Ubisoft DRM to Phone Home

With the beta for Settlers 7, Ubisoft is unveiling a new anti-piracy measure that will require gamers to log into their Ubi.com account in order to authenticate their play session.

While requiring an Internet connection is not the most gamer-friendly initiative ever devised, the invasive technology does have at least two decent aspects, as noted on GameSpy: game saves will be stored online and can be accessed from anywhere (providing an Internet connection is available) and a single game can be installed on “hundreds” of PCs.

GameSpy seems to think that this system is at least a little better than the StarForce DRM system Ubisoft used in the past. As one columnist stated:

I think the DRM benefits of this approach and the ancillary bonuses (remote game saves, unlimited installations, no CD authentication) will end up outweighing the annoyance of having to log-in before playing.

Ars Technica compared the solution to an annoying practice employed by some retailers:

If you’re annoyed when you have to show your receipt to someone when you walk out of an electronics store, Ubisoft is not the company for you. This is like having to show your receipt every time you want to turn on your television.

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  1. sharpshooterbabe says:

    If you’re annoyed when you have to show your receipt to someone when you walk out of an electronics store, Ubisoft is not the company for you. This is like having to show your receipt every time you want to turn on your television.

    This is very blunt and up front. But Fry’s Electronics does that, unfortunately & I can see why too. It’s very expensice merchandise. Aside from that, I don’t know what to say about the Ubi DRM…..



    "It’s better to be hated for who you are, then be loved for who you are not." – Montgomery Gentry

  2. sqlrob says:

     I disagree with patches. Those should be freely available to anyone that has purchased the game, since there could be issues with warrants of merchantability.


  3. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Offline games should work perfectly fine offline thats the only mandatory thing with single player games you can not force them online without gaining the ire of the public..well…at least some of the public. Use a carrot get people interested  in your online stuff then authenticate the game that way via the online stuff not the offline,hell its even reasonable to lock patches to  online authenticated only .

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! CP/IP laws should not effect the daily life of common people! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/

  4. GoodRobotUs says:

    Stopped buying Ubisoft stuff ages, because of StarForce. This does not inspire me to to return, in fact, it confirms my decision.

  5. Neeneko says:

    Eh, I have been in marketing meetings about similar types of features.

    Execs and marketers honestly believe that this kind of ‘constant on-line’ feature will push them into the future and build dominance, and that the people who are negatively effected are too small of a group to offset the advantages they see.

    Group think and consultants can have some strange results, and this just reeks of them.

  6. Monte says:

    For me, i run my computer through a wireless connection and the wireless is far from reliable… it’s cuts out often. It’s one of the reasons i don’t play MMO’s. It would be a pain in the ass to make sure i was always online while playing a single player game. One of things i like about steam is that it has an offline mode.

  7. thefremen says:

    Same here, I’ve played DA:O through twice but according to my Bioware social site profile I’ve only played 8 hours since it only tracks the amount you play while online. I had my PC completely fucked over by a Ubisoft title carrying Starforce, and now they’re trying this? Jeez.


    Ubisoft hates money from PC gamers, they want to just sell Wii games. 

  8. Neeneko says:

    Considering I play my games on a laptop on the train or when visiting family, I think this will pretty much kill any purchace of Ubisoft games in my case.

  9. Thad says:

    "Won’t install malware" remains to be seen, and of course depends on your definition of malware.  Does it only authenticate at launch, or does it leave a service running in the background even when you’re not playing?

  10. Zero Beat says:

    Well, this is certainly annoying.  Internet goes out, no game for you.  However, it won’t install malware and/or eventually kill your computer, so it’s a step in the right direction.


    "That’s not ironic. That’s justice."

  11. Thad says:

    "it seems easy to use new verification technology to fight it" — seems that way to whom?

    The only games that can’t be hacked to run offline are the ones that, by their nature, MUST be played online, eg MMO’s.  And even those can be hacked to run on private servers.  (Strictly speaking, you could run a hacked version of WoW without an Internet connection; it would just be stupid.)

    DRM doesn’t work.  There will be a hacked version of Settlers 7 within a month of release, tops, and maybe even same week (like the much-vaunted Batman: Arkham Asylum DRM).

  12. Magic says:

    Saved games stored online: Brilliant, though we should have had this years ago for all major games, particularly PC. Online storage is now cheaper than ever (Look at Hotmail’s response to Google Mail offering it), so why not? I guess there are reasons, such as how savegames would potentially take up far more space than emails and that local storage is obviously easier, but … this would at least begin to outweigh the issues with DRM.

    Installation to hundreds of PCs: I’d like some clarification on this. The exact quote at Gamespy is:
    [quote]"If you own a hundred PCs, you can install your games on a hundred PCs," said Brent Wilkinson, Director, Customer Service and Production Planning at Ubisoft. [/quote]
    The next question is – but can you play it on them simultaneously? Presumably not, so I guess all they’re doing is eliminating any chance of there being limited installs as mentioned in other DRM, rather than some funky way of running LAN games.

    What annoys me is that in this day and age, it should be easier to play games, not harder. Piracy is rampant in some areas, that’s recognised everywhere, and it seems easy to use new verification technology to fight it, but why can’t we get more benefits?

  13. Neo_DrKefka says:

    If they want to go down this road then I guess they want to lose money

    The pirated version will strip the DRM and the pirated version again will prove to be the cleanest version well the gamer who buys this will have to deal with the bullshit that the company thinks is best. Just don’t buy the game seriously or support this company.

  14. Thad says:

    That’s an absurd comparison.  Of course you need an Internet connection to play WoW, it’s an MMORPG.  Online play is central to the game; take away the online play and there IS no game.

    Forcing someone online to play a single-player game is entirely different.

  15. Cerabret100 says:

    hmm…online verification EVERY time you want to play? well that seems a little overboard, but then again as long as the fact isn’t hidden i have no issue.

    I have to have internet connection to play wow and that doesn’t bother me, i knew i would, so i make sure i aways do (have one). And if i end up not? i’ll stop paying for it.

  16. Thad says:

    The problem with that reasoning is that storing your data in the cloud has absolutely nothing to do with DRM.  It would be entirely possible to allow you to store data online without FORCING you to do so.

  17. Geryon says:

    This honestly does not bug me as much as other DRM.  It sounds like they have benefits similar to steam and frankly when migrating to a new PC it would be nice not to have some games where I don’t have to locate all my save files to make sure I don’t lose them (I nearly lost all my game saves when I upgraded to windows 7 because my old hard drive had died).  Also I think the quotation by Ars Technica is way off base.  If it had limited installations and didn’t the the server side saves then it would be a resonable comparason.

  18. Thad says:

    Seems like you’re damning it with faint praise.

    It would be entirely possible to store gamesaves online without making it a requirement, and saying a DRM scheme is "better than StarForce" is like praising syphilis for not being AIDS.

    What "DRM benefits" is GameSpy talking about?  There aren’t any.  You left out the most important quote in that Ars Technica article:

    — "This is fine," one self-professed pirate told Ars. "I only have to access the Internet once to get Ubisoft games. You’re the ones paying for a broken copy." —

    DRM quite simply does not work.  As always, pirates will be able to play the game just fine, and honest customers will be punished.

  19. Thomas P. says:

    At least with Steam you can run it in Offline mode with minimal feature loss (no online multiplayer, no cloud storage).

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