Well blimey, here's a thing. After Ubi's frankly dreadful performance over From Dust, there appears to be a degree of capitulation afoot. On the From Dust forums (which now appear to be the only way to learn such news from the publisher) it has been revealed that the team are working on a patch that will remove online authentication DRM entirely. Which would be, well, brilliant!
It's oddly phrased, as it happens. The post goes:
"We recognize that one of our posts in the From Dust forum regarding the need for authentication in the game was not clear. We sincerely apologize for the misunderstanding. Our tech teams are working on a patch that should release in approximately two weeks that will eliminate the need for any online authentication. This development time is required as we are working to ensure that those who have already started the game, and who’s progress is currently saved on our servers, will receive and save their game information locally. Once the patch is ready, players who already have the game will automatically receive the update on their next login and subsequent game sessions will be 100% offline."
Which would seem to be implying that the reason they are making the change is not because such DRM is obviously abysmal treatment of customers (Blizzard, I'm coming for you next), but because of the confusion caused in the forum with a post (now deleted) saying that there would be no every-time authentication.
It's wonderful to see an apology, and to see a definitive response. Removing the DRM would seem to be absolutely the right thing to do. The version available to pirates had the DRM removed from day one, so it was performing no service beyond providing a barrier between legitimate customers and the game. As is, of course, almost always the case - it's the central idiocy of DRM that makes the argument so very confusing to even be having. ("Try our new range of stable door locks, which automatically activate as soon as the horse has bolted!")
We're also hopeful that a patch with two weeks to be made might also include some other rather significant improvements for the PC game, such as graphics options, removing the 30fps cap, maaaany bug fixes, and the option to use the mouse as a cursor independently of movement. We'll let you know when it's released.
Meanwhile, I strongly hope that this is no aberration, and instead Ubisoft are learning from the experience. The issue was not that they had stated clearly to customers that they would not be using the DRM that was eventually included. That was extremely serious, but the real issue is why people were so upset by the DRM itself. Pointlessly punitive against legitimate customers, and not affecting pirated copies, it's a ludicrous endeavour with no positives for anyone. I really hope that we can look forward to a similar reversal over the forthcoming Driver: San Francisco, and any future Ubisoft PC releases, so we can once again enjoy the games they release, rather than be forced to recommend no one touch them with a barge pole.
Big thanks to Citruspunch on the forums for the spot.