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Encryption Games

Ubisoft's New DRM Cracked In One Day 678

Posted by timothy
from the next-time-gadget-next-time dept.
Colonel Korn writes "Ubisoft's recent announcement that upcoming games would require a constant internet connection in order to play has been discussed at length on Slashdot ('The Awful Anti-Pirate System That Will Probably Work'). Many were of the opinion that this new, more demanding DRM would have effectiveness to match its inconvenience, at least financially justifying its use. Others assumed that it would be immediately cracked, as is usually the case, leaving the inconvenience for paying customers and resulting in a superior product for pirates. As usual, the latter group was right. Though Ubisoft won't yet admit it, Skid-Row managed to crack the new DRM less than a day after it was first released."
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Ubisoft's New DRM Cracked In One Day

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  • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:02PM (#31366478)

    that Skid Row has done something since "Youth Gone Wild."

  • Priceless (Score:5, Funny)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:02PM (#31366482) Homepage Journal
    Engineering hours building unbreakable DRM: $1.6M
    Marketing devoted to managing customer hostility to new DRM: $800K
    Lost sales due to customers boycotting your product: $2M
    Having some wiseass kid from Sweden break your DRM on the first day: Priceless
    • Re:Priceless (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pushing-robot (1037830) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:28PM (#31366690)

      Funny? Try Insightful.

      Oh, and:

      Discovering you just spent a ton of money to make the pirated version more attractive: Doubly Priceless.

    • by cgenman (325138) on Friday March 05, 2010 @02:13AM (#31367886) Homepage

      To be fair, DRM is always in waves. You create game 1 with how new DRM system X! It is cracked in a day. You create game 2 with an updated version of DRM system X! It is cracked in two days. You careate game 3 with an updated version of DRMX... etc.

      Like a lot of things, DRM is really difficult to get right the first time. Of course the new "uncrackable" system was cracked in a day. The engineers are probably smacking their faces at some random loose end they forgot to tie up. Each next iterations will all be more effective, until it plateaus at the 1 - 2 week mark.

      It's like open source software, except extremely closed and people fix security flaws by beating you and draining your will to live.

  • by binarylarry (1338699) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:03PM (#31366484)

    Ubisoft can always blame "those damn pirates" and claim the DRM development as a failed project tax write off.

    And the pirates can still play the game for free with no issues.

    And paying customers still get to take it in the ass, now AND when Ubisoft decides to can the online service.

    Win, Win, Weeeeee

    • Insolvent Company (Score:5, Insightful)

      by headkase (533448) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:21PM (#31366628)
      Exactly, what *when* they go out of business? Because on the scale of what gets done when a company is bankrupt customers are dead last. There are no more customers: the company is gone. What matters at that point is creditors and the more your owed the higher you are on the list. If there is no non-restricted version held in escrow with a lawyer who has explicit instructions to release when the company goes insolvent then FACT: Your purchase is gone.
      • Re:Insolvent Company (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Andorin (1624303) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:25PM (#31366664)
        I read a FAQ about this DRM scheme on Ubisoft's website. They said they would release a patch if they ever shut down the game servers that lets you play offline.

        Not that I believe it, of course. Just sayin'.
        • Re:Insolvent Company (Score:3, Informative)

          by headkase (533448) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:27PM (#31366678)
          If they are still in business. If they go out of business its a whole different ballgame. Customers no longer exist to be pleased then.
          • by Zaphod The 42nd (1205578) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:39PM (#31366778)
            Its not really about when they go out of business; just look at companies today. NOBODY keeps game servers up for the entire lifetime of fans using the product. Hell, they just canned ALL xbox online functionality, and I was reading about all kinds of other games shutting down their servers, as soon as nobody's buying it anymore, its not profitable, so they shut it down and move on. If you ask em now, sure, they're gonna make it look like they'll be up for the life of the company, but thats completely unrealistic.

            I wish all developers would realize that in the real world you market at your CUSTOMERS. A business is concerned with profits, not vigilantism. If a game is playable single player, it should never lose the ability to be played on the proper hardware, even a hundred years later. Requiring a connection to a business owned server is ludicrous.
            • Re:Insolvent Company (Score:3, Interesting)

              by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:44PM (#31366818)

              Seems to me like the correct solution (from their perspective) ought to be to release a game with tons of DRM, sell it for awhile, then disable the DRM once it's no longer profitable. This is, of course, if they intend to stay in business and wish to avoid alienating customers from future purchases.

              • Re:Insolvent Company (Score:3, Informative)

                by RsG (809189) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:32AM (#31367236)

                Seems to me like the correct solution (from their perspective) ought to be to release a game with tons of DRM, sell it for awhile, then disable the DRM once it's no longer profitable. This is, of course, if they intend to stay in business and wish to avoid alienating customers from future purchases.

                Been done at least once that I know of. UT2004 (IIRC) shipped with a DRM scheme that required a CD to be detected in the drive. Within a month, they patched this functionality out. Essentially, they reasoned they'd look good to the customers by doing this, and any good the DRM did in delayed cracked copies from finding their way onto the net was over and done with - even if the DRM worked on the launch day (which is a big if), you can bet in a month it'd be long cracked.

        • Re:Insolvent Company (Score:5, Informative)

          by TheSunborn (68004) <[kd.ua.imiad] [ta] [rellit]> on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:31PM (#31366706)

          No they did not. They said such a patch could be made. It does not currently exists and the question they don't answer is. If Ubisoft lose all their money, and go bankrupt, who is going to pay the developer for making the code to remove the drm.

  • The sad thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bbqsrc (1441981) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:04PM (#31366496) Homepage
    The really sad thing about this DRM being cracked is as much a win to the consumer as to the pirate. The pirate gets a game that functions under more circumstances than the consumer, which I imagine will lead to more consumers being pissed off at Ubisoft and resulting to pirate a game they've already paid for just so they can fucking play it without having a connection to the internet 24/7.

    Good job Ubisoft, alienating customers will surely lower piracy rates and raise your stock prices.
    • Re:The sad thing (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:24PM (#31366648)

      Actually no, because *I* will no longer buy Assassin's Creed 2 and people I know will not buy it either because of the DRM. I do not wish to dick around with cracking tools just so I can play a game.

      But I'm certain Ubisoft would say they didn't want my money in the first place :)

      And yes, the first game (Assassin's Creed 1) was good but was very laggy every time Ubisoft's servers crapped out. The solution was to unplug the ethernet cable to get a game you paid for playable!! So, no Ubisoft crap for me anymore.

  • by mrbene (1380531) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:10PM (#31366554)
    Given that:
    • No DRM is perfect, and is therefore guaranteed to be cracked.
    • Hosting cracks is semi-legal at best.
    • Semi-legal sites tend to be supported by crappy advertising (at best) or malware installation (at worst)

    I propose that, by shipping games with DRM, software vendors are promoting the dissemination of malware. This means that DRM is a direct contributor to spam, botnets, and all the other nasties that infest our Internet.

    • by Andorin (1624303) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:18PM (#31366602)
      Speaking of "socially irresponsible," DRM doesn't expire with a copyright, meaning that once a protected work falls into the public domain, people won't be able to use the work according to their rights under copyright law. Unless someone can point me to a clause in the DMCA that allows the circumvention of public domain works, that is. But people shouldn't have to crack public domain works to exercise their rights, whether it's legal to do so or not. (Plus, with anti-circumvention tools blanket-banned by the DMCA... well, I guess it doesn't matter whether it's legal, does it?)
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:30PM (#31366704)

        Doesn't matter really. Nothing released today is ever going to enter public domain (or, in any case, during any of our lifetimes). Copyright laws are almost getting worse than DRM... almost...

      • by bertoelcon (1557907) * <berto.el.con@gma ... m minus language> on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:32PM (#31366712)
        What is this public domain you speak of?
      • by langelgjm (860756) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:41PM (#31366798) Journal

        Unless someone can point me to a clause in the DMCA that allows the circumvention of public domain works, that is.

        The DMCA would only apply to access control mechanisms that protect an underlying copyrighted work. There is case law on this; simply cracking an access control mechanism is not enough to run afoul of the DMCA, there has to be something copyrighted that is being protected by it (e.g. not just a short number for example). (However, cracking and access control mechanism to a copyrighted work without infringing the work will run afoul of the DMCA, so the law is still idiotic).

        In this case if the work's copyright had expired, there would be no valid copyright in question, so the DMCA would not apply. But your point about the ban on distribution of tools in interesting... since in this hypothetical situation, a circumvention tool would probably contain material that could crack access controls on both copyrighted and copyright-expired works.

      • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:47PM (#31366848)

        It's ok since copyright in America (and most countries due to treaties) is perpetual.

    • by hAckz0r (989977) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:03AM (#31367006)
      While you said

      guaranteed to be cracked

      in jest (that humor itself is priceless), I certainly could not agree more. The reality of DRM is that the whole concept is flawed, by the logic alone. In that you have to give the user everything they need to run the app, or listen/watch to the media, so what is there to prevent someone skilled with IDA Pro from making it work for their own purposes after the DRM manages to sufficiently piss them off? So, you there you sit, you have the key, you have the data/code/bitstream, and you have the algorithm. Nothing prevents you from hacking apart the code and putting those three pieces back together in a different way other than what was intended, except for a few badly written laws like the DMCA. That's not a prevention, it's just a social mechanism that just serves to make the hackers self-righteous in their own mind, and therefore even 'more likely' to feel justified in 'getting back' at 'the bad-guys' (not my frame of mind, but its out there).

      The sad thing is that with the use of DRM everyone looses, EXCEPT for the one peddling DRM as the 'answer to everything'. It's not. Reality could not be further from the truth. Yet these modern-day snake oil salesmen always manage to walk off with millions of dollars in their pockets while everyone else, including the owner of the copyrighted media being 'protected', get the shaft. It only hurts the owners bottom line, stiffs the purchaser who can't use the product, and the snake oil salesman lives in a big mansion somewhere on a hill. What is wrong with this picture? What we need is a new set of laws to protect us from snake oil salesmen, in that if you promise your product is going to do XYZ then you should not be legally shielded by some EULA when you promise something that is known by real experts to not be true. Selling a 'solution' under false pretences is the way I see it. If you sell snake oil you should pay the price.

      btw - If you honestly believe that DRM can actually work, then Have I got a bridge for you!!...

    • by TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) on Friday March 05, 2010 @06:07AM (#31368988) Journal

      Your argument only works if you believe that pirates are not pirates by choice (or the choice is somehow coerced). Otherwise, it's entirely the pirates' fault.

      In fact, if anything, I would say it was the pirates responsible for coercing the media companies into trying increasingly restrictive DRM. So, it would be the pirates' fault anyway.

  • by headkase (533448) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:11PM (#31366560)
    And others with limited connectivity. I hope this DRM fails and fails hard, if only to scare other publishers away from something that is truly anti-customer (not consumer).
  • Normally vs. Now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Voyager529 (1363959) <voyager529 AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:17PM (#31366592)

    Normally I actually pay for my games. In most cases, I do it the old school way - I buy physical discs from physical stores. Lately though, companies like Ubisoft seem like they're treating me like a criminal for giving them my money. At this point, they're really making it more convenient for me to prove them right.

  • fail (Score:4, Insightful)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:23PM (#31366642)
    from a typical business mind set i can totally see why software houses do DRM. the problem is that the supply and demand models that our businesses run on don't actually apply all that well to digital media. there is an infinate supply, and demand can change in a single day, based on a one news article.

    instead of focusing on selling goods, they should suck it up and realise they are selling a service and model themselfs around the hospitality industry where customer satisfaction is king.

  • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:44PM (#31366820)

    Imagine a person, in a casino, sitting at a slot machine. They're pumping coin into it and steadi;y losing everything. They know that they should walk away, but they can't. Walking away means admitting to themself and others that they lost. And so they keeping telling themself that if they keep playing long enough, they will win back enough to at least break even.

    The same is true of Ubisoft, Microsoft and all the other companies who keep pumping money into the DRM slot machine. Year after year they keep coming up with new DRM schemes to replace all the previous ones that have failed (ie, all of them). They can't stop. To stop would be an admisison of failure. An admission that even if they created uncrackable DRM, the extra sales revenue wouldn't even come close to covering the cost of creating and maintainging new DRM schemes.

    It would be funny, it it wasn't so stupid.

  • Human deterrent (Score:4, Interesting)

    by redkazuo (977330) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:54PM (#31366916)
    How about this DRM:

    1. Ubisoft creates a reasonably simple (read cheap) traditional DRM;
    2. Ubisoft promises to donate five thousand dollars to cancer research for each day the game goes without being cracked, for a year.

    I think they'd have better chances that way. Don't you?
  • by thenextstevejobs (1586847) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @11:56PM (#31366928)
    you'd think some companies might enjoy the sort of publicity and awareness they'd get out of having a lot of people use their software... and without fear on top of it!

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