Ubisoft has issued an apology to customers who were affected by server moves this week that affected games requiring "always connected" DRM - even when they tried to play single player games. Because Ubisoft uses a DRM scheme on some games that require a constant connection, shutting the servers down that these games require made them unplayable.
Destructoid points out in this story that Ubisoft's plan to take down servers next week shows why "always on" DRM is a bad idea. During the maintenance the publisher has planned next week, any game that has "always online" DRM will not be playable. That means that legitimate copies of games won't work. Which games will be broken next week?
Ubisoft has found itself on the defensive yet again after customers in Europe who bought the latest Anno strategy game complained about its digital rights management software. Reports surfaced last week that the DRM, which offers a limited number of activations, were being used up if users changed their hardware configurations.
The Quebec Court of Appeal for the District of Montreal has ruled in favor of THQ Montreal and its parent company. The decision strikes down a provisional injunction obtained by Ubisoft that temporarily prohibited THQ from soliciting Ubisoft employees who were bound by a non-compete provision with Ubisoft. The lawsuit was filed by Ubisoft after THQ announced that developer Patrice Désilets had joined the studio to create a new intellectual property after he resigned as Creative Director of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise.
Ubisoft is facing a trademark complaint filed by a rock band that just happens to have the same name as one of its upcoming products. The claim has forced the company to delay the game in question in Europe and defend itself in court. The French publisher announced this morning that its music game Rocksmith won't be released in Europe until sometime in 2012, citing "music licensing" and "other external factors" as the causes.
While some within the Ubisoft studio structure may think that DRM is a grand idea, Ubisoft seems to have relented once again - this time patching out the protection on From Dust. The company apologized for the "always-on" DRM being in the game last month because when they announced the Pc version the company said it would have an "activate once" style of protection. Obviously that didn't happen and fans were ticked off about it. The company said when it apologized that the DRM being put in the game was simply a "misunderstanding."
Just when you thought Ubisoft couldn't possibly take any more heat from players angry about its DRM policies, Ubisoft Reflections founder Martin Edmonson opens up a new can of worms for the company to deal with. Speaking to Eurogamer, the head of the studio responsible for Driver: San Francisco says that his parent company has "every right" to use DRM to protect the PC games it publishes from "utterly unbelievable" levels of piracy.
Ubisoft, faced with a groundswell of opposition to the copy protection in the PC version of Driver: San Francisco, has announced that the game will not require a constant connection to a server in order to play. Players will no longer be required to have a constant internet connection in order to play the game, but they will still need to sign in online at the game’s launch.
Speaking to PC Gamer in response to the recent news that the Windows PC version of Driver: San Francisco would feature an "always on" DRM scheme, Ubisoft said that its solution have proven to be very successful for the company.
An unnamed Ubisoft representative admitted to PC Gamer that it has seen "a clear reduction in piracy of our titles which required a persistent online connection, and from that point of view the requirement is a success."
Driver: San Francisco is out on August 30 in the US, and September 2 in Europe.
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.
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot claims that his company has what it takes to overtake EA and Activision at some point in the future to become the world's leading publisher. Speaking to MCV, Guillemot said EA's decision to sell its stake in Ubisoft has left the company in a stronger position to grow its business.
"When they left it changed lots of things for us. We had a competitor owning a share of the company and we were always wary that they could decide they would go for the company - and that wouldn't have been welcome," Guillemot said. "The problem is that when you have the number one player in your company, you can't buy another company that would be in conflict with them or their strategy.
THQ has been very naughty, says Ubisoft, who managed to get a court injunction preventing the company from stealing any more of its employees, according to a Eurogamer report. A Quebec court has sided with Ubisoft. The court action relates to THQ recruiting Assassin's Creed creative director Patrice Désilets to lead its new Canadian studio.
Désilets then encouraged Assassin's Creed artistic director Alex Drouin, production manager Mark Besner and associate producer Jean-Francois Boivin to join him over at THQ. The problem with that was that Désilets had a one-year non-compete clause in his Ubisoft contract.
This allowed Ubisoft to get an injunction against THQ and Désilets in January of this year.
The Pan-European Game Information (PEGI) rating board, the organization responsible for rating games in Europe, defended its decision to rate We Dare for 12 year olds and above (PEGI 12) this week, even as Ubisoft takes extra precautionary measures to warn parents about the game's content. It's interesting because it undercuts PEGI's stance.
A statement by the ratings board (found on Cubed3D) defends the decision to rate it for such a young age group, stating that "it contains mild swearing, minor assault on a human-like character and words/activities that amount to obvious sexual innuendo, explicit sexual descriptions or images and sexual posturing."
In light of a rather racy commercial and confirmation from Ubisoft that We Dare is intended for mature audiences, many are still a bit surprised to learn that PEGI rated the game 12.
Cubed3.com sought comment from the rating board who explained:
Ubisoft has confirmed that We Dare is a European only release. The saucy, adult themed Wii game that challenges couples to engage is some risqué behavior to score points and "get a little closer" is apparently too hot for U.S. gamers.
While the reaction to the We Dare commercial was mostly disbelief, it would be hard to say that journalists on this side of the pond found it to be offensive - silly, and a little too suggestive for our taste, maybe - but inappropriate for America? No way. If we can have Dennis Franz showing his big ass on TV, we can handle a couple taking turns spanking each other in a commercial.
Ubisoft must have felt some embarrassment at the trailer being so widely noticed online and ended up yanking it off YouTube under the guise of a regional copyright issue. In other words, it contacted YouTube to violate itself. Strange.
Ubisoft told IGN that We Dare would "absolutely not see release in the United States."
Earlier this week Ubisoft announced plans to publish Call of Juarez: The Cartel this summer. Unlike the previous releases in the series, The Cartel is set in the present day and focuses on a "bloody road trip from Los Angeles to Juarez, Mexico."
While the description of this mature rated game may not shock gamers, the modern-day setting combined with the title has rubbed law enforcement officials in south Texas the wrong way. Pointing to gang and drug cartel-related violence that is very real to towns in southern Texas bordering Mexico, Brownsville Police Chief Carlos Garcia says that any game involving organized crime "sets a bad example." More from Garcia:
Ubisoft's third game in the popular Assassin's Creed series has won the Writers Guild of America award for games writing. The award winner was announced on Saturday night at a gala event and faced some stiff competition from such games as Fallout New Vegas, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, and Singularity.
Assassin's Creed Brotherhood was written by Ubisoft's Patrice Desilets, Jeffrey Yohalem, Corey May, Jeffrey Yohalem, Ethan Petty, Nicholas Grimwood, and Matt Turner.
You may recall that, prior to this weekend's awards ceremony, there was some controversy about the requirements to be eligible for the honor. Some developers and publishers complained about the requirements of the award such as having to pay for a $60 membership to the guild's Videogame Writers Caucus, and having to submit a script to judges.
Video game retailer GameStop reported record sales of $3.02 billion for the nine-week holiday season that ended on January 1. This marked a 5.4 percent increase over the same period last year, driven by Kinect sales, and "strong sell through" of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 titles such as Call of Duty: Black Ops and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. The company also reported 32 percent growth in gift card sales during the month of December.
New hardware sales improved 7.4 percent based mostly on the successful debut of Microsoft's Kinect. New video game software sales increased 3.3 percent.
According to this Reddit post (with screen captures), the DRM checks on several Ubisoft games have been relaxed a little. The post shows screen caps of Assassin’s Creed 2 and Splinter Cell: Conviction being played offline and working fine. The aforementioned titles previously required a constant connection to the internet to run even while playing single-player. This newfound functionality was apparently enabled with some recent patches.
According to the Reddit poster, the games no longer pause instantly if a connection is lost. Of course you will still have to validate the games the first time you play them (and will still require a connection when you first launch them), but - if these screencaps are true - it is a welcomed step in the right direction.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship filed a lawsuit on Thursday against publisher Ubisoft, claiming that the packaging for its new Kinect fighting game, Fighters Uncaged, infringes on the trademarks of the UFC. Attorneys (Lewis and Roca LLP) for UFC parent company Zuffa LLC charged that the phrase on the back-cover of the new Ubisoft game for the Xbox 360 is an infringement of its trademark.
The offending phrase is "Become the ULTIMATE FIGHTING weapon!"
Zuffa's lawyers claim that the phrase is nearly identical to the UFC’s trademarked Ultimate Fighting name. It may also confuse consumers who are looking for the company's games like the "Undisputed" series published by THQ and the "Sudden Impact" game.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction blocking the sale of the game, removal of the infringing phrase from the game's packaging, unspecified damages, and court costs.
The Wall Street Journal Blog offers an interesting origin story for Jeffrey Yohalem, the lead scribe for Ubisoft’s recently released video game Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. Yohalem gives credit to the classic game Prince of Persia as his inspiration for getting into the business. Speaking to WSJ, Yohalem said that after playing the game he felt greatly inspired, going on to write additional scripts and stories for the game "just for fun."
Later on in life, he sought out the sage advice of Jordan Mechner (the game's original creator) on what course to pursue to become a "video game script writer" at Yale. This lead him to take on courses in screenwriting and architecture.
An interesting anti-piracy mechanism is in place for Michael Jackson: The Experience for DS. If you use a pirated copy of the game, a defense mechanism kicks in that assails you with taunts and tortures you with the irritating sounds of the vuvuzelas.
"The development team worked this feature in as a creative way to discourage any tampering with the retail version of the game," a representative of Ubisoft told Wired.com in an e-mail Friday.
YouTube user ctkxtreme posted a video (seen to the left) documenting exactly what happens, offering the following comments: "This is Ubisoft’s attempt at anti-piracy to the game. The game is an [Elite Beat Agents] clone, and there’s no notes playing, it freezes when it’s paused, and fucking vuvuzela noises over the music."
Source: Game | Life
Ubisoft is growing moustaches, or "mo's" in a bid to raise money for cancer. Ubisoft offices in San Francisco, Montreal, Quebec, Vancouver, and France are involved in the endeavor, which has been dubbed "Movember." Their goal is to grow a moustache for the entire month of November.
The money raised from this stunt will go towards prostate cancer research. The collective Ubisoft team have already collected close to $20,000 for the Movember Foundation and they're ranked among the top fundraising teams. You can help them stay at the top by sponsoring them. You can track the efforts of Ubisoft here. To support local offices, click one of the links below:
While we were excited to report yesterday that Ubisoft wouldn't be using its horrible "always connected" DRM scheme for its upcoming strategy game RUSE, it looks like the company hasn't given up on it quite yet. Speaking to GameIndustry.biz, an unnamed Ubisoft spokesperson said that the company would continue using it on future PC games.
"We will continue to use the Ubisoft protection system for most PC games, said a spokesperson.
In case you've never played an Ubisoft PC title, the DRM works like this: In order to play multiplayer or even single player in a game you have to be connected to an Ubisoft server that validates your game. If you should get disconnected from the server, your game - no matter what you are doing in it - will quit or pause.
Of course there is always the chance that Ubisoft will see how well Steamworks works for them as a DRM protection system and eventually abandon its previous solution. Who knows.
Ubisoft has been the whipping boy for DRM opponents because some of its PC releases have required that the player be "always connected" to the internet to play its games. But this week the company is earning some good will. The first is the releases of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World game on PlayStation Network, a wonderful 8-bit beat 'em up that plays like a gussied version of River City Ransom. But for DRM opponents the best news is that the highly anticipated strategy game RUSE won't be using Ubisoft's usual DRM scheme.
A post on Ubisoft’s official forum for the game reveals that, because the game is using Steamworks, it won't require users to be always connected to the internet. Instead it will require you to login to Steam to validate the game once. Here's more from the forum post: