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DRM Games

Ubisoft Has Windows-Style Hardware-Based DRM For Games 473

Posted by Soulskill
from the must-biopsy-left-kidney-to-activate dept.
New submitter Man Eating Duck writes "Guru3D describes how the activation system in Ubisoft's RTS game Anno 2070 also tracks hardware changes: 'So yesterday I started working on a performance review. We know (well, at least we figured we knew), that the game key can be used on three systems. That's fair; the first activation is used on my personal game rig. The second we installed on the AMD Radeon graphics test PC and the 3rd on our NVIDIA graphics test PC. ... For the NVIDIA setup I take out the GTX 580, and insert a GTX 590. When I now startup the game, 'BAM', again an activation is required. Once again I fill out the key, and now Ubisoft is thanking me with the message that I ran out of activations.' Guru3D subsequently discovered that Ubisoft was less than helpful: 'Sorry to disappoint you — the game is indeed restricted to 3 hardware changes and there simply is no way to bypass that.' I, and many with me, will never buy games with such a draconian DRM scheme, as it's very likely that I'll swap out enough components to run into this issue. Even the Steam version includes this nice 'feature.' It's probably a good idea to let Ubisoft know why we'll pass on this title."
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Ubisoft Has Windows-Style Hardware-Based DRM For Games

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:07PM (#38727962)

    At least we don't have to put up with too much of this activation DRM hassle on the console versions...for now anyway. Of course, consoles do tend to follow on the heels of PC developments. And you can bet Ubisoft and other developers would love nothing more than killing off the secondary and rental market for consoles the same way they've killed them off for the PC market. I don't look forward to a day when I start up and console game and it saying "Sorry, you need an internet connection to activate this game," or the day when I can't loan a game to a friend or sell it (or buy it) used.

    I'm not a pirate, but I can definitely understand why some otherwise honest people might turn to it (in light of the way honest people get screwed these days).

  • PC gaming (Score:0, Insightful)

    by bonch (38532) * on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:08PM (#38727978)

    I really have to wonder the point of bothering with PC gaming anymore. Most PC games today are now just unoptimized console ports, and there is restrictive DRM from companies like EA and Ubisoft. I do consider Steam to be a bright spot, and its DRM is so invisible that I've never actually encountered it in practice, but then again, Steam is already moving to consoles as well [steampowered.com], and Blizzard seems to be dipping its toes in the water [eurogamer.net].

    I just think integrated platforms, like consoles and mobile devices, always win out in the long-term. I certainly don't want to maintain graphics card drivers or other PC-related issues anymore. It's boring and takes time away from playing games. Consoles today practically are PCs, but without all the headaches.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:11PM (#38728020) Homepage Journal
    When some idiot from ubisoft execs or something told that 'Game demos are a thing of the past' a year or so ago - when ubisoft was again throwing around drm stuff and accusing demos for piracy or this or that :

    "As long as razor1911 has anything to say about it, we will have game demos..."

    i think that applies to this situation as well.
  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:12PM (#38728044)

    the effort to control game piracy through DRM is futile.

    The only thing that might work is if you keep the game online either by not releasing the server code for a multiplayer game or keep the the whole thing on line by using a system like OnLive to keep the whole game code in the cloud.

    Short of that... it will be pirated.

  • That's funny... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:12PM (#38728046)
    When I pirated the game, it didn't have that restriction.
  • Re:PC gaming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:14PM (#38728070) Homepage Journal

    The ability to mod games & to use a mouse & keyboard are the main reasons I'll never bother with a console.

    That being said, I swore off Ubisoft sometime after they ruined the Might & Magic franchise.

  • by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:14PM (#38728072)

    I agree in principle. I don't think I have ever pirated a PC game, but I would never buy a game that I can't continue to use in perpetuity. I understand their efforts to prevent piracy, but this rises to the level of me paying full price for a game and only getting a temporary license for it. No thanks.

    At least if I buy a console game I can be sure I won't get zapped with a "Sorry, you have to pay for this game again" screen eventually.

    It doesn't seem smart at all for Ubisoft to alienate their best customers, power gamers who probably make more hardware chances than anyone.

  • by Xenkar (580240) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:15PM (#38728094)

    Pirates don't pirate because of DRM. They pirate because it is easier than working for x amount of hours and then driving to the store, hoping it is in stock, only to be hit with DRM.

    Pirate version has a small chance of being infected with something that will destroy your system, versus a guaranteed 100% chance that the retail version will be infected with something that'll ruin your computer's performance and deny you access to what you have bought. Usually the Pirate Bay comments will include stuff like "don't download it is infected" and eventually the admins will delete it.

  • by omnichad (1198475) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:19PM (#38728152) Homepage

    Right. When I buy a game, I want to be able to use it for 20+ years, whenever I feel the desire. How many computers have you had in the last 10 years? If you count hardware changes as small as a swapped out graphics card, I'd say at least 5+ computers in the last 10 years.

  • by Osgeld (1900440) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:19PM (#38728168)

    I dont bother with ubisoft games anymore, I wont even waste my time pirating them because THEY NO LONGER EXIST outside of the fact that people should know that Nazisoft is a worthless shit company who blames all their problems on piracy and not the fact that 99% of their games suck donkey dick.

  • by cavtroop (859432) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:19PM (#38728170)

    The article has an update:

    Update monday Jan 16 - 2012: We have been contacted by bluebyte over the weekend, the company that developed the Anno series. Our key has been pretty much unlocked allowing us to properly work on this article. To be continued ....

    Uh, NO, NO, NO! Ubisoft and other vendors will continue this trend of archaic stupid DRM until it hits them in the wallet. The 'review' industry should take a stance - no reviews, no press, nothing, until Ubisoft (and any other vendors that do this kind of shit) stop the excessive DRM.

    Do you really think the developer of the game will give out an 'unlocked' code to anyone OTHER than a high-profile website reviewer? What if you ran into this at home, which with a grand total of 3 registration attempts, is easy to do over the course of a short period of time: "When contacting Ubisoft marketing here in the Netherlands, their reply goes like this: 'Sorry to disappoint you - the game is indeed restricted to 3 hardware changes and there simply is no way to bypass that. We also do not have 7 copies of the game for you'.:"

    THATS what average joe-user will get, a simple 'tough shit'. STOP REVIEWING THEIR GAMES

  • by sqlrob (173498) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:21PM (#38728202)

    Consoles aren't general purpose, they're game appliances.

    DRM on the console won't interfere with my ability to do other things that aren't related to games.

  • by PIBM (588930) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:24PM (#38728238) Homepage

    I was about to suggest the same. I just hope all the reviewers start doing this for games in general, so that any review published will be tanked so low that no one will buy them in the first place when DRMs are encountered =)

  • Re:PC gaming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AdamThor (995520) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:28PM (#38728278)

    Indy gaming is why to stick with the PC. It's inexpensive and user-centric, compared to $60+ DRM'd AAA titles.

  • I'm out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DerCed (155038) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:34PM (#38728368)

    I've actually spent quite some money recently on games produced by EA and Ubisoft. When I learnt about the bad behaviour of the Ubisoft activation scheme, I stopped playing the game immediately and reinstalled my workstation to clean up. Shortly afterwards I wanted to sell an EA game and got told on the hotline that there is no way I can transfer the activation key to another Origin account (Steam à la EA, with lots of privacy issues). I told them they have just lost a customer who paid lots and lots of money for their games. Because of the privacy issues I again reinstalled my system and I will not buy games from large producers anymore. I will either choose DRM free indie games, or ... well you know what the other option is.
    Video game industry, you can thank EA and Ubisoft for not getting any money from me anymore.

  • by omnichad (1198475) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:34PM (#38728372) Homepage

    I think you're missing the ENTIRE point of this being a thread on Windows DRM. I'm saying that as many computers as I've had in the last 10 years, there's no way I could buy a game today with this DRM and still be able to play it in 20 years, because of the DRM and count of hardware changes.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:36PM (#38728408) Journal

    In the adult industry the trick of the trade is to show just enough free content to convert people who want to see more without giving them to much. The to much is very simple, if they "come" before they join, they don't join.

    Conversion ratios are very low, 1% would make many an adult web site owner cream his pants. But the idea that you can get 100% if only you do X has yet to take hold although companies that sell anti-piracy scams sure are trying.

    PC gaming has a LOT of "gamers" who want to try a game, or have zero budget. They are the equivelant of kiddies watching the scambled porn channel for just enough signal to "get off". People with ancient PC's downloading games they can't play or afford. There is no way to convert them to paying customers but the anti-piracy scam industry, the makers of DRM or the anti-piracy lawyers, sell the idea that those 1 million downloads from brazil where computers are 486's for the rich can be turned into paying customers for Crysis 2.

    The proof? I got none EXCEPT that completely and utterly crap games or very early releases that barely work or 3D CAD software only people with engineering degrees can use are STILL downloaded in their millions. I am not saying piracy doesn't have an effect, I myself pirate games I once would have bought because the companies behavior disgusts me (Bethseda, fuck you and your horse armor) but its total effect is over-rated. A game like Anno 2070 has a niche appeal, a lot of the people downloading it just don't really want to play it, they are not even trying it out as a demo, they just want the "street cred" for having had it, played an hour or so and then discard it. Ubisoft might be having a wet dream that if there is no option to pirate it, then they would pay full price for it, but that just isn't there.

    If piracy goes away, the sales might double, that sounds amazing but Ubisoft is dreaming of a 1000% increase, remember that they think every illegal download is a missed sale. But with DRM sales actually decrease because for a lot of people, they just got to many bad experiences. Like me and Betsheda game.I am not even bothering with a single player RPG anymore until it latest "expansion" pack has been announced and someone wrapped it all up with some user made bug fixes and released it. The pirate experience both in DRM and in getting the "whole" game has become fastly superior to the bought experience. Smart move Betsheda in limiting certain starter packs to certain regions, gods knows RPG players are not known for being completionists who want to experience everything and so you force them to pirate sides to get content already included in the game but withheld from them because they bought it at store X instead of store Y. That is like forcing a good kid to get his coca-cola from the coke dealer because you don't want them to know about drugs. No that makes no sense and neither does region restricted content in the modern age.

  • by teslafreak (684543) <teslafreak@hotmail.com> on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:39PM (#38728442) Homepage Journal

    Pirates don't pirate because of DRM. They pirate because ..... only to be hit with DRM.

    So in other words... they pirate becuase of DRM.

  • by TFAFalcon (1839122) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:48PM (#38728542)

    You won't be able to play it in 2 years, when they shut down the auth servers and forget to release a DRM patch.

  • Re:PC gaming (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew.gmail@com> on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:59PM (#38728680) Homepage Journal

    Would I ever purchase Skyrim on a console when the PC version allows mods, better graphics, etc? No.

    Would I ever purchase Madden on the PC and play with mouse and keyboard rather than on my PS3 and big screen? No.

  • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @04:00PM (#38728698)

    Yes, because installing Linux is the reason people buy a Playstation 3.

  • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @04:03PM (#38728730)

    Man, can you imagine? I bet 20 years from now we're going to have to do things like emulate false activation servers for DRM so we can actually play the games.

    It's ultimately a technical problem we've already solved. We would just end up running another specialized piece of software in a virtual machine like many of us have to do now with Windows 7 and playing games.

    Look at something like DOOM. No DRM really (at least not of the nastiest sort), but it can't exactly run natively in Windows 7. Instead, it gets run in DOSBox. I'd imagine that 20 years from now we'll have Starcraft II emulating Blizzard's older Battle.net servers so we can actually play it.

    That, or we can just use the cracks that exist now and then run it in the appropriate OS via a VM.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @04:05PM (#38728754)
    Sure you will. Download a crack.

    These game companies are a joke. They'll never outsmart the cracking groups.
  • by sg_oneill (159032) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @04:42PM (#38729258)

    No, he's making a point. This sort of shit penalizes people who buy the software whilst doing nothing against pirates, because lets be honest here: This game will be on pirate bay within a week of release and the version of pirate bay will have the DRM as severed as charlie sheens tv career.

    And thats whats so bizare. What rational consumer wants to PAY for a product that has judasware when they can download for free the same-product with the judasware removed.

  • by rockman_x_2002 (1791612) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @04:56PM (#38729428)

    I don't think it's quite the same. You see, with a console, you know what you're getting into when you buy it. You know that the console you purchase today will be the same 10 years from now, 20 years, etc. And the only way to "upgrade" the hardware is to buy the next console that comes out. Most who do this, but want to play the older games too, will keep the older machine laying around. In doing so, you're able to continue to play the older games you like on your old console for as long as you want. You also know that in buying a new console, unless the new console is backwards-compatible with the older console, your game won't work on it. But for consoles, this is a given, and has been so since game consoles were invented.

    PC gaming, however, is a different animal. Every PC is, at heart, based on the same hardware and software (generally speaking) as the generation before. Therefore, there should be no conceivable reason why software that currently runs on my machine now can't run in the future if I make a simple upgrade to the same machine (more memory, bigger HDD, different graphics card, etc.). Likewise, if I buy a newer machine, there's a high likelihood that, if I'm running the same base OS (usually Windows), it should still work with little to no extra configuration necessary. PC gamers have relied on this for years, and is one reason dedicated PC gamers who do not own consoles specifically choose not to own a console. It hasn't been until recently that we've had to deal with DRM do the degree that it basically locks a PC gamer into his or her current hardware configuration without the possibility to transfer to another machine (games purchased over Steam excepted).

    Perhaps the biggest thing that makes the difference between PC gamers and console gamers is that console gamers can (and do) have multiple consoles in the house. Being smaller in size than a PC gaming rig, gamers will tend to occasionally keep the old boxes to play the old games that the new machines will not play. PC gamers, on the other hand, tend to only have one PC rig in their house, and maybe two if they have the room. That rig then gets updated over time, or eventually replaced. We know that on a hardware and software level, these upgrades or a full replacement should not render the old software inoperable (there are certain cases where it might, but these situations are becoming far and few between). It's just things like DRM that tend to stand in the way.

  • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @05:38PM (#38730122)

    like there is this gigantic elephant in the room

    Ha!

    (Ironically, I don't believe there are any elephant people in the game.)

    Not a single line references the fact that animals are walking around, talking and holding jobs.

    Have you considered this is a good thing?

    Think about it. The camera shows the species have been given latin classifications. Note that there's also very few "wild" animals that are anything like ours today. A possibility is that our wild animals evolved to sentience (eventually).

    The fact that no one says anything about it says a lot. They are accepted as normal and living side by side with their fellow sentients. How is this in any way a bad thing?

    Let's put it another way. Say a game has a homosexual male character in it. If they made the occasional gay joke, it might offend some people and some people might laugh. But if they don't make any jokes whatsoever, what does that tell you? It tells you that no one cares about that person's status as a homosexual, and therefore it is so commonly accepted that no one even thinks to say something about it. This is a good thing.

  • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @05:43PM (#38730204)
    I cite the entire Madden series as a counter argument to people getting wise.
  • Re:I know... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by trdrstv (986999) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @05:52PM (#38730358)

    The Humble Indie Bundle said that their most requested feature was Steam support. It just blew me away that people would be so dependent that they would be asking for DRM.

    Because it isn't SOLELY DRM for the publisher, it's a service to the costumer as well. It's convenient to have an account with all your games and potentially cloud saves wherever you go, and be able to install on any machine you own on a whim without worrying about having the cd's, codes or any of that. The reason Steam WORKS at ALL for customers is because most people are inherently lazy. Valve offered a system to manage all the games you own, install on multiple pc's, cloud saves, auto-patching (even when idle, but logged in), an "offline mode" (which is increasingly disappearing from PC games), no "CD checks" (which is great for us net book owners) and achievements.

    Steam IS DRM, but it provides a service, which is why I support it. I will however not buy any game over Steam that uses any additional form of DRM as it would only offer complications and aggravation.

    I also understand that the DRM free games from HiB contain many of these features but not all. Personally I've been a big HiB supporter from the beginning and have something like 7 or 8 "download pages" all registered to the same email address. If I want to install one of those games I would rather boot steam than jump to each of those sites until I guess/ grab the right one. Once again, Steam keeps things simple.

  • by kcbnac (854015) <kcbnac @ g mail.com> on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @06:30PM (#38730912)

    Exactly this. You put that much crap into your product, and I just ignore you as a vendor entirely. I won't pirate it, I won't play it, I won't buy it. Ever.

    Ubisoft is dead to me.

    If I'm not wanting to buy the game (whether I can afford it or not) - I'm not willing to pirate it either.

    There are so many other publishers out there that are producing good product and not crippling it with such crud that I'm not missing anything - I don't have enough time to play all the games I pick up on Steam over the Christmas sale to have beaten them all by the time the next year's sale comes around.

    Ubisoft, you put landmines in the playing field. I'm taking my ball and going to someone else's park, and I'm not coming back.

  • by oneblokeinoz (2520668) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @06:58PM (#38731312)
    A PC is like my grandfathers axe: It's had 3 new handles and 2 new heads, but it's still a great axe. And there is still only one of them!
  • by Evil Pete (73279) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @08:28PM (#38732506) Homepage

    The irony is that the pirated version would then actually be worth buying.

  • by Elldallan (901501) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @08:54PM (#38732804)
    That is very true there is no logic behind it if that is the goal but the goal with DRM schemes like that is something completely different it's to cripple the second hand market for games.
    The companies want you to buy a brand new copy of their game from which they will earn a profit and not a used second hand game from which they earn zilch.

    This way they get profit from the early adopters who is willing to shell out a lot to be first to play a game and then they can milk more profit when the retail price goes down and regular people starts buying the game, previously the early adopters could sell their copy when they were through with their game to regain some of the overprice they paid to be first, now that wont work anymore.

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