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DRM Games

Ubisoft Brings Back Always-Connected DRM For Driver: San Francisco 261

Posted by Soulskill
from the back-by-popular-demand dept.
Last year Ubisoft introduced DRM for their PC games that required a constant internet connection, going so far as to terminate single-player games if the connection was interrupted. After facing outrage, boycotts, and DDoS attacks, Ubisoft seemed to have softened their stance, issuing a patch for two games that allowed offline play. Unfortunately, it seems the change wasn't permanent; Ubisoft's upcoming racing game Driver: San Francisco marks the return of the contentious DRM.
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Ubisoft Brings Back Always-Connected DRM For Driver: San Francisco

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  • That's ok (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 28, 2011 @06:40AM (#36905890)
    I'll re-institute my boycott of Ubisoft, and nothing of value was lost.
    • Re:That's ok (Score:4, Informative)

      by Lord Crc (151920) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @06:43AM (#36905896)

      Indeed, I was going to get this on Steam, but that's just completely unacceptable. No sale.

      • Re:That's ok (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki&gmail,com> on Thursday July 28, 2011 @06:47AM (#36905920) Homepage

        Obviously since you refuse to buy it, you're just a filthy pirate.

        Arrr. At least according to Ubisoft.

      • Re:That's ok (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:14AM (#36906056) Homepage Journal

        Agreed, it's not just Ubisoft, and it's not just for DRM, and it's not even just games. My GF got pissed at Comcast because when she decided she didn't need both a landline and a cell (she's on SS and rather poor), the cable price didn't go down so she just dropped Comcast.

        Her daughter gave her a camera for Xmas last year and it was full, she wanted me to help her put the pictures in the PC. As soon as I turned it on, Norton complained that it needed to download updates. These days why do you even need AV without a net connection? The AV insisted on a net connection.

        I plugged the camera in and Kodak demanded an internet connection to download its software. It didn't even need the damned software! after killing some processes, Windows happily downloaded the pictures from the camera.

        People need to understand that a computer isn't a phone and has a lot of uses besides just surfing the web. We used computers without a net connection for decades. There is no reason whatever, from a customer point of view, for all these damned companies to demand an internet connection for a device or program like an AV or a camera or a single player game.

        I pulled out my phone and emailed complaints to the damned companies, not that it will do any good.

        If a single player game won't work without the internet, PLEASE don't buy it!

        • Linux is great for moving files around...

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            Yes, the dual boot solution solves many problems. I really can't understand why people set up a Linux dual boot even if they only use it solve various "do as I say not as they say" problems.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            Linux is better than windows for most things. The two things Windows is best for is high-end games and getting infected, it beats any other OS for those uses. If I was still into gaming I'd have a dual boot machine, but since I rarely play PC games any more I don't even have a Windows computer.

        • Worst of all is that recent cameras seem to be going back to the late '90s method of using a proprietary transfer method that requires a special application. What's wrong with USB Mass Storage mode? None of the recent consumer cams have it.

          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            What was especially stupid with her Kodak is that it does use the USB mass storage mode* but still wanted to download its own proprietary program. I'd guess that's why many are moving back to the pre-USB methods.

            I can't figure out why companies want to make things harder for their customers. Are they stupid or what?

            * It must, since Windows was able to easily transfer the files.

          • by mpe (36238)
            Worst of all is that recent cameras seem to be going back to the late '90s method of using a proprietary transfer method that requires a special application. What's wrong with USB Mass Storage mode? None of the recent consumer cams have it.

            How many of these cameras store their pictures some kind of removable SD card...
          • Ugh, that's terrible. I've always hated camera picture downloading software. But I have no idea of current trends, having switched long ago to using a dedicated card reader only. I found a nice little one that sits in the 3.5" bay, but there are plenty of removable USB ones. I recommend them to anyone hating their camera software.

        • by ArcCoyote (634356)

          "My GF got pissed at Comcast because when she decided she didn't need both a landline and a cell (she's on SS and rather poor), the cable price didn't go down so she just dropped Comcast"

          Umm...what?

          Sounds like she had the triple-play where you get TV, net, and phone for a package price... Something like $50 or $99 a month for the first year.

          There are no discounts from a package price. It's a good deal even if you don't use all of it, because it is still cheaper than any two of the three services at the regu

    • They just don't learn. Who at Ubisoft was so stupid that they forgot the reaction last time they did this? And wouldn't that idiot's decision have to go through some other people? This is irresponsible from both a PR and a revenue point of view.
      • Re:That's ok (Score:4, Insightful)

        by myurr (468709) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:22AM (#36906104)

        But the severity of the reaction will diminish each time they pull this stunt. By the 5th or 6th iteration it's likely to be such a subdued reaction that they'll get away with it completely. It seems to be human nature that each time we are outraged by something, the impact each time it happens slowly diminishes until we accept it as part of life.

        • by Abstrackt (609015) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:16AM (#36906510)

          It seems to be human nature that each time we are outraged by something, the impact each time it happens slowly diminishes until we accept it as part of life.

          That seems to be true. At first I was outraged that I wouldn't be playing any Ubisoft games anymore but now I'm actually okay with it!

        • by PJ6 (1151747)

          But the severity of the reaction will diminish each time they pull this stunt. By the 5th or 6th iteration it's likely to be such a subdued reaction that they'll get away with it completely. It seems to be human nature that each time we are outraged by something, the impact each time it happens slowly diminishes until we accept it as part of life.

          This is another reason on top of consilitis why I just stopped buying PC games. I used to buy them all the time.

          What steams me is that now developers complain that the PC game market is "weak" and "fractured" when they don't even understand it's their own damn fault.

        • by Tom (822)

          Actually, that is not always true.

          What is true, however, is that in politics and PR, there is a very common trick: Announce some plan so out there that protest is guaranteed. Wait for the protest and check how widespread and loud it is. Then adjust the real thing that you had planned all along to be just under your estimated protest threshold and release it as the "compromise solution".

          In most cases, you will get more than if you had gone for the real thing right away, and with less protest, as people think

      • If you think about it, it is difficult to believe any manager with enough power to make this kind of choices is a somewhat retarded guy which can't see even immediate consequences for his decisions.

        IMHO the objective is to make people accept the always connected slav... er.. lifestyle. A company gets damages because of that policy? well, what's a company? a name on some assets owned by the same banks that own the competitors' ones. Under control of the same class of PHBs which went to the same schools, got

      • They just don't learn. Who at Ubisoft was so stupid that they forgot the reaction last time they did this? And wouldn't that idiot's decision have to go through some other people? This is irresponsible from both a PR and a revenue point of view.

        They're a business, first and foremost. You can bet that if they didn't find it profitable to do the first two times, they're not going to do it a third time.

        Here's an alternative scenario though it is bound to be an unpopular one: What if, the last time they did it, it was not the end of the world. What if they actually saw massive reduction in piracy, and a minor uptick in sales over what they expected? Sure, they patched it later - but if all they wanted to do was prevent the initial wave of piracy, t

        • by sgt scrub (869860)

          Unfortunately, I think your right. They probably also believe this game will be popular enough to pull some people over the fence. The "uninformed parents buying their kids a game" source of revenue is going to stave off boycotts to a certain degree. Tempting enough informed people to bite the bullet is all they need to get over the hump. Unfortunately for UbiStupid, Driver isn't that good of a game.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        Who at Ubisoft was so stupid that they forgot the reaction last time they did this?

        My reaction was putting Ubisoft on my permanent pay-no-mind list.

        I stopped buying Ubisoft games, and will never buy another one, no matter what they do, just because they tried this kind of intrusive DRM. Ubisoft is dead to me.

        Plus, the scene releases of Assassin's Creed 2 played flawlessly without being connected to the Internet, from what I hear, so Ubisoft is just wasting their time and losing customers for no reason wha

    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      I never stopped boycotting them...
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      I'll re-institute my boycott of Ubisoft, and nothing of value was lost.

      I'm guessing their bean-counters did the math and they don't need you.

      Nothing of value was lost to them either...

    • by WCMI92 (592436)

      I've not bought a Ubisoft game since they introduced this DRM, despite the fact that they've released some that I wanted to get.

      I think it's time for a new kind of boycott: Not only not buy games from companies that do this, but go out of my way to get the DRM free pirated version.

      • How does this hurt them more ? The way I see it, it hurts them even less.If nobody buys the game AND nobody pirates it, this is a statement. It's a message that says :"Your DRM sucks and we won't give you our money until you remove it". Otherwise, if too many people pirates the game, it only justifies their use of DRM and may even be used as arguments by lobbyists to have new harsher laws against piracy or ask for government money.

  • And "From Dust" (Score:4, Informative)

    by Elbart (1233584) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @06:45AM (#36905908)
    "3rd-party DRM: Ubisoft Online Service" http://store.steampowered.com/app/33460/ [steampowered.com]
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @06:45AM (#36905910)

    They return to using the same harebrained DRM scheme, we return to boycotting it. Why does UBI think it will be different this time? That we somehow magically now accept that kind of crap? If anything, the people who got burned by their previous attempt at it will now be wary and also abstain.

    • by houghi (78078)

      They will have looked at it from a financial point of view. Probably a wrong one, but still.
      How many people did not buy the game? X
      How many people did not pirate? Y

      For them as long as Y is smaller then X they might think it is a win for them.

  • Simple solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NimbleSquirrel (587564) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @06:49AM (#36905928)
    Don't buy their games.

    They come out with the most amazing game in the world, but if they insist on doing this, they won't be seeing any of my money.

    Seriously, they wonder why people pirate their games. Yes, there are people wanting it for free, but there is a growing number of people who pirate it just to get away from the DRM.
    • Yup, last week i contemplated picking up assasins creed 2 (used even, to not directly send money to ubi) or 3, because i really enjoyed AC1 (and supposedly, 2 and 3 have more free gameplay), but the always on DRM shit pretty much pushed me back to not buying it, this news once again strenghtened my resolve.

      I have to little time to even play 0.01% of worthwhile games anyway, so cutting out ubisoft doesnt really hurt anyway, fuck those guys with their DRM

    • by eulernet (1132389)

      On the contrary, you should buy their game and ask for a refund because you cannot play without Internet.

      After a large number of refunds, the large retailers will stop selling this game.

      • actually most retailers will not allow returns (even for store credit) of opened games.

        • by ioErr (691174)
          You're right, but there's no need to open the box if you're buying it only to prove a point by returning it. The retailer still suffers administrative overhead from having to deal with you.
    • Yes, there are people wanting it for free, but there is a growing number of people who pirate it just to get away from the DRM.

      There will always be people out there that want it for free. Even if the price is reasonable they still want it for free. Those people are not your customers and they never will be. It's good to see that a lot of people are voting with their wallets here. Always on drm wouldn't be as big a deal if it's an online game but it still degrades your computer's performance.

      • There will always be people out there that want it for free. Even if the price is reasonable they still want it for free. Those people are not your customers and they never will be.

        The questions are

        1: how many people are there who want it for free but will pay for it if they can't pirate it in a timely manner
        2: how many people who will either boycott it completely or wait for it to be in the "bargin bin" before buying because of the DRM.
        3: how many people who would have waited and bought it used would buy it new if DRM is used to cut off used sales

        The thing is none of these figures are easy to measure

      • There will always be people out there that want it for free. Even if the price is reasonable they still want it for free. Those people are not your customers and they never will be. It's good to see that a lot of people are voting with their wallets here. Always on drm wouldn't be as big a deal if it's an online game but it still degrades your computer's performance.

        Most people will want it for free. It is basic economics.

        The DRM is targeted towards people who want the game for free, but will are willing to pay for it if there is no free option.

  • pirate it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tom (822) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @06:49AM (#36905930) Homepage Journal

    well, that game just went on my "download a pirate copy, just because" list.

    I just realize that this has been a trend for me for years now. If I read "DRM free", I feel zero inclination to go on btjunkie - either I like it and buy it or I don't and don't. But the more DRM there is in the crap, the more I'm inclined to most definitely not give them my money.

    Too bad we're not in the majority. Just imagine if putting DRM on your game were a surefire way of having close to zero sales, but being on the top of the torrent lists. The whole thing would disappear so quickly, we'd wonder if it was all just a dream.

    Because in the end, these guys are just about money.

    • Re:pirate it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by flimflammer (956759) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:36AM (#36906178)

      This is why I don't understand DRM these days. DRM doesn't stop pirates. Pirates never have to deal with DRM, and even this advanced form Ubisoft is throwing around has been rendered useless in previous games infected by it. All this sort of thing seems to discourage is actually purchasing the game at all.

      • Re:DRM (Score:4, Insightful)

        by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:16AM (#36906498) Journal

        It's not about the pirates.

        It's about sliding us into a Guilty-Until-Proven-Innocent culture!

        The TSA will like this. "To prove you are not a terrorist, you must be constantly connected to our Trusted Citizen network. If you lose your connection, then you lose your trusted status and will be treated like the terrorist you have become until we clear you again."

        • by ArcCoyote (634356)

          they DO want to do something like a trusted citizen program but you have to opt in.

          If you're in it, you're pre-screened and get on the plane quicker. If you're not in it, nothing changes, you go through the same thing you do now.

          but forget about the TSA... Presumed guilty is the attitude of the credit agencies.

          Try getting a good rate on a car loan when your last one has been paid off for 5 years, you rent your home, and you pay for everything with cash or debit card.

          It doesn't matter if your income shows yo

        • by RogerWilco (99615)

          Yeah. For top athletes, something like that already happens, pro prevent doping abuse. Now athletes get banned not because they used doping, but just because they couldn't get online, the website didn't work, or they forgot.

          Things like this are going too far.

        • The TSA will like this. "To prove you are not a terrorist, you must be constantly connected to our Trusted Citizen network. If you lose your connection, then you lose your trusted status and will be treated like the terrorist you have become until we clear you again."

          It used to be that the game Paranoia was fun because it was so outrageous. Now it's more of a documentary.

  • ... for yet another game to add to my "do not buy" list.

  • btw, that RPS article is fantastic. Take a look (last link in the summary), just for the screenshots. What a way to clearly express your opinion. :-)

  • Not for me (Score:3, Interesting)

    by g051051 (71145) * on Thursday July 28, 2011 @06:58AM (#36905986)

    I'm already getting a refund for an Ubi game that has that DRM (The Settlers 7). They tried to push me back to Steam for a refund, but I pointed them to their own EULA, where it says you can get a refund if you don't agree to the DRM and the retarded Ubi launcher, and they're handling it.

    No game is so good, interesting, or important to my life that I'd be willing to submit to this always on DRM.

  • If pirates are more important to the company than customers, players should think twice about buying their games.

    In the end it's all cat & dog and we all know how it's gonna end. DRM cracked within weeks and paying customers left unplayable when disconnected while pirates will play happily offline.
  • I have many games from years gone buy that I still like to play every now and again. So this means if Ubisoft turn off their servers the game stops working? No thanks.
  • by ledow (319597) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:24AM (#36906114) Homepage

    But I do boycott overbearing DRM schemes. Seriously, this serves nobody's interest at all. It's now more difficult for me to even *look* at buying your games because I have to check if it has junk like this attached to it. So when it comes to purchasing decisions, if I see "Ubisoft" I have to expend more effort to check the product first before I buy it. That means that unless it's something fabulous, the chances are I just won't bother, and the name Ubisoft will put me off everything (it's already starting to now!).

    And this time next year Ubisoft will be saying that sales of game X slumped because of completely unverifiable piracy when in fact it was just people annoyed with either previous or new purchases that have shite like that and either pirate or stop buying that and other, completely unrelated, products from Ubisoft.

    Not everyone has a perfectly stable Internet connection, not everyone has a perfectly stable wireless connection, not everybody wants their PC constantly communicating online and taking up bandwidth for no good reason (how small the bandwidth is is irrelevant - it's more than it should be and adds up if every game were to go this route, you play a lot, and you have low bandwidth caps in the nation you're in). Just someone uploading photos as you try to do something can kill the average ADSL connection, now it means the game pause/saves/quits.

    The people who don't have that stuff will be buying single-player games or games with lots of single-player content and still you force a completely ridiculous requirement on them.

    A reliance on a constantly-available Internet connection to a third-party server in order to play a game is ridiculous. Hell, I might as well VNC into a damn computer on the other side of the world and play that way, there's little difference in practical terms between that and this DRM. Connection lost? Bye-bye game, or at best constant pauses and saves because it thinks it's gone.

    In work, I have literally told companies to get lost after they tell me that the new iteration of their software is an online-only, access over the Internet, lose your session if it dies, affair. It's not that it won't work most of the time, but the point is that we lose control over when it does work. If local software dies, I can restore an image, or rebuild a machine, or do something to get it back and working. If remote software dies, we just have to twiddle our thumbs until their support line frees up.

    It's a ridiculous thing and solves no problem that exists. Pirates will crack round it in days. Consumers don't have any problems without it but have massive ones with it. And console versions OF THE SAME GAME don't have that stupid requirement, despite consoles being online nowadays.

    I loved the original Driver. The series got a bit lost after that but I was actually eyeing this up on Steam with the intent to buy it. Saw a thread on the steam forums pointing to those same articles, read them, saw the Twitter comment from Ubisoft itself and instantly removed it from my wishlist. My life is too short for that shit, my gaming time is gaming time, not tech support time. Ubisoft has forgotten that they are providing entertainment - that means "get everything out of my way because I want to have fun". Strangely, I don't want to be diagnosing my wireless/Internet in the middle of a game session, and will just choose a game that doesn't require that.

    P.S. The game also doesn't support steering wheel controllers. A driving game. Seriously.

    • by Kenoli (934612)

      P.S. The game also doesn't support steering wheel controllers. A driving game. Seriously.

      That's just lazy.

      Lazy? Negligent maybe. Or stupid. Or something.

      It's something.

    • Hell, I might as well VNC into a damn computer on the other side of the world and play that way, there's little difference in practical terms between that and this DRM.

      Let me guess: You're not a fan of OnLive service either.

  • And probably never will. Maybe it requires an MBA to understand how chasing away paying customers is good for business?

  • We don't want to keep wasting all those resources developing for the PC. We're going to make DRM on the PC a complete piece of shit situation. Nobody is buying the game on the PC, now. PC gaming is dying. We can't make money on the PC. We're only making titles for consoles, now.

  • 3... 2... 1...
    • A better protest (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Comboman (895500) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:09AM (#36906428)

      A better (and legal) form of protest is to give the game a one star rating on Amazon and note the DRM problems in your review.

    • I dont remember what went down exactly with the AC2 DDOS, but where anonymous and lulzsec around anywhere near like their present forms back then?

      I cant see any trolling which produces more lulz then DDOS-ing gamers, the flaming on the Ubi forums will provide enough lulz for Anonymous to keep going for a while.

  • I was going to get this game on steam. Unfortunately I can't buy a game with this kind of draconian drm. No Sale Ubisoft. No Sale
  • Many of the people I knew that bought the previous games with this DRM were not aware of it. Now after being burned once, their awareness of DRM has been raised. They won't get as many unsuspecting customers this time.
  • by cypherljk (201011) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:42AM (#36906718)

    We're going about this the wrong way. We should all buy copies of the game and then return it the next day because it won't play without the internet. That will cost Ubisoft thousand of dollars handling returns / RMA's from their various vendors and send a clear message about the DRM.

  • Since this kind of DRM prevents the work from entering the public domain after a fixed amount of time... (ya know, the actual exchange brokered between the people and copyright holders), works with this kind of DRM have no valid copyright. There is zero moral disincentive against pirating it, cracking it, spreading it far and wide, and even repackaging the cracked version and selling it.

    Of course, issues like this are decided not by the actual text of the laws, nor by the background intention of the laws,

  • the world is brimming with like-minded, motivated, brilliant people...



    ...who want more money.
  • To send Ubisoft the clearest possible message, I feel that a four-tiered approach needs to happen:

    1.) Don't buy the game, and tell all your friends not to buy the game, even the console versions.
    2.) Buy the game, but return it three weeks later, unopened. The logic: Best Buy and Gamestop will have replenished their inventory after three weeks; they'll be none too thrilled with having twice that inventory taking up shelf space and will be pressuring Ubisoft's distributor to curtail production runs.
    3.) Commen

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