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Ubisoft Defends Internet-Connected DRM As A 'Success'
Ubisoft Defends Internet-Connected DRM As A 'Success'
July 29, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

July 29, 2011 | By Kyle Orland
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

Ubisoft hasn't won many fans among consumers for its use of a DRM scheme that requires a persistent internet connection in some PC games, a policy it recently revived for the upcoming Driver: San Francisco. But the publisher says there's a simple reason it employs the measure: it works.

A company representative recently told PC Gamer that the company has seen "a clear reduction in piracy of our titles which required a persistent online connection, and from that point of view the requirement is a success."

Despite the success, such protection will not be present in all of Ubisoft's PC titles going forward -- the company recently confirmed that the August release of From Dust will not include such a scheme.

Ubisoft's first began requiring an internet connection for most of its PC releases in early 2010, including the protection method in titles such as Settlers 7, Silent Hunter V, Splinter Cell: Conviction and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.

The company removed the check for those titles earlier this year, after consistent complaints from fans.

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Rodolfo Rosini
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hey Ubisoft please pass the bong

Bart Stewart
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But is it a "success" from the point of view of making more money overall than a similar game with less onerous DRM?

Simas Oliveira
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That's the point they are missing apparently. Doesn't matter how "successful" the DRM is, reducing piracy does not by itself bring more money, selling more copies does. And i highly doubt they are selling more copies than they would without this nonsensical DRM. I for one passed great Steam deals just because of the Ubisoft logo in the corner, and some of these were $5 games. Paying full price for this slap in the face DRM is absolutely out of question...

William Barnes
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That is a great question. One they in all probability will never address let alone think about. Perhaps the amount of piracy dropped because people are beginning to HATE Ubi for such draconian Gestapo DRM and don't want anything to do with Ubi delivered product. Perhaps they just have their heads buried in the sand of fantasy.

I too have not bought any new or used titles bearing the Ubi label ever since they started it. It's not worth my time and not even worth the momentary thought of piracy to bypass such ... ummm .... wasted money.

With so many unhappy with the scheme, I cannot see it as a success... too many of us are alienated by it. I wouldn't even consider working for them, or one of their owned studios.

Jakub Janovsky
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Whatever they are smoking must be really powerfull stuff....

Benjamin Quintero
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Interesting how "success" is defined by returned copies of their games by frustrated gamers who's internet connection flickers. Does this mean I have to stop playing Ubisoft games too? I am running out of people to support. Time to pick up chess or something...

Roberto Dillon
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just don't play chess online: i lost so many games because my connection dropped! ;)

William Barnes
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It's very hard to return an open product for refund or exchange for a different product. Most stores I know would only let you exchange for for the same title only due to piracy paranoias here in the States. At best the title may have been purchased back as "used" IF a store could be found that were to buy used PC titles.

Todd Boyd
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DRM makes it so that legitimate customers get screwed; every time. Sure, the DRM is a "success" in that piracy is driven away, but they're probably hemorrhaging sales money as well due to the stark number of people who have a bad taste in their mouth from previous Ubisoft DRM debacles.

Simon Ludgate
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DRM is kind of a funny issue. It only "works" if someone tries to pirate a game, is foiled by the DRM protection, and instead buys the game because they couldn't pirate it. I'd love to see what kind of metrics they're using to calculate how many failed piracy attempts turned into legitimate purchases.

I'd point out that DRM doesn't "succeed" if it only reduces piracy. If someone can't pirate your game and then simply says "screw it" and doesn't buy your game or play it in any form, your investment hasn't earned you anything: certainly no money and certainly no good will.

Adam Bishop
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Excellent points.

Justin Kwok
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You should also include the case where a person WAS going to buy the game and then heard about the DRM/had trouble getting it to work and then didn't buy it/returned it.

Luis Guimaraes
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"a clear reduction in piracy of our titles which required a persistent online connection, and from that point of view the requirement is a success."

Wow. I though a clear increase in sales was success.

wes bogdan
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If by success you mean they've joined capcom in going from valuing their userbase to treating them all as thief's and holding everyone in contempt then YES it's a ROARING SUCCESS?!!

Glenn Sturgeon
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Rumor was AC2 was cracked within the first 2 weeks it was out.

Windows live and steam are bad enough with thier "offline mode", UBI is out of thier minds.

The big problem i have with online active DRM is if the server or your isp laggs so does the game, even in single player mode.. You may as well stream it from onlive if you want to deal with lag issues in a single player game.

I'll pass.

Jose Resines
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Boy, Ubi really does love to make their (soon to be ex) customers angry.

Not much wisdom at the top of Ubi, is there?.

Marc Schaerer
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I wouldn't have any problem with the protection scheme, if it worked.

But god, it just does not work if the only publisher and company on globe thats incapable to even keep basic game services on 24/7 employs it, plain out failing to have a fallback for the case they fail as always.

Any settler 7 user who bought the game the first 2 weeks will agree as the game was playable for what, 3 of 14 thanks to the servers being that bad that 3 -5 Ubisoft decision makers should have been head-rolled!!

And settler 7 is not the first settlers where Ubisoft has proofen to be a bunch of incapable noobs, as not a single settler incarnation had working services as far as I recall, they were on average more offline than online when I wanted to play a round online and alike, which is just inacceptable if you advertise the MP as a feature, same goes for shutting down the services 18 months after the games release and alike just cause it does not sell removing the MP completely due to it.

Please ubisoft, look at how blizzard handles it on StarCraft 2, learn from it, AND DO IT THAT WAY.

Or just use Steam DRM and release it there only which does the job too if you do it right.

Also, if you ever again require a permanent connected protection scheme and don't offer any substantial benefit from it like cloud stored save games, friends lists, etc that at least base-justify it to be present, feel invited to just go to hell for ever onward for being arrogant and stupid missing the point of protection (preventing pirates from playing it, not those stupid enough to shove money up your a**) combined with not getting the point of "offer something from user piss off measures that makes them 'like it'"

for me the point of no return was hit when I got Settlers 7 ...

I've had previous games that required permanent online playing but that cause they had tight integration with a MP platform, persistency, cloud saving etc so I could just pick the game and start it on my 2nd and 3rd pc without the slightest problem. But there the perma connected made sense and worked due to what it offered and because the services was there 99.x% of the time.

Gavin Koh
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It is sad when a company has to resort to such draconian measures to ensure that customers buy their products legitimately. I have only ever bought an Ubisoft game containing their touted DRM only once and that was because I was forced to buy it as part of an offer package on Steam. The title was Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, and though that game played without a hitch, I was disappointed and disgusted that the DRM was even on my hard disk (- I never finished the game and have already uninstalled it).

I wonder what happens when the DRM server is taken offline, will Ubisoft really provide me a non-DRM version of The Forgotten Sands? Or will the customer be simply "Forgotten"?

Perhaps this time they will get the hint. And perhaps it might also be a little too late for them. After all, we are talking about a company who lost 36.3% in sales for a quarter to quarter comparison of the same period, and that most of the sales this year was thanks to the strong back catalog sales of (ironically, none other than) AC1.

Finally, I think this press release at PC Gamer is just trying to say, "Alright, we'll compare the sales of From Dust versus everything else that employed the DRM over the past year." Someone up there probably had the sense (or guts) to say, "Hey, we gave it a trial run and the consumer has answered. Let's return to the basics and try something less drastic this time..."

Or succinctly put, "It's time for damage control!"

And about bloody time too...

William Barnes
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By the time they kill the servers, they'll probably feel there is nothing to be earned by releasing a patch that removes the draconian Gestapo DRM. Any player left playing them will be up the proverbial creek with no way to play.

They (Ubi) have earned "the black spot" as far as I'm concerned... they are pariah and as such are avoided, new or used, draconian Gestapo DRM or not. At least until they figure out that such DRM schemes are too costly to even consider.