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.