Ubisoft DRM Tested

Ubisoft’s new DRM technology, which requires a constant Internet connection, has been put through its paces and the results are not pretty.

PC Gamer test drove the technology, after receiving copies of both Settlers VII and Assassin’s Creed 2 for the PC, which both contain the DRM tech. The site reports that launching a game while offline results in an error message right away.

The next test involved removing a PC’s network cable in the middle of a play session:

This is the same as what happens if your net connection drops momentarily, your router is rebooted, or the game loses its connection to Ubisoft’s ‘Master servers’. The game stopped, and I was dumped back to a menu screen – all my progress since it last autosaved was lost.


The reverse is also true; if Ubisoft’s master servers were to go down, PC Gamer says that “everyone playing a current Ubisoft game is kicked out of it and loses their progress.”

ReclaimYourGame, which reviews and reports on various DRM systems used in games, offers a pro and con article on Ubisoft’s technology. A sample from each side is below.


Ubisoft can now be the sole content, DRM, copy protection provider. No more third party DRMs to worry about. If you have a problem, there’s only one place to look and that’s Ubisoft. I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of being a ping-ping ball when it comes to authentication support.


How many of you have a family member with their own system that you game with?  I do, and lately it’s gotten ridiculously expensive. It used to be that my brother would buy a game and I would buy a different one, we’d both play through them, then trade them out. No longer, with more games switching to an account based system, it’s becoming an impossibility to do this.

Thanks DarkSaber!

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. questionmark1987 says:

    Ultimatly the main message gamers in general need to take from this is that companies are simply starting to be done negotiating. Ubi is clearly less concerned with the reaction of the market and more concerned with protecting their product, and a LOT more game studios are going to start in this direction.

    Our opinions don’t matter on the subject, because at the end of the day pirating and used game sales are just negative factors to a studio’s growth and developement, and they will take whatever action they can to stop those practices or risk going out of business.

    Bottom line, gamers have brought this on themselves. Glad I have a good internet connection.

  2. JC says:

    Because it’d cost them more money to release a patch than to leave the DRM hanging on there. Not only that, it is probably against the contract they signed for the DRM to do this. Despite that, this is Ubisoft DRM and not some contract, they’d basically be making it clear that the game isn’t available for 2 weeks and then it’ll be "available"

    It’d defeat the purpose because most customers would probably just wait until the patch is released and pirates will still pirate or just wait as well. So basically, Ubisoft effectively delays their game for 2 weeks more and they threw away a chunk of money for nothing but delayed sales. They probably wouldn’t know much of a difference though, most of those customers will probably wait anyway.

  3. DorthLous says:

    Because it mostly was never about piracy, but rather about reselling. Which they are increasingly admitting as a first goal. Reminds me of the US war vs Iraq. First it was WDM, then to liberate the people. As long as they get at least partly what they’re after, they’ll claim whatever ‘saveur-du-jour’ to publicly justify the action.

  4. DorthLous says:

    Hmmm, then you have a bug… I often play in offline mode from a no connection launch (laptop) and have no problem whatsoever accessing the games’ features.

  5. Mad_Scientist says:

    You know, if a company REALLY wanted customers to accept a more invasive form of DRM, they should make it a temporary thing.

    Think about it. Any DRM will ultimately be cracked and stripped out of any game. Once that happens, it becomes useless. If a pirate is browsing fire-sharing networks and sees Game A available for download, which had no DRM in the first place, and Game B, which had some but has had it removed, what’s the difference? None.

    Since all DRM gains a company is a brief window around the game’s launch (and sometimes not even that, as the game might be leaked and cracked early), why can’t a company just aknowledge this fact and remove the DRM itself after a couple weeks have passed? I’m not talking about backpedaling on an unpleasant DRM system because of consumer outcry and making it slightly less restrictive, I’m talking about making it clear before the game is ever released that 2 weeks or whatever after launch you will provide an official patch or whatever that completely eliminates any form of DRM.

    Now, a lot of consumers will still hate any form of strong DRM, but if they know they only have to deal with it for a couple weeks or so and then can play DRM free, they might be more willing to put up with it. And there won’t be the situation will legitimate customers are hassling with invasive DRM situations while pirates laugh and play their DRM free versions.

  6. DarkSaber says:

    I’m not talking about games, I’m talking about Steam itself. If I were to disable my internet now and try to load Steam, I’d be stuck in a loop with the "Unable to detect internet connection, Start in Offline Mode, Retry, Cancel" box. Retry would, obviously, not do anything, and clicking Offline Mode would close the box for a minute or two, and then it would just re-appear again.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  7. DorthLous says:

    Do you have a title in mind? Might just be incredible luck, but I have exactly 360 games right now on Steam and only had problems once which was more a problem with the game than Steam, yet they still supported and helped me fix it.

  8. hellfire7885 says:

    As a first time Steam buyer I’ll say the experience was largely positive, and offline mode worked without a hitch last time my net went out. Restarted as I thought that was the issue, and when it started back up it just asked if I wanted to run it in offlien mode.

  9. saregos says:

    In my experience, Steam does fairly well at starting up in offline mode, even when you didn’t specifically switch it over before you go offline.  At times I’ve had hiccups, but most of the time I can start it up in online mode and it’ll default to offline mode if I have no connection.

    — Sometimes the truth is arrived at by adding all the little lies together and deducting them from the totality of what is known

  10. DarkSaber says:

    Steams Offline Mode isn’t as great as it appears though, because you have to go online first before you can set it to offline, so if you haven’t had the psychic foresight to know your connection is going to die, got online and set Steam to Offline Mode before your connection dies, you’re just as boned trying to play a Steam game without a connection as you are trying to play this game without a connection.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  11. DorthLous says:

    Indeed, give me a DRM that checks only once at start, can be played offline, that I can use to re-install elsewhere, that keeps a friend list and allow chats and voice chats in it, list achievements, offer groups, have a kill-switch for the DRM, etc. any day over that hideous abomination that will probably prevent more sale at all level than it will ever save or help (including both pirate and 1st sales over seconds)

  12. Bigman-K says:

    Well that’s it. I am never buying another game from Ubisoft on any platform ever again. They lost themselves a customer here.

     "No law means no law" – Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

  13. Kabyk says:

    You’ve got that backwards. The one who gets the short-end of the stick when you buy used is the development studio. The retailer and publisher still get their share.

  14. Monte says:

    Well that’s why i didn’t jump to "you should pirate it just to send a message"… puttting aside the usual wrongs of piracy, pirating instead of buying can send those kinds of mix signals. i still say that "buying" the game and using a crack will only encourage ubisoft to continue using those DRMs, and thus will solve nothing… The ONLY message that will get through their thick skulls is poor sales… Even if they try a more restrictive DRM their sales will continue to suffer…

    hit them hard enough in the profit margins and they’ll get the message… granted their is always the possibility they will quit PC games all together, but that has serious doubts as we all know that PC games are still profitable despite the piracy

  15. koichan says:

    The problem is though, if they get bad sales because of the excessive anti-piracy measures, they’ll just blame the lost sales on piracy instead and use it to justify even more punishing DRM.

    It’s a self-reinforcing feedback loop 🙁


  16. Monte says:

    Indeed… The only message that game companies understand is poor sales. If they see the game sell well with this terrible DRM the company will continue to use it. If sales suffer because of the DRM they will be more willing to back off. Quite frankly, if you want this DRM to fail for Ubisoft, you need to boycott the games and show them low sales numbers… Kinda like what happened with spore, that got such low sales numbers and high piracy that companies afterward went out of their way to say their DRM was not as bad.

  17. Afirejar says:

    I’m sure many will want to use said Crack even if they bought the game. I know I will.

    So you’ll buy. And here I was thinking you wanted the system to fail.

  18. djnforce9 says:

    Let’s hope this "test" proves that this new form of DRM will fail hard and will thus be removed before Assassin’s Creed 2 is released to the masses (same goes for Settlers VII and any other game Ubisoft planned to include this in).


    At the very LEAST, it should perform a quick save before booting you to the menu. The way it is now is just ludicrous. If it’s used anyway, let’s hope this gets cracked quickly whereby the server responses can be spoofed. I’m sure many will want to use said Crack even if they bought the game. I know I will.

  19. Rodrigo Ybáñez García says:

    The industry is steadly growing in profits, despite piracy. Games are still being selled by millions, even when millions are still downloading games from internet or buying them for a few dollars in a Latin America market.

    Piracy is just an excuse. Greed is the real reason why is PC gaming dying and why people is still getting their games in the illegal way.



    ———————————————————— My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship): http://www.darkknightstrikes.deviantart.com

  20. Monte says:

    Indeed. DRM is often used to try and stop people from sharing games with friends or re-selling them. Piracy in this case is really just a scapegoat that companies use because that makes their efforts for DRM seem just where as trying to stop used game sales just makes them look like dicks… though they stilll look like dicks regardless when they pull this kind of DRM crap.

  21. DarkSaber says:

    Who says this is a reaction to piracy? Could easily be a reaction to stamping down on used game sales.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  22. axiomatic says:


    Ubisoft just lost the potential for a purchase from me. I was looking forward to a Steam purchase of Assassins Creed 2 on the PC. I won’t buy it now for sure.

  23. Truec says:

    This isn’t malware, there’s no talk of anything being installed on your computer, just the game checking in with the company servers constantly.

    Still, I can’t help but wonder about the specifics.  If the game only works if you have a constant internet connection, but they dob’t clearly establish that on the packaging, would consumers (I’m thinking particualrly people who still have no interent or are on dial-up) have a case for claiming fraud?

  24. gamegod25 says:

    Thats what I like about used games, my money goes to gamers (instead of the company) and I still get to play it ^_^

  25. nighstalker160 says:

    Well, no more UbiSoft games for me. Not on consoles, not on PC. It doesn’t help things if you buy the console version to protest the PC DRM. You just can’t buy the game period if you want to send the message.

    Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. There had better be some serious near constant autosaving/checkpoint system in their games if they’re going to put a system like this in. That game should be autosaving every 2 minutes otherwise people are going to get royally pissed up real fast.

  26. DarkSaber says:

    And one multiple people make every time DRM like this comes around.


    I LIKE the fence. I get 2 groups to laugh at then.

  27. DorthLous says:

    Yeah, my family can’t understand why I’ve turned down an offer recently (finished a contract before the holydays, now with a baby on the way and no job >.<), but that’s just too much a sacrifice.

  28. kagirinai says:

    As another Canadian dev, I’m going to have to chime in with NDAs are just fine. 2 years no-compete? That’s RIDICULOUS. And to think the Toronto scene is raving so wildly about their new studio. -.-

  29. DorthLous says:

    Indeed, a NDA is plenty. I never have trouble signing those (though be wary, some NDA are actually non-compete or worse in disguise. Any idea you have outside of work should remain yours no matter what. Don’t fall for any moonlighting threat, if the idea is not tied to one of their property and was had out of work, even at dinner, it is yours.)

  30. E. Zachary Knight says:

    A lot of companies in the US have employees sign "non compete" contracts. Basically they don’t want you taking trade secrets to another company if you get a job elsewhere. They are pretty much worthless and unenforcable in the US. Not sure about Canada. Most Non-disclosure contracts are enough to protect a company from what they want from a no compete contract.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  31. DorthLous says:

    Wow, as someone working in the industry just by Montréal, they already had convinced me not to work for them because of their draconians contracts that prevent you to work in the same field up to 2 years after you stop working for them (in Montréal, pretty much no other studio does it, albeit I think some do elsewhere).

    Now they turned me away from their game. Good job Ubisoft!

  32. vellocet says:

    I’m still waiting to hear how their DRM free Prince of Persia experiment worked out.

    Judging by this new DRM, I’m guessing not well. 

  33. Cattleprod says:

    They’re putting a conscious effort into making sure the retail version is objectively inferior to the pirated one.

    Is this some sort of ‘Producers’ gambit? They WANT people to pirate the game so they can turn around and say it’s the pirates’ fault when the game fails horribly?

  34. JohnMidnight says:

     Main question….. is your stuff saved to the computer, or their server? That is something not touched upon… >.>

  35. Yammo says:

    That *is* the sad truth… 🙁

    Sure, it might take the hackers 2-3 hours longer to work around the system, but the pirates wount notice. Meanwhile, paying customers gets treated like criminals.

    I for one love paying for my games… Knowing that I’m supporting a good title, but being taken in the behind like this makes me wonder if it’s worth it. All I want is a product that works… When I want it to work.  If the publisher tries to keep me from using the program I purchased, well… I’ll just have to find an alternative version that _WORKS_.

    When is it time for a class action law-suit against mal-wares that screws us customers over?

  36. Thad says:

    Are you goddamn kidding me?

    I spent a very frustrating afternoon last week getting my grandparents back online after a truck in the alley broke their cable connection.

    Requiring authentication at launch is bad enough, but actually dumping your progress if your router goes out?  Unbelievable.

    Oh well.  At least the pirates won’t have that problem.

  37. Magic says:

    (Italicised quote originating from Eurogamer, themselves quoting Ubisoft)

    "We know this choice is controversial but we feel it is justified by the gameplay advantages offered by the system…"
    WHAT advantages? I want to hear the exact specifics.

    This is going to backfire on them. Two words: Spore. DRM.

    It’s not the exact same situation, but it’s likely going to piss off gamers and drive them to get a pirate version.

Comments are closed.