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Piracy Games Your Rights Online

Ubisoft's Authentication Servers Go Down 634

Posted by kdawson
from the single-point-of-well-you-know dept.
ZuchinniOne writes "With Ubisoft's fantastically awful new DRM you must be online and logged in to their servers to play the games you buy. Not only was this DRM broken the very first day it was released, but now their authentication servers have failed so absolutely that no-one who legally bought their games can play them. 'At around 8am GMT, people began to complain in the Assassin's Creed 2 forum that they couldn't access the Ubisoft servers and were unable to play their games.' One can only hope that this utter failure will help to stem the tide of bad DRM."
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Ubisoft's Authentication Servers Go Down

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  • Down or DDoS? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Elgonn (921934) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:25PM (#31395398)
    Down or DDoS? We all know exactly how easy it was going to be for an outsider to screw everyone.
  • by Pinckney (1098477) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:39PM (#31395520)

    Because it pisses off a wide audience, not just the typical Slashdot reader. This may matter when it comes to selling other games. In particular, the people affected are the people ill-informed enough or naive enough to pay for such software. Once Bitten, Twice Shy.

    Also because it kills the argument that this DRM isn't a big deal for anyone who doesn't plan to play the game for years. I know I've been told (by Battlefront.com, when inquiring about their system) that I was more likely to stop playing after years due to compatibility issues than because their DRM servers closed. Ubisoft presumably would have said similar, if asked about the end-of-life of their servers.

  • by InfinityWpi (175421) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:39PM (#31395526)

    First time I've heard of a DDoS attack being used to break DRM...

  • Well, duh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bmo (77928) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:45PM (#31395592)

    It's as if nobody learned the first time about DRM when Microsoft shut off its MSN Music Store DRM servers, thus having people locked out of their own music they bought legitimately.

    For those who got burned, it's not like people weren't warned. If you bought the game, you got what you deserved.

    --
    BMO

  • by Dunbal (464142) * on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:47PM (#31395608)

    1. Give The Game away free (sans DRM and assorted BS), let people pay for it on an honor/donations basis if they like playing it.

          Actually my experience with Silent Hunter 5 (having played the game somehow for a frustrating hour or so) is that I don't want it even for free. The game sucks balls. I guess the only good thing about this whole experience is that I updated my video driver.

  • by TSHTF (953742) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:47PM (#31395614) Homepage
    It's worth looking at how a Ubisoft rep replies [ubi.com] to a post that gives users information on how to use the now-broken service:

    Please do not post about illegal activities and or downloads.

    The response [ubi.com] summarizes the situation appropriately:

    WTF I posted a link to google that shows how to play since UBIcraps servers are down and you call it ILLEGAL activities? RAbble rabble! I will never buy another ubisoft product and I advise you to do the same!

  • This is a good thing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BeardedChimp (1416531) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @08:48PM (#31395620)
    Several DRM schemes have only involked a reaction in the tech community such as slashdot while the general public carried on not caring.
    This shambles has made it painfully obvious to the masses of the dangers of DRM.
    The 45 page thread [ubi.com] is evidence of it and is quickly filling up with hatred. Comments such as "I'll never buy from you again" which usually tend to be hyperbole this time ring true.

    Hopefully the end result of this is that the public won't have a short attention span and make true on their threats of not buying from them again.
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:01PM (#31395744)

    Well, that probably won't work either because, well, people are cheap. Let's be frank here, maybe a few people who know what effort and work is associated with creating a game will donate, but most won't. And there's a few millions to be recovered.

    But how about, you know, selling the games for 50 bucks a piece, without DRM? I know, it's a radical idea, but think about it that way: No 20 bucks per unit for worthless DRM and no customer service troubles due to faulty DRM resulting in a smaller support department. The amount of sales you lose due to copying is easily balanced by a lot lower per-unit costs, basically meaning you have to sell half the units to net the same revenue.

  • Re:Well, duh. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:03PM (#31395758)

    If you bought the game, you got what you deserved.

    Huge problem with that: If people simply didn't buy AC2, the execs at the top wouldn't go "Oh, hay, maybe we pissed them off with DRM and we shouldn't do that anymore." No, they'd either say "Oh piracy was so bad, that's why we didn't get many sales!" and increase DRM, or they'd say "well clearly no one liked the game very much, so we won't make another."

    Therefore, instead of the intended effect of getting AC3 without DRM, you simply never get an AC3 at all. People buy the game because they like the game not because they want to support DRM. If there were a way to give money to the developers to reward them for making a good game, while not giving money to the publishers who mandated the DRM, I'm sure a lot of people would go that route. But there isn't.

  • by AlgorithMan (937244) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:07PM (#31395792) Homepage
    the german law 69d UrhG allows cracking of software that you legally own and that won't work otherwise...
  • Re:No sympathy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:13PM (#31395858)

    In this case they learned a valuable lesson: There's more in a game but graphics, sound and gameplay today that you should inform yourself about before buying it: Its copy protection, and whether it is something you deem acceptible.

    Saying that this will kill PC gaming is a bit far fetched, unless companies insist in it by continuing to push these kinds of copy protection. I'd consider it highly doubtful that people who played on PCs so far will go out and buy a 200+ bucks game console. I dare to extrapolate from me, in this case. I am an "old" PC gamer. Computer gamer, actually. Starting with a C64, stepping over Amiga to the PC. My first console was a GameCube. My other console is an XBox, which only exists because it was the cheapest way to a mediabox back when I bought it. Would I toss PC gaming in favor of consoles? Unlikely, to say the least. First, FPS games are simply unplayable for me with console controllers. RTS is entirely a dumb idea on consoles. They excel at platformers and their 3d counterparts, they are great for beat-em-ups, but strategy and shooter on a console is a PITA. Before I play them on a console, I won't play them at all.

    So unless studios deliberately kill off PC gaming by insisting in copy protection that customers will not accept, this won't kill PC gaming. But it will hopefully kill DRM schemes that are simply beyond anything a sensible customer could accept.

  • Re:Down or DDoS? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by digitalunity (19107) <digitalunity.yahoo@com> on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:15PM (#31395884) Homepage

    I think you dramatically overestimate the cost of redundancy.

    poetmatt's theory that Ubisoft may have simply underestimated the packet rates needed to keep the auth servers up and responsive is interesting. It's entirely possible. Blizzard has faced such challenges several times with their authentication servers going down, although this is likely on a much larger scale than anything Ubisoft has had to deal with.

  • by Shag (3737) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:34PM (#31396062) Homepage

    Subscription model seems to work pretty well for WoW.

    Free basic game with in-game purchase of add-ons seems to work pretty well for Wizard101 and its ilk.

    Yes, either system leaves room for abuse of various sorts... maybe the real challenge is to come up with anti-pirate systems that work for offline games.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:40PM (#31396126)

    In Germany, EULAs are non-binding if they're not presented before the sale. There's no way to disclaim fitness for the obvious purpose of the program either. Furthermore, if modifications are necessary to make the program work as intended, then such modifications are legal even without the author's consent: Happy cracking. Last but not least, the vendor who sold the defective product must either take it back and refund the price or fix the problem.

    UbiSoft really screwed up.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @09:45PM (#31396174)

    So everyone not currently flooding the UBIsoft boards with threats of murder, arson and killing of firstborns is suspicious.

  • Interesting (Score:2, Interesting)

    by greentshirt (1308037) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @10:06PM (#31396344)
    Like many interested observers, I have been waiting to see how this DRM implementation would play out. Despite all the doom and gloom prophecies, I really wasn't expecting the game to be cracked in a single day, or for Ubisofts authentication servers to fail so quickly. Regardless off the reasons behind the server being down, a failure to anticipate hostile reactions in the form of DDOSs, or grossly underestimating your own authentication codes effects on the server, are Vanguard-level failures.

    Which brings Ubisoft back to the drawing board. The problem they face, despite the protestations of the vast majority of /.'ers is a very real one: How do they find a way to minimize pirating without pissing off customers who pay for a copy and can't play it due to ridiculous DRM restrictions?

    The "don't treat me like a criminal" line is very cute, and while everyone who posts on DRM topics always says they pay for most of their games, the truth is that many, many people pirate games and software. Publishing DRM free games is not an optimal business plan because even the most casual ThePirateBay'er will just download your game and you miss out on those sales. On the flip-side, publishing games with intrusive DRM systems is the best way to make you hated by your customer base.

    So, what DRM systems can you think of that would strike some kind of middle-ground balance, but also be relatively difficult to crack?

    At this point, if I ran a major game publishing house I'd probably focus on two things.

    1) Console gaming: Much more difficult for the casual pirate to rip off your games. While I'm not a game developer, I think if this problem was facing me I'd approach it by using an in-house engine that was optimized for console gaming but could also be used to publish for PC in a streamlined way that, despite whatever flexibility I'd lose to streamline, would greatly cut down on the total cost of publishing for PC.

    2) Pc gaming: Much has been said about dongles, but they're not around anymore (for the most part anyways) for a reason. I've lost hardware dongles, had them stop working on me, conflict with systems, etc etc, but the worst part is that the games can be stripped of DRM and dongle protection by an able group like SkidRow, and then the pirates have a better user experience than those who are stuck with the dongle. The problem here is that pirate groups just need to get their hands on the code to crack it. I think the way I would combat this is by trying to get together some of the larger publishers and maybe even ATI or Nvidia to go a different kind of hardware based software distribution (cartridges perhaps?). If enough of the big names in game publishing and graphic cards supported a standardized piece of hardware, something that would connect to your PC not as a dongle but as a means to read the new hardware game mediums, then it would be easy to spread the cost of research and development and to subsidize it at next to nothing to the gamer ("if you buy 3 Ubisoft cartridge games, the cartridge drive is yours for free", etc). The whole idea would be to stop digital copies of the game from floating around for long enough to capitalize on your game release, instead of trying to make an uncrackable game. It would require as high encryption as would be possible to protect the code, and steady streamlined firmware updates to stay ahead of the pirates. Hell, replace the actual drives every year with backwards compatible models that have new hard-coded security features, and at no cost to upgrade for any customer with an old one.
  • Re:Well, duh. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mlawrence (1094477) <[martin] [at] [martinlawrence.ca]> on Sunday March 07, 2010 @10:16PM (#31396430) Homepage

    For those who got burned, it's not like people weren't warned. If you bought the game, you got what you deserved.

    Does every gamer read /. ? Does every person who buys an automobile research all potential problems? That's not a fair statement.

  • Re:Down or DDoS? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @10:22PM (#31396472)
    Why don't you actually go google it then? There are numerous ways of dealing with DDoS. Datacenters have to cope with it, large companies have to cope with it, etc. Have you ever seen microsoft.com go down? I bet you that their uptime isn't because they've just gotten lucky and haven't ever had to deal with a DDoS.
  • Re:Down or DDoS? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pushf popf (741049) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @10:27PM (#31396512)
    How convenient of you to use the excuse "I can't comment, because I don't know anything about their systems." You could quite easily list several steps you'd take to harden your systems; the theory will be the same no longer the system. This is just basically you speaking about some rhetoric without knowing the underlying topic at hand. It's easy. All you need is huge pipes scattered around the world, feeding high-performance networking components and servers, and a couple of 24x7x365 NOCs staffed with highly trained, experienced personnel, with a good working relationship with the techs at your upstream provider.

    However I'm guessing that a paranoid little game manufacturer probably can't pull this off.
  • Re:actually no. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mjwx (966435) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @10:40PM (#31396610)

    in europe you cant put 'you cant sue us' bullshit in eulas and get away with it. that only * may * work in usa.

    Even in Europe a class action will be a hard sell to judges. Ubisoft will avoid a lawsuit in the same way as ESRI, AutoCAD or any other company that licenses it's software with a time limit and a kill switch after that time limit has expired.

    The legalese will spread beyond the EULA and into many other licensing documents, after all that all Ubisoft have to do in order to reach around EU law is put in tiny writing on the outside of the box "Requires Internet Connection to Play". Once this is done, they have effectively transferred the responsibility to the consumer. In Australia I have seen this warning written on every game I've bough in the last 2 years, even the single player games which install and run quite happily without a connection to the internet.

    in eu if you sell something, you have to deliver it. else, your product gets shoved in your butt by Eu regulations.

    ESRI, who prefer to license ArcGIS yearly haven't had their product shoved anywhere by EU regulations, same with Pitney Bowes. Why, because they put a whole bunch of legalese in their license agreement which is accepted by the customer at the time of purchase. In order for Ubisoft to do the same the most they will have to do is put a small warning on the outside of the box.

  • Re:LOL (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 07, 2010 @10:41PM (#31396618)

    Though ludicrous, it is possible that Ubisoft purposely took a hit for the industry. By implementing an unreasonable DRM system, and having it fail early in its inception, a sign is sent throughout the industry that money will only be lost by taking such measures.

    I honestly believe that this situation is good for the industry and any attempts at implementing a standalone DRM system, vs. a system like Steam.

  • by RenHoek (101570) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @10:48PM (#31396674) Homepage

    It also might trigger the 'interoperability' exemption of the DMCA. After all, cracking the program is only used to let the game work properly..

  • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ekhben (628371) on Sunday March 07, 2010 @11:56PM (#31397124)

    I'd try to understand why people pirate my games. Off the cuff:

    They might not want to pay the asking price. To lower my asking price, I need to either reduce costs or increase sales volumes enough to cover the price change. Without having any studies to investigate this, I would personally suspect that there are too few people who would be willing to pay at any given price below current shelf prices to justify the drop (eg, if you charge 1/2 the price, you won't have 2x the sales, replace "2" with "n" and the statement holds true). I wouldn't bother doing anything about this category of pirate, because they would never pay the price, so I'm just throwing away money trying to stop them playing.

    They might not want to wait for the game to be released in their region. I either need to lrn2globalmarket or use an online distribution model. Both are feasible. Both have been done successfully. A game publisher not investigating how they can do near-simultaneous global releases, and ways they can ship electronically, is a game publisher on a trajectory into a dirt nap right now.

    They might be fed up with games that don't work as well as the pirated version. This should be a no-brainer. A game should perform better if it's legit than if it's pirated. Simple idea with no real analysis behind it: you can tie in social services. UbiSoft could have a social platform for high scores, game achievement rankings, online guilds and forums, all tied to a CD-key based account, and common across all their games to amortise the cost of development and maintenance.

    A company that clearly has done this research is Blizzard Entertainment. They get all three of these things right: older games are cheap enough that the second-hand market is pretty much dead, they can be downloaded (multiple times, tied to your battle.net account), and battle.net offers online play and ladders using game keys, a very simple and cheap to operate protection system. People still pirate Blizzard games, but I doubt it has a very significant impact on their bottom line. And having done their research, they've probably got other mechanisms in place that I haven't even thought of.

    UbiSoft, on the other hand, have fucked themselves sideways with a broomstick. They've spent millions on a flaky DRM system, they're offering an expensive product with more restrictions than the pirate copy, and they haven't even released it in the US yet. It's like they've got a CEO with a significant golden parachute clause in his contract that's just waiting to be fired by the board.

  • Re:Few reasons (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Low Ranked Craig (1327799) on Monday March 08, 2010 @01:04AM (#31397510)
    Agreed. I wasn't all that impressed with the first AC, and I was considering trying AC 2 to see if it's a better game, but not under these circumstances. I've got too much work to do anyway. I'll just wait for Portal 2...
  • by CharonX (522492) on Monday March 08, 2010 @01:29AM (#31397618) Journal
    What everyone predicted has happened.
    The servers fail just after the game is released, tens (hundreds?) of thousands of customers are highly unsatisfied, not to say irate.
    This is already a PR disaster, should the servers keep failing (whatever the reasons - the people don't care if your servers are to weak to handle the load or if some /b/tards decide to DDOS them for "pool's closed" - they only care that they cannot play the game they BOUGHT) it will become a massive one.
    Oh, and since Silent Hunter 5 was already cracked I suspect a crack for Assassin's Creed 2 won't be long.
    So in a way, Ubisoft, you decided to ignore the warnings, now your tears, they taste delicious.
  • Re:Down or DDoS? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Monday March 08, 2010 @01:33AM (#31397640)

    And one of the most critical ways to prevent DDOS is "do not rely on a constant connection". This is why "git" source control is so much better than CVS or Subversionl: you can operate on your own, do your work locally, record your changes or make tags or revert patches, and make connections for updates or pushes only when desired.

    Microsoft pays an incredible amount for their uptime, but they absolutely _do not_ require a connection to their servers every time you want to run your software. Laptop and business users wouldn't tolerate such external requirements.

  • by Cassander (251642) on Monday March 08, 2010 @01:47AM (#31397698)

    There's no way that an home user can afford five nines internet access, so even if it isn't the authentication server end that's a problem, well, you're screwed anyway.

    Do you really need to play "Assassins Creed 2" continuously with only 5 minutes of downtime every year? If so, I suspect that your Internet connection is the least of your issues.

    Even three nines (eight hours of downtime per year) is more than reasonable for a normal home connection. That might even be good enough for a DRM server.

    I'm at about four nines from Verizon FiOS (about 5 hours of downtime in the 3 years I've had the service).

    ... but I think you're missing the point. It doesn't matter what the total downtime over the course of a year is (unless you're lucky enough to get it all in one sitting). The problem is that with a less-than-perfect connection, that downtime can happen a second or two at a time. It was my understanding that even one second of downtime is enough to boot you out of the game and lose all your progress. By extrapolating from your figures, that happens more or less daily even at "five nines". I think a once per day random chance of program failure and loss of progress is going to alienate and upset all but the most casual of gamers, and I have no sympathy for a company that treats its paying customers like criminals.

  • by X86Daddy (446356) on Monday March 08, 2010 @02:03AM (#31397764) Journal

    The original idea of copyright, the whole "exchange" thing going on here, is that a content producer is granted a limited, exclusive time period to profit from a work before it becomes public domain, as the nature of any form of information allows unlimited copying anyway. In the US Constitution, this exchange is established to promote the advance of arts and sciences, and it is a reasonable way to encourage content creation as an actual profession. All understandable...

    When a company places nasty digital restrictions management garbage on their information product, especially this kind of phone-home to use / read sort of nonsense, it completely removes the part of the exchange that the public receives. The public, the people, via government allowed a limited time for the content creator to exclusively profit from their work before it enters the public domain, and that is the concept of "copyright." DRM, especially this kind, breaks the agreement. It destroys the very foundation of the concept. Therefore, I do not consider any such work to be copyrighted. I am not a lawyer, etc... but I am someone who understands what copyright is for, and that it has become something else entirely. Unlimited terms (beyond a human's lifetime), means it is not under copyright. Permission-every-time sorts of access models mean it is not under copyright.

    I know very well that these matters are settled by throwing money at lawyers and congress-creatures, and therefore, my opinion means nothing in a court of law. I also know that I do everything in my power to ensure that people understand the concept of "intellectual property" is against the very nature of information, and is a disgusting concept that has come about through purchased laws.

  • Re:LOL (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Monday March 08, 2010 @02:23AM (#31397852)
    I can think of one thing. Hey, I hope someone DDOSes their servers until the end of time. If this story gave ME that idea, I'm sure some botnet owner who likes assassin's creed is thinking the same thing. It's not like they can change the IP addresses of the servers and not tell anyone. They're just sitting out there like big, hated targets.
  • Re:French Engineers (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jesus_666 (702802) on Monday March 08, 2010 @04:38AM (#31398406)
    I'd say that France is simply bad ad building stupid shit they don't need. The Eiffel Tower had great symbol status, which is what the World's Fair was all about. They built it well. Their current telecommunications network is useful for everyone. They're building it well (by what I can tell from the outside). The anti-German wall was useless by then-moder standards, the aircraft carrier was somewhat questionable and the DRM is again a bad idea from start to finish.

    The moral: If you want to build shit you don't need, don't let the french handle it.
  • by jamesh (87723) on Monday March 08, 2010 @04:49AM (#31398464)

    I got an SSL cert for a web site through Thawte. It was fine for a year but then the renewal didn't work. All my emails asking for support were met with silence. I finally got in touch with them and sorted it out. Next renewal, same thing. Third time I meant to go somewhere else but left it too late and so tried the renewal again (yes, that's right, shame on me). Much the same thing - something went wrong, lots of emails asking for support, no response.

    This time though they sent me a customer satisfaction survey. I gave them a big smackdown on any point remotely related to the quality of their after sales support. A few days later I got a phone call from them and chatted with someone. She apologized for the lack of response and recommended that I don't use the published 'support' email addresses on the web site and she gave me another address I could use. I know she was doing her best to be helpful, but seriously???

    This entire planet is mad, you know.

    Yes, save for me and thee.

  • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday March 08, 2010 @06:34AM (#31398932) Journal

    Reminds me of some experiences with the German Telekom some years back. Though it must be said that they mostly seem to have cleaned up their act a bit in the meantime. But anyway it's enough to make me shudder at the thought of even my single-player games depending on Internet access.

    Act 1: So I get pressured by a couple of people to get a "proper" email address, because apparently my web based one was "unprofessional." (Someone better tell that to Google too;) So I go to the Telekom's site, activate the email, go to a page which said it would change the password for the email. I change it to one of my handful of password. (I know it's bad practice, but I reuse passwords to keep the total number manageable in my head, mostly grouped by categories.)

    Thereafter suddenly I can't connect to the Internet any more. Neither my old nor the new email password work.

    Hmm, ok, let's assume it's PEBCAK and call their support politely. I agree with the guy that I probably mis-typed the new password and all, ask him to reset my password. Asks for my invoice number, says it's OK. As per their rules, they'll send it to my home address, they can't tell me the new password by phone. (Dunno why. I'm calling from the phone number that's on the same line and all.) Means I'll be without internet for a couple of days, but ok.

    After a week, I still didn't get it. I call again, get another drone, asks for my invoice number again, I read it to him off the latest invoice from them. It's ok, I'll get the new password by post, bla, bla, bla.

    After a couple of days, still no password, I call again, read the invoice number to the drone, bla, bla, he'll send it right away.

    The whole circus repeats every couple of days like clockword for a month and a half. (By that time I had installed an old ISDN card in the computer and was using a pay-by-call service at another provider to at least get my email.) Eventually I lose my temper, don't believe them any more, escalate it until someone tells me the problem: when I had moved, I had received a new invoice number. Dumbly enough, different invoice numbers from their telephone department and the internet one. Since I receive a combined invoice, only the telephone one was written on it.

    Essentially for a month and a half those drones had _lied_ to me. They'd see the invoice number doesn't match and wouldn't even tell me so, or point me at some other office to solve the screw up. I can show up in person at one of their shops so they can see it's me, or whatever, you know? Nah, they kept telling me that they'll send me a new password, knowing full well that they _won't_.

    Act 2: My brother buys a new house, asks them to move his DSL account to that address. They ask for his address, invoice number, etc, gets told he'll have internet access in no time. Nothing happens. Calls again, same circus, nothing happens. And again. And again.

    I should also mention that we had discovered he was VIP customer at the Telekom for whatever reason. Maybe because he and his wife are practically addicted to their cell phones, and get a bill on par with what some companies get. Dunno. But at any rate this was how they treat their VIP customers.

    Eventually he gets tired and annoyed, escalates, finds out the problem. Let's say his house number is "42 D". (Not the real one, but for illustration sake.) The drone who typed it in had hit the key next to that "D", so it was "42 S" in their computer. Which didn't even exist. So again and again they'd see that the address doesn't exist, and didn't actually tell him. They kept reassuring him that they'd do it, then basically just ignored it all.

    (At this point he was smarter than me and just started looking for another provider instead. He soon moved both his phone and internet access to a cable company.)

    Act 3: So after that ordeal I get paranoid, you know? They keep calling me to propose to upgrade my speed, give me some great deals, I just keep telling them to keep their hands off my line. Don't fix what's not

  • Re:LOL (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SharpFang (651121) on Monday March 08, 2010 @06:41AM (#31398966) Homepage Journal

    Depending on location.
    In the USA, they violate DMCA.
    In Germany they use the specific law exception of "doing whatever necessary to get the product in working order", which overrides EULA in this case.

  • by Moraelin (679338) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:43AM (#31399512) Journal

    Actually, I think that Digital Rights Management is actually the correct and honest-to-God description of it. They just hope you'll misunderstand whose rights they are protecting, and what those rights might be. A lot of people for example seem to think that if it mentions "rights", it might be your rights. In reality, it's about what rights they can give themselves to shaft you. E.g., their unilaterally self-given "right" to revoke your legal customer rights, by preventing you from reselling the game.

  • Re:I'm not mad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tomtomtom (580791) on Monday March 08, 2010 @10:56AM (#31400592)

    The publisher has the customer's money. Support after payment is always awful. Until customers vote with their wallets, it will only get worse.

    Enjoy your intentionally defective products!

    Actually, I think this could hurt them financially quite a bit. Here are some ways it could cost them a lot of money:

    • Many customers end up calling support lines forcing Ubisoft to employ more people to answer the phones
    • Customers return the product to stores en masse because it doesn't work. Stores get hit with the cost and either demand money back from Ubisoft, stop stocking Ubisoft games to prevent these issues, or sue Ubisoft for supplying defective product
    • People follow through on the decision to never purchase a game from Ubisoft again
    • Customers sue Ubisoft for selling a defective product
    • Ubisoft needs to purchase more hardware/people to run their DRM servers properly in future
    • Potential lenders or investors in Ubisoft view them as a greater risk as a result of the above factors and so demand more in interest/price shares cheaper

    I'm sure there are more.

  • Re:LOL (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Monday March 08, 2010 @10:59AM (#31400612) Journal

    That's me! (well not so much on the consoles. All my money goes into the PC these days)

    My gaming PC has an internet connection but it's hardly used for gaming purposes - I used to do a fair bit of online gaming before the gaming industry went DRM+DLC-crazy. And I will absolutely NOT buy Assassin's Creed 2, a game that was previously on my "must buy!" list. I have a wall stacked to the roof with retail PC game boxes - but mostly older ones at this point, back when the most annoying DRM you might have had to deal with was a simple CD check (with no special drivers or any of that crazy shit).

    The newest console I have (unless you count my DS) is an Xbox, used, so I can play Halo co-op. Of course I didn't sign up for Xbox Live, which they promptly discontinued anyways, because fuck me for not buying a RRODbox360.

    If they drop the DRM and move the price of games from the "are you shitting me" range of $50-$70 down to less than $40, I'd go back to my old game buying habits. And none of this "pay your way through the game" crap either. DLC should be for little appearance items, not "unlocking" big fucking chunks of the game, or powerups that give you an advantage. When I'm gaming I want to take a break from the rat race and play in a fantasy world where skill determines ability and success (Test Drive Unlimited is the poster boy for a good game ruined by DLC for me. I was really looking forward to that game until I found out that most progress was made by paying your way through).

  • by Garwulf (708651) on Monday March 08, 2010 @12:16PM (#31401500) Homepage

    Okay, first off, let me just say that I don't support any DRM that takes away the rights of the legitimate consumer. So, this post should not be taken as an endorsement of Ubisoft's DRM.

    However, that said, this is part of an arms race between game pirates and PC game producers that has been going on for years, and at this point most of the PC game world is now a casualty. There is a reason that the console is king right now, and the main PC game out there today is the MMORPG.

    This article explains it better than I can, and anybody who really wants to understand this arms race should read it:

    http://www.tweakguides.com/Piracy_1.html [tweakguides.com]

    Of particular note is this page:

    http://www.tweakguides.com/Piracy_4.html [tweakguides.com]

    It is long, and I disagree with one or two of the author's final conclusions, but it is very much worth the read, and when somebody actually does a serious running of the piracy figures, it is very eye-opening.

  • by Garwulf (708651) on Monday March 08, 2010 @08:47PM (#31408330) Homepage

    "Really? Based on what metric?"

    Based on piracy rates. I never said that a game couldn't be a success in the PC game market. I pointed out that, as the Tweakgames article stated, only two things actually had an impact on piracy rates:

    1. The popularity of the game. If the game was more popular, the piracy rate was higher.

    2. The presence of restrictive and intrusive DRM, which if not broken, actually does have the impact of lowering piracy rates until it is broken.

    Nothing else made a difference. If a $20 game was as popular as a $60 game, it had the same level of piracy.

    Did you even read the article I linked to?

    "The simple fact that PC game developers are still in business and still making money, despite wasting who knows how many millions of dollars every year on failed anti-piracy measures is all it takes to prove otherwise."

    Are they?

    That's not a glib question. I started computer gaming in 1989 (and yes, I started out as a game pirate - I outgrew it by the age of 17, though). The PC game market is a wasteland today compared even to then. Only about ten years ago console ports were rare - now they're become more and more the norm. Most of the PC game market is concentrated in MMOs now. While there are still some big releases for the PC game market (eg., Starcraft II and Diablo III), most of the non-MMO releases start out on the console market, and the PC version comes out months later.

    It's not rocket science to predict the trend. The PC games market that I started out in is long gone. The market from five years ago was far more rich and full than it is today. Yes, there are some big players still there, such as Stardock and Blizzard, but even Bioware is now starting its games on the console before the PC. The PC game makers are in the process of walking away. That's not a prediction - just an observation. It IS happening.

    And, taking Stardock as an example, you haven't presented the whole story. Here's picking up after 2008:

    March 27, 2009 - Stardock unveils a low customer impact DRM solution named GOO (Game Object Obfuscation). Source: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/stardock-goo-drm-copy-piracy,7390.html [tomshardware.com]

    May 1, 2009 - The Escapist, and a few others, report that Stardock has major piracy issues with Demigod (which does have DRM). Of 120,000 games connecting to the servers on the opening weekend, only 18,000 are legitimate. After the team spends a couple of days working on the servers, the CEO declares a victory against the pirates. Source: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/91400-Stardock-CEO-Demigod-Beats-Piracy [escapistmagazine.com]

    Now, that's a far cry from the DRM used by Ubisoft. But, it is important to note that Stardock DID end up implementing a very customer-friendly DRM solution, and got hit badly by piracy issues.

    "The only possible metric you can use that would make what you said in any way correct is the one the big corporations use: that every pirated copy is a lost sale. So I guess it "fails utterly" if your metric is that they aren't making near as much money as they "could" be."

    And with that, I KNOW you didn't read the article I linked to. That is a complete mischaracterization of the economic argument. You'll find a proper description here: http://www.tweakguides.com/Piracy_3.html [tweakguides.com]

    Please read that before you reply.

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