The just-released PC version of Prince of Persia is free of DRM software, an increasingly rare circumstance in today’s paranoid game publishing climate.
As Ben Kuchera of Ars Technica notes, PoP publisher Ubisoft has burned its customers badly in the past with flawed DRM implementations:
Assassin’s Creed suffered from a shoddy PC port, and the game constantly tried to authenticate online, causing problems for players who bought the game. "The address is 188.8.131.52:3074 random local, 3 attempts every 75 seconds, registering to Ubisoft in Ontario. DRM messing with honest patrons again… as long as the game is running it will keep hammering away at that address," one forum member wrote. Gamers often had to shut off their Internet connection to play the game.
So, what’s up with the DRM-free PoP? Is it a holiday gift to consumers, or, as Kuchera suggests, a ready-made "we told you so" when the game is inevitably pirated:
Ubisoft has given itself an out whenever they’re taken to task over DRM in the future. "We tried removing it, and we lost money!" will be an easy answer from now on. The remarks from the Community Manager already sound surly and antagonistic, as if the company is simply waiting to get ripped off to prove its own point
Ubisoft could let the pirates do their thing and remove the DRM without framing it as a challenge to the community—rarely is a pirated copy a lost sale—but that’s asking a lot from an industry that continues to see its customers as guilty until proven innocent.
We note that Prince of Persia is getting good reviews. MetaCritic currently has the PC version of the game rated at 86/100.
GP: Noting that a game has no DRM and then getting suspicious of the publisher’s motives is, admittedly, a bit like finding a $20 bill and worrying that it’s counterfeit. Still, that’s what the current DRM controversy has come to. I can’t fault Ubi for releasing a DRM-free PoP and I can’t fault Ben for his suspicions, either.