Ubisoft calls always-on DRM a success

Despite foul-ups and inconveniences for users, publisher insists that requiring a connection to its servers has produced "a clear reduction in piracy."

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Earlier this week, Ubisoft confirmed that the PC version of Driver: San Francisco will require a constant connection to Ubisoft's servers to run, even in single-player mode. It's a digital rights management scheme the publisher has used to much controversy, but one that it insists works.

But is always-on DRM any more effective than The Club?

According to PC Gamer, a representative of the publisher defended the practice this week, saying 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."

Ubisoft first introduced the always-on DRM scheme several years ago and used it in titles like Silent Hunter V, Settlers 7, and Assassin's Creed II. However, after denial-of-service attacks brought the games' servers down and rendered them temporarily unplayable for legitimate customers, the publisher appeared to rethink its stance.

Ubisoft subsequently relaxed the DRM on Assassin's Creed II and Splinter Cell: Conviction and opted not to use it at all for titles like R.U.S.E. and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.

For more on Driver: San Francisco, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

Discussion

231 comments
Yulaw2000
Yulaw2000

Nothing but propaganda and corporate spin, so they can save face.

luizferrarezzi
luizferrarezzi

they have to understand that to make real money they have to stop making rushed unfinished and crap games.

Arranik
Arranik

I wonder if Ubisoft figured out that pirates have already gone around their DRM yet...

999realthings
999realthings

I just went from "Cool might see the reviews are like and maybe buying it on a massive sale" to "Never going to bother" like with all Ubisoft games with this DRM

evaneself
evaneself

They do not respect my right to play how long I want, maybe a lifetime, as long as it is limited. Acceptance of the EULA, is without negotiation. They give you the demo to taste it, you like it and then they "force" you to accept virtually everything they wrote there.

evaneself
evaneself

@Daemoroth I have 600 pc games without scratches on it. I do not buy from Ubisoft or EA, since they have disordered head. Now I went on the PS3, I only have 33 games here, I'm sorry I have not gone before.

DoomZaW
DoomZaW

If this is a success then what the hell does it take for ubisoft to call it failure? *shudders*

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

@Leria, if I had to pick between taking better care of my game disks and letting piracy run rampant and potentially destroy the gaming market, I'd just stop using my disks as coasters. Honestly, how do you manage to scratch your disks so frequently that you think a replacement policy is necessary? I have a Dungeon Keeper disk that doesn't have a scratch on it?! I think if it was a common enough issue, sheer demand would have ensured that a replacement policy was put into place. PS - You didn't legally buy the disk, you bought a license to play the game. Which means that using a crack to play the game after you broke your game disks isn't wrong in a copyright sense (It might violate the 'don't modify the game/bypass protection scheme' condition).

Debdeep007
Debdeep007

DRM is a success!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! tell it to skidrow ! lol. Selling good games at a reasonable price is the only key to avoid ( read 'minimize') piracy. I'm from India, and due to higher price point , and constant connection requirement, maybe 1 of a million people buys these games, and the others (read 'everyone') thank skidrow .It's a fact. :)

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

@Daemoroth, Yeah sorry, i never thought of that. The fact that a 'CONSTANT' connection is required is an issue to users using WLAN connections with intermittent drop out, so yes i understand, although i fear there are many gamers complaining that do not suffer this shortfall. In this case DRM should be an intermittent checkup as opposed to a constant link. Sorry if i came across the wrong way.

farcorners
farcorners

I have ZERO pirated PC games, and ZERO pirated console games. One thing I am sure of is that I will NEVER buy a game that requires me to be online every single minute I play it. Looks like the publisher would force me to find and steal a cracked Ubisoft title, or not play it at all.

farcorners
farcorners

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

farcorners
farcorners

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Leria
Leria

Actually, Daemoroth..... most people are angry that DRM even exist, even for consoles. Why? Because if their legally bought disc gets damaged, they are unable to play a backup copy and have to go out to buy the entire game in question again. Back in the days of cartridges, where you basically would have to drop them and stomp on them to break them, this was not an issue. Today, with easily scratched optical discs? Yes, it's a big issue. Now, if the companies in question had an easy replacement policy, where you could pay like..... 2-5 dollars per disc and have them replaced, then I wouldn't whine about this. Since they don't? I have to bring it up. If they switched to SSD drives for games or something similar (a 32GB SSD should be able to hold a 1080p game no problems that is as long as Final Fantasy VII or God of War III) that don't have the problem of being easily damaged? Then, I would drop this issue again.

JeffreyCor
JeffreyCor

Here's a far better method of protection; make good games and offer them at a reasonable price. Amazingly, more people will buy.

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

@mattcake and @thenephariouson - the problem is not that DRM exists, most, if not all of us, agree on that. The issue is just how stringent this DRM is, requiring a CONSTANT connection is pretty damn terrible. I used to live in a building where the internet connection would drop every hour to two hours, and that would cause ACII to halt, and then quit. Can you guess what I did to solve that problem? Now I've moved and I won't suffer from that same issue, but I still have the ability to think of others' situation, something that seems lost on the two of you. Not everyone has a steady, reliable connection, hell, not everyone even has a connection (I know nobody at the student accommodation I stayed in way back at varsity has a connection). I'm not saying DRM should go and publishers should just live with piracy, that's BS and pirates are going to cost us the PC gaming market - maybe not in numbers lost but definitely in PR department. But maybe try to be a little more lenient with DRM, allow people to play for an hour without a connection (For the people with a crappy connection). Find some way to prevent the DRM from influencing the experience so much and people will accept it more readily.

mattcake
mattcake

PC gamers can't sit around complaining they don't get exclusives or nothing but rubbish ports from consoles while at the same time allowing piracy to exist so easily on their platform. I was an exclusive PC gamer from 1990 or earlier to 2008 or so... ripped off a lot of games, didnt pay for them, didn't care, a few games I did buy out of sheer guilt because the games were so awesome (gta3). I was ripping off games back to the Amiga and Spectrum era. Now I'm older and can afford to pay for things its a different story. £40 on a console game is fine if its had £10m investment in it. The only reason to moan at DRM is if its slowing down the game or if you don't wanna pay for the full game. If you don't wanna pay for the game, fine, but don't expect to get it for nothing. This kind of DRM may actually save the PC market by forcing people to pay for what they're playing. If developers made the same profit from PC releases that they did from console releases you would see a LOT more optimisation and care taken with the port. Why should they bother when its 5% of their revenue though?

thenephariouson
thenephariouson

I really dont see the problem here, afterall dont we all have our consoles/Pc's connected to the internet anyway?? The only people whining are most likely the ones gutted that they can no longer pirate the games containing DRM anyway. Ultimately, you had better get used to the idea of DRM, cos more and more developers WILL eventually adopt it.

couly
couly

It was a success for me cos they messed up so badly, they gave me free DLC

mat989
mat989

I know I'm double posting, but I have to agree with @Sohereiam In Brazil, for example, eletronics taxes are so high that it costs almost doubled to costumers buy the exact same product, so piracy there is massive (and, must I say, not everyone can affort to buy them even with the US price...people are still stuck with PS2 games or on Wii games since it uses DVD for the games)

mat989
mat989

I agree with most people are saying: in PC, anything and everything can be piratiated. First and foremost, your pc must be able to read the media cd/dvd/hd-dvd/whatever, right? if so, you can decrypt the files inside in some programming language (did you knew GTAIV has some programation parts in c++?), modify them, and voila! you just need the right tools, not to be a genius. It even remembers me of game consoles....remeber how they said game cartridges couldn't be pirated? *buzz* wrong, a while later it was MASSIVELY pirated....how about GameCube's own dvd? *buzz* again, they pirated it in a couple of years later....and PS3's Blu-Ray, then? *buzz* if you heard of Jailbreak, then you know it's already out there. The best way they tried to counter piracy was in PSP, where the media is exclusive for it and only Sony (and some selected companies) could fabricate....oh yeah, but you can still use a custom firmware in your psp to run games from the memory stick..fail -.-''

Sohereiam
Sohereiam

This is stupid, most people that obtain pirate software, obtain because they have no means to obtain original, exp: If a person obtain a pirate game because he has no money, if removes piracy makes him have more money, no. If a person obtains a pirate game because there is no store or means to import, will make a store appear from nothing to sells original, no. Will a always on-DRM make sales rise, no, will it makes more money, of course.....NOT, an always on-DRM is dependent of the company, if the company decides to ignore the product then the product is useless, nobody buys a game to use then throw away, because the creators threw a fit.

Sonicpan
Sonicpan

I don't think DRM is gonna solve the piracy problem, the only thing that DRM achieves is reducing the piracy for a limited time. It's a matter of time before someone break the DRM or any other security that might come up. Big companies such as Ubisoft have to understand that they can only slow down piracy.

starjet905
starjet905

Ahahahaaaa, I bought both Assassin's Creed I and Brotherhood. But I didn't buy II cause of this PoS DRM. But guess what? I played it many times. I'd say it's an increase in piracy. Think I'll have to go the same way with Revelations, seeing as I won't be playing Multiplayer anyway.

sayondas4
sayondas4

i don't think so. skidrow has cracked every game despite requiring an internet connection

Travis281
Travis281

Clear reduction in piracy? Really? This practice actually forces people who can't be online all the time to consider piracy as their only alternative.

affee_83
affee_83

Well i dont know about other customers but i used to buy new ubisoft games. Although i started downloading pirated copies of ubisoft games after they introduced the DRM. And trust me i feel much better now cuz it feels like i get more for free than i used to get with money :)

ravenguard90
ravenguard90

For an individual with an extremely unstable internet, this type of DRM is a big no-no for me. Oh well, glad to see it's not implemented in games I want, really.

Mr_Q_Oz
Mr_Q_Oz

I chose not to buy any Ubisoft PC titles with this type of DRM and so have had no problem at all. :P

johnday27
johnday27

the drm hasnt reduced pirates downloading their games the fact they are releasing crappy games has reduced pirates downloading them

Daemoroth
Daemoroth

Great example of how NOT to protect your games. Making the loyal and paying customer's experience leagues and leagues worse than a pirate is not going to help sales. Funny how gaming is the only industry (I can think of) where a thief gets a better product than a paying customer - and the best is it's "by design". I understand the need for DRM, but goddamn there are a lot better ways to deal with it.

NoHotAshes
NoHotAshes

Just as well I dont play any of the junk ubisoft puts out

mikeyman2002
mikeyman2002

Wow... Just wow... I'm sorry, I thought this was meant to be a joke article.

Daian
Daian

"the publisher appeared to rethink its stance." Well, apparently they have not come to their senses. And to think they used to be my favorite publisher because of games like FarCry (1), Beyond Good and Evil and Prince of Persia, but now they're just abusing honest customers just to sell a few extra copies (in theory, in reality chances are their sales will suffer from this).

Pawfalcon
Pawfalcon

Not being able to play without a constant connection? That can be pretty dam inconvenient. Not a fan.

Raxyman
Raxyman

If by "success" they meant their games are better of pirated than original then yeah, huge success... BTW, i won't buy any ubisoft game from now on, except used, maybe.

wexorian
wexorian

i;m not reterad to Burn myself with drm rage i got tired with it in asasin games :)

fillup0
fillup0

DRM like this just gets cracked extremely quickly, and results in pirates pirating the game to get back at the companies who impose these draconian DRM measures, and people who buy the game remove the DRM so they can use their product in their full glory. Take a look at Bethesda, they use the simple CD key method, their games are super easy to crack to the point where installing and playing a cracked version of a game just requires one mounting of an iso. Their games still sell on PC, and they sell well...

Madgnad
Madgnad

Anyone else remember how bad GTA4 was? You had to install 5 different softwares just to start the game up. Games for Windows Live, Rockstar Social, You had to type your cd key into the rockstar social to register your game with Rockstar then when you launched the game you had to type it in again to Games for Windows Live, and if you uninstalled the game and reformatted then they made it hell to back up your save file. Video game companies need to understand, we don't want this crap. We pay them $50-60 to play a game and it turns out that we can't even play it, and since we bought the PC version we can't return it and get our money back.

eric_neo3
eric_neo3

Ubisoft I'd hand you a shovel for your BS so that you could bury it but it seems like you've already started digging your grave so I'll just leave you at it.

Madgnad
Madgnad

How is this a success? Their DRM doesn't effect pirates. They get the DRM free version of the game! Us as consumers have to deal with this crap. Ubisoft is digging their own grave.

CassadyH
CassadyH

If they think im gonna jump through all these hoops to play their game then they are sadly mistaken. I really was looking into this game ( i was a big fan of the original) but nope, not anymore

GarGx1
GarGx1

@Apenoot I own a couple Ubisoft DRM protected games, my internet is very reliable as is my modem and router, my service hasn't dropped out on me since moving to this house - 8 years ago. The problems are with Ubi's servers, even to the point that you get kicked from a single player game because their servers go down. Also if this happens you can lose a lot of progress because it may not have saved your game before crashing and they don't allow you to maually save. I will never buy another Ubisoft game that has this terrible system attached to it, their service is absolutely abysmal. Just wait till they expand it to Xbox and probably Playstation aswell, then you will understand why PC gamers complain about this travesty of a 'success'.

mindwaste
mindwaste

for all the people that do gaming on the go this would be a risky proposition as they dont always have internet where they go, my brother recently bought a gaming laptop and he uses it when on long commutes or travelling where internet is extremely "unreliable" if not non-existent.

ferretlord2177
ferretlord2177

pirates will not be affected. all this will do is encourage paying customers to crack they're legit copies and pirate future ubisoft games in the future instead of wasting good money on supporting the war on themselves.

Apenoot
Apenoot

I think game companies should make demo's of all the games they release... then put constant DRM on and flip a middle finger to all those clowns that can't afford a decent modem. If you can't afford one you can't afford a video game either. Everyone seems to have unreliable internet connection? WTH you living in the jungle or something? Go to different provider or buy a better modem... Or even better: stop defining your internet as 'unreliable' coz you've had one disconnect in the past 3 years. All you guys are looking for is excuses.

xsonicchaos
xsonicchaos

i'm the patient kind of buyer, so i never buy a game unless it's me that's gaining something out of it. like for any DRM protected game, thank goodness i own a PS3, and it's much comfortable that way.... in many ways. for any other, they just have to battle for my money. oh, and there's also the demo play. for crying out loud, just give people the chance to try out the game before buying. so no, i don't think piracy has gone lower since that lossy DRM. not for ubisoft.