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DRM Bug Games

Thanks to DRM, Some Ubisoft Games Won't Work Next Week 332

Posted by timothy
from the how-about-a-nice-game-of-chess dept.
hypnosec writes "Several of Ubisoft's biggest titles won't be playable as of next week thanks to a server move by the publisher and the restrictive DRM that was used in their development. This isn't just multiplayer either. Because Ubisoft thought it would be a smart plan to use always on DRM for even the single player portion of games like Assassin's Creed, even the single player portion of that title won't be playable during the server move. Some of the other games affected by this move will be Tom Clancy's HAWX 2, Might & Magic: Heroes 6 and The Settlers 7. The Mac games that will be broken during this period are Assassin's Creed, Splinter Cell Conviction and The Settlers. This move was announced this week as part of a community letter, with Ubisoft describing how the data servers for many of the publisher's online services would be migrated from third party facilities to a new location starting on the 7th February. The publisher didn't reveal how long the transfer would take."
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Thanks to DRM, Some Ubisoft Games Won't Work Next Week

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:40AM (#38916285) Journal
    1. Install software at new site.
    2. Test software at new site.
    3. Lock writes and edits to old database.
    4. Dump old database.
    5. Migrate old database to new site and populate.
    6. Switch DNS or whatever directs traffic to point at new site.

    That should be a matter of minutes and since I would guess this is largely just a reading and verifying service, there shouldn't even be an interruption for game validation. There are other strategies to employ if that database dump takes a long time but nothing that should require an unknown downtime.

    Uh, I do this stuff with two-bit websites that I don't even make a profit on. What the hell is money monger Ubisoft doing?

    • by mcavic (2007672) on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:43AM (#38916337)
      That would require duplicate hardware at the new site. It's hard to convince people to shell out, even when their pockets are deep.

      The real question is why you need DRM on a game (or anything else) that's been purchased outright. And a related question, why do you need an Internet connection to play a single player game?
      • by TWX (665546) on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:51AM (#38916479)

        One could always split existing hardware between a couple of sites if there's enough duplicate equipment, and suffer moderate outages instead of full-blown darkness, then once the switchover has happened, move the rest.

        Or set up a virtual network between the two banks of hardware at different physical locations, and switch the traffic routing and whatever other addressing is necessary, and once the new location is up and working and backfeeding the old location, then down the old location and move the rest...

        But I agree, it's stupid to use DRM for a purchased game, especially beyond initial activation at the time of installation. If I remember correctly, the id folks intentionally removed DRM once they'd sold enough copies of their software, and actually credited piracy with increasing the popularity of their games to the point that they became a known force...

        I guess I look at piracy differently. Sure, there are some people who would have bought a product that now won't, but there are lots and lots of people who end up with pirated copies of something that never would have purchased it in the first place, or never would have purchased it at a price that the seller is willing to sell it for. One cannot count those kinds of pirates as lost sales, since there never would have been a sale. There is a third case though, where someone pirates something and exposes their associates to it, who then go out and buy it because it appeals to them.

      • by Technician (215283) on Friday February 03, 2012 @12:15PM (#38916891)

        MS is guilty of this dumb move early on. Back when optical mice where the new item, I bought a MS optical mouse for a system I was building on my coffee table. In the software installation, the optical mouse driver hung up the install looking for an Internet connection to register the software. I was like WTF and returned the mouse as defective and unable to function on a stand alone system.

        Not everyone who plays stand alone games are connected with an always on connection. Many locations are still on dial up. Multiple machines mean many are not connected while waiting for the phone line. Tying up the phone line for hours is not an option either.

    • by Drinking Bleach (975757) on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:44AM (#38916355)

      Not hiring you, apparently. In seriousness, it is a very good question. I've done similar things not just for sites that don't make any money, but for sites that just sink more money than they ever have hope to make. Ubisoft is just showing a prime example of their incompetence here.

      oh and since it's probably oblig: Guess who this move affects the least? the pirates.

    • by cdrguru (88047)

      What you are describing (fully parallel hardware) is fine if the budget is unlimited.

      I suspect UbiSoft isn't running their servers as the primary source of revenue and the budget for this migration is very limited. So limited that they aren't duplicating the hardware but physically tearing it down in one location and moving it to a new location. Not very nice, but it if you can't afford to replace 100% of the hardware it is what you are looking at doing.

      It is nice to work with a huge operation where the e

    • by alen (225700) on Friday February 03, 2012 @12:06PM (#38916715)

      this involves spending money to support games that have already been sold

      the smart way is to turn off the servers
      load into truck
      move to new DC
      unload
      rack them
      turn on and change configs

      sure people can't play the game but the revenue is ours already. not like they can return it

      • by idontgno (624372) on Friday February 03, 2012 @12:21PM (#38916989) Journal

        And that's a critical point. Support is not a revenue center. If they could get away with it, a large fraction of business would wash its hands and walk away.

        If their own revenues (like, e-commerce servers) were at risk during this transition, you can be for damn sure that there would be a live warm cutover of a full parallel installation at the new site, with dual operations and a slow de-constitution plan at the old site for fallback purposes.

        But a DRM server? Meh. I suppose we should feel grateful they're bothering to stand the things back up at all.

        Which is why I don't buy single-player software which requires a live phone-home. Even Steam is pretty close to verboten, though not necessarily (since the games I'm thinking of can run without Steam authentication, at least for a while).

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@NOspAm.world3.net> on Friday February 03, 2012 @06:26PM (#38922063) Homepage

          This really harms brick and mortar game shops too. I can't just go in and buy a game I like the look of any more, I have to research it online first to see if the DRM will fuck up my PC or make it too much of a hassle to bother with. And that usually means reading Amazon reviews, and since I'm there already now I might as well just order it from them too.

    • by Seq (653613) <slashdot AT chrisirwin DOT ca> on Friday February 03, 2012 @12:26PM (#38917067)

      1. Install software at new site.

      Maybe DRM prevents them from installing in two places?

    • by VGPowerlord (621254) on Friday February 03, 2012 @12:42PM (#38917363)

      The problem with locking writes to the database is that all the games mentioned save their save games to Ubisoft's servers. Meaning that as soon as the DB is write locked, players are (essentially) locked out of their games.

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:41AM (#38916297) Journal

    Complaints about this will NEVER MATTER until it impacts the bottom line.

    STOP BUYING UBI GAMES.

    Unless and until publishers see a recognizable impact on their sales that they can attribute to repressive DRM, they won't stop.

    And remember, a lot of these guys BELIEVE the bullshit line about every pirated game is a "lost sale" so the negative impact of DRM would have to be a pretty massive number.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:42AM (#38916327)
      I WRITE random WORDS in caps SO I can YELL LOUDER for no apparent REASON
    • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:45AM (#38916367) Journal

      This is what I did - across all platforms for games whose PC release contains this particular DRM. Actually, it's been surprisingly easy. Despite consuming games at a voracious pace (see my various journal posts etc), it's been quite striking how few of the Ubisoft franchises I actually care about. There have been times I've been vaguely irritated to be missing the Assassin's Creed sequels, which do look interesting (better than the first one, which I played on PS3 before the DRM plans were known), but even there... there's no shortage of alternatives.

      I did buy one game by accident which included an "always online" DRM requirement - Command & Conquer 4. It wasn't made particularly clear when you bought the thing and, with it not being an Ubisoft game, I assumed it wouldn't be pulling a stunt like that. Ultimately, though, the best form of copy protection that C&C4 had was the fact that it was so utterly shit that nobody would want to play it (and I say that as somebody who liked C&C3).

    • You aren't wrong and I haven't and won't buy their games that have this DRM in it. The problem is they will just blame the low sales on piracy and not on the fact that they are making a bad product people don't want. They just won't get it.

      But hey maybe that means they'll get out of the PC games business which maybe wouldn't be a bad thing. They can leave it to people that understand the PC business better.

      • by Baloroth (2370816)

        Ubisoft have already stopped releasing some games on the PC, because of "piracy". Ubisoft Blames Piracy For Non-Release of PC Game [slashdot.org]. I rejoiced when I read that, because it means maybe Ubisoft will stop making their shitty games on the PC anymore and nearly tricking me into buying them (almost bought Anno 2070 until I noticed the Ubisoft publisher. Well, and the TAGES protection, but I noticed and decided not to buy it after seeing the publisher first.)

        Ubisoft just doesn't get it. When you make crappy games

    • I already have. When I'm browsing steam these days, a EA or Ubi logo means I instantly go back and look for something better.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Complaints about this will NEVER MATTER until it impacts the bottom line.

      STOP BUYING UBI GAMES.

      Unless and until publishers see a recognizable impact on their sales that they can attribute to repressive DRM, they won't stop.

      And remember, a lot of these guys BELIEVE the bullshit line about every pirated game is a "lost sale" so the negative impact of DRM would have to be a pretty massive number.

      Sadly, and I speak from experience, if you don't have some DRM your game will be pirated and you will make zilch. But it doesn't have to be repressive and a good fundamental system design, how to validate users, hand out certificates, etc. could have been done very easily. Sounds like they hired some stupid system people or contracted it out to some stupid system designers. Even Microsoft handles this sort of thing better with software install/registration, and if they can get it right, with their empir

      • But if you do have DRM your games will *still* be pirated. I have yet to encounter even one piece of single-player DRM for games that defeated the pirates - it only takes one cracker, and their work will be all over the p2p networks in hours. Multiplayer is a different story, yes - you can use things like requiring unique serials then that really do bother the pirates - but single player? No, DRM is useless. Might buy a couple of days.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 03, 2012 @12:38PM (#38917289)

        "Sadly, and I speak from experience, if you don't have some DRM your game will be pirated and you will make zilch."

        This is simply wrong, try the humble bundle http://www.humblebundle.com/ [humblebundle.com], no DRM and plenty of profit. The games which lack DRM and make no money are usually not very good or have made the Proun mistake ( the only difference between the demo and the pay version is access to a single map, not enough incentive to buy it for most people)

      • by columbus (444812)

        I'm not sure if I agree with you.

        A couple of my old favorite games (Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion & Warhammer 40,000 - Dawn of War: Dark Crusade) were sold without any DRM whatsoever and both were commercially successful. I guess Dark Crusade was more of a niche game, but Oblivion was a big hit, no 2 ways about it.

        Interestingly, another sequel to Dark Crusade - Soulstorm was later published; Soulstorm included DRM and sold more poorly than its predecessor. There were other factors in play; personally, I

      • by toriver (11308)

        But your DRM will get cracked and DRM-free copies will be found on torrents. And then the only people suffering the DRM effects are the paying customers.

        Good Old Games manage without DRM. Stardock manage without DRM. Plenty of others, too. Piracy is a fact of life, try instead to make it as interesting as possible to buy it. The pirates are not your customers anyway.

    • by guidryp (702488)

      I have always avoided any game with an external dependency. You don't need the latest games, There are tons of older games that are DRM free and cheap (check out "good old games".

      But that may come with age, I am perfectly happy only playing old games, but if you are young, and your friends have bought into glitzy add campaign, and are playing HotDRMGameX, you may also feel the need to play HotDRMGameX.

      So, sadly, I think the younger generation will supply the game industry with the DRM captive audience they

  • I just... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by trunicated (1272370) on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:42AM (#38916317)

    There's just so much wrong with this... it's amazing...

    • They're locking users out of game they have paid for
    • They're unable to move a set of servers without preventing downtime for customer facing attributes
    • They're completely oblivious to the reasons why these are bad things

    It just leaves me completely flabbergasted. I can't imagine this entire process coming to this point without someone, somewhere in the decision process saying "Who gives a shit what they think? Just do whatever's cheapest right now"

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      There's just so much wrong with this... it's amazing...

      • They're locking users out of game they have paid for
      • They're unable to move a set of servers without preventing downtime for customer facing attributes
      • They're completely oblivious to the reasons why these are bad things

      It just leaves me completely flabbergasted. I can't imagine this entire process coming to this point without someone, somewhere in the decision process saying "Who gives a shit what they think? Just do whatever's cheapest right now"

      The obvious gaffe is in the design - how they validate/deliver certificates, could have been done better.

    • by Baloroth (2370816)

      I can't imagine this entire process coming to this point without someone, somewhere in the decision process saying "Who gives a shit what they think? Just do whatever's cheapest right now"

      I think that about sums up Ubisoft's entire attitude towards video games.

    • Re:I just... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rary (566291) on Friday February 03, 2012 @01:09PM (#38917909)

      You're missing the best part. They're creating a period of time during which the only people in the world who can play the game are the pirates.

  • Total FAIL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:42AM (#38916323)

    Failure in implementation of DRM, failure in how to build the DR portion of the datacenter, failure on how to do the transition, failure on how to provide some measure of compensation for intentionally breaking your customers' games.

    Hello Ubisoft. Meet Sony. They'll show you around my shitlist.

  • Yarr! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:43AM (#38916329)

    I don't understand. I seem to be unaffected by this.

    Now, on t' more pressin' matters. Where did I put that bottle o' rum?

  • Reward the pirates (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:43AM (#38916343)

    Since their DRM is ineffective at actually stopping pirates, here we have the perfect example of "defective by design". Anybody with a DRM-cracked pirated version will not have any disruption. Nice job, Ubi.

    I get heated over this kind of thing every time I pop in a DVD from Netflix. They send you discs without any special features that are loaded with up to 15 minutes of unskippable advertisements and previews. If I had just downloaded the move, I could jump right in. I am willing to pay, but I see nothing but disincentives to do so! Fools.

    • DRM works (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sakdoctor (1087155) on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:47AM (#38916423) Homepage

      First I stopped buying.
      Then I stopped pirating.
      Then I stopped caring.

      • by couchslug (175151)

        "First I stopped buying.
        Then I stopped pirating.
        Then I stopped caring."

        Sounds like my Windows experience...

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:56AM (#38916557) Homepage

      I get heated over this kind of thing every time I pop in a DVD from Netflix. They send you discs without any special features that are loaded with up to 15 minutes of unskippable advertisements and previews. If I had just downloaded the move, I could jump right in. I am willing to pay, but I see nothing but disincentives to do so! Fools.

      If you popped the DVD into a Linux system and used one of the Linux players, then you could skip all of that stuff since they ignore the "unskippable" bit.

      It's still illegal, since it depends on the DeCSS code for breaking the encryption (fuck you DMCA). Morally, though, it's perfectly fine.

      Does Netflix streaming service do that? I have only limited experience with it, when a friend used his account to stream movies to the Wii that another friend had brought, and I don't recall any ads unskippable or otherwise.

      • Last I checked, streaming doesn't contain ads. However, the newest releases can't be found there.

      • by KhabaLox (1906148)

        I use Netflix Streaming several hours a week. My kids use it even more. There are no ads, no unskippable bits, and no bonus material. On some titles there is a distributor logo at the head (5 seconds), but that's it. We use it mostly to watch recent television series that we missed (e.g. Arrested Development, Breaking Bad for my wife and I, Power Rangers, Fireman Sam for the kids). Occasionally we'll find a movie we want to watch, but the selection is . . . eclectic, to put it kindly. And sometimes th

      • by Tom (822) on Friday February 03, 2012 @03:32PM (#38920133) Homepage Journal

        It's still illegal, since it depends on the DeCSS code for breaking the encryption

        I host it on my site till this day, despite being a named defender in the DVDCCA case. They served me papers, but they never served me an order to take it down.

        No, it's not as easy as that. We've had three court cases around DeCSS. The one in Norway was dropped, DVDCCA vs. The Internet was decided in our favour and Universal vs. Reimers was decided against us.

    • by tepples (727027)

      They send you discs without any special features that are loaded with up to 15 minutes of unskippable advertisements and previews.

      That's to get you to buy your own DVD of the movie from Amazon instead of renting one from Netflix.

    • They send you discs without any special features that are loaded with up to 15 minutes of unskippable advertisements and previews.

      Have you tried playing it on GeexBox? I use that for any DVD with a malfunction in the menu.

      I put the movie in and it plays.. What a concept. If I want a menu and extras, I can bring up the menu.

      Needless to say, it isn't blessed by the DVD consortium.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:43AM (#38916349) Homepage Journal

    This is news?

    Next thing you'll be telling us Credit Suisse has bad data ...

    oh, wait.

  • Far Cry 3 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by headkase (533448) on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:45AM (#38916371)
    I really want to buy Far Cry 3. Chances are however I will not be. Because Ubisoft is no doubt going to put their "always on" DRM on it. This article is the exact reason that that is unacceptable to me. So, Ubisoft can go about all they want championing how they're "putting it to those evil pirates" (roll-eyes) but in the mean-time they are losing out on me, yes, the person who wants the game but isn't going to submit to their idiocy. So, I lose because: no executive with a testosterone problem is going to back-off and admit he has shit for brains. And the cycle continues.

    And as Gabe Newell so succinctly put it: Piracy is a Service Problem [escapistmagazine.com]. So what's Ubisoft doing? Creating more value in the pirated versions. Way to go guys, golf-clap.
    • Re:Far Cry 3 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:51AM (#38916477)

      Buy it used and then crack it? You get the game, Ubi doesn't get a new sale, and you don't have to deal with the DRM.

      • Re:Far Cry 3 (Score:4, Interesting)

        by headkase (533448) on Friday February 03, 2012 @12:08PM (#38916761)
        It's not a case of "damage to be routed around": unless the unthinkable happens and Ubisoft does a 180 I'm not buying it in any way, shape, or manner - or going to pirate it either. I have plenty else to play and I don't want to have anything to do it until they smarten-up.

        Put it another way: the extreme Ubisoft is taking makes me feel dirty by having anything to do with it so I won't.
    • by Baloroth (2370816)

      I think it's great, in a roundabout way. Now you have $50-60 to spend on something else. Go take a look around Steam's indie games. Support the little guys. Some of them are amazingly good, better than most of what companies like Ubisoft put out.

      Ubisoft forgets one key thing: no one has to put up with their shit on the PC. On the console, while there are quite a few indie games, if you want a "good" (well, some of them are pretty fun anyways) game that you can spend 10-20 hours on, chances are you need to

  • by unity100 (970058) on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:46AM (#38916379) Homepage Journal

    that fixes those things before they become an issue. they even have their own trendy name :

    razor1911

  • by daveewart (66895) on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:49AM (#38916457)

    You can "deliver better uptime" by not using DRM in the first place. Voila, 100% 'uptime' with no infrastructure required.

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:50AM (#38916469)

    You wouldn't buy a new car that you had to call the dealer for permission every time you wanted to go for a drive.

    You wouldn't buy a handbag that you had to ask the clerk to open for you every time you wanted to take money out.

    You wouldn't buy a TV if you had to wait for permission from Time Warner just to watch the commercials.

    So why buy DRM?

    Brought to you by the Media Consumer Association of America.

    • by mhajicek (1582795) on Friday February 03, 2012 @12:10PM (#38916821)
      And they wonder why I won't buy Diablo III.
  • Obviously not competent in how to move servers. But whether this is a case of bottom of the barrel IT employees, or idiot executives badly micromanaging (or both) is unclear. They can let us know which it is, if they know how to login to Slashdot (which I doubt).

    • by 0racle (667029)
      Or they did a cost analysis of the situation and figured that it wasn't worth it to do it without downtime. And they'd probably be right, they probably won't loose any money on it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:54AM (#38916513)

    * The single-player campaign is available in both online and offline mode (of course! Anything else would be outrageous!)
    * However, if you ever lose connection in online mode, you're kicked out.
    * Oh, and did I mention that in this overhead map strategy game, where a single map usually takes hours, campaign saves from "offline mode" are not compatible with "online mode" and you must effectively restart the game? LOL YOU CAN OF COURSE PLAY OFFLINE AT ANY TIM.. no, gtfo.
    * And that a core component of the campaign mode are "Dynasty Items", "Dynasty Heroes" and "Dynasty Bonuses" which are unlocked during campaign mode and become persistent across games - except that they only work in online mode?
    * So the story will make frequent references to wielding the Sword of Legendary Dragonslaying except that you have no such thing in your inventory and will never have it or any other uber-item because you decided like a chump to start in offline mode in case you were worried about losing connection while playing.

    And that's aside from any other of the numerous gameplay issues and servers being down. A lobotomy of a game.

  • No worries (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mwvdlee (775178) on Friday February 03, 2012 @11:56AM (#38916563) Homepage

    No worries; I'm sure there's a downloadable bugfix to repair these broken games.
    Assuming your country hasn't blocked those websites yet.

  • Small Claims Court (Score:5, Interesting)

    by i8a4re (594587) on Friday February 03, 2012 @12:05PM (#38916695)
    Everyone who can't play a game during this move should take Ubisoft to small claims court. Lawyers are not allowed in small claims court, so this is an advantage for you. Just claim the value of the game as damages and the cost to file the claim. If Ubisoft doesn't make an appearance, you win by default. If they show up and you lose, you still caused them to lose far more money than they got from you for buying their game. If you win and they fail to pay your claim, you can put a lien on them or have an equivalent value of their property seized.
  • First, the drm was broken just about instantly by the pirates. So this is at BEST pointless.

    Second, if you're going to set up systems like this then you have to be committed to a strategy of NOT having the systems drop... EVER. I mean, if you have them drop for five minutes at 2 am on a Sunday... then that's excusable. But a whole god damn week? If you can't do better then you have no business setting up a system like that.

    Basic rule of security is that if the hacker gets physical control of the code you're

  • And generally this is why. I don't buy defective, faulty, or badly designed products and nor should you.

    I do have sympathy with people over piracy, but creating the above in answer to it isn't tolerable.

  • by Tridus (79566) on Friday February 03, 2012 @12:22PM (#38917019) Homepage

    You have to wonder what special kind of fail Ubi management is when they've failed to notice that they're breaking their own product for their actual customers while the pirate edition continues to function perfectly well.

    I mean, even your average MBA isn't this stupid. These guys must be top of their class.

  • Anti Consumer (Score:3, Interesting)

    by poly_pusher (1004145) on Friday February 03, 2012 @12:58PM (#38917701)
    This really is getting ridiculous. I buy an obscene amount of games. Partly because I want to help support artists and creators like myself. That rationale is starting to wear thin for me now.

    For instance, I bought Arkham City, an absolutely amazing game. One of the best I've played in years. I got 89% through the whole game "2nd play through, 440 riddler trophies, most of the challenges, all sidequests," Then there was a problem with my internet connection, entire neighborhood went down. After I got my internet back I started Arkham City up again and oh look, my save files disappeared. The reason it disappeared is DRM. Saves are managed by Windows Live and encrypted to be specific to your system. They were trying to keep people from cheating and instead they've ended up punishing people who play their games.
  • by Control-Z (321144) on Friday February 03, 2012 @01:00PM (#38917721)

    I can maybe understand some sort of DRM for the first year or two a game is out. But I've never even heard of half these games. How long are they going to hold these gamers hostage?

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