Ubisoft's new DRM more annoying than expected

By on February 18, 2010, 2:04 PM
You may recall Ubisoft's recent decision to axe StarForce DRM in favor of a new online platform. The company's online services platform sounded similar to Steam, letting users play from multiple machines without discs -- but it wasn't perfect. The platform required a permanent Internet connection. Needless to say, gamers weren't happy.

Despite disapproval, Ubisoft is pressing on with the technology. CVG has received Assassin's Creed II and Settlers VII for review, and both are laced with the new mechanism. Granted, being forced to have your machine online is annoying, but the flaws run a bit deeper.

CVG says that if you're disconnected while playing, you're kicked from the game and all progress from the last checkpoint or save is lost. Naturally, this occurs whether your cat unplugs your router, your ISP has issues, or if Ubisoft's servers crash.


Piracy may not be the driving force behind Ubisoft's new platform, but the company has said any initiative that decreases illegal downloads will allow it to pour more cash into the creation and expansion of intellectual properties.

What about the resources wasted in an attempt to prevent the inevitable? We all know that Assassin's Creed II and other popular titles will hit torrent sites around the same time as retail shelves. Resistance is futile.

Shouldn't companies focus more on rewarding paying customers rather than punishing them for the deeds of a few bad apples?




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TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

"Shouldn't companies focus more on rewarding paying customers rather than punishing them for the deeds of few bad apples?"

A FEW bad apples? How about hundreds of thousands if not millions of illegal downloads annually?

I don't begrudge a company trying to protect it's product. What Ubisoft is doing this time probably isn't the answer just like what they've done in the past. But doing nothing for sure will guarantee illegal copies being downloaded at nearly a 10 to 1 ratio of those legally purchased.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I don't even understand how this is supposed to prevent piracy - illegal downloaders have always just played offline or on hacked servers.

I agree that paying customers should be rewarded in some way, perhaps some dlcs if you provide a serial number or proof of puchase or something...

Guest said:

Pirates and the one's the benefit from them get to play the game with no restriction hours if not days of the release. Nothing a company has done seems to stop them.

The legal users get bogged down in really bad DRM and punish legit users.

They should have just enough drm to keep the honest people honest and don't bother beyond that.

And they wonder why people will go for pirates or console games.

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

We do not condone piracy here on TS but here are my own personal feelings on this

If game companies keep implementing more stupid shit like this I think it will actually INCREASE piracy

It's like this, you have a choice; either buy the product on release day, spend hours waiting for their overloaded activation servers to come online (see Bioshock as an example)

Once the game is finally authorized you start playing your SINGELPLAYER mission and something goes wrong with your ISP, or the cat eats the ADSL cable, so you loose your current ingame progress

Then your computer fails, so you buy a new one but get greeted by a new message saying that you can't install the game on this other computer before you uninstall it on your old one which just blew up, so you have to call the darn company and tell them what happened, and probably get to speak to some imbecile that don't even know where to go to start learning speaking proper English

Or you could just download it off your favorite bittorrent tracker and not have any of this mess since it was removed by the group cracking the game, oh, and did I mention it will probably be more stable as a result of not infecting your PC with DRM software making sure your not running software like Process Explorer developed by Microsoft (Bioshock amongst others again)

Oh, and you will probably get the game a day or two before release day aswell!

dustin_ds3000 dustin_ds3000, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

i have Assassin's Creed 1 Director's Cut Edition but it looks like i will be torrenting Assassin's Creed II just because of this DRM

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

So Per Hansson, I understand and agree with your comments. However, there is still the piracy problem - which is huge and negatively impacting the gaming industry - especially PC gaming - like nobody's business.

It's easy to point out the drawbacks to DRM schemes. If TechSpot does not promote piracy but hates current DRM tech, then how about suggesting some workable deterrents to piracy? It's a tech site after all...

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

"Shouldn't companies focus more on rewarding paying customers rather than punishing them for the deeds of few bad apples?"

A FEW bad apples? How about hundreds of thousands if not millions of illegal downloads annually?

I don't begrudge a company trying to protect it's product. What Ubisoft is doing this time probably isn't the answer just like what they've done in the past.

Tens of millions for sure, but how many wouldn't have purchased the game regardless? You can't count something as a loss if you never had it. Meanwhile, as Per noted, mechanisms like this probably entice even more folks to pirate.

I'm not "for" piracy, but companies shouldn't sh*t on the average paying customer to smite a few pirates (yes, a few compared to the total games sold). It's just silly. If I run a lemonade stand and one out of every hundred people steals a glass of juice, what would be the logical course of action?

Should I hire a bouncer to frisk every customer, collect their ID, force them to drink *only* in my establishment, and jack up prices? Or, should I just accept that some people suck and want something for nothing? Why punish everyone? It's idiotic and seemingly counterproductive.

But doing nothing for sure will guarantee illegal copies being downloaded at nearly a 10 to 1 ratio of those legally purchased.

I'd have to strongly disagree with you. If that were the case, we'd see those figures today. Obtaining and using pirated media is easier than going legit in many cases (as Per outlined). You can often download a game prior to the actual release, installing it is equal to or easier than installing the retail copy, and there's less red tape.

Believe it or not, the average person wants to "do the right thing" -- but why bother when it's more of a hassle and leaves them feeling cheated?

MrAnderson said:

I have to admit this is the worst idea they could ever consider; it is a terrible solution, which can only serves to drive the real customers off and perhaps into the arms of broken versions because of less hassle. It could be possible that they might buy it and then download the cracked version for easy of use.

I for one will be limiting my purchases to consoles for many games from this company. However, I do my FPS'n only on PC with few exceptions (Metroid Series/Console Exclusives).

I don't believe that someone actually convienced them that this would make their IP safe so they can spend more money. They might as well close shop for the PC all together if they are losing so much money. I would respect that decision more than harming the user experience.

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

So Per Hansson, I understand and agree with your comments. However, there is still the piracy problem - which is huge and negatively impacting the gaming industry - especially PC gaming - like nobody's business.

It's easy to point out the drawbacks to DRM schemes. If TechSpot does not promote piracy but hates current DRM tech, then how about suggesting some workable deterrents to piracy? It's a tech site after all...

It's hard to do that because nobody here has internal data, but if you want someone to blindly shoot their mouth off, I'll bite:

For starters, game companies should stop churning out rehashed garbage and come up with some fresh material. Said material should be easy to obtain, both in cost and distribution. The average person doesn't want to stand in line at Walmart at 3AM to overpay for a new release.

Steam and others are a fine example of this, but they're not perfect yet. Rather than building a zillion individual online platforms, companies should work together to build a single unified solution for convenience-sake. They should entice gamers with extra material or content that can't be had on cracked servers/communities.

In short: simply give people what they want -- and I can assure you that isn't to call India every time they install a game, or lose unsaved progress when their Internet connection drops.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Who didn't see this coming? Very disappointed that after taking so much criticism they still moved forward with this ridiculous draconian system. I have no doubt that this game will be a big hit in the torrent department and it's Ubi's own fault similar to what happened to Spore and EA. I feel bad for the casuals though who might not be aware of these new limitations and find out the hard way...sad time for PC gaming and I hope they realize there mistakes like EA.

"Shouldn't companies focus more on rewarding paying customers rather than punishing them for the deeds of few bad apples?"

A FEW bad apples? How about hundreds of thousands if not millions of illegal downloads annually?

I don't begrudge a company trying to protect it's product. What Ubisoft is doing this time probably isn't the answer just like what they've done in the past. But doing nothing for sure will guarantee illegal copies being downloaded at nearly a 10 to 1 ratio of those legally purchased.

Please don't be disingenuous Tom. Yes, piracy is an issue and will continue to be one in the future. But it isn't a black and white issue as they want us to believe with slapping the highest number on something and putting all blame on piracy isn't truthful.

You're right that a company has the right to protect its IP, but when they deploy such a draconian method I have no sympathy for them sh*t hits the fan. I'm sorry that a guarantee of 10/1 ratio with no DRM is laughable and Stardock would disagree with you. Sadly though their aren't many companies that take that position .

Funkmesideways said:

Should've used Steam

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Its really sad when it takes far less time and effort to download the game, mess with the crack and keygen then it does just to go down to the store and buy the game, then hassle with all the DRM activation BS.

I agree companies need to be able to make money, and try to prevent piracy - but as others have said they are taking the approach of punishing the law abiding people for buying the game. I have to agree, all this extra BS just to get my game running is pushing me more and more towards torrenting my games from now on.

What we need is for the overall quality of games themselves to improve and the way they are distributed.

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

Ha, Im not buying it or torrenting it. Screw them, they won't get my money and Ill make sure my friends know whats up and they wont get their money either.

FrostBolt said:

I think piracy is the excuse, eBay is the reason. Piracy is bad, but it doesn't directly translate to a loss of a sale. Every used copy sold on eBay is a lost sale for Ubisoft.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I stopped buying Ubisoft and EA games long ago because of their DRM bullshit. Piracy or not, the way software makers conduct themselves in the stealth installation of DRM software without a customer's knowledge is wrong. DRM software, whether it is local or online is wrong and has never worked the way it was supposed to. It causes more harm than good. DRM software is nothing more than a virus under the guise of security.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Your lemonade stand analogy doesn't work, Matthew. One theft out of a hundred you chalk up to overhead as many companies do. Nine steals out of ten items on the shelf and you start thinking up drastic measures to curb it.

I would encourage everyone to read this excellent essay titled "PC Game Piracy Examined," written by Koroush Ghazi of TweakGuides.com. He covers every aspect of the theft issue from thief to gaming company and believe he does a terrific job of debunking the usual, "the game is junk - I wouldn't buy it anyway," "the company makes plenty of money as is," "it has DRM so I'm not going to buy it" excuses used by those who choose to steal. He also covers various forms of DRM and the economics and potential impact of the current state of theft. It really is an excellent read regardless of what side of the DRM/pirate issue you stand on:

http://www.tweakguides.com/Piracy_1.html

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

I pulled that number out of thin air -- and I'm inclined to believe you've done the same with the 90% piracy rate. There's absolutely no way 9 out of all 10 games distributed are stolen. Likewise, it might be more than 1 out of 10. Perhaps 5 out of 10. Who knows.

The actual piracy rate is irrelevant. As noted, punishing everyone will almost surely result in an equal number of games stolen, and could drive others to do the same. In other words, the current antipiracy measures fail to actually prevent the theft -- no matter how many people are, or aren't stealing the game.

You also have to question what additional impact these measures might have on the industry. If a person pirates one game to avoid DRM and sees how easy it is, they will probably do it again in the future.

I'm not using the "they wouldn't have bought it anyway" excuse as a means of justifying piracy. Not at all. I'm simply saying that every game pirated would not have been a sale if there were no means of stealing the game. Only a fraction of the total games pirated are actually lost sales.

This is just basic logic -- I have no data in front of me.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Correct, I pulled the 9 out of 10 games out of the air. But according to this paragraph from the article I posted, those numbers are actually an understatement:

"For 2009, the most pirated PC game as reported in this article was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The PC version had a staggering 4.1 million downloads via torrents alone compared with an estimated 200,000 - 300,000 actual sales via retail and Steam, demonstrating that the most popular game of 2009 was also the most pirated, and more importantly, that the actual number of downloads for the most popular game is now almost three times as high as in 2008, signaling the rampant growth of piracy. It is also interesting to note that while COD:MW2 sold around 300,000 copies on PC and had 4.1 million pirated downloads, the console version sold in excess of 6 million copies during the same period according to this article, and yet had a fraction of the number of pirated downloads at around 970,000."

So for COD:MW2 PC version, 14 were stolen for 1 sale. I'll use that figure next time in my comparisons.

Guest said:

I would buy the game for sure if it was in a package like Ultima 9 with many extras,rather than paying 40? for a useless DVD.The same thing that happened with Starforce is going to happen with every new protection that slows down your pc etc.The only thing that seems a good idea against piracy is the OnLive project which you will give your money to games instead of giving it for a new computer to play Crysis 2,3 etc...

Guest said:

Correct, I pulled the 9 out of 10 games out of the air. But according to this paragraph from the article I posted, those numbers are actually an understatement:

"For 2009, the most pirated PC game as reported in this article was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The PC version had a staggering 4.1 million downloads via torrents alone compared with an estimated 200,000 - 300,000 actual sales via retail and Steam, demonstrating that the most popular game of 2009 was also the most pirated, and more importantly, that the actual number of downloads for the most popular game is now almost three times as high as in 2008, signaling the rampant growth of piracy. It is also interesting to note that while COD:MW2 sold around 300,000 copies on PC and had 4.1 million pirated downloads, the console version sold in excess of 6 million copies during the same period according to this article, and yet had a fraction of the number of pirated downloads at around 970,000."

So for COD:MW2 PC version, 14 were stolen for 1 sale. I'll use that figure next time in my comparisons. ;)

Even though the game sold copies worth over 1billion dollars in a time of economy crysis and IT DOESN'T EVEN HAVE DEDICATED SERVERS!I mean common!I bought the game the russian version 20$ play it in english works like a charm and some people actually paid 60 dollars on steam for a game where hackers thrive.I don't believe that there are more than 0.01% people on earth that don't have at least one pirated program/game in the computers.

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

Correct, I pulled the 9 out of 10 games out of the air. But according to this paragraph from the article I posted, those numbers are actually an understatement:

"For 2009, the most pirated PC game as reported in this article was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The PC version had a staggering 4.1 million downloads via torrents alone compared with an estimated 200,000 - 300,000 actual sales via retail and Steam, demonstrating that the most popular game of 2009 was also the most pirated, and more importantly, that the actual number of downloads for the most popular game is now almost three times as high as in 2008, signaling the rampant growth of piracy. It is also interesting to note that while COD:MW2 sold around 300,000 copies on PC and had 4.1 million pirated downloads, the console version sold in excess of 6 million copies during the same period according to this article, and yet had a fraction of the number of pirated downloads at around 970,000."

So for COD:MW2 PC version, 14 were stolen for 1 sale. I'll use that figure next time in my comparisons.

Again, the numbers are irrelevant.

If 1 in 14 people stole XYZ game, and Joe Schmo Corp. decides to adopt antipiracy measures that punish only paying customers, then what the hell is the point? Pirates are generally not affected by DRM at all. Repeat that scenario with any pirated:legit ratio you care to. It's equally ludicrous.

I will bet you $50 via PayPal that I can find a working pirated copy of Assassin's Creed II within the first week of retail availability. When that is the case, I imagine these companies are taking just as much of a loss -- or more so, perhaps -- by forcing DRM down everyone's throat.

Eddo22 said:

""i have Assassin's Creed 1 Director's Cut Edition but it looks like i will be torrenting Assassin's Creed II just because of this DRM""

I feel the same way. What about console piracy?

Also using Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for example is a good idea. It goes to show what happens to those companies who try to punish their gamers and I hope the same happens to ubisoft.

BTW. "Ubisoft's revenue for 2002-2003 was ?453 million; for fiscal year 2003-2004, this grew to ?508 million." - Taken from wikipedia.

Let's face it, it's really all about corporate greed.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I think the numbers are perfectly relevant. Tell me what business can survive and maintain a good quality product as well as develop new products when 14 out of every sale copy is stolen? This argument is a simple one. DRM exists because rampant theft exists. Stop the theft and the DRM will go away. Not only will the DRM go away but companies can again begin to focus on providing us quality PC games instead of the crappy XBox ports we're getting now.

The PC gaming theft mindset is frankly mind-boggling. Look at Eddo22's post above as a perfect example. Ubisoft is "punishing" gamers by using DRM so everyone should steal their product. And oh by the way, they made money so that makes it double-OK to steal from them. Funny how that doesn't work when you don't have the anonymity of the Internet to protect you and BitTorrent as a convenient tool. I don't see these same people stealing gallons of milk from the grocery store at a 14 to 1 pop. Grocery store's have security devices in place and make money too - how come you're not stealing from them?

TechSpot representatives have stated they are anti-piracy. If that's the case, then I would suggest wording related articles to address the thief population, not the companies who are trying to protect their product. Instead of, "look at the DRM these bastard gaming companies are shoving down our throats this time," how about, "look at what we're having to deal with because millions of abusers are stealing PC games at an alarming rate. Do your part to stop it by telling your loser buddies who steal to knock it the hell off."

Rant over.....

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

TomSEA said:

I think the numbers are perfectly relevant. Tell me what business can survive and maintain a good quality product as well as develop new products when 14 out of every sale copy is stolen? This argument is a simple one. DRM exists because rampant theft exists. Stop the theft and the DRM will go away. Not only will the DRM go away but companies can again begin to focus on providing us quality PC games instead of the crappy XBox ports we're getting now.

The PC gaming theft mindset is frankly mind-boggling. Look at Eddo22's post above as a perfect example. Ubisoft is "punishing" gamers by using DRM so everyone should steal their product. And oh by the way, they made money so that makes it double-OK to steal from them. Funny how that doesn't work when you don't have the anonymity of the Internet to protect you and BitTorrent as a convenient tool. I don't see these same people stealing gallons of milk from the grocery store at a 14 to 1 pop. Grocery store's have security devices in place and make money too - how come you're not stealing from them?

TechSpot representatives have stated they are anti-piracy. If that's the case, then I would suggest wording related articles to address the thief population, not the companies who are trying to protect their product. Instead of, "look at the DRM these bastard gaming companies are shoving down our throats this time," how about, "look at what we're having to deal with because millions of abusers are stealing PC games at an alarming rate. Do your part to stop it by telling your loser buddies who steal to knock it the hell off."

Rant over.....

I believe you're missing my point -- or are simply ignoring it. Tell me what business can survive if it's to counter said "rampant theft" with mechanisms that don't prevent piracy at all, and cause paying customers grief?

I prefer the angle of: "look at how shortsighted these companies seem to be, because they're pissing off loyal customers while pirates laugh all the way to the bank."

I'm not arguing the difference between what's right and wrong, I'm just saying if game companies want to prevent piracy, this doesn't seem to be the solution.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Tom good article link, I've seen it before and Mr. Ghazi covers a lot of important issues. If I recall correctly he doesn't dive much into the overall complexity of piracy though which honestly could take hundreds of pages to elaborate on every position of gray. He does dismiss the common ones though, and shows that a good portion of people are just doing it cause they can and it is wrong. He also points out something that is usually overlooked; customer support for non-purchasing individuals. Which is even looked down upon by many pirates and file sharers themselves and is a very real loss.

I think the numbers are perfectly relevant. Tell me what business can survive and maintain a good quality product as well as develop new products when 14 out of every sale copy is stolen? This argument is a simple one. DRM exists because rampant theft exists. Stop the theft and the DRM will go away. Not only will the DRM go away but companies can again begin to focus on providing us quality PC games instead of the crappy XBox ports we're getting now.

I have to say my time here on TS reading your opinions I'm finding you in regards to piracy tend to cherry-pick numbers to make your case and then simply ignore other information. This cat and mouse game between companies and pirates will never end, and even if it does DRM and content control will not go away simply because piracy stopped and you should know this. I'm assuming you take these viewpoint of piracy being wrong, illegal and equivalent to stealing to make point. But it's not that simple, and it is not a black and white matter.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Relic - you don't think downloading stolen property is wrong, illegal and equivalent to stealing? How would you categorize it then? And I don't believe I do any more cherry picking of numbers than anyone else. What I used in this debate, I took from Mr. Ghazi's article. Anyone is free to go there and use whatever numbers they find as a counter.

Matthew - I understand what you're saying and not ignoring your point. I'm of the opinion that DRM - although I'd rather not have it - is something that is not an issue with my game play. Never has been. I've been playing PC games since the first Ultima came out on the Commodore 64 30 years ago. I've seen every version of DRM you can imagine and it has never interrupted my game play. In playing Dragon Origins right now - I entered the game key when I did the install, I logged onto EA live for the authentication, and if I want to view my player stats, it will authenticate again. No big deal and no different than being on Steam. And although I'm aware some players on rare occasions have spoken of DRM conflicts with their systems, I've never experienced it personally, nor have any of my game playing friends experienced that. It's like people are going out of their way to make a big deal out of something that's not.

The game companies make the bulk of their money in the first 3 weeks of sales. That's why they have some form of DRM to try and provide enough deterrent from having their product cracked to make a profit. And that's why Ubisoft and EA put a little different twist into each DRM they put into their new games. No doubt it eventually gets hacked and posted on BitTorrent - I've never denied that. But I think they're entitled to protect their profits, especially if it doesn't impact the game play. And I find it comical that people will open themselves to all sorts of packet-sniffing and identity farming while using Facebook, Twitter and the other utterly non-secure social networks, but will scream bloody murder about DRM.

Lastly, regardless of type of DRM and it's invasiveness or lack of, it most certainly has now become the most commonly used excuse to steal. It's literally become carte blanche. "Oh, the game has DRM? Well I certainly won't be paying for it, I will steal it instead."

Again, I'd like to see the focus on those that steal, rather than those are trying to prevent the stealing.

r3claimer r3claimer said:

Summary:

DRM is retarded because it just pisses off the people who buy the game legitimately.

Argument: Software developers can't simply choose to do nothing in the wake of piracy.

Revocation: DRM doesn't even affect pirates, so in essence it's wasted effort. They are only losing money by creating new and more complex DRM.

Final Analysis: Providing incentives is useless, giving free DLC's to legit users is pointless. DLC's will be cracked and torrented.

Solution: Back to the drawing board. DRM needs to be scrapped. There are endless possibilities awaiting discovery. If companies spent the same amount of money with R&D of alternatives to DRM as they do to the DRM itself, then they'd have a working solution by now.

(it's not a difficult concept to grasp Tom. Piracy is wrong, granted. But companies need to make it easier for users to install and play their games. Cracking teams will beat DRM regardless. What people are saying is the getting rid of DRM couldn't hurt the industry more than issuing it. All evidence points to the very opposite.)

r3claimer r3claimer said:

And before you talk about your sales in the first 3 weeks thing, let me just say that people who know how to pirate games are going to cry in woe when they don't see the game in the first 72 hours. They don't want to spend cash, so they don't spend cash, it is that simple. Waiting a short amount of time is not going to drive people into running to their nearest department or game store to flush $60 down the toilet on a game filled with DRM. It's much easier to sit on your ass and let some hacker somewhere in the world do the work for you a week later.

And honestly, it's just laughable to tell TS admins to write articles on Pirates. If Pirates don't have a problem breaking the law to get a game, what makes you think they give a damn about what a Tech website writes about them? Zippo my friend. And what does everyone else care about the whole pirate thing? Generally nothing. They buy the game and deal, or they don't. Simple as that. The majority of people don't go to online forums and argue their opinions about an issue almost completely unchangeable by the public, but we're just a special brand of people now aren't we?

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

If Assassin's Creed 2 was not sold in, lets say, Antarctica because the government there banned it yet 10,000 people in Antarctica download it off torrents, How much money would Ubisoft lose?

Answer is 0$. They had no potential sales in Antarctica, so they couldn't have lost any money.

The piracy numbers that these software companies spit out are not even close to being accurate. They are using the grand total number of torrent downloads to report how much they think they lost rather than the loss to potential customers.

The software companies are just as much to blame for the piracy problem as are the downloaders. Maybe when they start playing straight with the customer, the customer will do likewise.

Guest said:

For those who are asking for an alternative to such DRM integrations, I believe it was answered a couple posts in...

"I don't even understand how this is supposed to prevent piracy - illegal downloaders have always just played offline or on hacked servers.

I agree that paying customers should be rewarded in some way, perhaps some dlcs if you provide a serial number or proof of puchase or something..."

Namely "serial number or proof of puchase". Simple solution - implemented on a country to country basis. If it works for warranty, extended warranty and returns, why not? If I buy electrical goods and they don't work as they should, I will go into the place of purchase (with proof of purchase) and get it replaced.

Personally I have been more than happy with just CD-Keys, with or without online authentication (online would have to be essential these days though); beyond that it is a serious pain.

Whiffen Whiffen said:

Lots of valid points in the comments and I would have to agree that they need to come up with a better solution than DRM.

It makes me WANT to pirate the game rather than pay for it, just to avoid the hassle DRM can cause.

This is only punishing people who are buying the game, and not the pirates. Games will get pirated like it or not and many of those people have either never intended to buy it in the first place or maybe gave it a download to see if its worth buying at a later date.

I can see where you are coming from Tom, about how they should be doing something to protect their work, but DRM is not the answer. It's detoured me away from buying it.

r3claimer r3claimer said:

Guest said:

For those who are asking for an alternative to such DRM integrations, I believe it was answered a couple posts in...

"I don't even understand how this is supposed to prevent piracy - illegal downloaders have always just played offline or on hacked servers.

I agree that paying customers should be rewarded in some way, perhaps some dlcs if you provide a serial number or proof of puchase or something..."

Namely "serial number or proof of puchase". Simple solution - implemented on a country to country basis. If it works for warranty, extended warranty and returns, why not? If I buy electrical goods and they don't work as they should, I will go into the place of purchase (with proof of purchase) and get it replaced.

Personally I have been more than happy with just CD-Keys, with or without online authentication (online would have to be essential these days though); beyond that it is a serious pain.

Yeah, having a CD-Key would work, if Key Generators didn't exist. "What if we checked it every time we turn on the game?" Well, that would require an internet connection and would increase loading time a heck of a lot. And hey, maybe their servers overloaded. You did everything right but it doesn't matter if companies can't handle internet traffic.

Offering incentives...It's a nice idea. But what happens once someone gets the DLC? They Crack it and off it goes to the torrent websites. As for warranty incentives? Oh please. Torrent communities are much more dedicated than companies in terms of providing support. #1, don't need to return something you never paid for #2, if something doesn't work, you've got dedicated uploaders who actually take time to help answer problems users face.

Hmm, now isn't that interesting? An uploader, nay, an entire community of volunteers providing support for people absolutely free of charge. Wow! What an original concept! Now why can't software companies do something like that instead of making wait on their customer support line then redirecting my call to India?

The simple fact is that Torrent communities are easier and far more helpful than software companies. People would be more inclined to buy products from software companies if they were more helpful. And yes, I am suggesting that game developing companies imitate torrent communities.

And even if people were to get rid of torrents once and for all, then that'd be great. But then you've got to deal with Newsgroups. That's a whole different story right there. Everything conveniently provided by way of your ISP (unknowingly I suppose you'd say.) Basically, these things are easier and cheaper to use than buying the games, and that's why people use them. Steam may be the one exception, and honestly, if companies would put some money into promoting that service, it could do nothing to hinder the PC gaming market.

r3claimer r3claimer said:

I would like to add that I am not supporting Piracy, but it strikes me very odd indeed, that torrenting communities created by people with small funding (compared to companies likes EA and Ubisoft) are able to create such orderly and well functioning websites. And yet, commercial companies like EA and Ubisoft are somehow unable to provide more than a support hotline. Oh they have their forums, that require you to make an account, send in your personal information, and wait a few days for an answer that should be solved in less than an hour.

It's tedious, it's annoying, and certainly flawed. Example: I Played Call of Duty: United Offensive for 3 years on my computer. It stopped working one day. I sent in my DirectX Diagnostic into Activision's / Infinity Ward's support page.for the game. Their analysis? That my computer couldn't run game because it didn't meet the minimum requirements. Brilliant deduction considering I'D BEEN PLAYING IT FOR THREE YEARS ALREADY! I mentioned that in my initial message. Long story short, they don't help you on a case by case basis. They analyze data, check it against flawed reference sheets, and move on.

Captain828 Captain828 said:

After reading all the comments here, all I can say is:

1) piracy numbers are irrelevant: everyone knows PC games are heavily pirated;

2) DRM is something that the public hates. It doesn't matter if it does or does not give you gameplay issues because of it (personally, had none). Why? customer perception. You CAN'T change that!;

3) I see mentioning Steam (or Stardock's Impulse) as a moot point: search for a Steam/Impulse-only AAA game and you'll see it on torrent trackers;

Back on-topic with AC2, I find their DRM solution totally wrong... it makes little sense to have to need Internet connection for a SP game that has NO MP. I don't think you need to be a genius to see this isn't the right way to DRM a game.

And regarding a possible solution to DRM, I'd say if all the major game companies united to create a unified digital distribution platform (and I'm not talking about Steam here) then piracy would be much less of a threat. A unified platform would imply far less distribution issues and would be easier to maintain.

But no... instead we have MS' GFW Live Marketplace, Valve's Steam, Direct2Drive, Stardock's Impulse and EA Store ALL competing. Why this way? well they all want a cut of the pie.

And while competition is great, it's obvious Steam is the winner here, yet it still doesn't do that much against piracy.

Guest said:

Yeah, having a CD-Key would work, if Key Generators didn't exist. "What if we checked it every time we turn on the game?" Well, that would require an internet connection and would increase loading time a heck of a lot. And hey, maybe their servers overloaded. You did everything right but it doesn't matter if companies can't handle internet traffic.

...

As for warranty incentives? Oh please. Torrent communities are much more dedicated than companies in terms of providing support. #1, don't need to return something you never paid for #2, if something doesn't work, you've got dedicated uploaders who actually take time to help answer problems users face.

No offence, but you *totally* missed my point, entirely.

I said I have been happy with CD-Keys, NOT that I am suggesting it as a form of DRM (at all).

Instead, I am saying the solution maybe within a proof of purchase / receipt / barcode based system. A system which, as far as I known, can't be easy emulated. Mainly due to the fact every electronics store would have some kind of record of sales; numbers, codes etc

And the warranty thing was just an example of proving ownership/purchase to companies who you bought products from, that's all.

windmill007 said:

What happened to good old Cd-Keys? Couldn't they just have a different key for each game sold and make people activate once..Kinda like windows? Make it so it can be activated a few times before requiring you to call in to explain why your going over the limit and black list ones that are being activated 100 of times? Seems simple and not complicated. Save your money and lower the price of games. If you make it easy for regular people and cheap enough no one will pirate. Make it expensive or add DRM then you will loose even more money. And you shouldn't have to put the damn CD in everytime you want to play the game after it's eben installed and activated. Seems simple to me.

MrAnderson said:

I'm not against DRM; I'm against the haphazard implementations that only cause paying customers grief. Moreover, in this special case, it is appropriate for Tech sites and customers alike to criticize poor business decisions with no obligation to suggest a solution.

That is the primary job of the publishers and DRM providers. You see, some one will make money off of that instant when they come up with "a better solution", thus I'm not going to just give it away.

Nevertheless, I will perform an exercise in logic.

- Publisher test their games, thus they should test DRM implementations.

- DRM implementations can be tested in game demos and other free content.

- Reward testers of DRM implementations

- Gather information (in a none threatening way) from anonymous people regarding their downloading habit and positions on illegally downloading interactive content to get better information that can be used to complement the download numbers they throw at us.

That is just a few ideas, but they are no brainers.

Other Considerations:

This new DRM implementation that Ubi Soft plans to put into practice, I believe, only serves the short term purposes. I noticed a trend in all IP fields that leads firms to do business on the platform of maximizing the release sales of their products in the areas that are common place first. This means that they are going under the assumption that the DRM will be cracked, but hoping it will take longer in order to maximize sales. All this is at the paying customer's expense. If this process continues, the sales for these products will continue to taper off. However, they will neglect to acknowledge that the poor DRM is at least some what responsible for the loss of paying customers. The scapegoat will continue to be "the illegal downloads". The positive side of this is that this kind of market opens the doors to the independents to revitalize a hybrid or modified shareware system again.

isamuelson isamuelson said:

Just remember people. Playing a pirated game does not necessarily translate into a fully functioning game. Many games these days have code that can tell if it's modified and in more than one place and will change the outcome of the game or else, it will crash because the "patch" was a hack job. I think this is another area where pirating can hurt sales, even more-so than just not buying it. Why? Because if the game appears to be buggy (because of it being patched), then the word will travel fast that the game is a POS when in reality, it may not be.

Remember, the hackers don't have the actual source code to go by. It's a lot of reverse engineering, etc, so who knows if they've REALLY fixed the checks or did they modify the program enough that now it can't get past certain points? I know many games are programmed this way to the point where you get somewhere that will not allow you to complete the game due to the hack.

So, I think this hurts the sales of the game even MORE so because now people are getting the impression that the game is buggy when it might not really be the truth.

Still, this type of DRM is just plain wrong. I won't go and pirate the game, I just won't buy it. Hopefully, they'll learn and like Bioshock, release a patch that will get rid of the online requirement. That's just plain wrong.

0n1n3 said:

If Ubisoft really wants to stop piracy then there is no need for DRM at all. All they need to do is impress the customers. Fighting the media pirates is a losing battle, every single time a corporation has gone up against them, they may have won a few battles but inevitably always lose the war.

TPB may have sold out but now the founder of the bay has opportunity to persue other business ventures. So all you did was free up his hands for other projects.

What bothers me is when Publishers hire incompitent developers based on hollow promises impossible of ever being fulfilled. The money wasted in that way is at least just as much as is wasted on piracy, which doesn't really amount to very much considering that if they were not so eager to tick off their customers then they would have all those customers, and the rest are people that would not have likely bought the game in the first place. And if they do play it, wouldn't you want to make a good impression and encourage an inviting environment, instead of bullying everybody else around like you're some Mr. Perfect Tough Guy?

How is EA's sales pitch working out for them lately? Have you been paying attention? Whether or not you are paying attention, not everybody in the world is stupid. I'm not stupid, we aren't stupid and we formate educated opinions, but I'm convinced that corporations like Ubisoft sit around the table wondering what best way they can screw people over to get out a few more bucks to cover their lousy management choices and policies.

And no, we will not bail you out. I hear this constant opinion from conservative techies about how "the people" or the customer has this "entitlement theory", that we feel entitled to receive and that blah blah blah so on and so forth, which is utterly ridiculous. The alternative to that complaining is people going out and pirating your games.

This may be a business but it's also an art, and you are subject to artistic criticism just like every other form of art and design. They talk a big game about intellectual property but I think they are more concerned about putting their flag down in somebody else's hard work than they are actually developing creative and expressive forms of art. Because a lot of their games are just clones of each other anyway.

Ask EA how they're doing and whether or not they have any regrets. They might act clean in public but behind their desks their scared as heck because the boats sinking and the false ego isn't worth enough to keep them afloat anymore, and little by little I'm sure those developers they've stepped in the way of--you know, when they tell you to change your art because it's not "mainstream" enough--are starting to pile up over the years.

Think whatever you want. Do whatever you want. But whatever you do, stop being such a jerk. Stop standing in the way of forward progress. Put more emphasis on delivering a quality product and you won't have to worry about people pirating your 2nd rate game that isn't worth the used toilet paper stuck to my buttcrack.

Guest said:

Piracy is why I've stopped playing most games on the PC. DRM is a publisher response (and a valid one, after all YOU expect to be paid for your work, right?). The problem is when the pirated copy becomes superior to the legitimately purchased copy due to the fact they bypass DRM. I don't care what business you are in, if you steal a better product than you can purchase, how many people will seriously want to pay money for the product?

Current DRM strategies kinda feel like companies are firing different anti-piracy ideas at their consumers and trying see what sticks. It's kinda shame that mostly they're hitting the people who buy their product and making them not want to buy it. And while it's easy to point out flaws when your choices are "buy it, steal it, or don't play it," making a product feature that creates tension between the creator and the consumer really doesn't help anyone (except pirates who get more supporters).

Granted the most simple DRM is usually to make an MMO instead of single player game and make money off subscriptions. Then again, if you keep a game mostly single player while having additional on-line content, it might be a better system. The best example I can think of right now is Demon's Souls (not a PC game, but does use a good online system I like). Demon's Souls is a single player that gets a bit better playing online because you can access hints left by other players, see how other players died (a very common part of the game), and see 'ghosts' of what other players are doing. Implementing a system like that instead of just the current system of "Let me see you license and registration every 3 seconds" might provide a bit more goodwill. After all, people who legitimately purchase the product would then have something superior to what you can steal.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

DRM good, DRM bad, Companies good, companies bad, stealing good, stealing bad, yadda, yadda, yadda, really people, don't you people know what a conundrum is? It's like they say, *******s and opinions, everybody gets one of each.

I would direct this to the piracy is good and stealing is justified segment of the argument; I always continue to hope for poetic justice, and hope that you clowns will develop some intellectual property, so that the rest of us can steal it. Then you'd be whining a different sermon now wouldn't you? But sadly, there's little chance of that, since you're all so busy stealing from everybody else, and I doubt you have the talent anyway.

Guest said:

What about a dongel? Pop it in the USB, it authenticates your game. You keep it, it's yours to pay when you wish. I'd pay £10 extra for a dongle than keep to this DRM of UBIsoft.

I think a £5-£10 dongle is far less draconian than this 24\7 DRM.

r3claimer r3claimer said:

Guest said:

What about a dongle? Pop it in the USB, it authenticates your game. You keep it, it's yours to pay when you wish. I'd pay £10 extra for a dongle than keep to this DRM of UBIsoft.

I think a £5-£10 dongle is far less draconian than this 24\7 DRM.

Again, it's a nice idea, but people could just crack to game so that it doesn't need the dongle to play. Even if they found a way to block that tactic, you could always rip the software on the dongle and edit it to always say you have a legit copy of the game. Plus, the dongle would need to be constantly updated to keep up with game updates. =\

r3claimer r3claimer said:

Guest said:

Instead, I am saying the solution maybe within a proof of purchase / receipt / barcode based system. A system which, as far as I known, can't be easy emulated. Mainly due to the fact every electronics store would have some kind of record of sales; numbers, codes etc

Again, that's great, keeping a record and all, but it's no different than how companies keep a record of which CD keys are used. Proofs of purchase are great, but how does one provide such every time they start the game? They'd need an internet connection. It's no different than current DRM. As for bar codes...Please explain how one provides that (or something like it) over the internet? Furthermore, please tell me what would keep a hacker from cracking the code on it? It would just be another piece of software after all.

I know what you're getting at here, but you don't seem to grasp that if companies just use some generic piece of software that's coded to prevent piracy, a hacker will find a way to beat it. Whether it this lousy DRM, SecuRom, or a digital bar code, if it's software, there's a way to crack it.

Guest said:

I downloaded Assassins Creed from a torrent site and played for about half an hour before getting bored quiting and never going back, if I had paid for the game i would be very disappointed, i download games to try and only buy the ones that are going to offer at least a few months of game play or good online play.

Unfortunately some of the game company's IE: EA games charge a lot more for the same game here in Australia compared with the US or UK so when I do buy a game I purchase it online from Asia or India at 1/4 the price.

Guest said:

It's sad: I was actually considering buying this game (or SC:Conviction), since I really liked the originals (and the developers, for me, are ~20 minutes away by car) but that's be pointless now. I often travel to a friend's cottage in the country (Eastern Townships, not far even for the devs if they are reading this) and there is no internet there. None. At least there's electricity. So if I want to play the game, I have to be in the city with internet and cannot take my laptop away from that and play it there? I'm sorry, but as of now I have no more reason to even think of buying this game.

That, and even today, people loose their internet all the time - sometimes for weeks at a time if you get into an argument with your ISP. Heck, now I can't even reboot or tweak my router without saving the game first? What kind of system is this?

I understand that developers want to protect their rights (and make money). But I have a limited budget, since all my time is taken up by annoyances like Calculus and the like, and I will not spend my money on something that restricts me from using it in certain locations unless I fork out cash to another company (the ISP).

Guest said:

I know what you're getting at here, but you don't seem to grasp that if companies just use some generic piece of software that's coded to prevent piracy, a hacker will find a way to beat it. Whether it this lousy DRM, SecuRom, or a digital bar code, if it's software, there's a way to crack it.

You are right, but no, that's not what I am saying. Think factory serial numbers, or for example what are known as "VIN" numbers for cars.

In Australia every car made will have a "VIN" number, which upon being sold (from a dealer/showroom) will be registered to someone via the vehicle registration (Rego number, number plate etc). This is on a database for both police checks, registration checks and for car re-sales. There is absolutely no way to "emulate" this without someone simply checking the register and catching a criminal out.

I'm proposing a system (maybe on a country to country basis), where that a game is purchased from a store (any) and contains a unique factory serial number. Once you get home and open up the box, you will be able to see it (e.g maybe on the booklet) and it will detail methods to contact a free hotline, of sorts. Either via the internet or phone, or even a checkout desk at big electronics retailers.

Once you contact the company and quote the number, they will give you a different code - UNIQUE to your copy. No special software generating a series of possible numbers based on an algorithm/instruction set. Just 1 factory number and 1 corresponding activation number. All of which is as easily accessible as possible (the game companies responsibility), giving different methods.

I know that doesn't sound like a fully thought out plan, but if I had one, I wouldn't just give it away haha. As someone said in the comments, they make money off these moves.

AzureCuzYeah said:

Are you out of your mind? Do you really think that this hurts the pirating community? Of course it doesn't? The same day will be dozens of torrents offering these new games. UBIsofts product hurts paying customers and no one else. How does limiting the paying customer help stop the pirating community. It doesn't.

Guest said:

1. It's pointless to argue about piracy as it will NEVER go away...no matter what. PERIOD.

2. Yes, some DRM is annoying & sh*t. The more annoying it is the more likely that hackers would like to crack it as they like the challenge. Why bother spending efforts in annoying DRMs when they should be spending efforts in making the game better & better???

3. People would buy simply because of a good game. Much like the music industry...if they keep shipping out sh*t productions, I would never buy another CD. Imagine buying a CD just for 1 song u like, & in this case u hate the game u bought just 5mins into it!!! it will end up on ebay & that is no extra money earned for anyone.

PanicX PanicX, TechSpot Ambassador, said:

I'm with TomSEA on this one. Clearly piracy is a crime against humanity and gaming/software vendors must install invasive processes/rootkits to analyze and discriminate your PC and verify that you aren't pulling a fast one and shorting them a dollar. They need to be sure you're staying on their moral grounds and also be able to deactivate your PC or destroy your data should anything questionable show up.

Just like the government should be allowed to install cameras/wall screens in everyones home so they can view, monitor and be sure that everyone is behaving as they deem morally right. They should be able to police your thoughts, chose your line of work and make sure you do morning stretches as well.

If you don't agree with this, I'm afraid you need some time in rehabilitation.

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