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Ubisoft's Constant Net Connection DRM Confirmed 631

Posted by Soulskill
from the enjoy-getting-flamed-by-the-entire-internet dept.
A few weeks ago we discussed news of Ubisoft's DRM plans for future games, which reportedly went so far as to require a constant net connection, terminating your game if you get disconnected for any reason. Well, it's here; upon playing review copies of the PC version of Assassin's Creed 2 and Settlers VII, PCGamer found the DRM just as annoying as you might expect. Quoting: "If you get disconnected while playing, you're booted out of the game. All your progress since the last checkpoint or savegame is lost, and your only options are to quit to Windows or wait until you're reconnected. The game first starts the Ubisoft Game Launcher, which checks for updates. If you try to launch the game when you're not online, you hit an error message right away. So I tried a different test: start the game while online, play a little, then unplug my net cable. This is the same as what happens if your net connection drops momentarily, your router is rebooted, or the game loses its connection to Ubisoft's 'Master servers.' The game stopped, and I was dumped back to a menu screen — all my progress since it last autosaved was lost."
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Ubisoft's Constant Net Connection DRM Confirmed

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  • Let'see.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Renraku (518261) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:28AM (#31181110) Homepage

    Well the article is good enough to tell us which games to avoid due to horrible DRM. Maybe they're making some kind of 'level of DRM annoyingness' versus 'copies purchased' graph.

    • Re:Let'see.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mattventura (1408229) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:51AM (#31181250) Homepage
      No, the Ubisoft execs will make a 'Level of DRM annoyingness' vs 'Number of copies pirated' graph. They will see that less people bought it and more people pirated it, and they will come to the conclusion that the games need even more DRM to stop people from pirating it. The next generation of games will such have more DRM, and the cycle will repeat.
      • Re:Let'see.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Techmeology (1426095) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:16AM (#31181400) Homepage
        "Please pirate our game! Please please please! We promise to make our DRM so annoying you're sure to have lots and lots of grateful people loving your clearly superior version!"
      • by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @05:44AM (#31181930) Homepage Journal

        Here's a graph of how much of my money they're going to get over time

        ^ |
        $ |
        2 |
        1 |
            2 . . 2 . . 2 . . 2 . . Year >
            0. . .0. . .0. . .0
            1 . . 1 . . 1 . . 1
            0. . .1. . .2. . .3

      • by August_zero (654282) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @08:57AM (#31183004)
        At this rate, the next gen of DRM will require everyone in the world with a PC to buy a copy in order to cut off any would be pirates at the pass.
    • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:56AM (#31181282) Homepage

      Maybe they're making some kind of 'level of DRM annoyingness' versus 'copies purchased' graph.

      Wish there was, but the only thing you'd measure was whether the game itself was a hit or a flop.

    • by Nathrael (1251426) <> on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:16AM (#31181398)
      In other news...
      "Thousands Of People Avoiding Or Pirating Ubisoft Games Confirmed"
    • by Undead Waffle (1447615) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:40AM (#31181562)
      No they'll just decide people don't buy games for their computer anymore and stick to consoles.
    • Blade Runner (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday February 18, 2010 @10:07AM (#31183772) Homepage Journal

      "Time to die"

      Would you people PLEASE stop shelling out your hard earned cash on companies that insist on fucking you over like this? Mod me flamebait if you want, but Ubisoft should die and their stockholders should all lose the money they invested in the company. It's the only way this shit will stop. If DRM kills Ubisoft, other companies will think twice about these stupid DRM schemes.

      I guess they learned from Sony that even putting a rootkit on music CDs won't stop people from buying their poison products. Jesus H. Christ, people, stop letting these bastards fuck you over. Put them out of business.

  • to step on the ol' weenie with track shoes...

    [Carnac] "What is 'people staying away in droves?' [/Carnac]

  • by Lead Butthead (321013) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:31AM (#31181128) Journal

    Don't buy the game, and send them letter to let them know why you're not buying the game.

  • by Derekloffin (741455) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:33AM (#31181134)
    This goes a long way toward making sure I will. I can understand some level of online authentication, but this is absurd. Then again, what am I think, I won't even buy these games. Not worth the hassle.
  • by mykos (1627575) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:33AM (#31181136)
    In ten to twenty years, when we're playing these games on emulators and reminiscing about the good old days, when these activation servers are dead and gone, we will be thankful that someone took the time to remove these checks from our games so that we could play them in the future.
    And I wonder, in this never ending holy war against pirates, what they think that Pyrrhic victory after Pyrrhic victory will earn them? Countless fortunes? Unending wealth? Do they think that making your game difficult to play will somehow make it sell billions of copies?
  • Well done Ubisoft (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:34AM (#31181142)

    I was going to buy this, but they can shove that rubbish fair up their arse.

    Another fine case of screw the people who actually paid for it and the pirates don't have to put up with any of it.

    Well done UbiSoft, you are a complete bunch of arsehats.

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:34AM (#31181144) Homepage

    If this becomes acceptable, someday Windows PCs will require a network connection to operate at all.

    With each new release, Microsoft Windows becomes more dependent on servers in Redmond. Someday they'll have an outage and the whole world will stop.

  • by Dartz-IRL (1640117) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:35AM (#31181146)

    And the subsequent increase in piracy of this game will be blamed on DRM that wasn't draconian enough.

  • Finally (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TACD (514008) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:35AM (#31181150) Homepage

    At last, they've made DRM so obnoxious, intrusive and butt-fuckingly annoying that even the average Joe will become enraged at the audacity of the thing. Hope Ubisoft has a team of people standing by ready to explain to people with shaky wireless routers or traffic-shaping ISPs why their game keeps booting them out.

    I'm calling it - less than three months after release before they patch this out due to overwhelmingly bad press. Christ Ubisoft, who do you think you are?

    • Re:Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shutdown -p now (807394) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:39AM (#31181174) Journal

      My thoughts exactly. Briefly dropping Internet connection is not at all uncommon - quite often you don't even notice it because you're just staring at a web page at the moment, or maybe the page doesn't load, and you shrug and move on. But with this kind of thing, every disconnect will have a very visible, pronounced, and highly annoying effect.

      I wonder if Ubisoft could actually be sued over this. Oh, sure, they'll slap "Internet connectivity required" on the box - but it could be argued that a reasonable person's understanding of "Internet connectivity" is the one that isn't five-nines, and if the game can't really handle a typical real-world connection properly - because of deliberate regression - then it's a clear case of malicious false advertising.

      • Re:Finally (Score:3, Funny)

        by msclrhd (1211086) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:31AM (#31181498)

        I can just see the following happening:

        Player: I'm almost there... I've been playing Assassin Creed 2 for almost 12 hours non-stop and am just about finished... the end is in...
        Game: We have lost connection with the Ubiborg mothership. I'm sorry to say that since you have not saved the game, we have no choice but to start you back at the beginning.

        Even if it is just 1-2 hours playing (e.g. finally making it past a difficult section of the game after many tries), this is still going to burn players.

        Next time, the players who have a negative experience of this will not spend their money on Ubisoft games next time.

        Also, what about areas that have a crap broadband - or god forbid dial-up - connection. Broadband quality and adoption varies from country to country, and is worse in less populated or remote/isolated areas.

        • Re:Finally (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by Dunbal (464142) * on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:50AM (#31181622)

          I'm sorry to say that since you have not saved the game, we have no choice but to start you back at the beginning.

                I haven't played the series but knowing the types of games these people produce, it's probably a linear "follow the path and the game will auto-save at pre-arranged spots" type of game. Not that sucky game design is an excuse for sucky DRM. But then again considering the intellect that is attracted to this sort of game, they probably are willing to take whatever Ubisoft wants to do to them.

    • Re:Finally (Score:3, Interesting)

      by T Murphy (1054674) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:53AM (#31181262) Journal
      My guess is they figure the chance they can get away with this is worth more than the profits they'll lose during those first few months. Chances are not a lot of people who protest initially will hold out after they relax the DRM, so those lost profits won't be too big.

      Also, I bet they can get away with more if they start with horrible DRM, then lighten up a little, as opposed to starting with typical draconian DRM.
  • Yeah, fuck that. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Leptok (1096623) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:41AM (#31181184)
    I know that's a vulgar comment, but that is vulgar DRM.
  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:42AM (#31181194)

    Ah I think I have it: Fuck Ubisoft.

    I was likely going to get Assassin's Creed 2. AC1 was pretty damn fun. I didn't get it when it came out because didn't seem like my kind of game, but I got it on sale and man, I liked it. So AC2 was on the list of potentials for me.

    Not any more. I will absolutely NOT put up with DRM like this. I have a fairly stable net connection but still, I don't care. This is way too invasive.

    I mean I'll meet companies half way. I'm ok with Steam, I can also deal disc based ones that don't cause a problem. However in either case I have to have a way to play if the net goes down. I am not ok with protections that limit the number of times you can reinstall a game (like SecuROM) or ones that need you to be online all the time. Goes double since I know what kinds of server problems companies can have, having played MMOs and such. If my MMO of the day is down, I'm going to be REAL mad if I can't play a single player game.

    So, no more Ubisoft games for me unless they change this, because it is retarded. The really funny thing is, of course, it won't hurt the pirates at all. Those versions will have it patched out so they'll have a good game experience. All it will do is drive legit customers away. This is a bigger problem than they might think just due to the sheer number of games these days. Currently, my problem is not finding games to play, it is finding time to play games. I have games I still haven't got around to yet because there's only so much time I can spend goofing off in a day.

    So if a given games maker starts being stupid, well I'll just stop buying their shit. Plenty of others to play.

    Speaking of which, I think I'll go play Mass Effect 2, which just has a simple disc check. It does like to talk to EA for content updates and such, but as I found out a couple days ago, doesn't mind at all if their servers are down and it can't connect. Game runs with no problems. That, I can live with.

  • by ZackSchil (560462) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:44AM (#31181206)

    Oh man, they are going to sell so many copies... of this DRM technology to other companies.

    I mean, no one will want the games anymore, but if they market this DRM to delusional companies disproportionately outraged over piracy, they could make a fortune.

  • DDOS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:46AM (#31181212)

    so, if someon DDOS their servers, all people on the world will be kicked out and lose their progress ?
    hmm . . . what a great idea.

    • Re:DDOS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by msclrhd (1211086) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:41AM (#31181574)

      Or another ship cuts the trans-Atlantic internet cables.
      Or a power cut that takes out your router.
      Or someone adding a wireless router in the same channel as the one you are using.
      Or microwaves/other device/weather interfering with the wireless signal.
      Or ...

  • Cloud gaming? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by T Murphy (1054674) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:46AM (#31181218) Journal
    I'm assuming Ubisoft, EA and the like are starting to dream about gaming on the cloud- complete control over access to the content, mandatory constant internet connection to the servers, and no pirateable game files being distributed to consumers. In addition, it will become much easier to cite server costs as a reason to shut down a game after a few years.
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:47AM (#31181226) the superior one. If you care about quality, choose your favourite release group!
  • Won't do shit. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thegrassyknowl (762218) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:52AM (#31181252)

    This will just annoy the people who did buy the game. The real issue is that most users aren't technical and will just buy it, put up with the shit and accept that's the state of affairs. One day somebody will offer them a crack and suddenly they'll realise the shafting they got.

    What's worse is that I predict that there will be an enormous amount of cracks and hacks for this game. It'll be so bad that all software companies will use it as an example of why we need even more and better DRM and how evil consumers really are.

  • by mykos (1627575) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:53AM (#31181260)
    Some people don't pirate because they haven't been bothered enough by DRM to seek out DRM-free copies.

    Ubisoft is creating a new round of pirates from formerly legitimate customers.
  • by Mystery00 (1100379) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:00AM (#31181300)
    Lack of wit, that is.

    In the right corner we have Ubisoft, with their incredibly stupid idea that deserves nothing less than a Dilbert strip to glorify it permanently.

    And in the left corner we have a large herd of sheep called game customers, who in recent trend have even been defending DRM schemes or believe it to be some type of chocolate bar.

    Will Ubisoft succeed in shoving this latest endeavour with enough lube or will the bleating consumer do a back kick? Stay tuned as we find out just how high of a cliff a company can jump off safely.
  • by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3.justconnected@net> on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:02AM (#31181320)

    This - or something this annoying - has been coming down the line for years now. It was only a matter of time.

    I can see the day where a game is going to come out and basically not sell - except for the number of copies required to crack the game.

    In other words, the question's been less and less ambiguous as to whether DRM actually hurts sales and drives people to piracy. It's been obvious to *me*, but I could see how a reasonable person might think otherwise.

    We might be at the point where a reasonable person can no longer lay the blame anywhere but at the feet of outrageous DRM.

    On a sidenote - in 25 years when we want to play Bioshock again and relive the experience, what will most people think of the pirates? I'd imagine that we'll come to think of them as archivists putting themselves at risk but allowing us to enjoy a classic game.

    Super Mario Bros came out in 1986, almost 25 years ago. Imagine if Nintendo required an always-on direct modem connection to Nintendo of America to play - and they shut off the modems 15 years ago. What would we think of the "dirty rotten pirates" who got a ROM dump and hex-edited out the watchdog code? It's not far-fetched to say that they'd come off like Robin Hood...

  • by bhtooefr (649901) <{bhtooefr} {at} {}> on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:07AM (#31181348) Homepage Journal

    Piracy will help archive the games, ultimately rewarding Ubisoft for their contribution to culture.

    The best thing to do is to NOT pirate the games. Obviously, don't buy them, either. But, also, don't review them. Mention them in the same hushed tones that ET for the Atari 2600 is mentioned with.

  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:09AM (#31181370) Journal

    What they are doing is like telling the customers WE DON'T TRUST YOU and that ain't the way to run a business.

    Granted, most of the game players are kids, so basically they are bullying kids with all those dreaded DRM thingies.

    There lies a silver lining though --- game players are there, throngs of them.

    If they don't play this game, they will play another.

    Business opportunities opening up whenever there is some screw-ups and this one ought to be big enough for others to invest in an all-open online gaming platform, no DRM, nothing.

    Just log on and play.

    • by Petrushka (815171) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:33AM (#31181516)

      What they are doing is like telling the customers WE DON'T TRUST YOU and that ain't the way to run a business.

      Actually I feel it sends a much stronger message than that: I interpret this as telling me, "If you give us your business, we will punish you." Well, I can think of better companies to do business with: Ironclad, 2D Boy,, Stardock ...

      Incidentally, this DRM has pushed Rock, Paper, Shotgun [] to boycott all coverage of any aspect of the game henceforth, other than DRM.

      Incredible. In-cred-i-ble. It’s like someone taking away your food mid-meal because your napkin’s fallen on the floor. It makes us want to pull an expression we’re not physically capable of, like this. It’s also worth noting this is a day on which EA have turned off multiplayer servers for games that are only a year old – so it’s hard to have faith that Ubi’s activation servers will be around for many years hence.

      If you're getting journalists that pissed off, you know you're really doing a good job, right?

  • by jonwil (467024) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:33AM (#31181514)

    Its nasty stuff like this that makes me not want to buy their games anymore.

    The EA DRM as applied to Red Alert 3 is acceptable as I only need to connect to the internet once to authenticate the game AND I can un-authenticate that copy anytime to install on another PC or reinstall Windows or etc. (the DRM system in question uses hardware activation to lock the game to your PC)

    This kind of DRM that requires a permanent internet connection just to play the single player is NOT something I will accept and I would hope enough people say "NO" to ubisoft to make them rethink the decision and move to a more acceptable form of DRM (be it CD/DVD checks, hardware-linked activation or whatever else)

  • by evilsofa (947078) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:38AM (#31181548)
    DRM has nothing whatsoever to do with fighting piracy. All those billions and trillions of dollars that pirates don't spend on games never existed, and spending money to chase money that never existed is, besides being insanely stupid, never profitable. Money spent on used games does exist and there is a lot of it; Gamestop alone had 8 billion dollars in revenue in 2009, and the game industry wants that money. If the game industry as a whole spends a few hundred million dollars to prevent tens of billions of dollars of used game sales, that is profitable and not stupid.
  • by rastoboy29 (807168) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:39AM (#31181554) Homepage
    Did they really fucking do that?

  • by upuv (1201447) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @05:22AM (#31181798) Journal

    I know others have said what I am going to say. But this is nuts.

    With people moving more and more to various wireless net connections more and more people are going to have intermittent connection issues. People are simply going to download the hacked version in order to play the game. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that people will once again learn that the hacked version of the game is the most user friendly.

    This DRM tactic is going to kill any potential profits.


    I remember looking forward to SPORE. This game took forever to hit the market. Then what do they do. They put crippling DRM on it. So what happens. It becomes the most pirated game in history. I simply gave the game a miss all together.

    DRM failed for the music industry. It's failing for Video. It is and will fail the game industry. DRM is only there to make greedy execs comfortable. It only results in yet more lost money and it hurts the customer.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @09:02AM (#31183032) Homepage

    If games are dumped out when a connection to an Ubisoft server is lost, then there is a serious problem awaiting and an obvious target for attack as well. Send a DDoS to Ubisoft's servers and kill all games running everywhere. I think that is quite likely to happen. It reminds me of what happens to Blackberries when RIM's network goes down... it gets a LOT of attention and people get pissed off when they realize how dependant they are on this single vendor.

    So, a simulated Ubisoft server? I expect to see some pop up in 5, 4, 3, ...

As far as we know, our computer has never had an undetected error. -- Weisert