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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."
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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).

    • 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 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 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)

          • I agree, this is beyond evil. I can maybe live with always on internet requirement but this?? I still play 10+ y/o games, x-com, ja, moo series. Considering I go through a full upgrade cycle once in 1.5 years and frequently swap components between upgrades, this scheme is completely unacceptable for practical reasons alone.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @04:26PM (#38729050)

          I think Ubisoft needs to take the rose colored glasses off.

          If I go based on JUST the equipment in my room right now...
          8 PC's. These represent every PC I've used as my primary (excluding two) since 1997. I'm not going to rebuy a game a second time unless I REALLY loved it. I have physical copies of sierra games that don't work, so I bought the steam versions... which don't work(as in they don't work without tinkering.) This is what happens when the naive assumption of the existing hardware and operating system is used as a programming constant. I have physical copies of the Origin/Ultima/Wing Commander games, and I bought digital download versions where available.

          Some of these games I had obtained at some point as a pirated copy, back before CD-ROM, you used to have to make physical copies of everything, this was a behavior instilled by Binary Systems - Starflight, and the early AGI Sierra games. Always play from the play disk, and never the originals. We no longer have the option to backup games, it's all "in the cloud", which means that should that company ever go bankrupt, or in the case of Sierra, all the source code to the game is lost, there is absolutely no way to play a game. At that point, only the pirate copies survive.

          I'm actually rather fond of the "instruction manual" and "activation key" based installations, because you had to own the game at least once to install it. But after installing it, you still need to have the physical game to play it, not necessarily in the drive.

          What's the best form of light-DRM?

          Time-based activation IMO. Install the game with the code, give it 48 hours, and then the game tries to activate "online", or activates once multiplayer is engaged. Once activated, it only checks for simultaneous usage during multiplayer. This gives a wide enough window for people to try/rent a game, benchmarks, and swap out hardware to find the best working combination. As long as the "disc" is in the drive (or for download games, internet connectivity,) it resets the activation countdown to zero. If the game is already "in use" with that key, it just refuses to run without the disc (or until the other copy disconnects.)

          The point of light DRM, as opposed to heavy-handed DRM, is to discourage casual copying (eg borrow from a friend, and then play from the installed copy in perpetuity.)

          Heavy handed DRM assumes the user is a criminal and forces them to buy the software, or contact customer support again. Adobe does this with Photoshop, they write hidden sectors on the hard drive so that you can't casually hack the trial countdown. I've had to call Adobe no less than twice, and it's the only reason why I don't routinely reinstall the Windows OS anymore (I used to reinstall it every 6 months) because I have to call adobe and tell them I'm not running it on more than one PC.

          Let's put this in perspective. If you pay someone minimum wage, eg 10$/hr to just field "I can't activate" calls for your games. You increase your support costs by having this.

          Now I'm not saying that people don't pirate, because I've known more people who pirate PC games than I know people who never pirate. But there's behavior patterns that make it VERY easy to tell who's pirating the game, and that's a lot more cost effective to deny service to pirates. One way is to break the game so that pirate copies are effectively spoiled and useless. Put a timebomb in the game that is only triggered by skipping the activation step. Most "cracked" games simply NOOP instructions for doing the activation, they don't actually reprogram anything. So at some point in the game, something will look like a bug, but not positively identify that it's caused by piracy. The bug is then fixed by putting the original media or network connection in DDL versions back in the drive. Yes I'm aware that people make drive emulators, but that's not the point. It's actually an endless loop of having to install the unmodified game, patch, crack, reinstall, patch, crack to get past the timebomb.

          It doesn't need to prevent the piracy.

          • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> 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 Mephistophocles ( 930357 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @04:39PM (#38729216) Homepage
          5?? Hell, i've probably had 20. Especially if you count every single hardware change.

          I wonder how deep this protection goes, i.e. we know it works with video cards - how about monitors? What happens if I get a new keyboard (especially one that would require drivers, i.e. high-end gaming keyboards and the like)?

          Fortunately haven't bought this game (and now never will), but if I had I'd be demanding money back. Bad move, Ubisoft. Makes me not want to buy any of your products again, ever.
        • 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 hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <> on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @05:32PM (#38730030) Journal

        Shouldn't we really just call TFA "Hey guess what? Ubisoft is again proving they are douchebags" and call it a day though? Lets face it whenever we hear of a company leading the way in assraping the customers it is ALWAYS Ubisoft. They destroyed DVD burners with Starforce, they were the first that i know of to burn customers by making their games have an always on internet connection, now they are the first to have NASTY hardware based customer screwing. When it comes to being giant pricks ALWAYS count on Ubisoft.

        BTW if any of the Valve guys are reading this? We need to talk bro. I want, nay DEMAND that you put an easy to see mark that lets me know without clicking on the main page and scrolling to the bottom some sort of sign that a game contains DRM above what Steam has so i can avoid it. The whole point of Steam is ease of use yet you are letting the publishers fuck that up by hiding the "this game contains extra DRM" shit at the bottom of the main page. i don't want to go to the main page when I'm browsing sales, okay? So far in the past month and a half i got stuck with GFWL and TAGES by not having an easy way to spot that shit when browsing the sales. if I have to go click on every. single. link with NO way to open new tabs in your client? my purchases are gonna go waaaay down dudes. So fix that shit, come up with an icon that says "This has extra DRM, maybe a red and white stop sign looking thing, just to let your customers know. I'm sure the publishers will bitch but you know what? let 'em. Remember these same douchenozzles would be happy to see you go under and just go to Origin and its your CUSTOMERS you need to be watching out for, not pricks like Ubisoft.

        Also make a way for me to "ban" publishers from my view. There were several games during the Steam sale i got excited about only to click on it and find out its a Ubisoft game with extra DRM shit so I wasted my time, time i could have been looking at titles that i would actually buy. I don't want any Ubisoft, i won't buy any Ubisoft, so why not make a simple preference page that lets me banhammer them from my purchasing pages? Remember Valve the ONLY reason you are rolling in swimming pools filled with cash is that you made Steam easier than piracy, but if you make it a royal PITA to buy games there its not like we don't have PTB where we don't have to deal with phone home and other horseshit.

        BTW for all the complaints and comparisons to Windows activation? I have NEVER had MSFT refuse an activation on a legit key EVAR. Hell the machine I'm typing this on is a Win 7 HP I installed in OCT 09 when i built the thing and I have changed out every. single. piece. of the hardware, and I do mean EVERY piece. the HDDs, the RAM, the graphics card,the PSU, the motherboard, and the CPU. The ONLY original piece left is the case yet I've only had to reactivate ONE time and that was when i switched out the ECS motherboard and quad CPU for an Asrock and 6 core Thuban. it took less than 5 seconds and went without a hitch. Working at my little shop I've had to call MSFT plenty of times when someone royally boned their PC and installed multiple times trying to "fix it" (Lord save us from those that know just enough to be dangerous) and it took me less than 5 minutes in every case. i'd say "The guy messed up his install and kept trying to fix it himself before bringing it to the shop" and the person on the line would be "Okay,put in this code" and that was it. No hassles, no bullshit, no muss nor fuss.

        But I won't have a game that i can't switch hardware with so i don't care if this game is the second coming it won't be coming anywhere near my PC.How much you want to bet this will be in the top five of PTB downloads, along with Diablo III? After all Ubisoft thought that they'd have piracy stopped cold with the always on Assassins Creed and it took the Fairlight guys less than a month to have a 100% functional version. just more proof that often the pirate version is the better version as they don't have to deal with this horseshit.

      • by xded ( 1046894 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @05:46PM (#38730262)

        paying full price for a game and only getting a temporary license for it.

        I remember a game development manager of Ubisoft being asked about piracy some years back during a talk at my university. He said something along the lines of:

        The 70% of sales of a single game are made during the first week after the release. The current goal of copy protection mechanisms is not to prevent piracy forever but to gain time.

        That made sense.

        Now this DRM scheme does absolutely nothing to gain time but only harms legitimate owners on the long run. What is the logic behind this?

        • 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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xenkar ( 580240 )

      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 "

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:27PM (#38728266)

        I've downloaded many pirate versions or cracks for games I own and even bought on launch day because the DRM is an annoying piece of shit that interferes with my ability to play, and sometimes with other functions of my machine.
        These other functions have even included being able to make functioning system backups or the ability to burn cds.

        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. With the frequency of changing hardware and the occasional nuke & pave (something that happens when you test beta software), I'm sure I'd hit their fuck you, err, activation limit in 6 to 8 months.

        Am I not what you call a pirate? Doesn't matter, I'm what Ubisoft calls a pirate, and their antics are the exact kind of reasons I use cracks. Not too likely to be doing it with their software now, they really pissed me off last year and I've vowed to not buy their stuff again, until they back off of the screw the customer garbage, because that DRM B.S. doesn't stop the pirates, it only slows them down, often by less than a few hours.

        • 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.

          • by gorzek ( 647352 )

            Not to mention, some Steam games come with DRM like "Games for Windows Live", so while you may be able to install the same game via Steam any number of times, it has a finite number of GFWL activations to it.

            I buy a lot of games, but I've become very careful in my purchase choices over the past couple years because of this crap. Has there ever been any single-player game that was effectively prevented from being pirated? It's easy enough to track keys and so forth for multiplayer, but with SP it doesn't see

        • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

          I've only ever been annoyed by two games I own on Steam.

          First is Beyond Good & Evil. You can't really config the controls to set up a gamepad properly (and it's a port from a console!), so I have to use XPadder (a wonderful program that lets you remap keys from one device to another, plus do cool things like macros and whatnot) to get a controller to work correctly.

          Secondly is Street Fighter IV. I bought it to enjoy it on my PC and play with my friends. I have to sign into that goddamned Windows Live se

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by teslafreak ( 684543 )

        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 gorzek ( 647352 )

          I pirate either as a "try-before-you-buy" (and that means I delete games I don't end up buying), or use it for games I bought but the retail version is known to have some kind of nasty DRM in it.

          I have a couple games on Steam that have the godawful Games for Windows Live crap on them, and I assume it's just a matter of time before I'm not allowed to play them due to some SNAFU on Microsoft's part. I am fully prepared to pirate said games at that point.

      • 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 FalleStar ( 847778 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:22PM (#38728212) Homepage

      It's getting to the consoles now as well. I was fully intent on purchasing Battlefield 3 for PC, but I'd already gone well over my gaming budget due to good Steam deals. Some friends and I went out and rented a copy of BF3 on Xbox 360 instead just to find out that you need to enter a one-time use code that comes with the game to access the multiplayer. I fully understand the used game market hurts the developers; however, would it really have been unreasonable to include a 3-7 day trial for renters like myself.

      I'm glad this happened though, after playing the single-player campaign instead I deemed the game not worthy of a purchase. EA had a definite sale with me and managed to mess it up, my how these DRM schemes save them so much money.

      • by ArhcAngel ( 247594 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @04:07PM (#38728802)
        Try playing a Microsoft Games for Windows Live title. I was right in the middle of a big fight in Batman Arkham City when I got kicked out with a message telling me I had logged in to another PC. Turns out my wife had fired up the Xbox 360 to watch a DVD. It automatically signed me in and BAM!
        • On a single player game like that just make a local GFLW account. And I agree that particular issue is very frustrating (Shame on netflix for allowing MS to put their service on the gold tier instead of free like the other 599 devices that can run netflix)
        • by gorzek ( 647352 )

          I'm convinced GFWL is the most massively retarded online profile/DRM bastard child ever devised.

      • 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 yukk ( 638002 )
          Well, the difference is that in theory they could have made another sale to the person who entered the secondary market. In practice though, that person is in the secondary market for a reason; usually price. So in order to capture that sale the company would have to drop the price after a short intro period, and likely keep dropping the price to hit the thresholds of those (in, say, Australia) who don't want to pay $99.99 (~$US104) for a game but are willing to pay, maybe $40 for a used copy of a game tha
      • by Cinder6 ( 894572 )

        I have to take issue with the idea that the used game market hurts developers. It might, but I don't think we have enough evidence to support it. How many used game sales are lost new game sales? It's similar to the argument that each pirated copy represents a lost sale--some used sales do represent a lost new sale, while others don't. Some people simply can't justify spending $60 on a game.

        There's also the fact that people who sell used games often turn around and buy new ones. Again, not a 1:1 ratio,

    • Despite what the article says, a three machine activation limit for a game is NOT FAIR. It is an utterly unreasonable restriction of my use of the product, and I refuse to buy games that have such a restriction.

      Of course, I don't pirate them either (out of a near OCD-level desire to keep my nose clean), I just buy other games instead.

      I won't touch Ubisoft's products with a ten foot pole.

    • Crippling the secondhand market by requiring another purchase to unlock content and/or tying games to hardware cultural theft, and it is not in the spirit if copyright law.

      IMO, this is one case where the companies engaging in it deserve no copyright protections whatsoever and people who crack these sorts of games to repair the damage for future generations actually are the kind of heroes of posterity that Slashdot stereotypically paints pirates as being.

      If they don't want people to be able to play the game

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.
  • Is it in the terms? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:13PM (#38728056)

    If this isn't made clear to consumers before purchasing -- or licensing, I guess -- the game, this is a great opportunity to make DRM even less profitable for Ubisoft:

    1) Buy game. Keep receipt and copy of terms.
    2) (Legitimately) Update/change your hardware more than 3 times over the course of a a year or two
    3) When the game stops working, ask for an activation
    4) When they decline, ask for a refund
    5) When they decline, sue in your local small claims court. It's usually free to do
    6) Let Ubisoft either issue thousands of refunds or defend thousands of small claims cases

    (Note that if the issue is described but is buried in fine print or displayed as grey-on-black, it's likely still arguable as such a material condition that hiding it is itself deceptive).

    • by firex726 ( 1188453 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:24PM (#38728224)

      EULAs are not as binding as many would think.

      In part due to how way the transaction is handled. I am expected to hand over my money and buy the game THEN get to see the terms, if I do not agree to them I am still out my money with no recourse.

      Look at any other agreement and the terms are known up front, even if in legalese.
      Taking out a loan? You'll see the terms before you sign.
      Singing a lease? Again you get to see the terms.

      In both cases you can walk away with no harm done.

  • This was where ImpulseDriven (Steam competitor started by Stardock) was nice, it would show the DRM used prior to purchase. Unfortunately this doesn't seem to be case since GameStop bought them out.

    Personally I don't buy DRM'd games, which unfortunately means most PC games.

  • by MetricT ( 128876 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:15PM (#38728096)

    These guys are walking billboards highlighting the value of Steam vs the crap DRM-ware of Ubi, Origin, MS Games, etc.

    I was stuck at the office very, very late one night. Nothing to do. So I logged into Steam, downloaded a game I owned ("Bloody Good Time", excellent FWIW), and played a while until I could get of there.

    The MBA's at Ubu/EA/MS would explode at the very concept. And it is why I will be spending my money at Steam.

    (And Gabe, if you read this, I can haz HL2e3/HL3 now plz?)

    • by sqlrob ( 173498 )

      These guys are walking billboards highlighting the value of Steam vs the crap DRM-ware of Ubi, Origin, MS Games, etc.

      Not enough of a value obviously. FTFA: Even the Steam version includes this nice 'feature.'

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *

      Except this DRM applies to Steam versions of these games as well.

  • 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 K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:17PM (#38728126)
    "Sadly, all four games from Ubisoft used in our benchmark failed to work on six out of our nine configurations."
  • by Ameryll ( 2390886 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:19PM (#38728164)
    The worst is they never seem to respond to the customers needs. I have Heroes VI (one of the games with the always networked DRM of horribleness). I bought it for christmas and there was a period of 36 hours straight where the server was down. There were three separate days where it was down for at least an hour. And this primarily a single player game. The reviews for Heroes VI on Amazon almost all complain about the DRM and it has 2.5 stars as a result. At this point, there seems to be nothing to do except to refrain from purchasing from them until they go belly up.
  • 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

  • Pirates don't have to deal with that stinky DRM shit, they just bypass it. Why'd you pay money for something that's crippled? Was your brain turned off?
  • 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.
  • Seriously? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fallen1 ( 230220 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:25PM (#38728244) Homepage

    THIS. This shit right here is what _creates_ people who pirate software. Not because it is "free", but because it is FREE OF RESTRICTIONS on what I can do with the software that I (would have) legally paid for and own.

    Hey, Ubisoft employees! Start thanking your bosses now for the loss of your jobs, especially those in the PC gaming section. I have a business idea for you: Start a new gaming company with the best and brightest among you and put out your games for the PC market WITHOUT DRM of any kind. Skip the major distributor route (no EA, no Ubisoft, no Company X). Put it on Steam. Put it out at a good price (_not_ $59.99 US). Put in GOOD game play with replayability. We will fill your coffers with gold and jewels.

    Those that ultimately pirate your title? Well, fuck em because they were never going to pay for it anyway. They aren't a lost sale, they are just lost.

  • Another Sale Lost (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Riddler Sensei ( 979333 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:27PM (#38728264)

    This game was actually on my radar (on my Steam "Wish List" and all). I was planning on picking it up when the price had gone down a bit or when Steam had a special on it. Now no. Never. You lost a sale. Hell, I'm not even going to pirate it. Fuck. You.

  • by shawn(at)fsu ( 447153 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:27PM (#38728268) Homepage

    So I had to google search a list of Ubisoft games to find out what the last one I bought was. I had to go all the way to the M's before I found one I owned. Funny enough once i got past the Myst series I didn't see any more games that I bought. So you just keep in spitting in to the wind Ubisoft.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • We? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cragen ( 697038 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:38PM (#38728428)
    You keep using this term "We". I do not think it means what you think it means.
  • I know... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MetricT ( 128876 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:38PM (#38728440)

    I was talking about games that use Steam DRM, vs just the Steam store. The only two non-Steam games I have are Fallout 3 and Arkham Asylum. Past that, if you don't use Steam DRM, I don't buy it. Respect your customer, or you won't have customers.

  • by pwileyii ( 106242 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @03:57PM (#38728662)

    I once had a DVD drive that didn't support the disc check that was done to ensure you had an authentic disc in the drive. I tried to fix this via Internet searches and posts on the game makers support site, but without success. I'm thankful for the people that cracked this kind of DRM because without it I wouldn't be able to play my legally purchased games. Plus, since I had opened the package, the stores wouldn't take it back and the game maker wouldn't help me either assuming that I was trying to do something nefarious. Saying this, the DRM for this game will be cracked and we will be free to play it on any computer we want without worrying about hardware changes. The worse the DRM, the harder the hacking community will work to bypass it. In my opinion, when DRM becomes noticeable to the consumer it has crossed the line.

  • by JustAnotherIdiot ( 1980292 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @04:03PM (#38728726)
    If I give you money, fuck off, the game is mine.
    If you say otherwise, then I'm going to pirate it.
    That way, we both agree that the game isn't mine, but I'm playing it anyway.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17, 2012 @04:35PM (#38729152)

    ubsoft peeps-

    I got connections all over the place. I know the Editor N Chief of Kotaku , IGN , Engadget I’ll be meeting them later today to discuss your situation. I'll get you attention you need pax east pax west , e3 , CES , Gamer Con , SSXW ,Comic Con, Germany I’m all over the place. I'll leverage my relationships with my main distribution arm landing us in GameStop , fry’s , Myers , Best buy , Activision , MLG , play N trade and a lot more.

    Dont worry about those complete morons on slashdo tpissing and moaning about drm. I say Welcome to the Internet. I'm 38 I wwebsite as on the internet when they were a sperm in their daddys balls and before it was the internet. I'll get this shit straightened out...

    Gimme a shout.
    Paul Christoforo, Ocean Marketing

  • That kid you knew in pre-school who, when the square peg didn't fit in the round hole, first tried to force it in until his fingers were bloodied and then finally hammered it in with his forehead? He grew up to be the CEO of Ubisoft.

"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham