Ubisoft's new DRM more annoying than expected

By Matthew · 68 replies
Feb 18, 2010
  1. 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.

    Read the whole story
  2. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,713   +855

    "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.
  3. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    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...
  4. 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.
  5. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,957   +214

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

    If game companies keep implementing more stupid **** 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!
  6. dustin_ds3000

    dustin_ds3000 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 887   +19

    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
  7. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,713   +855

    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... ;)
  8. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 5,332   +101

    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 *****ic and seemingly counterproductive.

    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?
  9. MrAnderson

    MrAnderson TS Maniac Posts: 488   +10

    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.
  10. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 5,332   +101

    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.
  11. Relic

    Relic TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,379   +16

    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.

    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 :( .
  12. Funkmesideways

    Funkmesideways TS Rookie

    Should've used Steam
  13. TorturedChaos

    TorturedChaos TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 839   +29

    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.
  14. Ranger12

    Ranger12 TS Evangelist Posts: 621   +122

    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.
  15. FrostBolt

    FrostBolt TS Rookie

    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.
  16. Wendig0

    Wendig0 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,136   +131

    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.
  17. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,713   +855

    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:

  18. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 5,332   +101

    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.
  19. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,713   +855

    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. ;)
  20. 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...
  21. 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.
  22. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 5,332   +101

    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.
  23. Eddo22

    Eddo22 TS Booster Posts: 165   +8

    ""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.
  24. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,713   +855

    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.....
  25. Matthew

    Matthew TechSpot Staff Topic Starter Posts: 5,332   +101

    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.
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