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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  1. 0
    Yammo says:

    There is one thing that keeps bugging me with Steam, (besides the fact that their prices are
    about 30-50% higher than in stores). If someone at Steam has a bad hair day and disables
    your account, then EVERY single game you have would be gone. To make things worse, you
    would probably not be able to do anything about it, since you technically do not buy games
    for steam, but you rent them for a one-time-fee. As a subscriber you don’t have any rights,
    but only privileges.

    Steam may run fluently at the moment, but talk about putting all your eggs in one basket.

  2. 0
    Baruch_S says:

    Why do companies even waste their time? Just put it on Steam and call it good. It’s there, it works well enough, and consumers aren’t rabidly against it.

  3. 0
    Spartan says:

    DRM is pure evil; dont ever believe otherwise.

    Remember boys and girls dont drink the Kool-aid!


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

  4. 0
    Overcast says:

    Same here – once it took 3 freakin re-installs for me to get Left for Dead 2 working right. Never really had that issue with a game, usually one re-install will do the trick.

    The issue with this ‘DRM’ is if THEY (the host – servers, network, etc) are having problems – so are you.

    But I hate most DRM with a passion – what does it stop? Not much. You can find a torrent for single player – on almost any of these titles. The main thing DRM does is HASSLE people like me who actually buy the crap.

    It’s probably a lot of the reason I own a lot more games than I play, there’s a few I have that simply are not worth the hassles.



  5. 0
    SimonBob says:

    It does all of that, though.  Yes, you need to log in once to verify your account and make sure your games are updated to stable versions, but after that you can set Steam to save your credentials, switch to offline mode, unplug your box from the harsh uncertainties of the various internets, and stomp all the headcrabs you want.

    Also, it should keep running through sudden service disruption.  I’ve started Steam up with my machine unplugged, and it let me access my games just fine even though I hadn’t specifically told it to go offline.  It simply gave me the option when it couldn’t find a connection.  Never had it happen during a game but I’d expect it would keep going, maybe with a brief notification like you’ve suggested.

    I had a look at a few forum threads, and I noticed a few interesting parallels:

    1. There’s a direct correllation between a user’s grammar and how upset they are about offline mode "not working." (Or, I should say, "NOT WRKING! REDECULUS")
    2. The vast majority of complaints stem from 2006-2008, suggesting that Valve has been aware of the problem and fixing any problems with it.

    So maybe I’m just superstitious, but I get the feeling most complaints about offline not working stem from an OSI layer 8 error.


  6. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Steam really needs a seamless offline mode, games are build with on/off line in mind. Online access works with a good key and good account if applicable. The system dose not care about authentication as the system is geared to watch for key overuse(more than 100 duplicates a month, each time a key shows up as more than 1 in use its counted at 100 the key is blacklisted). If you do not put a key in or account info you can play the SP game without updates with a online account you can get updates but no DLC or extra until the key is put in.While playing a SP game and it goes offline it will notify you of the change in status but do nothing else. While playing online games are suspended until the connection comes back. The online score keeping system and achievements dose not effect single player mode when it goes offline.  


    Why is that so hard to understand?

    I have a dream, break the chains of copy right oppression! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/2010/05/21/cigital-disobedience/

  7. 0
    Papa Midnight says:

    Yeah, it’s amazing how all our hate suddenly left Electronic Arts who suddenly started doing things right and went straight towards Activision. At least we’re consistent as PC gamers. If a company burns us, we scorn them. If a company does right by us, they get a reprieve.

    (P.S., I did specifically say "PC Gamers".)

    Papa Midnight

  8. 0
    paketep says:

    DICE I can’t support: they’ve severed LAN support and public dedicated servers, not to mention mapping and modding. They deserve, at the very least, half the insults that were thrown (deservedly) at Infinity Ward.

    EA, on the other side, is… doing… it… correctly. Wow, that was hard to write. If EA can do it, everybody can do it. Even you, Ubi idiots. So come on, do it already!.

    And now that I think about it, why does EA allow DICE to do all that?. Damn, nobody thinks of the gamers here. Bastards.

  9. 0
    Papa Midnight says:

    I actually do not have a problem with cd-keys. Honestly, I think there’s truthfully only one company that has been doing this right up to their last non-mmo game (Starcraft II is not out yet so I can’t go anyfurther than this), Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, and that is Blizzard Entertainment. It is a great method. CD-Key validation upon install against the program, and further cd-key validation against the Battle.net servers to prevent persons using keygens from playing online. The cd used to have to be in the drive to play but subsequent updates to their titles have removed the disc check. They even offer their games as digital downloads. I have found this to be quite an acceptable method.

    Papa Midnight

  10. 0
    gamegod25 says:

    To me disc checks and CD keys are like taxes; you’d rather not have them but you can grin and bear it. Anything more than that is going too far in my opinion.

    What if I don’t have a constant internet connection for whatever reason, what if it goes down, what if I run out of installs and they won’t let me have any more, what if the company server goes down, what if 5-10 years later they decide to no longer support it, what if the company goes out of business completely? If any one of thosethings happen then that means I may not be able to play a game I legally purchased.

    One of my friends and I love to play old games on PC, games that over 10 years old by companies that no longer exist or don’t support them anymore. Games that we likely wouldn’t able to play at all if they had DRM like EA and Ubisoft are trying to push. We’re moving closer and closer to essentially renting games we bought legally and paid full price for.

  11. 0
    Vengful_Soldier says:

    This is why I use Steam…..because it is the friendliest DRM out there. And for those who are completely against DRM…stop being republicans…(Being sarcastic there)

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