Ubisoft: DRM Can't Stop Piracy

VP of digital publishing says, "I don't want us in a position where we're punishing a paying player for what a pirate can get around."

The Witcher developer CD Projekt Red is not the only gaming company that thinks DRM is an ineffective way to stop piracy on PC. Assassin's Creed and Far Cry publisher Ubisoft believes any game can be cracked with enough time and effort, so developers should instead focus on making games that people actually want to pay for.

"What becomes key for us is making sure we're delivering an experience to paying players that is quality," Ubisoft VP of digital publishing Chris Early told GameSpot. "I don't want us in a position where we're punishing a paying player for what a pirate can get around. Anything is going to be able to be pirated given enough time and enough effort to get in there. So the question becomes, what do we create as services, or as benefits, and the quality of the game, that will just have people want to pay for it?"

During our interview, I brought up the claim that Bethesda's recently released FPS Wolfenstein: The New Order was pirated over 100,000 times in its first week. According to Early, it's a "mistake" to consider that entire figure as lost sales because some number of people were always going to steal the game.

To fight piracy, Early explained that Ubisoft needs to not only focus on making better, more compelling games, but also ensure that these games have more online services (which are not available to pirates) baked into them.

"I think it's much more important for us to focus on making a great game and delivering good services. The reality is, the more service there is in a game, pirates don't get that," Early said. "So when it's a good game and there's good services around it, you're incentivized to not pirate the game to get the full experience."

Following fan feedback, Ubisoft dropped its controversial DRM system in 2012, instead requiring only that PC users connect to the Internet once when they first install a game.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
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288 comments
lukedude420
lukedude420

 I was reminded of HoMaM as well. For me it wasn't just that UPlay screwed up my campaign, or that the game sucked which it kinda did, but the overall shadiness of Ubisoft. I purchased HoMaM on Steam completely unaware that I would have to download and install a second service(UPlay). Then of course my keys didn't work properly. So even after the hassle of downloading, and signing up for UPlay I was inconvenienced by Ubisoft's tertiary DRM. I have avoided buying any Assassins Creed games for PC even though I love the series because I simply refuse to jump through the hoops to get an experience that is sub par to a pirated version. Then to hear this VP from Ubisoft say these things is just a slap in my face. Frankly it's ridiculous, and completely ignores the reality of their business practices.

blackothh
blackothh

I would complain about why then did they need players of Heroes of Might and Magic 6 to sign on to Uplay to play single player which subsequently did not allow me to continue on with the campaign, but they also screwed up the series so bleh

RabidBurp
RabidBurp

Hypocrisy much? If Ubisoft truly believed in DRM-free gaming, they wouldn't force us to use their uPlay shit for playing their games, especially for online multiplayer.

lilflipp
lilflipp

Today it's almost a smart choice from a consumer's perspective. With all the hype, lies and bullshit. There are games like Ride to Hell: Retribution out there, if you're one of the poor fucks who bought that game, you got downright robbed. Your wallet was pirated.

There are games that if I had known, if I had a demo, or a chance to play it for a bit, that I would never had bought.

There are games that I would never have tried and fall in love with, if I didn't play it before buying it.

blackothh
blackothh

@lilflipp I always hunt down a letsplay on youtube of a game if im interested in getting it to try to make sure I dont waste my money.

russian_takeout
russian_takeout

relax with all the security features and focus on making the game itself.

people buy good/great games. problem is, when you have a  game with 5 hr single player, and lousy multiplayer..... how to you justify 60+ bucks for it?

piracy help individual to test the game. I download probably 10-20 games a year, and purchasing 3-4 the ones that let me play at least for a few weeks (multiplayer or replay value).... nba2k, battlefield, arma, total war, world of tanks, skyrim and etc....... will get my money any day of the year. honestly, I don't even download new releases from those franchises, as they usually don't disappoint.


most of the games, are pure garbage, with no replay value what so ever. DRM or not, are excuses and waste of budget.

anthony_arndt
anthony_arndt

I can log in to Uplay, and I can log in to AC IV. But the two won't talk to each other and so I am locked out of all of the online features, the multi-player, and all of the DLC that I paid for. I've jumped through every hoop I could find on their tech support pages and on other tech support pages.

Something on their end is blocking the connection. I have ZERO connectivity issues with any of the other online games I play from ALL other publishers. It is only Uplay and Ubisoft games with which I have this problem.

So long as Uplay exists, I will only play pirate versions of Ubisoft games. (Appropriate that it was Black Flag that drove me to this.)

WhiteKnight77
WhiteKnight77

This is really rich coming from the king of DRM and using it for years and giving us games that are not worth the money they ask for said games. Does anyone remember the Starforce garbage that they got sued over? The lawsuit was the only reason why they decided to drop Starforce before GRAW came out.

Gaming-Planet
Gaming-Planet

Ok, then get rid of Uplay. Please! It's so redundant to have uplay DRM overlap steam. All it does is encourage piracy because your uplay client is terrible and servers are sometimes offline. Let Steamworks handle it!

death4us2
death4us2

First of all they should sell games cheaper because you don't actually own the game you are just licensing the right to play it. As for piracy many of those people who do get a free illegal copy will buy a copy if they like the game because most cracked games are limited and don't have online multiplayer. Second many of those people who do get it free and don't buy it can't afford to buy it or would never buy it so there is no loss of money. .

Wintermist
Wintermist

They could also sell games a bit cheaper.

trust2112
trust2112

Companies like Ubisoft quit making game demo's and keep upping the prices of games. If you think I'm dropping 50 dollars and up for a game that I can't see how it looks and feels, you've lost your goddamn mind. YOU Ubisoft, and other developers have turned gamers into crooks. May you and EA rot in hell.

borya070
borya070

This is  bullshit, people are greedy doesn't matter at what platform there are

when you given a  choice to buy something for 60 dollars or get it for free.

and the people that cracking the games doing it for popularity

predatorGS
predatorGS

Ok people, lets see what Ubisoft will do about it... and then judge.

DeusGladiorum
DeusGladiorum

So why does UPlay continue to exist? Why can't Ubisoft and EA work something out with Valve to have stricter rules placed on their content, but without having to add in UPlay or Origin? Ubisoft is a walking contradiction, and is pretty two-faced like a lot of publishers. Say one thing and they mean another. "it's much more important for us to focus on making a great game." Sure. And while we're at it, why don't we keep UPlay and let's make sure every game is massively open-world... oh and let's just add thousands upon thousands of superfluous collectibles and shallow-as-hell "activities", you know, to make those open world games feel nice and full. 

DawnBlue
DawnBlue

@DeusGladiorum Excuse me, but why should I need to have Steam either? Just wondering, why on earth do you think having to install Steam is any more justified than forced Uplay or Origin.

blueboxdoctor
blueboxdoctor

I just don't get how people can justify stealing something because it is on a digital medium.  Do these people also casually walk into stores and just take things?  It really is interesting how people can convince themselves how something is fine when it's not.

blueboxdoctor
blueboxdoctor

@sonicblast19 Yeah, but that's different than people just pirating a game because they feel Ubisoft or EA or whoever did them wrong on a personal level. It's not like people are going into stores and stealing physical copies of these games.

Anamon
Anamon

@blueboxdoctor I think that's a very small minority if pirates though. People downloading unlicensed games are largely of two kinds. (A) those who can't afford them, which means the downloads are not lost sales because they couldn't have bought them anyway (whether it's right that they subsequently play them anyway, is a different question). And (B), those who download them just because they're free. Maybe to evaluate them before buying (with almost no games having demos anymore these days), maybe out of boredom – whatever the reason, as soon as the game would cost them a dollar, they wouldn't get it either, and just skip it or find another one that they *can* get for free. In other words, not a lost sale either. I don't think many people who *could* afford and *could* legally buy the original get pirated copies just to save money or screw over the publishers. And again, if screwing over the publisher is your goal, you're not going to buy the game you couldn't pirate either, are you?


I largely agree with the Ubisoft VP's assessment here (even though his company doesn't seem to agree with him): people are willing to pay for a good product, from a company they feel values them. So the solution is not to fight the unwinnable war against pirates, who you won't ever get any money from, but to get more *actual* potential customers interested, and feeling they'll get their money's worth.


The only other reason I can see for piracy is one the VP also mentions: if DRM becomes so annoying, obtrusive and damaging that the pirated copy, which always has the DRM stripped by definition, is a much higher quality copy of the game than the legal original. We've reached a point where this is true for 90% of mainstream games. So it becomes hard to justify $60 for a game that gets willfully damaged, while the pirates get a superior copy for free.


You shouldn't compare any of this to lifting a game from a store though. Those are two entirely different things – theft and copyright infringement – which are not even the least bit related.

sonicblast19
sonicblast19

@blueboxdoctor Honestly,it depends,if that digital something cannot be bought in their country\region,piracy is the only way to experience that.

taker254isback
taker254isback

" Ubisoft believes any game can be cracked with enough time and effort, so developers should instead focus on making games that people actually want to pay for."   ... If they wonna stop piracy, theyre gonna have to base EVERY SINGLE GAME on Multi Player.  But Offline games , Singleplayers cannot be stopped!

TitanPolaris
TitanPolaris

OK then Ubisoft then why don't you back up your words that DRM does not stop piracy and just makes more people steal your products by putting your games on the new GOG Galaxy service that HAS no DRM and ditch your Uplay service? Actions speak loader than words Ubisoft so do it already!

merrickx
merrickx

"can't stop piracy..."


Honestly, I feel like, for a lot of people, Ubisoft's BS is a motivator for piracy. Even more so than the compelling poverty of many that pirate under such circumstances.

tim_skijwalker
tim_skijwalker

with being cracked eventually they are referring to the 4 days before launch i take it?

-_- 


this whole new co-op mode is a step in the right direction in my opinion, also more frequent patching would help and better communication with the PC community which has already improved a lot when you compare it to a few years ago.



VexxRed
VexxRed

Drop Uplay if you want me to take you seriously Ubisoft. 

Shilleto
Shilleto

@VexxRed they should drop steam as well 


gog.com all the way

Silithas
Silithas

@Shilleto Gog can burn. Im not giving up my collection on steam for that.

tchanah
tchanah

And also Ubisoft and every other gaming companies should consider the price level of 3rd world countries.

Yes, though how shameful and how much I dislike it, I'm also a pirate. That is because paying 15-20% of our general monthly salary  on a SINGLE game is ridiculously overpriced for us. In the aspect of a US citizen a game is priced around 3% of their lowest salary levels. So that is extremely accessible. 


So my suggestion is [Once I contacted Origin on this too and got the typical reply of 'We'll consider it in the future'] to adjust the price levels to suit the local salary levels. 


So is this a feasible idea or even practical? Yes, because almost all the internet security companies sell their products with a  region lock at a discounted price such that we can afford them .[Eg: 60 USD Kaspersky is 10 USD in our country when currency is converted] And if the game companies think a physical copies will not achieve a profit, they can simply do it with digital editions, that will be 100% profit as no cost is put to the package and delivery. And that will greatly increase the player-base and enthusiastic bunch like my selves can be able to access the games we love.

PS: Those who are pirating with no such reason will continue to do it, yes. But I know a large community of people who wish for legal gaming but let down by this problem! 

Vodoo
Vodoo

Sorry to hear of your situation, but maybe it's the salaries that are to low and not necessarily the game prices being high. Or are they high because of your country's taxes?

I can't fathom a game costing 20% of your monthly income. That's crazy! A console must almost cost the same as a car.

tchanah
tchanah

@Vodoo No it's not that so. General salary level here in Sri Lanka is around 300 USD. So as the games are directly priced in US prices, they are over priced for us. Yes a console will cost a months salary, but  as a long term investment, they can be made. [Not as easy as a US citizen. but that's how we are adapted to the system]. But paying $60 for every single game turn out ridiculous. 


Well you know the finance right? Exchange rates of a country depend on the trade. So that's fairly constant for a long period of time. So it's clear that pricing of games, actually converting the price directly from US price, is the problem.


PS: FYi as you mentioned a car, the most cheap car, for eg a Maruti Suzuki Alto, will cost around $15 500 due to 300% import tax on vehicles. Well such taxes are not implemented on Electrical instruments nor Digital items.

tchanah
tchanah

@optimus290 Thumbs Up.


Well FYI I'm in the country nearest to you, Sri Lanka :D

optimus290
optimus290

@tchanah You have spoken my mind. I am a resident of India and the situation is same here too,

The pricing of games should not be absolute but relative to the level of development and average salaries of people residing in different countries.

poster012
poster012

Please, God, just kill Uplay. Ubisoft has been on my ban list ever since I had trouble with Uplay after having paid for Far Cry 3 on Steam. I refuse to deal with two layers of DRM. I might as well just pirate the games so I don't have to deal with that crap.

godofman74
godofman74

@poster012


I don't support drms for publishers that are on steam. but I never have had trouble with uplay. 

DutchZombie
DutchZombie

Better late than never. Piracy is not that big of a problem. Game of Thrones is the most pirated show in history. It's also HBO's biggest hit ever. Some countries do not have access to media like we do, so piracy might be their only recourse. In the end, people will always be willing to pay for quality and support developers whose games they like. 

Relvar
Relvar

Didn't EA just tell us we HAD to accept DRM?

archav3n
archav3n

Ubi now the new "U-Turn" king? Trying to be like CDPR? You need to prove yourself more than worthy before takling air out of nothing. Not to mentioned the downgrade on Watch Dogs.

naz99
naz99

How can they say that when that is already what they are doing???

adventuremind
adventuremind

Half of the world have 300-500eur monthly income,they will never buy your 50eur game 

vunar
vunar

Why no one asks people or pirates why they pirate games ? Imagine world without piracy - would people go and buy all those games  ? I would say nope. So its not lost sales. Those are sales they wouldn't even receive.

vunar
vunar

If piratebay had subscription charge , I would pay for it.

Longini
Longini

Drop fuckin Uplay then.

alexLmx6
alexLmx6

Alright Ubi, put up or shut up.  Release your entire catalog on GOG without any UPlay requirements.  What's that I hear?  Is that the sound of pigs being unable to fly?  I thought so.

ArchoNils2
ArchoNils2

We do not think DRM is useful, but please continue to start Uplay from Steam to launch your game from there