck you I don’t pay for free shit all will not be moved. But I suppose there is a small group of people that would have pirated but want it soooooo bad they can not wait, but it would be a very small group imo.

          • Jimbo says:

            Read the other half of the sentence you cut in half when you quoted me ^. I said it would almost certainly reduce piracy but not necessarily increase sales.

    • HothMonster says:

      “The day DRM goes away PC gaming will become extinct. For every zero DRM success story there are many more in the opposite direction.”

      For this statement to be even slightly true DRM would have to work. It doesn’t, end of story. DRM is cracked within 24 hours of release every time. So to say DRM is the only thing keeping some games from failing is ludicrous because the only thing the DRM does is hurt legitimate customers.

      • jezcentral says:

        @HothMonster The problemn is DRM demonstrably DOES work. It prevents paying customers playing the game they paid for.

    • Wisq says:

      The day DRM goes away PC gaming will become extinct.

      I thought the article dealt with that nonsense pretty throroughly. You know, the part where gaming didn’t die out in the 1980s.

      For every zero DRM success story there are many more in the opposite direction.

      Define “opposite direction”.

      Games with no DRM that are pirated so much that they can’t make money? Never heard of ’em. Not saying they’re not out there, but they’re not exactly making headlines as far as I can tell.

      Games with DRM that are pirated so much that they can’t make money? Aside from the difficulty of measuring how much loss is due to piracy (and how much is due to, say, a crap game), that’s ultimately irrelevant to the question of whether games without DRM can survive piracy. It’s like a store featuring a sign that says “DON’T STEAL ANYTHING YOU WORTHLESS THIEVING SHITS” and then saying that their extraordinarily high shoplifting rate means that the shop next door without the sign must obviously be doing even worse.

      Besides, you’ve just contradicted yourself here. By acknowledging that there are successful DRM-free games, you’ve proven that the death of DRM would not equate to the extinction of PC games, since some games obviously do just fine without DRM.

  12. Khemm says:

    Ubisoft already took a step in the right direction – HoMMVI, Anno 2070 and AC Revelations were actually very light on the DRM side – one time activation and that’s it.
    Sure, some people complained about 3 activations when it comes to Anno and somewhat rightfully so, but it really wasn’t that big of an issue.

    • Maldomel says:

      It is important if you consider that you paid for a product, but somehow it is not entirely yours, like at some point you won’t be able to use it anymore. When I buy a game, I expect to be able to make a full use out of it, whenever I want to, if I want to. Not to lose all my rights on a product I paid for because of some stupid lame decision from the publisher.

    • djbriandamage says:

      How is 3 activations reasonable in any way? Ubisoft gets 100% of your money upfront – how do they benefit whatsoever by limiting your access to the product you paid for?

      • Brun says:

        It’s to keep you from installing the game on a bunch of your friends’ PCs – that cuts into their bottom line because your friends aren’t buying the game themselves.

        On my list of DRM fouls limited installs is below a few other, more egregious practices.

        • djbriandamage says:

          What’s so bad about this though? We could always lend games to friends on disk as we can with books and music. McDonalds loses a sale every time I cook for friends as well but they couldn’t reasonably argue that I am being unethical or predatory by doing so.

          • Brun says:

            We could always lend games to friends on disk as we can with books and music.

            Believe me, if the studios (game, music, and movie) had their way, you wouldn’t be able to do this either. Publishers are already starting to take measures to curtail this kind of activity on consoles.

            The food service industry (McDonald’s analogy) isn’t really applicable here because it is not as closed and controlled as the entertainment media industry.

          • BillyIII says:

            Don’t give them any ideas.

          • Brun says:

            I don’t need to give them ideas, they’ve already had them on their own. Used game sales are the piracy of the console world. If Publishers weren’t so reliant on retailers (who make a significant amount of revenue from used game sales) they would definitely be much more aggressive in combating used sales and trade-ins.

            Since the PC world lacks the kind of check that retailers hold against their behavior, publishers can enforce DRM as aggressively as their customers are willing to accept.

          • HothMonster says:

            Retailers make shit on new games. Stores like best buy and wal-mart carry them to get your to also buy accessories from them, there is a significant markup on accessories. The other stores, gamestop ect., make their money on the used games and accessories. Best Buy made about 1.80$ for every 60$ new game they sell when I worked there, and independent video game store I worked at quite some time ago made 1.50$ per new game.

            edit: I missed the used in “revenue from used game sales” I’m leaving the above as a testament of fail

        • skorpeyon says:

          My problem here is that when I decide to upgrade my computer once, twice, maybe the harddrive fails and I have to reinstall a few times… and my activations are used up in, say, 3-4 years, maybe a few more. If I REALLY like a game, I want to be able to go back to it 10 years down the line and play it. I still original GameBoy games (Metroid II), original Sega Genesis games (Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Phantasy Star 2, 3 & 4) on their original systems. Since I PAID for them I should continue to be able to do so another 10 years from now. People KNOW that computers change, are replaced, fail, die, harddrives become unrecoverable and so on. Limited activations on PC games forces you to re-purchase a game that you could reasonably run out of activations on in a few years. It’s just plain not right, and is a horribly filthy practice. It’s the reason I didn’t buy Spore, and it’s the reason I wouldn’t buy Anno if I were interested in it.

          • djbriandamage says:

            This is exactly my way of thinking. If I upgrade my video card Ubisoft doesn’t lose money.

          • Lycan says:

            Wholeheartedly agree. If I may, a better system may be to time activations – for example, allow 3 activations a year. If you’re not prepared to do that as a publisher, then please refund me my money (or a scaled percentage thereof after you deduct for the other stuff, like manuals and physical disks etc) when you lock the game out of my possession… it’s only “fair”, right ? In the absence of a refund quid-pro-quo, buying a game from Ubisoft is essentially not very different from renting it, in essence.

          • Kadayi says:

            Generally with this things you can deactivate an earlier install, thus allowing you to reinstall on a new machine. Itunes used to operate that way.

          • Ragnar says:

            I like the way Epic used to do it with Unreal Tournament (maybe they still do?), where after 6-months or so, they would put out a patch that disabled the CD-Check. I’m sure their thinking was, “If someone’s going to pirate our game, they’re going to do it soon after we release, not 6 months later. No reason to punish our customers past that initial period.” I would prefer that online-activation games would follow this model.

        • HothMonster says:

          if my friends can’t / don’t want to pay for a game they do not need to borrow my copy, there are a number of websites they can already get the game from. So why limit my ability to use my paid for product when it doesn’t actually prevent anyone from pirating it.

          • Brun says:

            I never said the rationale behind it made any sense. Only that there was indeed a rationale behind it.

  13. Aemony says:

    You heared it here first, people.

    “Don’t Burgle: It’s Not Very Nice”

  14. ColonelClaw says:

    I will always prefer to buy my games. I more or less get everything on Steam. I always pay well above the average for the humble bundles. Compared to the majority of gamers I would guess I’m wealthier (being older and a company director), so from a cost point of view I have no problem in buying a few games a month. Some times I’ve paid full whack for some absolute stinkers (Rage, I’m looking at you), and other times I’ve unexpectedly hit the jackpot (I bought Witcher 2 on release knowing absolutely nothing about it)
    But if you at Ubisoft continue acting like jerks, then trust me, that’s a game we can both play. When I first found out about the DRM they put into their games I actually made a point of pirating them in protest. Simply not buying their games is for me not good enough, hit them where they will feel it.

    • John Walker says:

      You realise that in doing that, you validate their arguments, right? Don’t pretend pirating a game is a defiant act. Not giving them your money is the defiant part. Taking the game anyway, whether wrong or right, is not sending them the message you’re hoping for.

      • ColonelClaw says:

        So what do I do? Just not buy the game? For me that’s like keeping my mouth shut when I had the chance to speak up.

        • John Walker says:

          Communicate with them! Tell Ubisoft that you won’t be buying their games until they remove the DRM, and will encourage others to do so. (Ideally politely, and calmly.) Explain your reasoning to others on forums, in public, etc. Convince other people not to buy their products if you believe they shouldn’t. But since the entire point is they can’t measure piracy in any meaningful way to justify or defend DRM, nor can they measure if more people pirate it in reaction to DRM. You’re just getting a game you want without paying.

          • ColonelClaw says:

            Ok, that sounds fair enough, I will not buy their games.
            But I’ll be honest, it feels like a cop out, or the lazy thing to do. If somebody is being an asshole I always feel it’s important they realise it.

            The funny thing is, I’ve never even played any of their games, (apart from 15 minutes of AC Brotherhood), they’re not my thing.

          • Keymonk says:

            Send them an eloquent statement on how they’re screwing their customers in an email! Then you -would- have done something, but not validated them.

        • lightstriker says:

          Pirating games in response to them implementing DRM is roughly equivalent to sneaking a gun into school to protest them putting in Metal Detectors.

          That is validating their argument, not particularly fighting it…

          • RevStu says:

            “Pirating games in response to them implementing DRM is roughly equivalent to sneaking a gun into school to protest them putting in Metal Detectors. That is validating their argument, not particularly fighting it…”

            No, that’s stupid and irrational, if you think about it for a second. If you DON’T pirate it, they get the message “This DRM has reduced piracy, therefore we must keep using it.” To convince them DRM doesn’t reduce piracy, you must pirate a game MORE if it features DRM. If you want to be pious about it, just don’t bother playing it.

          • Ragnar says:

            If you pirate a game with DRM, what they think is, “Our DRM is not draconian enough! We need even stricter DRM! We need to host the game on our servers, require a subscription model to access, package each game with a SecureID token, and require the user to punch in the code every 20 minutes!”

            If you don’t buy the game, don’t pirate it, and send them an email stating why you didn’t buy their game, they think “Oh, our DRM just cost us another sale. Maybe we need to rethink our DRM strategy.”

          • lightstriker says:

            “They got a gun into our school, therefore the metal detectors clearly aren’t working”.

          • Ragnar says:

            “They got a gun into our school, therefore the metal detectors clearly aren’t working. We need to add full body cavity searches to make sure that guns stay out of our schools.”

            Or, for DRM:

            “The games are still being pirated, therefore the one-time activation clearly isn’t working. We need to add always-on DRM to stop pirates.” -> Ubisoft
            “The games are still being pirated, therefore the always-on DRM clearly isn’t working. We need to move all the games into the cloud, requiring users to connect to us.” -> Diablo 3

          • RevStu says:

            What you don’t seem to want to grasp is that they already think that way.

          • Wisq says:

            So let’s assume for a moment that all gaming executives have trained their small pool of brain cells to believe the following:

            DRM = less piracy, more sales
            piracy = needs more DRM
            more sales = DRM is working
            less sales = must be piracy

            Here are some of our possible options:

            Buy the game, don’t tell them anything

            Hm, not a great one. They assume the DRM is working. Not the message we want to send.

            Don’t buy the game, don’t tell them anything
            Pirate the game, don’t tell them anything

            Both of these aren’t very good. Either way, they assume piracy is the problem, and more piracy means more DRM needed.

            Pirate the game, tell them you pirated it because of the DRM

            All this tells them is that you wanted the game, but you were able to pirate it instead of being forced to pay them. That means they need more DRM in order to stop you next time. It directly supports their “less sales = must be piracy” logic.

            Don’t buy the game, tell them you didn’t buy it because of the DRM

            If we assume that any of these options has the ability to punch through their logical deadlock, this is probably the one. It directly contradicts several of the key points: “DRM = more sales”, “less sales = must be piracy”, etc. They’re forced, finally, to consider that DRM might be costing them sales — that there are people out there who are offended enough to not play their game rather than just resort to piracy.

            I admit, I don’t know the odds, and I suspect they’re not all that great. But out of all the options here, this is the only one with real potential.

            As much as they need to stop believing that DRM is the solution to piracy, we also need to stop believing that piracy is the solution to DRM.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Just don’t buy a game if you don’t like the DRM decisions. Also, bitch about it on the internet. I’m being absolutely serious. With enough negative press and missing sales, it’ll cause people to change their minds.

      • bwion says:

        The example I usually facetiously use is “Send them a photograph of all the money you won’t be giving them.”

        Letting them know that they have genuinely lost sales (and not by taking their product for free instead) is exactly the sort of thing a company will pay attention to, especially if a lot of people do it. “I can do without your game entirely, because the problematic DRM is that important to me” actually feels like a much stronger message than “screw you, I does what I likes, and what I likes is to have your game without paying for it”.

        • Cyberwizard says:

          That’s an awesome idea!

          You could even take it a step further. Take a picture of the money and then the game you bought INSTEAD of their game. It shows that money was designated for gaming and went to gaming, just not to them.

          • ColonelClaw says:

            Great suggestions, this is what I will do next time :)
            My frustration about not buying their game is how can you measure a lost sale when it’s something that never existed? This will do nicely.

          • skorpeyon says:

            I think I am going to begin doing this on forums of companies that have ridiculous DRM, as this is an absolutely awesome idea. Literally showing them that their game is not important enough to be bothered with until they remove the DRM.

          • InternetBatman says:

            I don’t have time for all of that. I have too many games from sales and bundles to spend worrying about the ones I didn’t buy.

          • MiniMatt says:

            I think doing something more physical than bitching on the internet is a fine plan. I’ve not tried with Ubisoft but with other companies I’ve had decent results by writing an actual honest to goodness pen and paper letter (well, word processed letter, I’m not *that* hardcore) to the name of whatever higher up you can find. Including a picture of cash or another game is a great idea.

            Personally I haven’t bought a Ubi game for a long time, and last year was the first year it actually hurt, they had a number of actually good releases, at least one of which would have been a day one purchase. (and no, I didn’t pirate them).

            I would have spent, I dunno, maybe a hundred quid on Ubi titles but didn’t not because their games weren’t good, or weren’t my cup of tea, but purely because of their DRM. I spent that money on other games instead. Or beer. Or pizza. Perhaps I can sue Ubi for my chronic liver disease and type 2 diabetes?

    • Kadayi says:

      meh wrong post

    • Kadayi says:

      How about instead of pirating their games, you write a letter to their customer services outlining why you’re not buying their game. Or if you absolutely have to play it (or was the playing it some kind of protest in itself?) Buy it when it’s on sale. CEO my ass…

  15. mmalove says:

    I agree with most of this write up, except for the ending where John talks about how quickly gamers will turn around and support Ubisoft again if they drop the DRM. They will come back eventually, I don’t argue. But it’s much easier to convince a customer to leave your store than enter. I’m a pretty big fan of the HOMM and Settler’s games, but I’m in no hurry to buy them even if they are not DRMed at this point. I like EVE Online, but I’m in no hurry after seeing CCP develop Aurom and station walking in lieu of other space based enhancements/fixes – and even now with time dilation and ship rebalances, the allure is gone.

  16. Alexander Norris says:

    Some who unlawfully download games may use bullshit “ethical” arguments to justify their actions, with rubbish about how they’re doing it to take a stand, or get revenge, or punish, or defy the corrupt, but what they’re doing is downloading a game without paying. I’m not taking a side on whether that’s wrong or right

    Well, actually, when you label them as “bullshit” arguments, you’re quite explicitly putting out a value judgement (I mention this since the rest of the article is much more reserved in tone, and those two sentences together sort of stand out :P).

    • Apples says:

      Damn, I was just about to post this. If you dimiss a side’s arguments as “rubbish” and “bullshit” and declare that they are “pretending” to take ethical positions (they are not pretending, they believe it. This is something that keeps coming up on the internet; commenters falsely believe that everyone except themselves is simply pretending to have opinions and beliefs, perhaps to troll or as a devil’s advocate or just to get out of feeling bad about something) you are saying they are wrong and you are against them.

    • bwion says:

      Yes. He’s taking the side that these arguments are stupid.

      If I decide to commute by bus to work because auto manufacturers have been infiltrated by Giant Space Lizards, then you can call my argument stupid (and I can admonish you to WAKE UP, SHEEPLE) without saying a thing for or against public transit in general.

    • John Walker says:

      I’m not saying whether piracy is wrong or right. But arguments where people pretend it’s an act of brave civil disobedience are bullshit. Hence my saying so. Just as much as I’m calling bullshit on the arguments made by those defending DRM.

      • Apples says:

        If you think the moral arguments you’ve seen presented FOR piracy are bullshit, how can it in any way be right? You must think it’s morally wrong in that case, surely? Or are there some arguments for it you’ve seen that you don’t think are bullshit but which you just chose not to bring up so that you could provide a wholly negative view of ‘moral’ pirates for… er… some reason (but totally not that you think they’re wrong, obviously)

        “a very few who pirate may pretend theirs is an ethical position, they’re still getting a game for free.” Implication is that they believe they are behaving ethically, BUT they are getting a game for free (implied unethical). I see what you’re getting at but the writing has some dodge nuances around those points that make it sound like you sort of do take a stance ;)

        • John Walker says:

          Oh my poor head. I’m arguing it’s *not a moral issue*.

          Also, I have never suggested that all arguments in favour of piracy are bullshit! See the words “very few”? I’ve argued that pretending it’s a valiant act of integrity against the evil corporations is bullshit. Pirating because you can’t afford, want to try before you buy, don’t care either way, etc etc, I’ve made no comment on at all.

          Honestly, people’s desperation to take offense is a touch misdirected here. I am fully against DRM, and have heavily implied my belief that piracy encourages sales in the post above. But no – I will take no truck with, “I pirated it to send them a message”. The message being sent is, “I’m the sort of douchebag who makes publishers think DRM is necessary. (And I got a free game out of it.)”

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            I’m really fascinated by this idea that piracy is not a moral issue. I for one have always beleived it is morally wrong, but perhaps for no better reason than that my governess taught me never to suffer the iniquitiy of a pirate.

            Is this the opinion of all RPS staffers? Do you get into tavern brawls over your sympathies? I can’t seem to not hate piracy. How does one stop?

          • Apples says:

            Is it that it is not a moral issue though (it is, as evidenced by people taking moral stances on it – oh, or are they just pretending to) or is it that the moral side of it is irrelevant? If so, why is it objectively irrelevant? I’m not offended by it but it is eyebrow-raising when someone claims not to care about the moral side and then goes about declaiming moral stances on the thing as ‘bullshit’.

            Also: “Such a position would only make sense if you were having an ethical debate with the opposing side, and no one is.” One of the arguments you bring up as bullshit is “[pirates] defy[ing] the corrupt”. That seems like an ethical debate with the other side to me. They’re doing it – at least in part – because they believe the other side are ACTING INETHICALLY, often by providing harmful DRM. For the game company side it might be a business decision rather than an ethical one, but for a lot of pirates they believe that they ARE having a moral debate (through money) with the other side. Whether they’re producing the right result or not, and whether they are going about it right, is not the question. They believe that’s what they’re doing, like ColonelClaw.

          • Alexander Norris says:

            Thanks for taking the time to clarify, John. That was already pretty clear from the rest of the article, but it doesn’t hurt to state it outright. :)

          • Jimbo says:

            “I am fully against DRM, and have heavily implied my belief that piracy encourages sales in the post above.”

            Piracy will encourage some sales. Do you believe piracy encourages more sales than its availability prevents?

            In other words: if there were a perfect DRM solution which made all piracy impossible, without inconveniencing the customer in any way, do you believe sales of that game would be higher with the DRM or without it?

            Personally, I suspect it depends on the game. A game which has had $millions spent on marketing has far less to potentially gain from piracy than an unknown indie game.

          • HothMonster says:

            ” if there were a perfect DRM solution which made all piracy impossible, without inconveniencing the customer in any way, do you believe sales of that game would be higher with the DRM or without it?”

            It’s almost silly to talk about because there will never be that magic no more piracy button. However the music and movie industries continue to set sales records year after year inspite of piracy. If piracy really caused such a decline in sales don’t you think the number one selling movie of all time would have been something from about 1993 wouldn’t you? You certainly wouldn’t think the movie companies set a new overall box office record in 2011 would you? Well they did.

            The video game industry has continued to grow alongside piracy that is all we know for sure. .

          • Jimbo says:

            No, it’s not silly. If you consider this hypothetical scenario and your answer is still genuinely “I think there would be more sales with piracy than without it” then there is truly no point whatsoever taking any steps at all to discourage piracy under any circumstances, because you consider piracy to be beneficial overall. I think that would make you a crazy person as far as most games are concerned, but there you go.

            If you consider it and you believe sales would increase as a result of perfect DRM, then you accept that at some point between here (shitty DRM) and there (perfect DRM) is a tipping point where improving DRM and reducing piracy goes from decreasing sales to increasing sales, and then you can at least appreciate why they will keep trying to get to that point.

            The video game industry and piracy may have grown alongside each other, but do you think it’s more likely that the video game industry has grown as a result of piracy, or that piracy has increased as a result of the video game industry growing? I should think it’s pretty obviously the latter. It seems like extremely wishful thinking to me if you’re implying that piracy has been a net driving force for the industry.

            I have no idea what your source is for the music and movie industry thing, but I strongly suspect they aren’t setting sales records once you adjust for inflation and population growth.

          • HothMonster says:

            I think its silly because its a lot like saying, “If we build a nuke big enough there will be no more war,” or “Would the streets be safer if there were no drugs?” It is an impossibility and I don’t see the point in arguing impossible hypotheticals. No group of software engineers can design a protection method so foolproof that the entire world can not figure out how to crack it. The closest thing you can get is having all the content server-side like Diablo 3, but even that can be broken there are pirate WOW servers even though that operates the same way. Also requiring a server connection does hinder legitimate customers so it does not meet the criteria. Not to mention if digital piracy went away there is always the physical trading that has always existed.

            But if I do consider your hypothetical I think sales would be near equal to their current state. People would just play less games. I don’t think removing the option to pirate a game is going to give more people money to spend on games. Shy of the fringe group that thinks “If i can get it for free I refuse to pay for” (which I think is a small %) it will not effect people who can not afford it or purchase it in their region they would just have less games to play. It’s far more likely to push peoples towards something like Gamefly then getting them to shell out 60$ more often.

            Anecdotally, when I was growing up, before easy internet piracy was an option, me and all my friends just made sure to buy different games and we would all trade and share, exchanging game cartridges or pc instruction manuals. These days kids can all just pirate a copy but surely they still get games for christmas and their birthdays and when they can afford one as I did when I was little. When I was a little older I bought used games because I could get 5 for the same money and my minimium wage paycheck didn’t go far, these days I would imagine I would be more likely to buy one new and pirate the rest, as I did in college. If piracy was not an option in college and shortly after I would not have spent more on games I simply would have experienced less games. But now I am all growed up and have money and am happy to throw fistfuls of it to support the hobby I love but that is the key I have the money to do that and I only throw money at things I like.

            So that is why I see it as beneficial to neutral because I know the games industry has gotten more money out of me because piracy exists. I am very tentative to buy games I haven’t played partially from growing up before the internet and buying games that turned out to be shitty but had a lot of hype and/or cool box art. So there is a huge list of games I would have never bought if I didn’t have a chance to try them first, recent games of the top of my head terraria, magicka, crusader kings, bastion, witcher (I know its old but I just tried it after the second one came out and bought them both). None of them seemed like my cup of tea but I heard really good things enough times that I decided to take a look but I certainly wasn’t willing to throw money at it while I though I wouldn’t really enjoy it. If I don’t like it I delete it. So maybe there are some lost sales, but those are only the purchases I would have instantly regretted which are not the kind the industry wants as those would only push me back to trading with friends and buying from 2nd hand stores.

            So to sum up, I think its a symbiotic relationship. Piracy allows people to play more games, which gets them interested in playing more games. It allows people to find new games and new developers. It allows them to play far more games then they can afford but even then I believe most of them still have a games budget. I definitely think pubs/devs deserve our(my) money when they make something I enjoy and I am more than happy to give it to them but there was a time I couldn’t afford as many games as I wanted to play, if piracy wasn’t an option I would not have suddenly had more money to spend I just wouldn’t have enjoyed those games. I think the largest % of pirates fit this category and hopefully when they grow up and make lots of money they throw way too much money at video games too. However if they never develop a love for the hobby since they can not afford it they certainly will not be playing it when they grow up. I would probably be doing something productive right now instead of typing way too long of a response on a gaming website before I go play perpetuum.

            Without piracy some games would have probably done better than they did and some would have done worse but I think the net flow into the games industry would be the same. Also their would be no minecraft :b I think the word of mouth and ability to experiment bonuses outweight the hardcore “fuck the man” pirate negatives.

            As far as my comment about movies. Here is a list of the all time highest grossing films, a small handful of them are from the 90s and they have only had more time to make money: link to boxofficemojo.com
            Compare to:
            link to torrentfreak.com
            You can do the same thing with their monthly most pirated list, it is usually very close to the same months top grossing movies. Not saying there is causation because I could not prove it but its interesting.

            As far as the movie and music movies continuing to increase profits:
            link to techdirt.com
            link to techdirt.com
            The money has shifted around inside the industries but they continue to grow as a whole despite their failure to adapt.

            If you made it through this whole post I owe you a cookie.

        • InternetBatman says:

          There’s a very strong moral tradition of preserving old games through piracy. Frequently people will even illegally translate and offer those games for free. I think that’s entirely different than the often heard “I’m taking a stand by pirating this game.” Which is hypocritical, since you could always not buy it and send the exact same message.

          • djbriandamage says:

            In my opinion the real heart of the statement is “I want your game without the DRM”, and that’s hard to express when you make your statement by abstaining from purchase.

          • John Walker says:

            That’s a very interesting point, but I’m sure you’ll agree has nothing to do with those saying they are pirating to take a stand against DRM.

          • Ragnar says:

            “In my opinion the real heart of the statement is “I want your game without the DRM”, and that’s hard to express when you make your statement by abstaining from purchase.”
            What’s wrong with an email? It takes hardly more time than writing a comment. You can even say just that, “I want your game without the DRM”. I think that sends a very clear message.

      • derbefrier says:

        Come on “I am not saying piracy is right or wrong” is a cop out. Of course its wrong its stealing weather its a physical item or not is irrelevant. If your gonna write up a big long article about how shitty drm is and why it shouldn’t be used at least have the balls to call the people out that are the cause of this after all we wouldn’t even be having this conversation if it wasn’t for them. You guys are more than willing to jump on ubisoft for thier drm choices but this is a consequence of our own actions where the outrage for that? Why do pirates get a pass but we act so pissed when ubisoft and any other publisher is just trying to do what any one of us would do if our Shit was being stolen, we would try and prevent it.

        • Brun says:

          It’s not really about piracy being morally wrong, though. It’s about piracy affecting their bottom line. They don’t (or at least shouldn’t) care what the moral stance of pirates or their paying customers is. They might dress their DRM up as a fight against injustice in their PR interviews but realistically they don’t care about that, they just care about how much money they may or may not be losing because of piracy.

          Morality is an issue for religion or individual philosophy. It is not for Ubisoft to decide what is moral and what is not, nor should their motivation to use DRM be the enforcement of a particular moral viewpoint. To Ubisoft – or ANY publisher – DRM should be about nothing more than protecting your investment.

          This is, I believe, why John has said that the “morality issue is irrelevant” – in reality, it may or may not be a factor in Ubisoft’s behavior. The point is that it SHOULD be irrelevant.

        • Ragnar says:

          There’s some grey area to piracy. For example:
          1) Old game is out of print. I buy games to support devs, but this game is out of print. If I buy a used copy, none of that money goes to the devs. Is there any harm in me pirating an out-of-print game?

          2) I bought Starcraft, but I lost the CDs. I still have my CD Key. I’m not going to buy a 2nd copy of Starcraft. Is there any harm in me downloading a pirated copy to replace my lost CDs?

          However, I believe that saying “I’m pirating to take a stand against DRM” is bullshit, just like “I’m pirating this game to get back at EA for releasing day one DLC” and “I’m pirating because [publisher] doesn’t make good games anymore” and “I’m pirating because this game is overpriced” are all bullshit.

          If you want to take a stand, write letters, send emails, etc. If the game is overpriced, wait until it goes on sale. If the game isn’t good, don’t play it. Everything else sounds like trying to rationalize why getting the game for free is ok.

        • kud13 says:

          must we get into this again?
          Piracy is not theft. Copyright infringement is not theft. It is a violation of a regime created to protect the rights of publishers, whilst claiming to protect the rights of “artists”

          game developers and publishers do not “own” ideas. They have rights to the expressions of those ideas. At the same time, there is no universal “law of Intellectual property”, so presenting the matter as a 100% black and white issue of “all pirates are criminals” is an absurd generalization.

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            My opinion is this:

            Getting games for nothing is wrong. Regardless of whether piracy is “theft”, whether it damages sales or threatens publishers or developers, piracy is wrong. I hate that detractors try to justify their objection to piracy on the grounds of some financial mathematics, or a mistaken comparison to theft of physical property.

            Piracy is wrong because it fosters notions of entitlement and, if left unchecked, would create a world in which everyone expects to receive software for free. Perhaps that world would be a good one to live in for those who like software, but it wouldn’t be for those who place a value on responsiblility.

            Edit: I don’t think I’ve ever sounded more like a grumpy old man in my entire life.

          • Apples says:

            LennyLeonardo: So piracy in your view isn’t wrong because someone puts work in and gets nothing in return (they probably actually would, if they had good standing with their customers, but nothing directly per each customer using the product) – it’s wrong because it will make people whiny?

            Actually I think that it would foster more responsibility, since firstly there would be none of the “I paid for this so I demand that it be good/be changed to my whims, and the customer is always right” stuff, and people would quickly learn that if they like something, they need to choose to support it or it will disappear. There will always be people leeching off legitimate supporters/buyers but the majority would have to learn to pitch in, and in that case pirates might decrease due to social pressures and disapproval of the online community (rather than the current sort-of-approval that largely exists for pirates). I don’t know if it a total pay-what-you-want economy for entertainment would work, and I suspect it wouldn’t, but I don’t think it’s a given that it will make people into entitled freeloaders.

          • LennyLeonardo says:

            I’m not sure I understand your point 100%, but the idea about social disapproval being the key to reducing piracy is a really great one. That’s why I believe that piracy should be treated as a social/moral issue, because clearly all these attempts to prevent piracy using intrusive software are not having the desired effect. We need to stop people from wanting to pirate in the first place – and the moral platform is the only place to do that.

            Yes, some people will always want to pirate software, but social responsibility/morality is a far more powerful force than “hey, free stuff!”.

            Of course, it would help if governments had the ability/knowedge required to effectively legislate against piracy…

    • Mordsung says:

      Man, you people who actually consider the moral and ethical implications of your actions must have a hell of a time making decisions.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        OK, the very definition of the word psychopath is a “personality disorder characterized by a pervasive pattern of disregard for the rights of others and the rules of society”.

        You sir, sound like a psychopath.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        Actually, caring about what’s moral makes a lot of decisions very easy. For example: should I pirate the next Ubisoft game? While you’re worrying about bandwidth, or whether you want to “spite” the man for using intrusive DRM, I’m happy with a big fat NO.

  17. Njordsk says:

    Didn’t buy a single UBI game since A. creed 1. Either I didn’t like them or there was some DRM. Might check on rayman though, got great memories of rayman 3 :)

    Plus them ruining rainbow six/ghost recon/splinter cell ‘s name made me sadpanda

    And on a sidenote I HATE (with passion) people pirating. They’re self-destroying the hobby they love.
    Don’t like or disagree with editor? Just pass. Downloading it make their game.

  18. zergrush says:

    I haven’t really had any trouble with ubidrm on the few games I’ve got from them. All Assassin’s Creeds work just fine offline ( granted, I only bought AC2 after they dropped the stupid online-only thing ). To be honest I’ve had more trouble with both Steam’s and Starcraft 2 offline modes than with any Ubisoft game, so I simply started cracking/un-steaming every single player game I get on Steam.

    And I probably contribute to piracy statistics, because I usually just torrent the stuff I buy and put it on the appropriate steam folder due to the ridiculously slow download speeds I get from pretty much any steam server.

  19. amorpheous says:

    I’ve been voting with my wallet. I haven’t bought a Ubisoft game since the DRM in Ass Creed II screwed me over by throwing me all the way back to the start of Sequence 7 after I’d got through it just because my internet had gone down momentarily at some point between the time I started playing and the time I exited the game. It took me at least a whole year to get over that and go back to finish the game.

    I’ve currently a 50% off coupon for Ass Creed Revelations sitting in my Steam account, but I refuse to use it. Until and unless Ubisoft’s poisonous DRM isn’t completely removed from all current and future releases I’m going to continue not buying them. (How do you like that Mr. Early?!)

  20. InternetBatman says:

    I don’t really think the statements meant much of anything. Ubisoft is just trying to garner some good will after they’ve been thrashed repeatedly for their terrible DRM in both the gaming press and the comments boards. We like to think that comments don’t matter, because a lot of people overstate their importance, but the sheer amount of ill-will they’ve garnered has turned an Ubisoft logo into a liability rather than an asset. I wouldn’t be surprised if their PC sales are staying the same while other publishers are starting to push in the millions again. These things have momentum though, and it will take them at least a year or two of good gestures and good games to turn things around.

    Also, I think piracy is really more of a service issue than a technical issue. It’s been said before, but lots of people stopped being pirates during the rise of digital distribution for two reasons: it was easier to buy games than pirate them and sales meant that a game would reliably go down to an affordable price if you wait. The bad period of the early Oughts was caused by a lag in service in pricing compared to customer’s expectations.

    Finally, I think the most important issue is that piracy shouldn’t matter if you make money off of your game. I can’t think of a great studio that has fallen because of piracy; the real dangers to game studios are buggy releases, financial mismanagement, legal challenges, and poor reviews.

  21. Mommenaizer says:

    Not directly related to the topic: What event is the last image about? I find this one deeply depressing for no apparent reason..

  22. Brun says:

    One word that the Ubisoft guy threw out was “value.” Ubisoft (and every other major publisher) needs to have a very, very clear understanding of what this word means. Value, in economic terms, is the ratio of quality to price. I say that they need a clear understanding of value because in many cases supposedly “AAA” games carry a very low value. That is a recipe for piracy – bad games will be pirated because they are not worth $60 or whatever they happen to be charging for them. The pirates obviously have an interest in the game, just not $60 worth of interest.

    There are sevaral problems at the root of that issue the biggest being that the price of developing a AAA game has become too high. The root of THAT problem is that development techniques have not adequately advanced to match pace with the advancement of technology. You’d think that with a 10 year console refresh cycle that wouldn’t be a problem, but apparently it is – I read a news story a few weeks ago that cited a prominent game developer saying that he’s not looking forward to the next hardware generation because “it will drive budgets up.” To me that screams that proper investment has not been made in making the development process more efficient. If you’re complaining that new hardware will make game development too hard then someone needs to buckle down and spend the money to figure out how to make game development easier.

    (Personally I think that some investment needs to be made in procedural middleware capable of generating varied and rich high-quality assets, since art and asset generation is typically the most expensive and time-consuming part of developing a game. SpeedTree is an example of something that does this already, but we also need tools that can generate textures and meshes with similar speed).

    • Jimbo says:

      You’d think with how similar many AAA games are, a lot of the common assets would be catalogued up and shared/licensed by now. Maybe they are, IDK.

      Also, that tech where you just spin something in front of a camera and it creates a textured 3D model of it is cool as shit.

      • Shuck says:

        Model libraries don’t seem to be too popular even for the unimportant background detail. Mostly it’s because most of the effort is put into making assets unique to that game, so they can’t reuse assets from game to game (except things like trees, that are likely to be something licensed like “Speed Tree” anyways). Since the technology improves so quickly, older assets with low poly counts, low res textures, etc. might not suffice in a new game engine. A lot of the generic, low-importance background stuff that could be licensed is made by unpaid interns or outsourced to low-cost studios in China, etc., so there’s not much incentive. The 3D scanners aren’t too popular because you’re limited in what you can scan, the thing you want to scan must already exist (and you have to have access to it) and the output isn’t particularly optimized (though this is getting better), so a good modeler can often create it from scratch in less time than it would take to just scan and fix it. (I’ve heard animators make the same argument against motion capture.) Those images of people making clay models of characters and scanning them looks nice, but doesn’t speed things up any – in fact, usually the opposite.

        • Brun says:

          It doesn’t have to be things like models. Textures as well – is it really necessary to create a dirt or grass texture that is unique to your game (assuming it’s just regular Earth dirt/grass)?

          And it’s just about creating libraries or indices of reusable assets – it’s about making tools that ease and accelerate the creation of unique assets.

    • Ragnar says:

      “I’m pirating this game because it’s not worth $60” sounds like a bullshit excuse for getting it for free. I feel that most games aren’t worth their $60 price tags, so I wait and pick them up on sale. The price usually drops to 1/2 within 3-6 months, and with all the sales that Steam and Amazon have during the year, I get most AAA games for $10-20 on PC and $15-30 on consoles. Pirating sends the message that people are unwilling to buy games, and thus DRM is needed. Buying games on sale sends the message that people will buy games, but the price needs to decrease or the value needs to increase until they are balanced.

  23. Yosharian says:

    Pfeh. I don’t think the situation is that simple. Just look at the PC version of Driver: San Fran. Yes, it came with obnoxious, intrusive DRM. But it was also an utterly shite console port obviously rushed out by a porting team who either didn’t know what they were doing or weren’t allowed to do their jobs properly. The gaming industry executives in charge of companies like EA just don’t give a shit about gamers, they care about only one thing: money. Until a change of attitude occurs at the top, the guys at the bottom will continue to get shat on.

    • The Tupper says:

      I found Driver SF to work just fine.

      • KenTWOu says:

        Yosharian is absolutely right. PC version of Driver:SF is a disaster. It doesn’t support 4:3, 5:4, 16:10 monitors, it has very bright video cut-scenes, but the actual game is too dark, and it doesn’t have in-game bright/contrast settings. It has issues with keyboard control settings and doesn’t support several steering wheels. Vsync setting doesn’t work properly. Fps usually drops when several AI cars around you…

        It’s a fantastic innovative game, but I can’t recommend it to anyone. Thanks, God, Ubisoft changed its DRM and made possible to play this game in offline mode.

  24. SanguineAngel says:

    I do not really enjoy the real time gaming aspects of The Cloud. Ubi’s take on the cloud is STILL as a new form of DRM, as evidenced by Early’s comments within the interview but I have to admit, cloud gaming just isn’t that convenient for me.

    My flatmate and I fight for bandwidth at the best of times. Ubi’s newer games run like molasses at least partly due to the fact that they are constantly trying to access the internet. I suffer from stuttering, hanging and crashes. It’s a nightmare, especially when I just want to play the single player game.

    It doesn’t help when the aspects that Ubi have tied into the internet largely seem to be elements of the game that are purely for the SP campaign and do not benefit from the internet at all and simply serve to render my game experience GOD AWFUL. In honesty though, if I am playing a single player game I don’t really want to be tied into cloud features anyway. Certainly, some of them would be interesting additions and the option would be nice. But please don’t make it mandatory for my computer to be connected to the internet as this is still not practical for many people. I would like to take future games on the move on a laptop, I would like to be able to play a game when my internet is being rubbish or for that first week I have moved house or when YOUR servers go kaput. I would like to enjoy the game I have paid for and to feel like a valued customer. I would not like to feel frustrated and mistreated. Thanks

    • Kadayi says:

      You know you can turn that stuff off under the Uplay options dude.

      • HothMonster says:

        I think half of his point is these things are not adding value to the game. If they say uplay is one of their selling point which will encourage people to buy instead of pirate it shouldn’t be something you have to or want to turn off. It also shouldn’t be something that adds value or for as long as they decide to keep the servers running and then they take it all away from you. #puttingwordsinotherpeoplesmouths

        • Kadayi says:

          Can you define ‘adding value’ because I find nebulous phrases like that are the preserve of apologists.

  25. karthink says:

    Sometimes I think the hardest thing humans do is to get other humans to change their stance on something. I have trouble changing my outlook even when I am shown to be objectively wrong. I just hope Early & Co are better, more rational, forward thinking people than me.

  26. Mordsung says:

    Years ago, many computer shops actually allowed you to rent games. Since, in those days, “DRM” was often a code on a given page of the manual, or some sort of convoluted paper wheel system that you’d have to use a code given when the game boots up, anyone with access to a photocopier, or a pen and paper and some time, could rent a game for 5 bucks, install it, and then copy the manual.

    Games still sold.

    All DRM is now is something that takes hackers an extra day to crack, while making the experience of paying customers slightly more complex that necessary.

  27. Enikuo says:

    Everything that guy said makes me think they just plan to lock more single-player content away in the cloud and claim it’s a feature. I’m not buying it – literally or figuratively.

    • Brun says:

      Yes, he mentioned “creating value” to discourage piracy. To most publishers that means DLC, cloud or server-side integration, or online passes that come with some frivolous little bonus features as a justification for their existence. It’s the wrong kind of “value” – what it means to the consumer (gamers) is making a better game, one that’s actually worth the $60 they’re charging for it.

      • Kadayi says:


        How exactly do you add ‘value’ to a base game when the people pirating it aren’t going to pay anything regardless? Or are you suggesting that the only reason that people pirate things is because they somehow don’t think games are worth their full price? The cost of games has been pretty static for several years now (meaning they’ve actually become cheaper), but the production values have generally increased significantly. As entertainment goes most AAA games are generally pretty good valve for money on the whole in terms of cost/Vs time (where as with indie titles like Dear Esther it’s up for debate). This notion that somehow publishers and developers are nickel and diming players at every opportunity is kind of BS logic tbh.

        • Brun says:

          I’m saying that weak value is one of many reasons people pirate games. It’s certainly not the only one, but I suspect that it’s fairly substantial. There have been plenty of games that I have a passing interest in that I might have considered buying if they weren’t $60, or that I would have pirated if I were the kind of person that pirated games (several of Ubisoft’s titles fall into this category).

          And it’s not just about production value. Production value may very well have gone up but production value alone doesn’t make a good game (or TV show, or movie). It has to be a good game – meaning fun, enjoyable, etc.

          • Kadayi says:

            Weak value? Vs what? As Shuck rightly points out in terms of value proposition games come out very well Vs pretty much all other forms of entertainment.

            “Production value may very well have gone up but production value alone doesn’t make a good game (or TV show, or movie). It has to be a good game – meaning fun, enjoyable, etc.”

            Yeah, because it’s not like AAA developers rigorously play test their games to death in order to figure out what’s ‘fun’ for the audience …oh no wait they totally do do that.

            Quit defending game piracy. If you’re prepared to play it, you should be prepared to pay for it. End of story. If you think $60 is too much, you have some patience and wait for a sale.

          • HothMonster says:

            Adding value does not mean that the game is not worth 60$. It means they should have a product that is more valuable than the pirate’s version. As it stands a paid for DRMed version that doesn’t work, deletes your saved games, can’t be played on a laptop on a train or any of the reasons people hate DRM is worth less than a pirated version which has no restrictions and is user friendly. So the idea is instead of making the paid version less valuable to make it more valuable by finding ways to make the game better but in a way that only legitimate customers can benefit from it. A legitimate version of COD is more valuable than a pirated version because the real version can do multiplayer (why do you think they refuse to let people make their own servers). The question is how do you add that value to single player games without fucking over paying customers? Social integration, rewards and regular updates are part of it but they really need to be done right for anyone to notice. If I just want to turn uplay off it is not adding value to a ubisoft game.

            If you have people that buy games and then download the crack, as many people on here claim to do, you are not adding value to your product. If you had to choose between a pirated copy and a retail copy but had to pay 60$ for either the retail copy should be what people choose without thinking about it and without hesitation, as it stands most people would go with the pirate version if DRM is involved.

          • Kadayi says:


            I fail to see how any of what you said invalidates ‘If you’re prepared to play for it, you should be prepared to pay for it’. Also as amusing as this idea is that all games should be made to be played anywhere, any time the actual reality the vast majority of people don’t play AAA games on the move, because in truth there not really designed with that nominal audience in mind (and nor is the hardware designed to support it for more than a couple of hours). The vast majority of people who play games who commute play handhelds/Ipads/smart phone games because they are manageable portable devices.

        • Shuck says:

          Yeah, game prices have remained static for some decades now. Adjusted for inflation, they cost about 60% of what they did in the 1980s. (While development budgets have exploded as has competition.) Value per hour compares pretty well to movie tickets or DVD/Blueray sales, too, even with “short” games.
          People often point out long AAA games like Skyrim or GTA as “worth the money” but those tend to be the games that have a development budget that’s ten times higher than anyone else’s. It’s not exactly a strategy the rest of the industry can adopt to gain customers. Comparing game prices to smaller, indie game prices isn’t helpful either, nor to the reduced “long tail” prices for older games. (Though that’s a pretty good argument against “it costs too much” as a justification for piracy – if you wait six months, the game is almost guaranteed to be cheaper.) There’s a reason why DLC, subscriptions and even free-to-play (and shell out lots of money for a satisfying game experience) are popular these days with developers/publishers. (And it’s not greed.)

        • Harvey says:

          <blockquote cite="(1.)How exactly do you add ‘value’ to a base game when the people pirating it aren’t going to pay anything regardless? (2.)Or are you suggesting that the only reason that people pirate things is because they somehow don’t think games are worth their full price? (3.)The cost of games has been pretty static for several years now (meaning they’ve actually become cheaper), but the production values have generally increased significantly. (4.)As entertainment goes most AAA games are generally pretty good valve for money on the whole in terms of cost/Vs time (where as with indie titles like Dear Esther it’s up for debate). (5.)This notion that somehow publishers and developers are nickel and diming players at every opportunity is kind of BS logic tbh."

          1.Team Fortress 2

          2.It’s not the only reason, but I’ve done it for that reason in the past, if i just can’t wait. I’ve gotten better at this. (waiting)

          3.Yes, the cost of games has stayed the same. BUT there are other factors, like digital distribution, and the sheer force of volume of sales. Gaming is mainstream now, that’s why production levels can be what they are.


          5.Day 1 DLC? One-time codes for multiplayer? I could go on, but I think those two are enough to call your “bullshit” claim. They may be debateable, you could disagree, but bullshit they ain’t

  28. Taro says:

    So there’s all the (valid, invalid, heard it/said it/read it before) commentary about the issues of piracy vs game dev and so on. I don’t have much to add to that discussion, but let me tell you a little bit about Ubisoft, having worked there for about 3 years (and this goes back about 4 years), which might explain their mindset a little.

    It’s essentially a medieval aristocracy. You have your kings (the Guillemot brothers), the various princes, dukes and such (executives and studio heads) and then your counts and lesser royalty (the game producers, whose importance is tied directly to the value of the title they are developing.

    The reason I make this comparison is that it is very relevant to how they think and react, operationally. Any act deemed offensive to the royal persons, or to the Kingdom itself, is received with the same level of shock, horror and disgust as you would see if someone in the middle ages would dare to speak out against royalty.

    Years ago, they had a couple of incidents at the Montreal office (where I worked). Some nonsense about leaked screenshots which (dunno if it’s true or not) which were taken from the building across the street with a telephoto lens. The result? Sweeping, draconian reforms forbidding anyone from sitting with their backs (or screens, more importantly) to the windows. Huge changes to office structure, special blinds, and all kinds of other silliness.

    Then there were the regular and inevitable early leaks of actual games. These were met with huge drama and draconian rules and changes to workstations, so nobody could plug in USB devices or anything. Tthe measures are somewhat understandable I suppose, given the potential for loss, but it was the drama and the atmosphere created as a result that was comically tragic to behold.

    So, if they lose some revenue to piracy (which EVERY game shop does), they overreact with typical, jackbooted, heavy-handed “PROTECT THE KINGDOM!” knee-jerk responses such as DRM. It’s not about logic. The word comes from on high, and the serfs and minions scuttle about to get it done.


    • Brun says:

      It sounds like they’re taking piracy personally, which was my big problem with Crytek.

      Piracy is not a personal thing. Pirates don’t pirate your game to spite you – they do it for a variety of reasons, none of which have anything to do with the name of the producer/programmer/artist behind it.

      • lightstriker says:

        I’ve always found it fascinating that statements like this and statements about how people are pirating to “send a message” are able to freely exist in the exact same context.

        Part of why these discussions always annoy me I suppose :) I mostly agree with you, it’s just quite difficult to discuss when people are able to argue in two entirely opposite directions without either being obviously untrue.

        • Brun says:

          Perhaps a better conclusion to my post might have been to say something like:

          There may be one or two very childish pirates who do it to spite your company personally. But responding in an equally childish manner (looking at you Cervat Yerli) makes you no better.

    • Prime says:

      Thanks for that. Most illuminating. Also: they’re French. I now envision them as exactly the same as the ludicrous French Knights in Monty Python’s Holy Grail.

    • Brun says:

      Another comment to this. This business structure should not be a particularly surprising one, given the model that game development has evolved. It’s quite similar to the Medieval and Renaissance forms of Patronage, in which a rich noble (Publisher) invests money in an artist or craftsman (Developer) in return for the art or craft. The biggest difference being that in this system the rich noble expects some sort of monetary return from the artist’s work.

    • Hematite says:

      L’Ubisoft, c’est moi! ;)

  29. BobsLawnService says:

    There is no good news here. They are just trying to redefine DRM. Instead of Always on DRM. It is going to be called Always on Social Networking. Just look at Diablo 3.

    I don’t believe anyone is actually naïve enough to fall for this rhetoric.

  30. ScubaMonster says:

    I remember years ago when I was a kid, my friend (actually I had mutiple friends who did this) had a really old Texas Instruments computer. It was like a TI-99 or something like that. Anyway, he had a ton of floppy discs full of games he never paid a dime for but were copies by a family member or friend from their stash. That was actually pretty common back then and not even just for games. Word processing programs, everything. If you had a friend or family member, odds are you borrowed and made copies for yourself.

    So that’s the 1980’s equivalent of piracy, there just wasn’t internet to download them back then. Which brings up an interesting point. What about those situations where it’s a friend making a copy of some kind, one that wasn’t even downloaded illegally, just copied from their own game library? Or even burning music cd’s? It’s no different whatsoever than someone who downloaded it from a website on the internet and I think everybody would think it absolutely insane to attempt to take someone to court for that. So where is the line drawn? The only potential argument you could make is that it’s being mass distributed on the internet, but then that places all the blame on the torrent hosts and not anybody downloading.

    And as for the shoplifting and burglary arguments, those are invalid. It would only work if you compared it to breaking into someone’s house or going into a store and making a copy of that item. You didn’t actually take anything from them. I realize it’s not that black and white but those analogies are false and comparisons like that just simply don’t work in a complicated technological age.

    • Ragnar says:

      The difference there is scale. “I buy a game, and make a copy for my wife” is very different from “I buy a game, and upload it to a torrent site for thousands of people to download.” Looking at your story, it was the friend that had all the stuff, knew how to do it, etc. People had to go to your friend to get a copy. Now, it’s easy to do, practically anyone can figure out how to do it, and they can do so from the comfort of their home.

      The RIAA and its ilk want to sue uploaders, but uploaders are smart and tricksy, so they sue downloaders (who also upload while they’re downloading) in hope that the threat of lawsuit will keep others from downloading.

      • jroger says:

        There really wasn’t a difference in scale, since everyone had multiple friends and shared with their friends. Maybe it wasn’t as quick as the internet, where everyone can get everything immediately, but back then if I was interested in a game, I always knew a friend who had it.

        Even back then there were people pirating stuff for money, only thinly veiled in the classifieds of the era.

  31. Prime says:

    I have next to no faith that Ubisoft are looking for the same answers we are, the ones we’ve been screaming at them for two solid years now. DRM doesn’t work, I assume they’ve learned that lesson to their cost, but they don’t appear to be giving up on the idea of chaining individuals to specific copies of their games. The Cloud will save them? Think again, Ubisoft.

    My personal boycott extends further than just their ridiculous DRM, however. Their entire attitude towards the PC needs to change. They need to stop lying to us about release dates; no more “Oh, the PC version has slipped a month but you’ll still be able to buy the more-profit-for-us console versions!”. They need to put more effort into any ports they undertake from the consoles, recognising that the PC has many important differences. They need to start communicating with us as valued customers and not potential criminals. Only once all of these things have been addressed will I consider giving them my custom again. Until then they can go the way of GAME for all I care.

    • InternetBatman says:

      This is pretty much how I feel.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      I don’t see how anyone else reading those comments can think they ARE going to change now. :/

  32. rustybroomhandle says:

    The end result: Ubisoft revives the Lenslok. Wooo, joy.

    • Taro says:

      I think I actually still have my Lenslok, that came with my Spectrum version of Elite (both of which I also still have)…

      So I’m ready!

      • rustybroomhandle says:

        Cool :) My Elite was Lenslok-free but my Tomahawk was not.

  33. Roshin says:

    All this made me think of two things.

    1. Ubi is getting their own digital distribution thingie, like Valve, EA, Blizzard, etc. I’m sure of it! :D

    2. It’s easy to talk, isn’t it? Remember all those times MS came out and said “This time we’re really serious about gaming on Windows and PC’s! No, really, this time it’s for reals!”

  34. lith says:

    My thoughts:

    Developers/publishers DON’T want piracy to go away. It’s too convenient, methinks. It’s a great excuse for any poorly-performing game, and thus negates the need to for any sort of introspection on the dev’s/pub’s part. Could it actually be that their game mightn’t be…good?

    “Why didn’t Ultra-Scripted Generic Shit-Boring Super-Short Game XI do well?”

    “Well, piracy. If those twenty million torrent-users hadn’t stolen it, it would’ve been great.”

    “But is there any evidence that, had there been no way to pirate it, they would’ve bought the game?”

    “I’m pretty certain they would have, yes. Because the game was so mega-awesomely spectacular, it’s a title no one could do without. I think many people would have turned to prostitution or dealing drugs to pay for it – in fact, that was the basis of our marketing campaign. I mean, until we have a game that is completely unpirated do poorly at sales, I think it’s negative, and just plain ol’ mean, to think that it’s the fault of those who worked on the game. You don’t wanna be a big ol’ meanie, do ya? Those guys work hard – ninety, hundred hours a week, sometimes. No overtime, either. All salary. They’re wife’s started sleeping with their plumber, kid’s don’t recognise them anymore. You wanna tell a guy doing that he’s useless?”

    “Um. I really don’t know how to respond to that.”

    • Ragnar says:

      Except Short-Scripted-Generic-Man-Shoot-IX is selling like crazy, which kind of destroys your theory.

      Which is not to say that piracy isn’t used as an excuse for an under-performing game. But I don’t think any of the devs or publishers want their game pirated. They can always come up with other excuses for under-performing.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Forgot the tag “poorly made”. The triple A “shooter thingy” games sell well, because often they are made well. They have massive budgets and advertising.

        The ones that use piracy as an excuse for poor sales often could not give the game away for free (DNF?).

  35. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    Otherwise, other than works of charity, there would be few games made.

    Blatantly incorrect, on so many levels.

  36. Kaira- says:

    Well, I sure hope they follow on the path that Rayman Origins is on.

  37. Iskariot says:

    I wonder if a UBI executive could name one single UBI game that was not pirated because DRM actually prevented it.

    It is my understanding that pirates remove DRM.
    So the only one bothered by excessive DRM is the legit customer like me.
    I have, for example, postponed buying some of my beloved Assassin’s Creed games because of DRM.
    I would have gladly payed the day one retail price, but because of DRM I have waited until the price hit the 10 bucks mark or even less.

  38. SpakAttack says:

    Listen to this gentleman Mr Early, for from his lips falls the truth. Half of my bitter anger at your company is driven by your inept DRM that only hurts me, the paying customer. The rest of my ire is generated by the fact that you’ve made me choose to boycott your games for over two years now, and there are some titles I would love to play.

    Take Mr Walkers advice please, so I can go back to purchasing Ubisoft games again.

  39. Bilateralrope says:

    No discussion of DRM could be complete without mentioning the one area where DRM does help the publishers profit: Second hand sales. Kill them, and every copy sold means money going to the developer and publisher.

    People buying second hand are law abiding, thus won’t be willing to install a crack, so the DRM needed to stop them only needs to be something that people can’t accidentally bypass. For example, Steam or Origin.

  40. Kefren says:

    Excellent post. The only problem with games that have no DRM is that I keep buying them, even when I only have a vague interest. I practically have bundles and royales coming out of my arse. I can’t sit down for unplayed games. Believe me, dear sirs, it is most unpleasant.

    • Kefren says:

      Funnily, my last Ubi game was Prince of Persia (the cartoony one where you have a claw, and a lovely princess called Elika follows you around). I had no interest in the game but bought it because of the DRM-free stance. I only got round to playing it last year and quite enjoyed it, more than I’d expected.

  41. Eldray says:

    Piracy is good if the person who pirates wouldn’t buy the game otherwise.

    Even if they play for free, satisfied players generate word-of-mouth advertising, good reviews, 3rd party tools/content, a larger community and might buy new games.

    Of course those who would otherwise have paid are a loss.

  42. Flavioli says:

    I decided to shrug off the criticism about Anno2070’s DRM and buy it anyways (instead of pirating it). It shouldn’t have been a surprise, but I have already been locked out of the game three times for different reasons. I eventually found out that to enable offline mode if the game server (not the Uplay server) goes down, you need to fully disconnect your machine from the internet… otherwise it asks you to log in… to turn on offline mode. The pirated version doesn’t need to deal with this bullshit.

    I think it’s very sad that I’ve even considered pirating the game *after* having already paid full price for it. If I had not been completely enamored with the extraordinary Rayman: Origins, I would have considered this my last Ubisoft purchase.

    • Navagon says:

      You can’t really be pirating it if you’ve already paid for it. Otherwise you’d be pirating games nearly every time you bought a GOG game, as many of those use scene cracks. But you’re paying for those so it’s not piracy. Same here. Downloading cracks for paid for games is no more unethical than buying GOGs – and that’s definitely not unethical.

  43. Navagon says:

    The only Ubisoft game I’ve bought since the beginning of 2010 has been RUSE. A game that escaped their decent into madness only be the virtue of it having already been signed up for Steamworks.

    That by itself is a somewhat compelling argument in favour of your stance, given my rather substantial games library and how much it has increased in those two years. Anno 2070 I would have bought in a heartbeat if it wasn’t for the fact that they included yet another deplorable means to attack paying customers.

    That said, Ubisoft have become pathological liars who will say anything to get attention and boost sales. That all started with the UbiDRM too. Which they described as DRM-free. So really, don’t read anything into what they say. All it tells you is that they want to get your attention for some new Assassins’ Creed game or something.

    The way I look at it is this: the music industry, with all its customer hating ways – I mean really, they would literally piss on their customers given half a chance – realised that DRM was harming their business and removed it. They realised that it was going too far. That their hatred for their customers was becoming too evident. They stopped it.

    So what kind of complete cretin does it take to keep on using DRM when even the music industry won’t?

  44. UnravThreads says:

    Funny thing is, theoretically The Settler 7’s DRM is the best form I’ve ever encountered. All I need is to be connected to the net, which I am 99.999% of the time. No SecuROM, no activation limits, none of that shit. I don’t even need to run another programme to run it (unless we count Ubisoft Game Launcher, but that’s tied into the game deeper than Steam is to Steam games).

    I’d love to see Ubisoft move to DRM-free, or at least DRM-lite. If they relaxed the always-on stuff, if they dropped Tagés/SecuROM quicker after release, I wouldn’t have much of a problem.

    • malkav11 says:

      The net -and- Ubisoft’s servers.

      If it were -just- being connected to the internet, it would still be a problem, but it would be a problem that would, hopefully, go away over time as continuous net access becomes a given of daily life worldwide (which seems likely, at least). Instead it’s a problem that’s likely to become crucial over time as the servers go away.

      • pkdawson says:

        It really does bear remembering, given that EA for example is constantly shutting down slightly older games. In addition to all the multiplayer stuff, a bit of Saboteur DLC will be rendered nonfunctional after April 13.

        This isn’t a hypothetical, it’s reality. Publishers *will not* support games that aren’t making them money.

        • malkav11 says:

          And Microsoft completely turned off the DRM authentication servers for their music service when they discontinued it, as I understand it.

          Sure, you -could- trust a company not to turn off servers ever. Blizzard, for example, has been sterling in that regard to date. But even then, things change. The company you trust now is run by a certain group of people, with certain policies and beliefs. The same people might re-evaluate those policies or beliefs. They might be replaced by other people. The company might get bought out or taken over or go out of business. That’s already happened to plenty of companies (including EA, which used to be just another videogame developer among many, turning out some real classics back in the day). The difference is, most of ’em didn’t take their games with them when they went.

      • UnravThreads says:

        Oh, of course, but it’s a problem with Steam currently – well, a “potential problem” as it were.

        But the servers for The Settlers 6 still seem to be up (update ones, at least), so I’m not particularly worried at the moment.

        • malkav11 says:

          Sure, Steam presents some similar issues, which is why I’m not thrilled by the use of Steamworks, thus forcibly shackling the game to Steam’s survival. But ultimately, short of Steam going out of business (which, given their near unquestioned dominance of a hugely profitable market, isn’t coming anytime soon), their servers aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and they have zero incentive to shut anything off. The same cannot be said for Ubisoft. Steam’s been pretty trustworthy and reliable. Not so Ubisoft. And of course, Steam is providing value and quality service, whereas Ubisoft is just fucking you over. (This is not to say that requiring a permanent internet connection would magically become okay if they attached features to it.)

  45. Suits says:

    If Ubi had the rep of most other companies I would’ve pre-ordered Rayman Origins, just waiting for the green light now..

  46. They Call Me E says:

    I think it’s a little more “Saving face” than “thinking in the right direction”

    That said, the gamers still see the benefit, so I’ll stifle my deep-rooted cynicism.

    …for now.

  47. Xaromir says:

    Just say: “Well, then we just write anything”. Scares the crap out of anyone with a bit of dirt.

  48. captain nemo says:

    What is more fair is that I can PLAY a game I have PAID for (isn’t this covered by statutory consumer rights ?).

    Sorry Ubisoft. I’m too cynical now to trust rhetoric. Sort out the DRM mess in your software, and then we’ll see. Until then, no more dollars

  49. malkav11 says:

    ” I don’t think we have a single, good answer yet.”

    Of course we bloody do. It’s called “no DRM”. It’s that simple. The fact that some companies refuse to accept that answer doesn’t change the fact that it’s the single good answer Early is looking for.