August 8, 2011

Ubisoft Says Their Online Only DRM is a Success

Ubisoft has often been criticized by the PC gaming community for it’s online only DRM.  The DRM requires gamers to have a constant Internet connections so the game can authenticate with Ubisoft servers.  This in turn is supposed to help piracy.  But does the benefit really outweigh the cost to the consumer?

The online only DRM brings up several key questions such as what if someone doesn’t have Internet *deployed military personnel for example* or what if they live in an area with flakey Internet and their connection drops?  With Assassins Creed if you internet connection dropped then the game would shut down and kick you out.  Many players have complained that they cannot play because the game constantly kicks them out.

Ubisoft told PC Gamer  “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.” And that their Online only DRM software had been a complete success and that it will be deploying it on their newest title Driver: San Francisco that releases on August 30

In my opinion the ends do not justify the means here.  Clearly Ubisoft is alienating a great number of it’s honest customers and one has to wonder if these extreme measures really drive more sales or just drive more honest customers to piracy or drove them not to buy the game at all.  Companies often forget about the customers who support them when they develop software.  This is clearly evident in some of decisions we have witnessed from the industry giants as of late.  Ubisofts DRM may indeed be a success, as a conversation starter but wheather or not it’s successful has yet to be seen.

What do you guys think?

May 21, 2010

Draconian DRM: Are Consoles Next?

Anyone who has spent time on gaming forums has probably listened to PC gamers complain about Intrusive DRM.  The DRM can do anything from installing a root kit behind the scenes to prevent you from copying or installing more then a certian number times to requiring you to have a constant internet connection to play even the single player component of the game.

Xbox, PS3 and Wii owners have traditionally not had to deal with DRM.  Console titles rarely even make you enter anything to play the game you just put the disc in and play.  This, however, appears to be changing.  Publishers have always been displeased with the used game market.  When you purchase a used game 100% of the profit goes to the seller (Gamestop, Gamers, Ebgames, etc) whereas if you are to buy the game new the profits go to the publisher.  With so many consoles games being multiplayer specific publishers are finding new ways to make consumers pay for their games new.  EA is now stating that their will be no multiplayer for who buy games used.  If you purchase the game used then you will need to buy a $10 – $15 multiplayer key from EA to get access to the online content.   You’re average two year old game costs around 19.99 used.  If the consumer now has to buy a $15 dollar key to play it that could really hamper the used game market.

Consoles at their start were relatively piracy free.  This has changed dramatically over the last 5 years.  Microsoft recently banned over 1 million users from Xbox live  in an attempt to thrawt using pirated games and running modded consoles.  Console piracy has been on the rise and now publishers are starting to claim that it is eating into their profits.  One of the first ways that they tried to combat this on the PC was CD/DVD serial keys.  This is already starting to happen with EA in their attempt to prevent people from buying used games.   It’s not a far stretch for them to incorporate it for every game.   Furthermore it’s likely that they could also ask you to keep your console connected to the internet to play the games as well just to make sure you are not playing with a pirated copy.  Consoles gamers don’t have the luxury at the moment of getting cracked executables so if they add DRM consoles gamers will be stuck with it.  At least for the foreseeable  future.

While DRM is not common on consoles yet it sure could be in the near future as publishers attempt to combat piracy and maximize profits.  It will be interesting to what schemes developers come up with.

On a personal note I’m all for having a CD key that you need to enter somewhere to prove that you paid for the game.  This really isn’t that intrusive to me. I am so used to entering CD keys that I can do it in my sleep.  I do however have serious qualms about the DRM that has been released for current PC games such as ACII and Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands.  Any DRM that makes you keep a constant internet connection is just uncalled for.  When your DRM is a bigger hassle to the consumer then it is to the pirate then you need to remove it from your software.  Same goes for rootkit style DRM like SecureRom.  The software could cause your computer to BSOD randomly.  This kind of software behavior is not acceptable.

April 24, 2010

Assasins Creed II DRM Hacked!

Ubisoft in all of it’s wisdom in an effort to protect it’s workers and property decided to develop DRM that would require you to have a constant Internet connection to play Assassins Creed II online.  This basically meant if your Internet connection dropped, even for a moment, the game would close.  This has caused havoc for many gamers who live in areas with “less then stellar” Internet connections.  This DRM has been a pain in the backside of legitimate players of the game.  It even managed to keep hackers at bay for some time. 

Today hackers have cracked Ubisofts DRM and then left a rather humorous message for them which read, “Thank you Ubisoft, this was quite [sic] a challenge for us, but nothing stops the leading force from doing what we do. Next time focus on the game and not on the DRM. It was probably horrible for all legit users. We just make their lifes [sic] easier.”

While I am not a proponent of piracy,  solutions such as this one created by hacking groups ensure that Assassin’s Creed II will still be playable years from now, or in the event of a connection outage.

Personally, I have to agree with the hackers sentiments.  DRM is starting to become more of a hassle to legitimate users more so then it deters pirates.

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