Ubisoft sues over Assassin's Creed leak

Publisher believes disc-replication firm responsible for 700,000 pirated prerelease downloads of its PC action game.

Ubisoft's hit action game Assassin's Creed was released on the PC in April, but in appropriately Altair-like fashion, a pirated version of the game sneaked onto the Internet two months earlier. Obviously unhappy with the leak, the publisher has decided to take the matter to court and make someone pay.

Last month, Ubisoft filed suit against Charlotte, North Carolina-based Optical Experts Manufacturing, the company that it had contracted to reproduce copies of the game disc. The publisher alleges that "an extraordinary breach of trust and gross negligence" on the part of OEM allowed one of the company's employees to take a copy of the game home early and post it on the Internet in late February, six weeks before the game arrived in stores.

The publisher alleges that OEM had agreed to abide by--and thereafter ignored--an array of security procedures that could have prevented the leak. Ubisoft further alleges that OEM admitted to not following through on its security commitments and causing the leak. One such security procedure was to prevent copies of the game from ever leaving OEM's premises.

Ubisoft said that it tracked the earliest connections to the pirated copy of the game online and found that they were coming from the home of an OEM employee. An OEM-manufactured copy of the game was later found at the employee's residence, though the suit doesn't specify when that copy was found.

According to the industry-tracking NPD Group, the PC edition of the game sold more than 40,000 copies at US retailers through June. Ubisoft claims that the leaked edition of the game was downloaded more than 700,000 times, costing the publisher millions of dollars.

In addition to lost sales as a direct result of piracy, the publisher also claimed its reputation was hurt by the leak as well. Ubisoft says that it included a bug in the prerelease Assassin's Creed for security reasons that would cause the game to crash partway through. The bug was supposedly removed from the retail edition, but a mix of negative reviews of the leaked, bug-equipped pirated version of the game and legitimate reviews of the retail edition created customer confusion and caused "irreparable harm" to its reputation, Ubisoft said.

Ubisoft is suing OEM for copyright infringement, breach of contract, and negligence. It is asking for damages and legal fees relating to all three claims, in the amount of no less than $10 million each for the breach of contract and negligence claims.

Neither OEM nor Ubisoft returned GameSpot's requests for comment as of press time.

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Discussion

383 comments
welsch2
welsch2

first off, 700,000 downloads does NOT translate into 700,000 lost sales. second, release pc games with console titles. do it again with assassin's creed 2, and see what happens. i won't wait the five months again, that's for damn sure. or at least i won't pay for a 5-month old product.

RhoDaZZ
RhoDaZZ

This is what happens when you disregard your PC fan base for consoles and release a game later on, and even then its filled with bugs. At least the PC gamers left know which studios are reliable and which are not.

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

When more copies are pirated than sold, i think something needs to be done. Especially with a game like this (unlike EA's DRM crap).

shtin831
shtin831

serves them right piracy will be the death of pc gaming but some people don't seem to care rock on ubisoft!!

johnsch
johnsch

If UBI can prove that OEM was in any way responsible or did not do its job keeping UBI's property safe, secure and restricted to proper OEM personnel only. If OEM purposely or inadvertently allowed a copy of that disk to be made without authorization or if any portion of UBI's property did leave OEM's property without written permission from UBI or if it was removed from its secured area and left unattended or unguarded for even a second, I don't care if it was 7, 70, 700 or 70,000 copies, OEM should have to pay a fine so large it hurts them financially enough to make there next earnings report a serious "Loss". If OEM had employee’s who felt it was ok for them to load the game, play the game, examine the game or do anything at all with UBI’s property without written permission from UBI, all persons involved in such incident should be immediately terminated. All persons in the manufacturing, IT, Testing chain or any other company group that were in any way helpful (purposefull or accidental) to the theft and any person not following security protocols that would have stopped this should be terminated. OEM needs to then have several years of probationary restrictions and SOP guidelines placed on it that if ignored or so blatantly broken again, would result in fines so large it may not survive it. Frequent audits of its security measures and proprietary property tracking should be implemented and again, infractions would be met with penalties and terminations to the persons responsible. No company should ever have to be damaged and no employee’s job should ever be in jeopardy due to another company’s severe inadequacies and inexcusably poor management as well as employee’s who actually believe they are not doing anything significantly wrong. If a company is entrusted with your legally protected property, there should not ever be a financial gain of any sort outside the boundaries of the contract agreed upon by both parties and that includes ANY gains by ANY employee’s associated with the entrusted company that has taken responsibility for the property unless it is a purposful gain given by the company for exceptional work performance. With any luck, hopefully that would actually get the attention of any and all companies entrusted with another companies financial life when doing replication work for them. Maybe they will take full notice and actually install strong security measures that will prevent this type of inexcusable action. OEM should be fully investigated for all work it has done for any and all companies and be financially liable for every penny lost. How they come up with the true financial loss that needs to be paid to the damaged companies will be difficult, but the company that has been damaged by this crime of inexcusable and Ignorant behavior should be heavily favored on this ruling. Any dumb ass who thinks its funny or ok or cool to steel on this level under these circumstances causing financial damage and hurting a whole company of people needs to have everything he owns stolen every so often and then see if they would just accept that there is nothing they can do about it, so might as well just figure it into your budget as a circumstance of life. Children steeling a copy of a game is one thing, I don't like it, but it will probably continue to happen, but an adult participating in this behavior has most likely had poor moral guidance and no reason to grow up, get a decent job and pay for his toys, all of them. A thief is a thief and usually a liar as well. What company do you work for? How would you feel, if you worked somewhere that may or may not keep you employed, give you a raise, offer you decent benefits because some mental midget had a very stupid excuse for why it was ok for him to steel your companies product. Of course, OEM is innocent untill proven guilty... :-p

LorenaLarue
LorenaLarue

Thats POTENTIALLY 700,000 copies they would have sold, if every one of those downloads was from someone who was willing to spend money on the game. I wonder how Ubisoft are you to prove they intentionally put that bug in the pre-release version.

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

LOL at the difference. 40,000 buys, 700,000 steals. now there is no doubt how much downloading games truly affects the pc gaming industry. this has to be one of those extremely rare cases where i actually agree with lawsuits and i honestly hope that ubisoft wins.

RyD3n
RyD3n

Skylander7, I agree entirely. Especially about the optimization. Developers don't optimize, but it's also a case of hardware never being pushed anywhere near its capabilities. Think about the hardware that a console has, if you built a PC with the nearest equivilant componants one would find in an Xbox360, and then tried to run the games at the same level as the console you struggle to say the least. I think console developers simply put more effort into optimization...

mankeyador
mankeyador

700,000! how could people get away with something this big.2 months out and practically everybody owned it by "official" launch.

Cookie2-0
Cookie2-0

I am behind ubisoft 100% on this though if I were them I would consider taking it to the next level like police in the UK and track the ip of game downloaders and seeders and send them fines in the mail.

andrat99
andrat99

madmenno Thats why most developers release DEMOS That's what I believe you were thinking of

uberjannie
uberjannie

real men buy games. 12 year old boys dont..

trusake3
trusake3

All that's left is Ubisoft to start suing homeowners that have pirated games... I'm gonna have to flee the country... again!

appokalipto
appokalipto

u make a very good point skylander, but im still against piracy, without it we could had been at a higher level of game quality, and for what? games are an art form, i dont see the point of purchasing a product that doesnt reach its true form so i can have it a couple weeks earlier, it just wasted money for both sides(ours and the creators)...

madmenno
madmenno

Well if you make a good game people just buy it instead of trying it out and find it sux. Plus from that 700.000 people there are lots that have the game but prefer to save there discs and drive. And from that 700.000 people most people didn't play longer then a couple of hours so they didn't waste money on the game not other way around. If there was somekind of try out system with a full version for 1 day the game would not have selled 10 times so they should be pleased with there sales. And what has PC more to do with piracy then consoles? You can get illigal console titels as easy as illigal PC titels. Still, piracy is ruining the game industrie since the beginning. Companies are afraid they won't reach break even if they put to mutch effort in a good game. So i advice all of the game loving pirates out there to buy those games. It will only bring better games, and if you don't have money get a job and train that fat gaming ass of yours! lol

forhekset
forhekset

People always blame piracy but its been going on since I had a Commodore 64, and besides the emergence of torrent file sharing, I imagine piracy sits at a constant predictable level and can be easily factored into the equation, hence creating a stable field in which to do business. And since it has been going on since the very beginning, I can't believe there will ever be a time when it doesn't exist, and for that reason I personally doubt whether it really does any damage at all anymore. Our points (mine and Skylander7) strike at the heart of the issue which people don't even seem to consider. People have been fortelling the doom of PC gaming for many years, and I think as time goes on unless more core companies rise to the challenge of creating consistantly solid titles (Blizzard, Relic, Valve etc), then it may eventually wither and die.

taj7575
taj7575

What a load of bull from Ubi's side...

xdeiri
xdeiri

Skylander7 Man you should have your own news paper ?

xdeiri
xdeiri

They didn’t have enough money on consoles ?

Skylander7
Skylander7

How many of you actually play PC games? While from a legal standpoint, the lawsuit is fairly legitimate (I'm shocked that a large publisher such as Ubisoft wouldn't press copies in house if it's that concerned with security), they're merely seeking to capitalize on an opportunity to gain revenue from an under-performing at retail. It doesn't matter if OEM enabled it to leak, it still would have made its way to the torrents and been cracked one way or another. I don't recall Ubisoft suing the makers of Starforce when they used it in so many of their PC games (like Silent Hunter III, for example) and thus caused damage to end-user PC's. I'm sorry, but that single fact was far more damaging to its PC customer base than the early release of a mediocre game. There are three reasons largely responsible for the decline of PC game sales OUTSIDE of the piracy argument. First, many PC game developers are flat out lazy. They release software that is not deserving of a full release (hence the need for games to be patched right out of the box... Deus Ex II: IW, I'm looking at you), and many developers do a very poor job of optimizing performance of their products at a base hardware spec and thus place the burden of their software performance on the ability for the consumer to purchase cutting-edge hardware specifically for their game. Off the top of my head, Crysis and FEAR are two good examples. Both were not optimized for a reasonable base hardware spec when they were released, thus preventing a larger initial rate of adoption (the critical period in which a game moves copies at retail). Half Life 2 and World of Warcraft moved more copies than both partly due to being compatible with older hardware, thus making it more accessible to the masses. A second reason ties into the first... the entry costs. Gaming on the PC, in comparison to console gaming, costs a LOT more with diminishing return on investment. The developers propagate this madness... is it really worth plunking down a grand on multiple GPU's once a year, swapping out power supplies to handle new hardware, etc... for a smaller library of marquee games that will likely be on the console in a year in a much more stable form? Furthermore, if you don't have the ability to install PC components, you'll be forking over even more for the hardware at the point of sale to be pre-configured for gaming. How can you expect an industry to thrive that forces it into being a niche market based around a wealthy customer base or those with technical knowledge? The third reason being that it is indeed a niche market, based around a hobby of pretentious users that make it difficult to create growth and new interest in the hobby. It's comparable to console fanboyism where new users are personally insulted, but it is difficult to find anyone truly experienced in the hobby. I've met people proud to have put together $2,000 rigs with GeForce 8 or 9's in SLI, quad core processors, and a water cooling system to play games like WoW "in all high." Sad part is... they could've put together a $600 rig to max out their frames in that game, but they just don't know how to interpret hardware specs and performance. Take it from a guy who played his first three PC games on a rig without a hard drive and dual 5" floppy drives (Chuck Yeager's Flight Sim, Microprose F-15 Strike Eagle, and Silent Hunter): the industry has choked itself with poor optimization, an overemphasis on graphics, and poor return on investment. Plus, with more people using PC's for daily work... a game is just more enjoyable on the couch than on the thing they email coworkers with all day. It isn't all dead yet though... games with marketing support (Doom 3, HL2, WoW, Sims, and future releases like Starcraft II or Diablo III) still move units.

forhekset
forhekset

"PC piracy is the sole reason why PC gaming is in a slow decline." That is so wrong, I don't know where to start. How about the fact that developing a first class game costs millions of dollars these days, due to the horrific amount of graphical detail that has to be produced? Imagine how good games could be if they didn't have to spend all their time and money on technology and technical production. Games have to be in the pipeline for so many years now, I'm suprised the whole system hasn't just broken down by now.

Mkherkzen
Mkherkzen

I just don't get it. Isn't there any way to block the piracy on PC like it is blocked on the consoles? PC piracy is the sole reason why PC gaming is in a slow decline. If it weren't for those bastards making pirate copies the PC business would run just great. There need to be a way...

JWRask
JWRask

"Valve is releasing all their games on consoles..." Valve is run by very clever money-grubbers, so that shouldn't surprise you. I don't know why Blizzard would bother developing for the console again. I mean, Diablo on the Playstation wasn't terrible, but don't they make enough money off the ELEVEN MILLION WoW subscribers?

duxup
duxup

I can't blame them. Why the heck would that company allow anyone to take a disk off site? Ever? There is no reason for that except maybe piracy...

Cobra5
Cobra5

We need more of this going on... Piracy is really hurting the PC market... we have almost entirely lost all of our exclusive developers (Crytek, most recently, but others as well, like Bioware), blizzard was even trying to get back into consoles and I bet they still are, Valve is releasing all their games on consoles... Its not bad to share the love, I'm not looking for exclusives to PC, but if this keeps up we're only going to have ugly console ports shoehorned into our PCs, like Oblivion. Decent game SEVERELY held back bu its console limitations (terrible UI, for example). Oh, and more and more derivative MMOs.

Elchaseo
Elchaseo

Ubisoft has every right to go all out and sue the company. It was a lack of security and strict protocol that got them into this mess, and while we all know that 700,000 copies were not actually distributed due to bad and incomplete downloads this is a signifigant hit on sales and the bad reputation the game was recieving before it was even released is a definite detriment. UBIsoft is well within its rights to sue said company. Then the company is within its rights to sue said employee. The problem with all this is ubisoft is now going to be seen as the big guy stepping on the little guy

sil_musashi
sil_musashi

Ubisoft forgot one thing is that either does the game leake before or after the release day, the number of downloading still be over 700.000 times. This is just an excuse to make more money cause they know for sure that employee doesn't have enough money to compensate. They should be mercy and send a warning rather sue that employee. Am I too soft?

Sp1tfire88
Sp1tfire88

Its not like most of them would had bought it anyway.. they seems to think no one pirate xbox 360 games? All you have to do is flash your dvd firmware..

arc_salvo
arc_salvo

700,000 copies? Wow, now that's a LOT of piracy. I never realized that piracy could hurt PC gaming so much. I never thought too much about it, because I just buy used PC games on the cheap from Half.com and E-bay, but if it's this bad of a problem with other games, I can see how it could really cut into sales and profits. I just hope that stuff like this doesn't happen in the future. PC Gaming's slowed down enough already without piracy adding to the problems that publishers and developers are facing with the PC market.

scottyg_20
scottyg_20

Well as much as it sucks for ubisoft.... every game gets pirated... and they figure of 700,000 downloaded copies... that number is probably over estimated, as they probably counted the ppl who tried a number of copies etc... Mostly though, we all know that a huge chunk of ppl who download games wouldn't ever buy them.... I am one... I'll admit it. ... I buy games a few times a year, but only the awesome ones ill play a lot (Ex: mass effect, orange box, civ 4)... but this game I would have never bought in the first place... and when i did download it, i got bored in the first level and never played again lol.... glad i didn't waste 60 bucks on it!!! They should win their case or whatever, as the early release thing was retarded... but for 700, 000 copies? not a chance.... maybe 50,000? if that.

peetowser
peetowser

"Ubisoft says that it included a bug in the prerelease Assassin's Creed for security reasons that would cause the game to crash partway through. The bug was supposedly removed from the retail edition, but a mix of negative reviews of the leaked, bug-equipped pirated version of the game and legitimate reviews of the retail edition created customer confusion and caused "irreparable harm" to its reputation..." 1- Maybe they included a bug in the pre-release ; but why would they send the pre-release build to OEM to be pressed on DVDs??? 2-How was the bug "removed" if the game was already being pressed??? 3-Doesn't Ubi send builds of their games to major news outlets and reviewers??? Do they actually want us to believe those reviewers downloaded a pre-release build and reviewed it? Of course there was negligence on the part of OEM, but Ubi delayed AssassinCreed for PC for so long after it was out on the consoles, it was easy to expect such a highly awaited, high-profile game would be the target of the scene... The icing is that Ubi actually wants OEM to pay their bug mess-up.... I'll agree it looks bad for OEM on the account of the copyright infringement, breach of contract, and negligence accusaytions... But any damage to Ubi's reputation is their own fault.... Frankly if you send a game to be reproduced, we're talking about a final gold build, not some beta or alpha build. And if there's still a bug in there in the final build, you're gonna hear about it and there's nothing you can blame on the printers that will make it look better... Hey, your "protection bug" worked, you should be glad it did, too bad you couldn't predict what would be the consequences of such success :) It's like a home security business suing a business owner because the sound of their alarm ringing after an employee stole from them harmed the security company's reputation :P

Mega_Loser
Mega_Loser

Hm, there is a lot of hate towards poor UBI :) The bug was planted in the prerelease for a reason, and it worked. UBI did lose a lot of money, i assume if they stated they lost several mil USD, they have some sort of proof to back it up. Though yeah, its probably an unreal ammount. People shouldnt be able to just take prereleases at home. Its obviously a security flaw and violation. And finally, I read in a few posts, people claim UBI make games full of bugs that are sh*t? Most their games are quite well looking and the gameplay varies from plain to pretty good (nothing extraordinary though). So why and how is that bad? Thanks for reading this.

forhekset
forhekset

I find it hard to believe if they're mass producing the damn thing how they can account for every single one. As for pirating, I'm sure I speak for a great number of people who, just like music, mostly download stuff they wouldn't pay for in the first place. Hence the download. If I actually wanted it I would run down to the shop first thing, not wait days for a buggy rip to come clanking through the pipes. I don't see how they can claim losses from pirating when they wouldn't of gotten a sale in the first place. "The Australian dollar is worth almost the same as the US." That's cause of the US$ being murdered (possibly the war?), nothing wrong with ours. All that means is you can get anything from there dirt cheap, which I'd love to believe was ripping them off, but really it will just rejuvinate their economy. Games have always been 80-100$, and occasionally hitting $110.

teh_blackblade
teh_blackblade

Ubisoft submitted this game to OEM with Digital Rights Management technology that was designed to crash the game mid-way through on pirated copies. It did exactly what it was supposed to. Ubisoft is complaining that their reputation was damaged because their DRM did EXACTLY what it was supposed to, and some people didn't like it. While OEM should have to pay for breaking their contract, they shouldn't have to pay for anything involving the reputation damage. That was their fault.

darnsmall
darnsmall

No love for Ubisoft. I paid money for Dark Messiah way back when...and for what. I paid so that Ubisoft could sell me a game off the shell full of bugs. So I find it very hard to believe that the pirated and shelved copy were so different. I would think if anything the final release would have had more problems. I hope they waste lots of money and go bankrupt...as much as I love gaming I hate giving my money to theives.

firo999
firo999

piromanaz is right those manayik (thats f****ers in arabic) at ubi delayed it for 7 months they deserve that and waffen ss84 i actually bought the game after trying out the leaked one everybody thinks that pirates steal them and gives them out for free u know reloaded vitality and all of those people who "steal" the games as u say bought them in the first place and its there property and i think they can do anything with them although that's against the license for games and i can tell that half the gamespot users have pirated versions for many games my friend for instance haven't bought a game in his life he lives for downloading pirated games and he has a gamespot account, he has more than 200 games hehe if they catch they'll probably hang him anyway pirating is like drugs u can't get rid of it and it's here to stay i think i m going to be banned from gamespot after they read this

POP-3D
POP-3D

Well, someone tell these guys that XBOX, PS2 and PS3 games are also get pirated and available for download everywhere...

marco0798
marco0798

bug or no bug Ubisoft should sue the crap and hopefully win the case against this publisher. Anyone who is complaining is probably someone who downloaded it. do me a favour get the hint STOP F*****G STEALING. go down a fraking game shop and buy a proper copy of the game. i paid £40 for mine wtf should you be ripping everyone off...

mof0
mof0

Why is it that the majority can't see through their blatant lie about the "intentional" showstopper bug? They're basically saying they sent a version with the bug for MANUFACTURING. How does that make sense?

Piromanaz
Piromanaz

They blame piracy. I blame the lame PC port that was released after half a year from the original date. Ubi deserved this crap. Every publisher these days tends to delay PC versions till no-end. Would you expect this game, which in my mind was really boring and repetitive, to sell well after 7 months when everyone and their mothers played the game on their own or their friends consoles?

Waffen_SS84
Waffen_SS84

Ok the game was downloaded 700,000 how many of them bought it after? "the publisher also claimed its reputation was hurt by the leak as well" Lol the reputation of Ubi ain't worth s***. Poor games, bugs, lack of support and so on.... Don't make me laugh with your filthy reputation.

diesil
diesil

wow thats alot of repetative games

MichaeltheCM
MichaeltheCM

and the fight against crime continues :P

rockygunner
rockygunner

Try to make games at lower cost thus avoiding piracy

ldonyo
ldonyo

From the folks I have talked to that played the game, it wasn't that special once you had taken out a couple of targets. The PC version also suffered from "port-itis", that disease PC games catch when they are ported from the console version. The 700,000 download number is probably inflated and the number of lost sales is most definitely inflated.

Richard7666
Richard7666

Those 700k pirated copies likely wouldn't have all (or even mostly) translated to sales though. A lot of people who pirate games wouldn't have bought them anyway even if piract weren't an option. Though some sales certainly would have been lost, I won't deny that.