PC Gamer on Ubisoft DRM

In the inaugural edition of PC Gamer’s Soapbox, Editor-in-Chief Logan Decker offers Ubisoft an alternative to Ubisoft’s "always connected" DRM: steal ideas from your competitors. But before explaining all that, it is important to note PC Gamer’s thoughts on Assassin’s Creed 2; last month the magazine told its readers to avoid the game like the bubonic plague. They did this not because Assassin’s Creed 2 is an awful game (in fact it is an awesome game), but because of its absolutely horrible DRM solution:

Last month, PC Gamer took the extraordinary step of recommending against the purchase of an otherwise excellent game, solely on the basis of its obnoxious digital rights management (DRM). The victim was Assassin’s Creed 2, and the perp was software that required the player to maintain a constant internet connection while playing—even though AC2 has no multiplayer component. If your internet connection is lost for more than about 30 seconds, you’re unceremoniously booted out of the game—your legally purchased game—until you reconnect.

This situation for consumers that bought the game was made worse when trouble makers decided to use a denial of service attack on Ubisoft’s permission server, inevitably making it so consumers who legally purchased the game could not play it at all until Ubisoft got its server back online and working.

Oddly enough, Decker does not encourage consumers to avoid this month’s PC releases of Silent Hunter 5 and The Settlers 7 and next month’s Splinter Cell: Conviction – all of which feature "always connected" DRM; instead he encourages Ubisoft to steal DRM solutions from its competitors. So who are these competitors that are doing it right, according to Decker? Two EA studios: BioWare and DICE.

BioWare’s solution was the Cerberus Network, which launched with Mass Effect 2. The Cerberus Network allowed BioWare to push additional downloadable content, updates, new weapons and even new missions. DICE and EA’s Battlefield: Bad Company 2 gave consumers the choice between a disc-check or up to 10 online activations. While one could argue that even these solutions are not the best approach to handling content, others would argue that anything is better than what Ubisoft has decided to roll out. Of course, Ubisoft could simply use Valve’s Steam; although it isn’t perfect it is better than having to worry about your connection when you are playing single player.

Read the rest at PC Gamer.

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