The good thing about always online DRM is, well, nothing. The problem with always online DRM is, well, everything. Perhaps the silver lining to the cloud that is Ubisoft’s UPlay system – the infrastructure for its DRM, DLC and other faintly sinister words which begin with D – being offline for a large chunk of the weekend is that it might cause important people to worry, no matter what their paranoid personal philosophy of IP protection might be, that singleplayer games having a total dependency on remote servers is inescapably flawed in a practical sense.
The downtime, which has prevented folk from playing the likes of Might and Magic Heroes 6, Anno 2070 and assorted Assassin”s Creeds for much of the weekend just gone, was extra-horrible timing as it coincided with the Steam summer sale. So the excited rush of new players found themselves unable to actually play their purchases. You can browse their understandable dismay here.
Ubisoft has offered an apology on its forums, and the problem looked to have finally been resolved as of last night (though scattered claims to the contrary apparently persist), but it really didn’t help that the uPlay login error message claimed players had entered their passwords wrong rather than declaring a fault at the provider’s end.
Between this and Diablo III’s many, inevitable server woes, it’s been a bad year for bad DRM. Let’s hope publishers are taking note of the effect on their public image, even if they’re still incapable of understanding their paying customers’ frustration at being punished for the perceived sins of others.
The other desperate irony is that Uplay has ‘up’ in the title. If I’d drunk at least two more cups of coffee than I have I could probably make some sort of clever joke about that.