Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
DRM Games

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

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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ubisoft Has Windows-Style Hardware-Based DRM For Games

Comments Filter:
  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:17PM (#38728110) Homepage

    People bitch about Windows activation, but on the few occasions I've experienced where Windows needed to be re-activated because of a hardware change, the process was completely painless. As in, "I'm helping out my mom on Christmas Eve and dinner is going to be served in a half hour" painless.

    The first couple of times I called, I spoke to an Indian man who asked me a few questions and gave me a code. More recently, it was a fully automated system. I don't think the process has ever taken as much as five minutes from beginning to end. It seems to me the for individual users, Windows Activation is more of a way to scold you than anything else: "You do know you're only allowed to use this copy of Windows on one computer... right?"

    Now, if Ubisoft is really claiming that you get three activations and after that your software is useless, well, that seems like something else entirely.

  • by firex726 ( 1188453 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:20PM (#38728180)

    To answer your question, no you cannot buy the same game twice; even if bought retail you cannot register two keys to the same account.

    You would have to make a second account for the second key/copy.

  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:21PM (#38728198)
    You can live without the game. If a company acts like this, stop buying their products. I will no longer buy Eidos games after they stuck Star Wars blu-ray advertisements in Dues Ex. Likewise I will not buy Ubisoft games because of the DRM. I am staunchly against piracy since I write software for a living and am not a hypocrite, if companies see no sales and no torrents of a title they may start to wonder why that is.
  • by CFBMoo1 ( 157453 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:33PM (#38728348) Homepage
    I bought one game that had a restricted number of installs and that game was Bioshock back in the day. Much as I had fun going through it I've not bought anymore games that have restricted installs. I've also avoided companies that have a reputation for nasty DRM in their games. Ubisoft is at the top of my "Don't Buy" list.
  • by wagnerrp ( 1305589 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:33PM (#38728354)

    Rant and rave about Windows DRM all you want, but the way Windows activation was designed, it actually appears intended to stop piracy. You activate once, and store that hardware key on their validation servers. It doesn't repeatedly poll the server to ensure validation, it only gets used during updates, and it will only block a new update until you re-activate. If you change hardware after a certain amount of time, it will allow you to validate a new install, invalidating and blocking updates on the old install. If you do so before that certain amount of time, all you have to do is call a number, claim you replaced hardware, and replace the existing validation. They're not going to care unless you start doing that multiple times each month.

    This, you get three times, period. There is no expiry period. There is no way to call and flush out an old install. Three times, and then the product is dead. This sounds more like a mechanism to prevent resale of games, rather than a way to prevent piracy. How dare someone else get to play the game without paying them additional money! Just wait until they start requiring a webcam, so they can perform facial recognition and ensure you are the only one playing the game.

  • by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:42PM (#38728476)

    It's just 5 hardware changes across all devices you own worldwide, which is even more ridiculous. Those hoping to play the game on both a desktop PC and a laptop around the house or on the road are even worse off. (again, something Ubisoft's best customers are more likely to do than anyone else)

  • Of course they do (Score:5, Informative)

    by Brain-Fu ( 1274756 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:49PM (#38728560) Homepage Journal

    Many pirates pirate because of DRM. Some also pirate out of an interest in trying the game before buying it, some because they feel entitled to their license even though the CD got scratched, some because they have no disposable income of their own (or no room in their budget for it), and some out of sheer sloth/greed.

    But to say that DRM doesn't create pirates is to completely fail to grasp some of the most basic principles that drive human behavior.

  • by RMingin ( 985478 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:57PM (#38728642) Homepage

    Quote: "I've never tried to crack a game on Steam, because once it's installed and has had it's activation, I've never been annoyed by any Steam game. "

    Be careful. Being on Steam only guarantees it has the light layer of Steam DRM, it DOES NOT prevent the publisher from requiring other, more obnoxious forms of DRM as well. I bought that Pitch Black game on Steam (super sale, looked entertaining), but have never been able to play it because it packs in a non-64bit compatible version of SecuROM as well.

  • Re:so glad (Score:4, Informative)

    by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @04:05PM (#38728756)

    If by "research" you mean "check the Steam Store page", then yes, you do. Case in point:Anno 2070 []. Specifically says "3rd party DRM Solidshield Tages SAS 3 machine activation limit"

    Yes, I do love Steam.

  • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @04:14PM (#38728910)

    You've been lucky. I've witnessed a retail version of windows XP be refused activation after a hardware change. Calling microsoft was unproductive.

    I call bullshit.
    The only reasons a key is blacklisted from the installer (ISOs and retail discs get updated with new installers and key blacklists) or from the activation program are:

    1) Key is fake.
    2) Key is a volume/site license key that has been deactivated or has reached its maximum number of installations.
    3) Key is a single-installation or limited-time key, such as a demo/beta/preview key, or an MSDN-AA key (cheap/free Windows through your school).
    4) Key has seen an exorbitant amount of use and has been flagged as a pirated key. Typically these are the keys that pirates insert into the .nfo release notes, or keys that you can find via google when some idiot or some management software posts a public log that contains it.

    Manually activating with a valid key (none of the above situation apply) is as simple as calling the number (24/7, toll free in every country that matters) and keying in the code it displays on screen. An automated system, or a live person, will then ask you how many PCs the copy of Windows is installed on, and you will say "1", and then they will give you a key to type into the box, and you're done.

    You can reformat and change your hardware every fucking week if you want.

  • by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @04:19PM (#38728958)

    I fully understand the used game market hurts the developers;

    WRONG WRONG WRONG. I'm sorry, but you've been bamboozled. The used game market doesn't hurt the developer. The used game market is a secondary market that exists in parallel to the primary market, wherein owners exchange goods in return for money. Any time a game enters the used game market, the developer has already received money for the game. Furthermore, if it's a true used game market, the games in circulation are originals, and don't involve CD-Rs. Therefore, from the perspective of the developer, any game that is in the used game market is identical to a game that is sitting in the closet of the first buyer of the game.

    The argument that the used game market hurts developers is identical to the one that people who don't buy multiple copies of a game hurt a game developer, or who don't buy the same game every 6 months, or every 3 months. It is fundamentally based on the assumption that developers have a right to your money, and that you do not have a right to the product you're buying from them.

    It is absolut bullshit, and every developer who pulls this argument gets put on my personal do not buy list. Yes, I'm down to buying a few games per year, mostly from small time developers. I still buy the occasional big-budget title, but after ME3, I'm probably done for a long time.

  • by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @04:29PM (#38729072) Journal
    It was a non-insignificant factor in my decision to drop $600 for the device. To me, at least $100 of the purchase price was justified by it being able to run linux. I was really hoping we would get RSX access in Linux eventually. Considering how pretty hands-off they were about PSP, I dont think anyone thought Sony would go to the nuclear option about it.
  • by Mephistophocles ( 930357 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @04:49PM (#38729342) Homepage

    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.

    Maybe you will. I sure as hell won't, because I won't buy a game that uses DRM like that on general principle. I don't care how awesome it is - my life will not be duller or less meaningful if I never play it.

    This is one of the principles Ubisoft and others have forgotten. I don't have to buy your crap, and I sure as hell won't if I don't trust you. Ever. You aren't entitled to a sale, Ubisoft. You aren't entitled to anything. Show this kind of arrogance, and all you get is me utterly ignoring everything you do from now on.

    These companies seem to think that all they really have to do is hype a title and then the mass of cattle-gamers will rush to the nearest store and buy 5 copies on release day, fearing their lives will end in dismal agony if they don't. Maybe that'll work for a while, but eventually people get wise to this sort of thing, and then you're screwed. I cite plummeting movie theatre attendance in the past 50 years as an example.

  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @06:15PM (#38730680) Journal

    Did you try getting those games on GOG? I've found for older funky games you really can't beat good old games, out of the nearly 50 titles I've bought so far from them, going back to the early 90s, that there was exactly ONE game that didn't work and i knew from having owned it previously what I was getting into. Apparently whomever coded i76 had its timing based around the Pentium chips that were out then because anything faster screws up the scripted events, but thanks to the excellent GOG community I was able to slap on a patch they cooked up and get the game up and running. Considering my main OS is Win 7 HP X64 the fact that all these games will run just shows how much work the GOG guys put into their releases as many were released before 64 bit computing was even a thought, hell some of them like BLOOD and Redneck Rampage were even before Win9x becoming the dominant game platform. So give them a try, they even have 3 or 4 free games you can download once you sign up just to give it a spin, they are really great at getting funky older games to run.

    As for TFA the sad part is even though I haven't bought a single Ubisoft game since Butcher Bay I'm sure they'll just put down any losses to piracy and bribe the politicians for ever more draconian measures. Its what i call "PPT math" in that they'll look at console sales and bring their bribed congress critters a PPT and say "See if you'll look at this slide it says we sold X on consoles which means we should have sold X+Y counting PCs and since we didn't it must be teh ebil pirates ZOMFG!" while ignoring the fact many of us simply won't touch ANYTHING by Ubisoft no matter if you sold it for a buck. me personally I've had to change out too many new DVD burners because the customer got Starfucked and the burner was thrown into PIO mode and fried. That kind of bullshit along with Ubisoft being the absolute worst when it comes to screwing their customers have simply made sure i won't buy nor pirate a single Ubisoft title, I won't allow that trash on my system.

    But I'm sure thanks to PPT math i'll be listed as a pirate along with anyone else that doesn't buy this so it'll be used as an excuse to push even nastier laws. Its one of those "too big to fail, heads i win tails you lose" kinda things and it sucks, but we've seen it time and time again, companies that think their shit don't stink and no matter how badly they treat their customers if they don't get the sales they believe they are entitled to it MUST be those ebil pirates.

  • by DanielRavenNest ( 107550 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @06:38PM (#38731014)

    Crysis is made by Crytek, and distributed by EA games, not Ubisoft. Also, Crytek distributes their game engine as part of an SDK for free, so you can mod their games or create your own from scratch: []

  • by Peristaltic ( 650487 ) * on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @01:34AM (#38734794)
    It's the axe of Theseus. []
  • by Catnaps ( 2044938 ) on Wednesday January 18, 2012 @09:27AM (#38736950)
    Because Wikipedia's blacked out?

Loose bits sink chips.