Ubisoft Using 'Always On' DRM for Driver: San Francisco PC

July 28, 2011 -

Ubisoft announced that it has decided to use an "always on" digital rights management (DRM) scheme for the Windows PC version of its upcoming action racing game, Driver: San Francisco. The publishers has gone back and forth on its DRM schemes - mostly because PC gamers hate the "always on" DRM scheme because it requires them to always be connected to a server in order to play a game.

"I can confirm that the PC version of Driver San Francisco will require an online connection to play in both single player and multiplayer modes," said Ubisoft public relations representative Dominic DiSanti told Giant Bomb.

Some past Ubisoft games that used the much hated scheme included Assassin's Creed II and Splinter Cell: Conviction. Inevitably the company got rid of the DRM with subsequent patches. The company also used a similar method for Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, which required a login.

Meanwhile, the console versions of Driver: San Francisco will require users to activate Uplay in order to access the multiplayer. This is Ubisoft's method for an "online pass," which adds (we would guess) an additional cost if you buy the game used because you'll have to purchase a code to play multiplayer.

"When we first introduced the connection requirement last year, we stated that our decision to implement it into our PC titles would be considered on a case by case basis and this remains true," said DiSanti. "We will assess each future PC title and strive to offer the best gameplay experience possible while also ensuring that we are protecting the amazing work and effort of our talented creative teams."

Source: Giant Bomb

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Re: Ubisoft Using 'Always On' DRM for Driver: San Francisco PC

Sure, it pissed off customers and failed to actually stop piracy before, but hey, third time's the charm, right?

Re: Ubisoft Using 'Always On' DRM for Driver: San Francisco PC

"[...] our decision to implement it into our PC titles would be considered on a case by case basis [...]"

And our decision to purchase your PC titles will be considered similarly. I honestly just don't trust this stuff. It's only a short step for that DRM to become monitoring, or something worse. I'm sure it uses almost no bandwidth right now, but with bandwidth caps common in Canada and spreading in US, it's something that could become a minor issue.

And of course, this is on top of all the other problems with DRM. Ultimately all of that is moot; as a customer, I have no interest in being treated like a criminal.

Re: Ubisoft Using 'Always On' DRM for Driver: San Francisco PC

I've said this before. If you can think of a way to prevent piracy altogether, at the same time giving zero inconvenience to legitimate buyers, I'm sure we'd all love to hear it.

I've always been of the mind that if it wasn't for piracy, there wouldn't be any DRM measures like that in the first place.

Re: Ubisoft Using 'Always On' DRM for Driver: San Francisco PC

The best you can do is make the purchased product a far more attractive option than the pirated one. For example, if you have to go "always online", then have a good reason for it other than "IP Protection". For example, have dynamic content generated by the server which may change each week or other bonuses that paid customers get alongside their product. Having a single player game with multiplayer-like requirements of being online all the time is silly (and not feasible for some people). Adding unwanted DRM does the complete opposite of what customers desire and may turn legit buyers towards using cracks if their game does not work as intended.

 

On the other hand, it "delays" piracy past the street date (and possibly a few weeks more) all of which would be the peak time for sales. This is pretty much what Ubisoft liked (AC2 and that new Prince of Persia game weren't fully cracked until about a month later). However, after a crack is released, the DRM has run its course and really should be stripped or at least toned down.

Re: Ubisoft Using 'Always On' DRM for Driver: San Francisco PC

You know, I could probably get behind some of the more byzantine DRM practices out there (like the 'always on' verification) if there was a promise that, should the DRM be hacked, retail versions will be patched to reduce the intrusion of the DRM to a level equivalent to that of the cracked versions of the game.

I doubt any company would agree to that, but it would be an excellent good-will gesture, reflecting on the idea that DRM isn't meant to inconvenience legitimate customers.

Re: Ubisoft Using 'Always On' DRM for Driver: San Francisco PC

That's all well and good, and on the surface it makes sense. If rats are eating your food, set rat traps; it has a 'if A, then B' kind of logic to it.

But the reality is, piracy cannot be prevented, because data is not a physical object. All of the platforms which have avoided piracy for any length of time have always been for physical reasons, and they've always been overcome eventually -- just sometimes after the product life was up.

Yes, it's a problem, and I *do* feel for Ubisoft. But I am also a game developer, and I'm aware of this problem in the business. The practical reality is, you can't stop it outright, so don't. Put an obstacle in the way (like CD keys or Steam Authentication, or Disc Verification, or whatever), so that users can't just copy everything out of the box -- and the bulk of them won't.

You can also explore OTHER working models that sidestep the problem, like account-linked gaming (such as WoW) or micro-transactions, or ad-supported gaming, or sponsered productions. Yes, these can all be done badly too, but you have to pick your evil.

What you're missing here is that DRM like what Ubisoft is using here is the Big Brother approach. Some people commit crimes, so we're just watch EVERYBODY to make sure no one does anything wrong. It makes sense on the surface, but it's a gross violation of privacy, and makes things worse for your legitimate customers.

Ultimately, it will not stop pirates from getting your game; I'd be surprised if the DRM wasn't cracked within 24 hours of the game's launch. And then you're pissing on your customers, while the Pirates walk away with your game, no strings attached -- then what was the point?

 
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Andrew EisenYes, imagine anyone insisting that two utterences of the phrase "Depression Quest creator Zoe Quinn" wasn't influenced by something happening in the future!10/02/2014 - 10:52am
Sleaker@Pap Midnight - So wouldn't it be any journalist writing about general gaming culture would need to disclose any and all links/ties to said general gaming culture to be ethical? Also @EZK to use you're own methodology, I'm still curious on the question10/02/2014 - 10:49am
KronoSure none of those are reviews, but it is positive exposure, which as illustrated by The Fine Young Capitalists, is pretty damn important for getting people to check out your work.10/02/2014 - 10:32am
Krono@Midnight and of course the article most people mention and insist was no way influenced by him being romantically involved only days later, and her friend beforehand here: http://goo.gl/xCzivK10/02/2014 - 10:29am
Papa MidnightThe term "lovers" might be pushing it given the apparent time frame, but I understand what you're saying. Even if they were friends at the time, then that may present impropiety. However, that calls for a Magic-8-Ball level of speculation.10/02/2014 - 10:26am
Krono@Midnight She was a guest on an RPS show he cohosted here: http://goo.gl/QxljSG10/02/2014 - 10:24am
prh99Personally I'd say her original piece on Bronies was far more ethically questionable. Though for different reasons.10/02/2014 - 10:20am
Krono@Midnight On the Grayson relationship? For starters it depends on how long they were friends before they were lovers. Nathan gave Depression Quest top billing back in this article: http://goo.gl/tqGsnW10/02/2014 - 10:20am
Papa MidnightIf said journalist, however, is placed into a position where they have to write about matters dealing with DICE, then yes, a COI is present and should be declared.10/02/2014 - 10:18am
Papa MidnightHypothetically, if a developer from DICE starts dating a tech journalist from CNN tomorrow, so long as said CNN journalist is not (in)directly involved in any editorial process regarding matters dealing with DICE, there's no need to declare a COI.10/02/2014 - 10:18am
Papa MidnightThere's no need for it. A declaration of a Conflict of Interest is only necessary in the event that the parties may be placed into a situation where the conflict may become a factor.10/02/2014 - 10:16am
Krono@prh99 It was after #gamergate. There was a post on r/games that called out the lack of disclosure.10/02/2014 - 10:12am
Papa MidnightKrono: If the purpose of such was to expose some conflict of interest, I am not sure what the purpose or end objective was. Specifically, said relationship had not produced any works positive or otherwise. Where's the beef?10/02/2014 - 10:09am
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Krono@prh99 disclosed in an update after #gamergate noticed and called it out.10/02/2014 - 10:04am
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prh99http://kotaku.com/anna-anthropy-designer-behind-dys4ia-and-triad-and-au-1448084641 <--relationship disclosed10/02/2014 - 9:57am
Papa MidnightEven to this day, that remains the primary citation of those embarking in it. That said, the whole "it's not about harrassment" thing is comparable to making an extremely racist statement, then following up by saying "but I'm not a racist."10/02/2014 - 9:56am
 

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