Ubisoft tweaks Driver's always-on DRM, Skyrim to use Steam

By on August 17, 2011, 4:02 PM

As with most of the company's major game launches since early last year, Ubisoft planned to lace the PC version of Driver: San Francisco with its pesky always-on DRM. The mechanism has appeared in titles including Assassin's Creed II, Silent Hunter V, The Settlers 7, as well as Splinter Cell: Conviction and it always disappoints gamers. Without fail, many would-be customers have vowed to boycott the new Driver over the developer's invasive digital control system.

In response to the disgruntled upwelling, Ubisoft said Driver: San Francisco would "no longer include" the DRM that requires a permanent Internet connection -- a half-truth. Although you won't have to stay connected through the duration of your playtime, you will require an active Internet connection so the game can perform an authentication check each time you want to launch it. Once that validation has completed, you can choose to play Driver offline if so desired.

Although that's an improvement, it doesn't address the primary concern of users who criticize the always-on DRM, because it still requires an Internet connection to play the game -- if only briefly. Someone playing at a hotel or grandma's house might not have access to the Web, thereby preventing them from launching the game. On a scale of draconian DRM mechanisms, Ubisoft has effectively turned the dial from 10 to 9, and we're not sure what good that'll do.

As with previous instances, users have questioned the effectiveness of Ubisoft's controversial DRM. All of the above games were swiftly cracked and uploaded to torrent sites, making the whole effort seem fruitless. Pirates are unaffected by the DRM while paying customers have to jump through hoops, and Ubisoft has to waste resources developing said hoops. Although it seems pointless to the casual onlooker, Ubisoft is convinced that its DRM is a "success."

Speaking with PC Gamer a few weeks ago, Ubisoft said the studio has witnessed "a clear reduction in piracy of our titles which required a persistent online connection, and from that point of view the requirement is a success." Unfortunately, the developer didn't offer any hard figures to back that claim and most of the commenters don't buy it. Some even admit that they wound up downloading a cracked version of games like AC2 after purchasing a legitimate copy.

In a separate, unrelated announcement today, Bethesda revealed that the PC version of its upcoming Elder Scrolls title will use Valve's Steamworks platform for DRM. As with Fallout: New Vegas, that goes for copies purchased through retailers and Steam itself. Once you activate the game, you can play the title in Steam's offline mode without an Internet connection. We assume Steam will also be used to serve achievements, patches and downloadable content.




User Comments: 30

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Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Here's an idea: Quit paying tons of money for licensing rights to DRM software and authentication servers, then lower your game prices so that people will be less tempted to pirate your games, and more likely to fork over the money to buy them. $50-$60 is way too high for games in this economy, but $25-$30 sounds more reasonable. For the crap Ubisoft has been putting out over the last few years, even $25 seems a bit generous. Let go of the corporate greed, become more customer-centric, and perhaps your prior history of douchebaggery will be forgotten, gaining you a few more customers.

Guest said:

Id gladly pay $60 for skyrim though

DeliciousPie said:

Treating customers like criminals turn them into criminals. Look at the success of Minecraft, which has DRM that consists of "hey, please don't pirate this game. If you do, and you like it, then please buy it". It's a huge success.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

"Pirates are unaffected by the DRM while paying customers have to jump through hoops, and Ubisoft has to waste resources developing said hoops."

That succinctly sums up the situation.

When a customer has bought the game has to resort to downloading cracks and so forth in order to enjoy a game play experience with less hassle than the person who pirated the same software, there is a problem.

yRaz yRaz said:

I don't understand why they would waste money on developing DRM when it's going to get cracked anyway, sometimes before the game is even released.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

What a real big shame. I've always been with Driver right from the beginning, but this is like salt to a wound.

Looks like a console version is on the cards for me.

KG363 KG363 said:

I would've bought a hard copy, but since it's on steam, time to pre-order skyrim

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Ubisoft! Take note of what Bethesda is doing! They are using Steam!

oow.. You haven't tried it yet? Well for all you Ubisoft Employees heres a link:

http://store.steampowered.com/

Now i know what your thinking "Crazy! How is this any better than our DRM solution?"

Well now you see, we only need to activate the game once and then we don't need an internet connection, so all laptopers can finally play your games on the move.

Secondly the DRM protection has proven to work well and actually has figures to back this up unlike your "Successful" attempt.

And Thirdly, it saves you a ton of cash which can be better spent on . . . I don't know, advertising? Or wait! I have an idea! . . . why not spend the extra million or so on the games themselves! Then they would sell like hot cakes!

Cota Cota said:

Steam's offline mode is nothing more than a joke...

Just wanted to get that clear, but im buying Skyrim in store, i just feel better to give fully price to a company like Bethesda and i like to know the CD's will be there in case of a post-apocalyptic "accident"

Guest said:

I don't see how you can call Steam's offline mode a joke, you tell it to start in offline mode, and then you play your games... offline! Holy crap, what a concept. Do your trolling where people don't happen to be familiar with the content being talked about maybe.

slamscaper slamscaper said:

I have never purchased any of Ubisoft's games that contain this asinine DRM and I never will. There should be laws enacted to prevent publishers from using these tactics.

Can you imagine if other software companies decided to use this shady DRM scheme? What would everyone say if Microsoft or Apple decided to cripple everyone's OS if their internet connection went down.

What if Acronis automatically disabled their drive imaging software (regardless if you were in the middle of a backup) because your internet connection was interrupted? Would you just accept this behavior?

How about if Adobe decided to prevent legitimate end-users from editing any images in Photoshop unless they're connected to the internet?

Don't get me wrong, it's entirely understandable for a vendor to require an internet connection to "activate" their software, however forcing end-users to maintain a constant internet connection (or else) is way beyond unreasonable.

No one should accept these tactics from Ubisoft or any other software company.

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

You know what's funny, these games are hacked DRM free day 1, so what's the point of hurting the honest paying customer. I hope every game with a DRM like this is pirated and makes them little to no money.

T77 T77 said:

" you will require an active Internet connection so the game can perform an authentication check each time you want to launch it."

"Some even admit that they wound up downloading a cracked version of games like AC2 after purchasing a legitimate copy."

now there lies the basic flaw in the whole mechanism.it is surely very frustrating to have that check every time you start the game.In effect it actually promotes piracy as the user would want to get done with it in the first time itself.

The user didn't pay to get irritated and frustrated,he paid for his enjoyment.It is a poor business strategy.

colinf said:

Guest said:

I don't see how you can call Steam's offline mode a joke, you tell it to start in offline mode, and then you play your games... offline! Holy crap, what a concept. Do your trolling where people don't happen to be familiar with the content being talked about maybe.

quick test of offline mode for you

1. enable steam in offline mode

2. turn off pc

3. turn off/unplug internet connection

4. restart pc

5. attempt to play your steam games

6. re-enable your internet to enable steam offline mode

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

colinf said:

Guest said:

I don't see how you can call Steam's offline mode a joke, you tell it to start in offline mode, and then you play your games... offline! Holy crap, what a concept. Do your trolling where people don't happen to be familiar with the content being talked about maybe.

quick test of offline mode for you

1. enable steam in offline mode

2. turn off pc

3. turn off/unplug internet connection

4. restart pc

5. attempt to play your steam games

6. re-enable your internet to enable steam offline mode

Funny, I just tried that myself yet I can play my games fine?

Guest said:

If someone wants to play the game in an area with no Internet access, they will have to go to the nearest cybercafe/wifi hotspot to authenticate and start the game, and then return home.

It is an embarrassment for these companies that to play a legitimately bought game some sort of crack will eventually be required...

Then why bother buying it? Heck, why waste time playing it, since it will most probably suck anyway?

customcarvin customcarvin said:

Guest said:

I don't see how you can call Steam's offline mode a joke, you tell it to start in offline mode, and then you play your games... offline! Holy crap, what a concept. Do your trolling where people don't happen to be familiar with the content being talked about maybe.

colinf said:

quick test of offline mode for you

1. enable steam in offline mode

2. turn off pc

3. turn off/unplug internet connection

4. restart pc

5. attempt to play your steam games

6. re-enable your internet to enable steam offline mode

burty117 said:

Funny, I just tried that myself yet I can play my games fine?

+1

No resetting of the pc here... start in offline mode, launch a game (even unplugged my ethernet cable to make sure)... pretty easy if you ask me.

colinf, maybe you shouldn't post nonsense on a tech site since u dont know how to use a computer yet?? :p

tonylukac said:

I really think you're all complaining about the wrong thing. SecureRom, in most cd/dvd games, actually ruins your os with an essential rootkit. Try burning ANY cd after installing a SecureRom game. I think this is better as it prevents some piracy. As for you all complaining about your internet connection being down, get dsl. My ATT dsl was down only twice in the last 3 years.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

tonylukac said:

I really think you're all complaining about the wrong thing. SecureRom, in most cd/dvd games, actually ruins your os with an essential rootkit. Try burning ANY cd after installing a SecureRom game. I think this is better as it prevents some piracy. As for you all complaining about your internet connection being down, get dsl. My ATT dsl was down only twice in the last 3 years.

Not really, SecureROM is not featured in Steam, what (at least) I was arguing for was the use of steam.

Guest said:

I'm just so happy Ubisoft only makes crap games. That way, I'm not really missing anything. I'm not buying Ubisoft games ever again, until they stop with this ridiculous online-DRM bullshit!

Guest said:

Skyrim is using Steam!? ...Cancelled pre-order.

Guest said:

I will buy Skyrim collectors edition to PS3 and download it to the PC. Why I'm doing this is simple, it's because of Steam, worst drm/bloatware I've ever have come across. And I to have stopped buying Ubisoft games a long time ago because of their intrusive drm.

Guest said:

Steam is a rancid ****.

Guest said:

Wow. All of you bashing steam are just wrong. The only real case you could claim is a negative towards steam is how EA backed out of selling games on Steam due to the DLC issues. And that's it, really. (albeit, a BIG "that's it" that we all hope gets fixed.)

When was the last time any of you bashing steam actually tried using steam? 2006, when they had the worst customer service ever? or maybe back when they forced you to be online to play? Or was it before they had an interface that didn't make you want to claw your eyes out?

It's time to move on people. Online game downloading services such as Steam are the future. You might not want to admit it, and you may want your precious hard copies, ignoring the eventual and inevitable fall of the CD rom drive, but I'm as happy as can be with Steams service. I have been for the past 3 years.

Guest said:

It's true, Already stores like Wal-mart and Target are only selling "Popular" PC titles like the "Sims."

Besides Steam only takes 30% of the profit and retail stores take 40-60%, Its an easy choice whether or not to have your game for sale on steam. Anyway CD's are becoming less and less needed for PC games, heck in 5-10 years they probably will be the next Floppy disks.

Guest said:

Totally agree that Steam is a terrific piece of software. Now that said, it's in a person's right to dislike something for any reason, but I just don't see the sense in what people are saying about it. If you're talking about owning a game like Skyrim for PC, then it's assumed you'd have a nice rig to run it. Therefor, how do you get away with having a nice rig and NOT any internet access to a point that it inconveniences you? And for that matter, offline mode does work and if you're having issues then do your research and get the answers instead of assuming! And if all that fails to meet your high standards, then at this point I see there being MORE incentive here for you to just game on a console (it's a lot cheaper than maintaining or owning a powerhouse computer!).

Steam makes gaming on a computer so, so easy for a person who doesn't know a lot about computers, and if anything it's a big reason the computer gaming market is still strong. If you manage to complicate something like that up, just stick to consoles, seriously.

Guest said:

Steam makes gaming on a computer so, so easy for a person who doesn't know a lot about computers, and if anything it's a big reason the computer gaming market is still strong. If you manage to complicate something like that up, just stick to consoles, seriously.

Ironic you say steam is keeping the computer gaming market alive maybe so but it is the very reason im going to consol once and for all, there at least I will own my games legitimately.

Guest said:

If Bethesda is forcing us (the legitimate customers who actually pay their hard-earned money) to use Steam in order to play their game, I am cancelling my pre-order, and sending an email to Bethesda about this.

F- Steam, and F-Bethesda.

Guest said:

"Steam makes gaming on a computer so, so easy for a person who doesn't know a lot about computers.."

How is that pile of Steaming **** easier than "insert disk, play game"?

You can have your Steam, your Ubisoft and EA crap. I'll avoid the lot, thanks, and I'll still be playing awesome games way after your authentication servers have packed in and taken your games collection with them. Or maybe after a hacker pwns your account. Either/or.

Guest said:

"You can have your Steam, your Ubisoft and EA crap. I'll avoid the lot, thanks, and I'll still be playing awesome games way after your authentication servers have packed in and taken your games collection with them. Or maybe after a hacker pwns your account. Either/or."

a). Yeah, you can still go to crack after apocalypse or steam close shop, since no one can hold the rights. :D

b). If you get hacked, you file a complaint.

c). In the unlikely event if valve wants to cut you for its own evil reasons you can sue the **** out of it or go with point "a".

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