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Ubisoft's "always-connected" DRM cracked in one day?

By Matthew · 60 replies
Mar 4, 2010
  1. Ubisoft's new "always connected" DRM scheme launched alongside its WWII naval war simulator Silent Hunter 5 this week, and it may have flopped big time. The mechanism, if you haven't heard, requires a constant connection to Ubisoft's servers -- even on single player titles. When that connection is severed, gameplay halts and unsaved progress is potentially lost.

    Read the whole story
  2. KG363

    KG363 TS Guru Posts: 515   +9

    DRM makes me sick. It only punishes those who purchase the game. And Pirates will ALWAYS crack the game even if they have to buy a legit copy of hack the server. It will happen. They are only delaying the inevitable. I know that I will not be buying Assassin's Creed 2 only because of the DRM.
  3. Timonius

    Timonius TS Evangelist Posts: 647   +58

    Create a bigger and better safe and the you attract the attention of the bigger and better safecrackers just for the challenge (if not for spite).
  4. Decimae

    Decimae TS Rookie Posts: 78

    This one was already cracked(because they stored savegames locally too!), which is fully functional, except of course the online savegame function. And ACII has a pirated copy, too, though that's not fully functional. It won't take long until that gets hacked.
  5. princeton

    princeton TS Addict Posts: 1,676

    Well hopefully these money pinching developers will get smart and realize that DRM will never work.
  6. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,633   +694

    I've been playing Silent Hunter V for three days. The DRM has been virtually unnoticeable. You get a little pop-up at the beginning stating "saved games are being synched" and you never see it again. So as far as impacting game play, it's a non-issue.

    I've also heard that those who have claimed to crack it really haven't - which doesn't surprise me as the cracker groups are always going to want to claim the first to "victory" in cracking a game. Especially a well-publicized one like this. It's like when a particularly nasty terrorist bombing occurs, 20 different groups claim to be the ones who did it.

    Now having said that, SHV has turned out to be a pretty bad game. Very buggy, clunky interface and nothing like it's award winning precedessors SHIII and SHIV. If you go to the subsim.com forum boards, no one is talking about the DRM - its just not a problem. They're all talking about the game issues.

    Lastly, if you want specifics about this particular DRM, Koroush Ghazi of TweakGuides.com has published a short article on Assasin's Creed 2 and the DRM, showing a step-by-step of the installation. An interesting read:

  7. Afroaggie

    Afroaggie TS Rookie Posts: 30

    I understand that these game programmers want to keep all the hard work that they have done and reap all the benefits from their sweat, but seeing as I am one of those guys who has a 28.8 k connection because broadband isn't available out in the boonies I see this DRM being faulty. Especially because any time someone picks up the phone in the house I get disconnected and BAM no saved game. I know I am not the only one who has to deal with this problem and having to call back home at all times is why I will not be able to support the hard working game developers. I have to just wait till I get broadband out here (or a second phone line so I can have a constant connection) to be able to enjoy these games.
  8. Armanian

    Armanian TS Enthusiast Posts: 43   +19

    One day DRM will be a thing of the past, companies that like to overcharge people for small things will one day learn that it doesn't work.

    I just dont know why they dont just hand copies of the games out for free, because as soon as its released its gonna get cracked. Although some poor sucker will buy the game legit.
  9. My issue with this kind of DRAM is the same as it's always been about 6 times a day I'll losses my internet connection for 5 mins "I live in the middle of no were, I'm still amazed I can even get 3MB/ps DSL here." And the last thing I want is my game to NOT SAVE because I lost my Internet. + Most of the time I play games its during the time when my Internet is out!

    So THE LEAST they can do is wait tell 95+% of the USA has reliable Internet.
    Even when I lived in a "bigger city" (PoP:50,000) Most people there lost Internet connection on DSL/Cable/SAT and CELL for hours each day.

    The current state of rural Internet is a BAD joke for stuff like this to be being pushed.
  10. Regenweald

    Regenweald TS Rookie Posts: 143

    Exactly as above. this DRM is ****. So if you have no internet or a dinkey connection, screw you ? Spend more money making better games, there will always be pirates, but a lot of people actually like their own original copy.
  11. Relic

    Relic TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,379   +16

    Is anyone really surprised by this? Even if it's not a complete crack it will be eventually. And way to be even more anti-consumer if its true they are storing essential files server-side. Why not just advertise the game as renting for life at full-price (requires 100% internet)!

    I see you've moved on from your criminal analogy to a terrorist one....way to be even more disingenuous. While I understand the point you're trying to make, there are better ways to do it.

    And I feel bad for you guys who live out in rural areas...especially since your service is bad or non-existent. And major broadband providers just don't care and move along :( .
  12. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,633   +694

    No offense taken, Relic.

    Hey - you guys all bummed about DRM? Quit stealing the games. That's why DRM exists and will become even more aggressive if this one doesn't work. It's as simple as that.
  13. Relic

    Relic TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,379   +16

    Wasn't trying to be offensive but hyperbole gets to me sometimes :) .

    You're right, DRM is there to prevent digital "theft". But even if it all disappears (which we know it wont), publishers will still keep the DRM. It gives them control to an on/off switch on any game/IP they own. And they can choose to shut out communities like modders entirely if they want to push DLC onto everyone. Piracy is a reason, but not the only one...I hope you see this.
  14. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,633   +694

    I do, Relic. But the DRM we would experience if there were no or minimal theft would be inconsequential. Basically back to the "enter in a unique key code" and that's a wrap. I'm pretty sure no one would be too upset over that. Plus I've never know any company to use DRM as an "on/off" switch to control a game at their whim. I could be mistaken and willing to listen to examples, but I've been gaming for a long, LONG time and can't recall any gaming company doing that. They wouldn't last long if they did.

    These recent invasive DRM's we're experiencing now are truly for one reason only - to circumvent theft until they can make a profit. These crackers and thieves who are using it as a battle cry to do even more theft are just shooting themselves (and us PC gaming enthusiasts) in the foot. PC gaming theft is so rampant now that we really are going to eventually lose it to all consoles if something doesn't happen.

    And I really don't want to go down that road.
  15. klepto12

    klepto12 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,115   +9

    i really think this new drm is a total load of bs some people have internet connections that fail often i for one would be in a foul mood if it happened to me no matter what drm is used hackers will find a way to ruin the developers day. in all honesty hackers have ruined gaming on the pc.
  16. buttus

    buttus TS Enthusiast Posts: 180

    This is a difficult area for me. I HATE DRM myself...however, I can also respect the development houses need to protect their work. I have always been of the mindset that if it is a good game I will buy it. Unfortunately though 90% of the games I have downloaded are utter crap and are removed from my system shortly after I install it. The other 10% though I do buy. If someone could develop a universal DRM tool to be cross platform then I would be all ears. Ubisofts solution though causes more problems then it solves.
  17. darkjeric

    darkjeric TS Rookie

    @TomSEA: Of course that would solve it all. But DRM is just the wrong answer to piracy. In 2009 I bought 24 games in physical form, of which 17 had DRM in them requiring me to install some crappy piece of software on my system that would constantly monitor if I was indeed using a legal version. You know what I did? I canceled setup, downloaded a pirated version of each of those games and happily played them without DRM.

    When will those developers ever realize that DRM only hurts the people that get the product with DRM in it, ergo, the legal customers that actually paid for your product? For hackers, it's like a more challenging bonus when they get it cracked, and usually it only takes hours instead of minutes. For downloaders, it's still free and they only had to wait a couple of hours longer, plus they get the added benefit of the stripped-out DRM. Too bad for those suckers that paid for the legal version, wouldn't you say?

    I see the same with every movie I buy on DVD. There are several unskippable commercials and warnings on those legally purchased discs about how piracy kills the business and you can get prosecuted for piracy.

    While I understand this point and I'm convinced that everyone should be rewarded for their hard work (I'm a musician myself), the content creators should also understand this: The fact that I'm seeing those warnings means I just bought the content legally, so I'm clearly not the target. Those warnings are the first thing pirates cut out of their versions, so someone that just downloaded a free illegal copy of a movie actually gets a better experience than myself who paid cash for it (money that I also earned through hard work, you know). That doesn't make the downloader less illegal, but it does make me look more stupid.

    There's one sentence that keeps popping back into my head (I don't remember exactly where I heard it first): 'If DRM is the answer, you just asked the wrong question.'

    One answer in my eyes are services like Steam or GoG. Sure, there's DRM and copy-control there too, but it's totally seamless (at least it has been for me) and the integrated service itself adds lots of features you'd miss when playing a pirated copy. I even bought some games I already had during Steam sales, just so I could reinstall them after reformatting with one 'Download&Install' click.

    I think to get rid of piracy (or most of it, it'll never be wiped out completely, just like crime in general) you need to do three things right (in order of importance):

    1) Give extra features, like a well integrated web service, to legal customers. But don't make the game solely dependent from it like Ubisoft is doing. I think Blizzard is on to something with their major refresh of Battle.net for example. It's a whole butload of handy stuff, but it's all optional as well.

    DLC also started off as a promising way of extra benefits for legal buyers, but it has become just another milk-cow of the developers.

    2) Try to cripple illegal versions as much as you can. I remember The Sims 2 for example, where not a single illegal version had the build-mode available. I still don't understand how they did it, but it was a stroke of genius! Sure, you could play the game, but without the building mode The Sims is quite pointless.

    In a shooter, this could be implemented by making the guns not function or something, making you defenseless. But how to do this, heck I'm not enough of a programmer for that :)

    In a lesser ideal situation, you could release a pirated version of your own game, but totally soaked in spyware/viruses. Just make sure you flood the download-channels (like torrents and newsgroups) with it and that the version includes a notice that the game was illegally obtained. This notice is to make sure that people don't start believing your game has spyware in it and going online telling it to everybody making sales even lower (which is a risk, that's what I meant with lesser ideal).

    3) Don't overdo your prices. Game development costs money, I get it. But €75 for Assassin's Creed 2 on Xbox 360? I'm sorry, but I just won't pay that much. I'll just wait and pick it up for €29 later. The most outrageous thing is that with every new medium/platform, games have gotten more expensive while the actual product you get in your hands is cheaper to manufacture. VHS tapes were pretty expensive to make, yet didn't cost as much as DVD's do now. And Blu-Ray's are even more expensive! But mainly, I get mad when I see a game on Steam costing more than the physical version in a store around the corner.

    Just look at Steam sales skyrocketing when there's a sale. And I'm one (or actually several) records in those statistics :p

    Ultimately, piracy is something that will never go away. But people download for several reasons. Some download because they simply don't have the money to purchase each game (like teenagers), some download because it's convenient and easy (just look at how succesfull Steam is, or console gaming!) and others download just because they don't want to pay. My gut feeling (I strongly believe in mankind's goodness, how naive of me, I know) tells me the first two groups are both bigger than the third one. So if you can address those first two groups, you've already regained more than half of the illegal users.
  18. flukeh

    flukeh TS Rookie Posts: 57

    Console Piracy is on the up and up. Every person I know that has a console has rarely bought any games for it. Mostly Wii, But 360 and PS3 aswell. Maybe making the games a little cheaper will sell more titles?
  19. DryIce

    DryIce TS Rookie Posts: 60

    DRM that requires you to be constantly connected to the internet is not a good idea. I would not be able to play these games because my internet connection frequently gets disrupted by construction in the area. I don't believe Ubisoft will save more money than they lose over this.
  20. tonylukac

    tonylukac TS Evangelist Posts: 1,362   +67

    Why is everyone wrongly complaining about their internet connection going down? Mine hasn't gone down for 2 years at a time (AT&T DSL). Sort of like the Techspot servers. Also, with all this complaining about bad internet, I guess you'll never write about streaming video again. You make me jealous. Who can afford the $55 cable connection? Rent your movies at Redbox (I'll say 40 of them). Time to get frugal. "The former world has passed away."
  21. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 5,312   +100

    Well said. I honestly don't believe most people pirate games or other media to be malicious, at least not entirely. Sure, getting something for "free" is fantastic, but when it's "free," easier to obtain, and runs cleaner (sans DRM and so on) it becomes much more tempting.
  22. cyrusjumpjet

    cyrusjumpjet TS Member Posts: 87

    It cracks me up how confident UbiSoft is in this. I wonder how stupid they feel when their newly-DRM'd games are still downloaded by pirates by the millions.
  23. InsaneVr6

    InsaneVr6 TS Enthusiast Posts: 221

    Things like this make me turn to console games. PC games always have DRM problems which usually end up ruining the game all together.

    Of course you can't blame companies like Ubisoft for trying to stop people from pirating their games, but it really is inevitable before everybody and their mom has a copy of the game cracked.
  24. Zenphic

    Zenphic TS Rookie Posts: 43

    When I buy a game and play the single player mode, I prefer to have the game stay off the Internet thank you very much. ;)

    I miss those old gaming days when you could install games without serial numbers or online activation processes.
  25. UT66

    UT66 TS Rookie Posts: 143

    Hey ubi, your games are beyond mediocre, just terrible garbage, ( avtivision like trash) i don't even want to play them for FREE!!! Patrice Jade and all the other "creative minds" over there are the BEST copy protection scheme, just keep pushing the violence and focus on he console kids AND DONT WORRY. we dont want your garbage ! sign: superior pc master race.
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