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DRM Games

Ubisoft Scales Back Driver DRM 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the step-in-the-less-wrong-direction dept.
We recently discussed Ubisoft's plans to bring back their controversial always-connected DRM for their upcoming racing game Driver: San Francisco. Gamers raised their voices in protest, and it seems Ubisoft listened, scaling back (but not removing) the DRM. Instead of requiring a continuous connection, the game will now require a connection only when the game launches. Unfortunately for Ubisoft, complaints are now arising that the company misled players with regard to the DRM implemented in the PC port of From Dust.
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Ubisoft Scales Back Driver DRM

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    the damage is done. Ubisoft, you've shot yourself in the foot. In fact, I actually pirate your games out of spite (well, the good ones anyway). Not until you remove your always-on DRM schemes entirely will I come back to respecting you as a game maker and producer.
    • Re:Too late... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 19, 2011 @05:21PM (#37148250)

      *rustling leaves*

      That's the sound of Ubisoft caring about what you've said.

      • ...and that's why they'll go out of business. I get the feeling that increasingly more gamers are starting to feel the same way as the parent.
      • That's also the sound of money staying in my wallet as I refuse to buy Ubisoft's products. See if I care.

      • Re:Too late... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Friday August 19, 2011 @06:48PM (#37149008) Homepage Journal

        That's the sound of Ubisoft caring about what you've said.

        I wonder if Ubisoft cares about how many people decide to wait for SKIDR0W's release before laying out $60 for their DRM-laden product?

        I bet that sets some leaves a-rustlin' over at Ubisoft, huh?

        You can show disdain for your customers for only so long before the favor is returned.

        • by MWoody (222806)

          Congratulations, you are the textbook definition of "part of the problem." You are why this is happening. Ubisoft is a company trying to make money; that's what companies DO. You, however, are an amoral asshole, and the cause of all of this DRM bullshit.

          • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            You are why this is happening.

            Do you know that one of the most "pirated" games of all time was Starcraft?

            Do you know that Starcraft was also one of the most profitable?

            DRM does not protect profits. You've been sold a bill of goods, and by repeating that canard here you are, by definition, part of the real problem, not a made-up problem.

            You, however, are an amoral asshole, and the cause of all of this DRM bullshit.

            I do not download cracked games, son. I was just pointing out that a lot of people will beca

      • by g051051 (71145) *

        Well, they may not want to remove it, but in my case they honored the EULA and got Steam to refund my money (for a differnt Ubi game). I'm just not going to install and use the Ubi launcher. I got enough of that kind of nonsense from GTA IV.

      • by sgt scrub (869860)

        "chirp chirp. chirp chirp"

        The sound of people NOT buying games from Ubistupid or Steam.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I personally don't care about the steam DRM because I haven't really had any trouble with it, but when games from publishers like EA and Ubi end up on Steam with additional DRM that force me to register or install other software I get pretty mad. It's easy to get caught out by this if you don't read the small print on the store page of any game you want to buy. I really think Valve should force publishers to only use Steam DRM or at the very minimum require that games do not install any services or require

          • Valve could win some points by NOT forcing their methods down everyone elses throats. From their bloated ingame overlay, to their irritating policy of posting all DLC as seperate games on the main page :P You might have heard about EA having to remove some of their newer games from Steam because they didn't wanna sell the DLC on steam, but through their websites, and the games clients.
          • by makomk (752139)

            You obviously haven't tried running games using Wine on Linux. For quite a long time, the only obstacle to running Portal 2 under Linux that anyone could find was the incredibly temperamental DRM that didn't even work reliably under Windows [winehq.org]. People had successfully run it after cracking it... once they'd managed to find a complete crack that is, because Valve had constructed some kind of obnoxious multi-layered DRM scheme where just naively cracking it left behind game-breaking DRM triggers later on the gam

        • I don't really mind Steam... better profile integration in more games so your save points are in steam would be cool. I'm not a fan ofDRM, but when it works, is transparent, and makes the buying, installing and play easier... not a huge deal. Though, I don't play much.
        • by Dogtanian (588974)

          "chirp chirp. chirp chirp" The sound of people NOT buying games from Ubistupid or Steam.

          Er, the fact that a few Slashdot types are getting pissed off about this says very little. Such people are a very small proportion of potential buyers and way, *way* less representative of and influential on the typical mass-market games buyer than they like to think.

          On top of this is the fact that when it comes to the crunch, very few Slashdotters put their money where their mouth is anyway when it's a choice between making a sacrifice and standing up for the principles they've ranted on about or handing

          • by sgt scrub (869860)

            Such people are a very small proportion of potential buyers...

            It sounds to me like "such people" are definitely NOT potential buyers. However. I agree with you totally regarding Ubistupids opinion on people who are angered by DRM. That being they see them as a small minority. They have that belief because they have convinced themselves that the minority are the ones pirating the game because they want it but do not want to pay for it. In all reality, that minority and a significant number of general ga

          • by Shrike82 (1471633)
            I would have bought Driver 4 if it were published by a company that took a sane approach to DRM. The whole constant online check thing they slapped on games a few months back was enough to pursuade me never to spend any money on their products ever again. Another case where pirates get all the benefits and real customers get screwed. Unlike many /. users though, I refuse to take the immoral choice of pirating it. Not only is it wrong, I simply refuse to contribute to any "statistics" that the likes of Ubiso
    • each time the publisher would try to slip something like this in, and each time there would be an uproar, and they would back off (a little.)

      my guess is that they'll keep trying, believing that if they do this often enough, eventually people would accept it as the norm.
      perhaps there's statistical evidence to suggest that each successive uproar were... smaller than the prior?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by afidel (530433)
        You know what's hilarious about this, if I were to pirate the game I would probably have an easier and more reliable experience than someone who bought the game because the annoying DRM would be removed.
        • by TavisJohn (961472)

          I have many older games that span back 20+ years that I go back and play often. I have been forced to pirate or crack many of those games because the DRM that is used does not work with modern DVD players, operating systems, or were crappy DRM schemes to begin with.

          It is really sad that I have to pirate games I own in order to continue to play them.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dexotaku (1136235)
            Cracking something you bought is clearly not piracy.
            • by TavisJohn (961472)

              But having to download a pirate copy of the game, because the DRM in the installer does not work is still considered piracy.

              And in many areas cracking DRM is illegal. Regardless if you own the product or not.

              • Indeed, the DMCA does prohibit breaking of copy protection.

              • by syousef (465911)

                But having to download a pirate copy of the game, because the DRM in the installer does not work is still considered piracy.

                And in many areas cracking DRM is illegal. Regardless if you own the product or not.

                "Yaarrrr! We'll rape ye and pillege ye, but we'll pay ye for the privilege. Yarrr!"

            • by sgt scrub (869860)

              In all reality it isn't. In a U.S. court of Law, however, it is.

      • by Hadlock (143607)

        Isn't this pretty much standard operating procedure though? Release game with "always on" mega-DRM, get free press (any press is good press) to try and bait the pirates in to actually buying instead of pirating your product; wait 24hrs -2 weeks after release, dial down the DRM to something bordering on reasonable. Get more sales from the PR of "lessening DRM". The most piracy happens in the first week anyways (most consumer's attention spans aren't that long - how long did you play Portal 2 after release?)

        • by Culture20 (968837)

          wait 24hrs -2 weeks after release, dial down the DRM to something bordering on reasonable. Get more sales from the PR of "lessening DRM".

          Requiring an Internet connection when starting the game does not come anywhere near to reasonable. Maaaaaaybe on installation, but I still view that with suspicion because 95% of my games are from companies that no longer exist. Thankfully they employed in-game questions for the DRM.

    • by fremean (1189177)

      Sadly they don't care what we think - if we pirate or don't pirate it doesn't matter as they will call you a pirate anyway.

      A lost sale = pirate, no it can't possibly be that the game is shit so no-one bought it.... or the DRM is shit so no-one bought it.

      As for those who are pissed off about "From Dust" having shit DRM - I have a simple rule for avoiding DRM: Does the box have a Ubisoft logo? Don't buy it.

      • by Llian (615902)
        <quote><p>Sadly they don't care what we think - if we pirate or don't pirate it doesn't matter as they will call you a pirate anyway.</p><p>A lost sale = pirate, no it can't possibly be that the game is shit so no-one bought it.... or the DRM is shit so no-one bought it.</p><p>As for those who are pissed off about "From Dust" having shit DRM - I have a simple rule for avoiding DRM: Does the box have a Ubisoft logo? Don't buy it.</p></quote>

        Is the game availabl
    • I won't touch their crap anymore. Just add my small voice to the fray.
    • by gregor-e (136142)
      I got burned by purchasing Settlers 7 and was typically able to play less than an hour at a time before getting a "connection lost - you can't play anymore" dialog (on a single-player game on my own PC!). Because of Ubi's insane DRM, I just grabbed a pirate copy of From Dust last night. It's a cool game. Well worth the money, which I would otherwise have happily paid for it.
  • how many times now? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 19, 2011 @05:22PM (#37148266)
    How many times have they claimed to have "scaled back" or changed their DRM schemes before release, only to have it turn out that the game is locked down tighter than the initial draconian scheme that they were supposedly scaling back from? I'll revoice Ben Kuchera's suggestion from the Ars article here:

    Our advice is simple: don't buy From Dust. In the future, do not buy Ubisoft games at launch until their claims can be verified.

    And to take it a step further: Don't buy ANY Ubisoft games. PERIOD. This is not how you treat customers, and anyone who chooses to be a customer of Ubisoft's at this point simply is a fool.

    • Actually, that's too nice: we should buy the game, and then ask for a refund. The same way they lied to us, we can lie to them, and cost them oodles of money (restocking games is expensive, especially in countries like mine where it's a legal obligation).

      • Refund? Good luck with that--customer service at the store will immediately say, "we cannot prove that you did not buy this game just to copy and bring back, and it's been opened, so the most we can do is exchange with another copy of the same game."

        You're fucked if you buy and then open a game, or pretty much any other piece of software. Try to explain DRM and they'd probably think you're nuts. Once opened, the most you can do is try to sell it either to a used games store that buys PC games, or to some

        • by PitaBred (632671)

          He's not from the US. A number of European countries require merchants to take back software, because it's unfair to the consumer otherwise.

        • by vux984 (928602) on Friday August 19, 2011 @06:15PM (#37148770)

          Refund? Good luck with that--customer service at the store will immediately say, "we cannot prove that you did not buy this game just to copy and bring back, and it's been opened, so the most we can do is exchange with another copy of the same game."

          So return it unopened.

        • Doesn't it say in the EULA of essentially every single piece of software that you can return it for a refund if you don't agree?

          Buy it with a credit card and if the store won't take it back, ask your bank to do a chargeback.

    • by JustNiz (692889)

      The problem with NOT buying something as a form of protest is that the company selling the product doesn't know that you didn't buy it for a reason.

      We need some quantifiable and clear way to let Ubisoft know exactly how many sales their DRM has cost them, otherwise they will continue to blame everything but themselves for unexpectedly low sales.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        The problem with NOT buying something as a form of protest is that the company selling the product doesn't know that you didn't buy it for a reason.

        But that doesn't matter, because when enough people do it they go bust.

      • by jd2112 (1535857)

        The problem with NOT buying something as a form of protest is that the company selling the product doesn't know that you didn't buy it for a reason.

        We need some quantifiable and clear way to let Ubisoft know exactly how many sales their DRM has cost them, otherwise they will continue to blame everything but themselves for unexpectedly low sales.

        Sure they do: Piracy. All lost sales are due to piracy. I personally have pirated every game they have ever made! Of course by pirated I mean I did not aquire a copy by any means, legal or otherwise, thus depriving them of profits.

    • by jonwil (467024)

      I have already blacklisted all games from Ubisoft for this reason, along with games from Activision Blizzard, Atari and Sony.

  • funny thing is... the "always connected" and the "login and play" DRM approach is enforced only for people that actually BUY the game, pirates will crack the shit out of the scheme and play offline. so there. so much for your DRM. ubisoft needs to understand that the more appreciation the gaming community have for you as a company has a bigger impact than any ridiculous DRM plans they might have. just ask the Super Meat Boy guys. and for ubi... well they are not big in the gamer community.nobody actually a
    • by Elbart (1233584)
      It's the free market. Working game for free or "broken" game for x $/€/£/¥ - almost a no-brainer.
  • If I have to have a connection every time I launch the game, that's just as bad as needing it constantly.

    Result: cannot play on laptop while in the car traveling.

    End result: no sale.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If I have to have a connection every time I launch the game, that's just as bad as needing it constantly.

      Result: cannot play on laptop while in the car traveling.

      End result: piracy.

      There, fixed that for you.

    • To be fair, not it isn't.

      Their 'Always connected' DRM would boot you from the game with no warning if it lost it's connection to the network. Connection at startup isn't nearly as onerous, for my use case it probably wouldn't bother me except in very rare circumstances but I still won't put up with that level of DRM, all they have to do is pull the plug on their servers and *poof* "your" copy of the game is useless.

    • I would expect it would be far easier to crack the game and maintain full functionality if there is only DRM on launch.
      I don't think your data is so expensive you cant use your phone at the launch if you really wanted to play.

  • I bought Silent Hunter V, which was my introduction to this draconian slavery scheme. So I ditched Ubisoft, and now I don't have to deal with shifting heavy chains around like old Jacob Marley.
  • Anyone play the demo that is currently accessible to the consoles?

    I recognize buildings and striped down neighborhoods but this has to be one of the worst recreations of San Francisco in video game history. It just feels completely wrong. The tiered street do not tier at intersections. The streets are ridiculously wide with some strange diamond pattern in the middle. What little of the city available in the demo feels flatter than the real SF. Did any of the developers ever drive in San Francisco? Too bad

    • Some changes are probably related to gameplay, San Fransisco just isn't made to drive through at 120 MPH; it wouldn't be more frustrating than fun. I suspect the reason it feels so jarring is because they tried to recreate a real place and then tacked the gameplay modification on top wherever they could. I'd think the GTA technique of designing maps that are good for gameplay then making changes to give the look of the city is probably more effective in actually feeling like the real thing.

      • Or the developers are in the UK and know SF from a map perspective and not a practical driving perspective...

      • Some changes are probably related to gameplay, San Fransisco just isn't made to drive through at 120 MPH;

        If utilized well that could actually make for quite a challenging and interesting gameplay.

        It probably was easier to do exactly as you said, the management telling the designers to skip on realism and to try to cater to casual gamers as much as possible, but if the designers were given free reign over the map and quest design the game could've been a total blast.

    • Did they have to pay SF for using their likeness or did they just pirate a whole city?
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      They did an absolutely awful job of recreating SF in every previous iteration of the franchise, why would this one be any different?

  • It doesn't matter. Ubisoft can stop support for the game or go bankrupt and people that purchased the game will be SOL.

  • I for one am not going to buy any Ubisoft games for the foreseeable future. Its that simple. Lie to your customers, don't get my business. Not that they have very many games worth buying, for that matter.
  • Dead simple solution. End of story. Their DRM will no longer affect you. And if enough people boycott them, the problem will go away entirely. Either Ubisoft will back down, or they'll go out of business. Even if that doesn't happen, you'll still be free of their crap.

    • by Jiro (131519)

      If you don't buy it, they say "our sales are down! It must be piracy! We need to put more DRM in to stop piracy!" (Whether or not you actually pirate it is irrelevant, since they see their sales are down either way.)

  • That is still not an acceptable solution. If I install and launch a game, and suddenly my firewall is telling me that that game is wanting to phone home, my reaction would immediately be to deny the request and then uninstall the game faster than you can say "Go fuck yourself, Ubisoft". This is why I am a staunch believer in try before you buy. Fortunately in this case, we have already been warned that this game is spyware, so no need to even try it out first. Just give it a pass and find something bett

  • Go choke on your precious DRM, its yet another sale you lost from me.

  • What broke this game for me was when they announced it wouldn't support steering wheels...
    I mean, come on. A driving game with no steering wheel support?

  • This might mean something except they said something entirely similar on From Dust. They lied. They're now trying to cover up that lie (unsuccessfully).

    Sorry Ubi, you shouldn't use the same lie twice.

    • I'm with you on this. Ubisoft has a history of lying about their DRM and other things, to the point that I don't even believe anything they say anymore, and have lost a great deal of respect for them as a company.

      Ubisoft isn't beyond releasing the game with this "DRM on startup only" system, then forcing users to patch the game later in order to keep playing it to a full "must be online always forever until the earth rots" DRM a month hence.

  • I generally like ubisoft games, but after the crap I dealt with trying to play Assassin's Creed 2, there's not a chance in hell I will buy another one with this sort of DRM on it.

  • I refuse to buy anything from Ubisoft until they remove it completely. At least EA had the good sense to minimize their DRM, and in some cases removing it completely, when their new releases at the time went down in history as the most pirated games ever; more specifically Spore.
  • I've pretty much sworn off Ubisoft forever anyway when they started this crap... but even if I didn't, I would still not buy their game... I have to spend a lot of time away from the net (which is when I need games the most!), so continuous connection or just when you start makes no difference. I just can't use it. No point in handing over money for something that doesn't work.
  • I've been following this for a few days. Most of the world couldn't care less about the DRM. The problem is that the port is terrible.

    Quite a few people pre-ordered the game on Steam to get a TF2 hat. Then they found out the port stinks, and now want to not have to pay for a bad game. Word got around that you could get refunds by claiming that you were hoodwinked w/r/t DRM. It then seems that EVERYONE started claiming this, and Steam clamped down on the refunds.

  • I dont think it makes sense to file a class action lawsuit.
    But in case of Ubisoft I personally think, getting some lawyers to become rich might be justified.
    a) They mislead their customers (even sometimes by fine printing it or saying false things)
    b) They basically could not provide what they sold thanks to outages
    c) They simply deserve it, if a multi million dollar lawsuit which shows in their final earnings hits them they might start to rethink their strategy.

  • That ubisoft, and all other game companies out there, actually think DRM stops piracy.
    There are people that see that as a challenge to break it open, and a reason for everyday joes to pirate it to actually jump through less hoops than PAYING for it.

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