Ubisoft DRM Scheme Prompts Protest

Ubisoft recently detailed the specifics of their new DRM scheme, which requires a constant internet connection to merely be able to play the games. Understandably, gamers are upset that a momentary internet connection hiccup can result in losing unsaved game progress mid-session — even in single-player mode.

Instead of whining about it on the internet, however, game journalist Lewie Procter of SavyGamer is deciding to fight back in the form of a "reverse boycott". In essence, Procter wants people to buy the game en masse, then return the game unopened and untouched at the end of the valid refund period, explaining that they find the game’s DRM to be unacceptably restrictive. In theory, the protesters will receive a full cash refund (at Tesco, a UK retailer) and Ubisoft will feel the burn from the retail outlet.

Negative Gamer has already signed on in support of the protest. However, it’s unlikely to catch on as well in the US, where many retailers have significant restrictions on refunds for games.

GP: While the intentions are good, I fear that the reverse boycott will ultimately be ineffective. Even if there is an unusually large response, the dollar amount is simply not going to be enough to make Tesco or Ubisoft take notice. But the attempt is far from useless. Negative public backlash has proven helpful, perhaps instrumental, in changing restrictive DRM schemes in the past. Simply bringing attention to the issue could be Procter’s greatest success.

Dan Rosenthal is a legal analyst for the games industry.

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


  1. Spartan says:

    RPS recently posted an article on this issue here.

    For what it is worth, I hope Ubi gets its ass handed to it. I also hope people in the military stand up and contact their Congressmen and bitch about this bullshit. DRM needs to die.


    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  2. Alex says:

    Here I thought Ubisoft would have learned their lesson back when the Might and Magic fans revolted against Starforce on HoMM5…

    Guess not. Oh well. Back then at least they had the good sense to delay the game and remove Starforce.

    I’m not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I’m not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don’t know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

  3. Spartan says:

    Ubi needs to get the hell out of the PC game market all together and be done with it. It is doing far more harm to PC gamers than any benefit it bring in published titles.


    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  4. Michael Chandra says:

    I’m seriously considering making sure I can get a working pirated version, buying the game, installing the pirated version, then sending them an email saying I bought it legally but will use the illegal version since that’s the one that actually allows people to play and own the game, unlike their discriminating and rental-only legal version.

  5. thefremen says:

     Not to mention that handling saves online isn’t perfect. AVP uses steamcloud for saves and ONLY steamcloud, you literally cannot save your game offline (unless you stole the game, then you’re fine) and many users have complained about their saves/multiplayer rank just disappearing. That’s with Steamcloud, a service which has been around the block a few times, just imagine how unreliable Ubisoft’s network will be in the first few months.

  6. Zephyrus says:

    no no, that really is the silly thing to do, when Ubisoft thinks that their game is being pirated to high heaven they will simply attempt to devise a new DRM scheme for the release of their next title and we’ll all be back here again having the same argument

    by your own signature the proper or ‘noble’ thing to do would be to forget about the game since you obviously do not want to purchase the game, and instead decide to invest your money into a company that does not use draconian DRM in its products and simply play those titles instead

  7. chadachada321 says:

    No, the noble thing to do is to pirate the game and then mail the creators of the game $40, cutting out the bullshit middleman that is Ubisoft.

    -Optimum est pati quod emendare non possis-It is best to endure what you cannot change-

  8. Cerabret100 says:

    you know if you were serious in "teaching them a lesson", you just wouldn’t buy the game.

    Don’t pirate it, don’t buy it, don’t play it, don’t play the demo of it, do not in anyway interact with the game, go cold turkey on it.

    pirating just shows you’re too much of a pansy to sacrifice your ability to play a game for the greater good.

    Honestly, open your eyes to the obvious trends, if your suggested method of making it the most pirated game actually was anything other than complete idiocy, don’t you think strict DRM would have ended with games like Mass Effect, spore, or any other predecessors in draconian DRM?

    there is no good or "noble" reason to steal a video game, an item that is not required for basic survival, if you pirate, you’re a thief and deserve any associated fines and penalties associated with it.

  9. Neo_DrKefka says:


    This is the reason why privacy has exploded on the PC console this decade, when will developers get that through their head? It used to be the Warez or cracked version was the worst version, now you have pirates who have become the good guys cleaning up the game, removing the DRM and releasing it for all to play or to provide a hack or work around to get around the DRM.

    I wouldn’t even buy the PC Version of Ubisoft games, just pirate the game make this the most pirated game ever. Seriously EA has learned there lesson and they have decided to include incentives to buy the original version as well with Project Ten Dollar

  10. djnforce9 says:

    That is exactly what they are suggesting. If you have no internet connection at all or yours is unreliable and cuts out often, you’re out of luck.


    Some of the previous commentors were dead on about legit customers resorting to piracy tactics (as in finding and using a crack). It’s the sole reason why the site gamecopyworld even exists. Personally, I may still buy the game but only after the persistant internet connection requirement has been cracked for at least the single player portion (obviously multiplayer is going to require internet access anyway).

  11. Bennett Beeny says:

    What if I don’t even have an internet connection? Ubisoft are not seriously suggesting that games with offline modes are going to need an online connection? That’s stupid!

  12. Bennett Beeny says:

    Piracy ISN’T a ‘substantial’ problem. It’s a tiny problem thet they’re blowing way out of proportion and forcing the customers to accept DRM junk that gets in the way of customer enjoyment – junk which doesn’t even stop piracy anyway.

  13. lordlundar says:

    Yeah, I can’t see how this is going to hurt Ubisoft. All that’s gonna happen is the retailer is going to get stuck with the copies and Ubisoft has already got their money. The idea is to punish Ubisoft, not the retailer. Clearly the person who thought up this idea has little to no knowledge of how retail distribution works.

  14. hellfire7885 says:

    I would imagine the retailers would be reportign to Ubisoft sounding rather pissed at all the sudden overstock they’re stuck with, and won’t order any new copies until they get rid of the old ones

  15. Kroiky says:

    I’m confused about this boycott, the way i see this playing out is that the retailer buys the game from Ubisoft, then the public buys out the retailers stock.  The next step would be for the retailer to send an order to Ubisoft for presumably a large quantity of games since the first batch sold out so quickly.  Then when everyone returns the game to the retailer, the retailer gets screwed.  They’re left with the new order of games they just paid Ubisoft for, plus the initial stock they had sold before. Are retailers able to return game orders too?  Am I missing something here?

  16. ZippyDSMlee says:

    I am starting to think DRM was made to create a fuss so they could ban DRM circumvention. Then they have more control over the market so they can lead people to the format of their choice….

    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/

  17. Thomas McKenna says:

    So long as pirating is a substantial problem, developer’s first priority will be "how do we recoup losses caused by piracy?" rather than "how do we make this game better for the consumer?"  Piracy is a problem, it’s the root of this problem, and encouraging more of it is just adding fuel to the fire.


  18. nightwng2000 says:

    Except that that is exactly what Ubisoft, and DRM in general, is leading even legal owners to do.

    Even people who have legally purchased such games are resorted to Piracy tactics (as opposed to piracy acts) to be able to play the game which they have legally purchased.

    This, in fact, ends up leaving a DEMAND for hackers and crackers, rather than leading the general game community to ostricize and condemn them.

    It’s not far off from Industry types in book publishing retaliating against even fan fiction writers in an effort to protect their Copyright and Intellectual Proptery.

    And not far off from those who have actually opposed even mechanical reading devices from translating text to speech. 

    Such acts are driving even innocent individuals to react similar to illegal individuals, even if, really, their actions do nothing more than provide them with access to the product or allow seperate expansion of the product without actually harming the original product or publisher/creators.


    NW2K Software


    Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

  19. Rodrigo Ybáñez García says:

    My take on this: crack the game or download it on torrent. Call over 9,000 of your friends to do the same. Then raid Ubisoft´s forums bragging how you didn´t expend a penny for their shitty DRM´d game. Profit.

    (if you choose to do exactly what I said, it´s your fault and I´m not responsible of any criminal charge or fines you surely will get, lol)


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

  20. hellfire7885 says:

    Heh, sadly, I do charte the sentiment that the numbers of people genuinely buying the game to keep it will outweigh this.

    Too many have been conditioned to just accept creap like this.

Comments are closed.