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Developers Differ On Need For Ubisoft DRM Schemes

Developers Differ On Need For Ubisoft DRM Schemes

September 2, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

Developers at Driver: San Francisco studio Ubisoft Reflections and Just Cause studio Avalanche have offered up starkly different takes on Ubisoft's controversial efforts to protect some PC titles with stringent DRM schemes.

"It's difficult to get away from the fact that... piracy on the PC is utterly unbelievable," Ubisoft Reflections studio founder Martin Edmonson told Eurogamer.

While Edmonson said his studio leaves decisions about DRM to publisher Ubisoft, he said publishers were "quite morally correct" and have "every right" to protect developer and publisher effort against the "incredible rates" of piracy in PC games.

"If there was very little trouble with piracy then we wouldn't need it," he added.

Ubisoft originally said Reflections' upcoming Driver: San Francisco would include DRM that required a persistent internet connection during play. The company has since amended that statement to say the game will require a single online check only the first time the game is played.

But even less intrusive efforts like this are counter-productive, according to Christofer Sundberg, founder of Just Cause developer Avalanche Studios. Speaking to Edge, Sundberg pointed out that piracy will always be present on the PC, and argued the best way to fight it was by engaging the community.

"My solution to the problem is to start designing games for the PC player, and award PC players for being part of the community of your game and for staying connected to you - not forcing them," he said. "If you continuously tell the player that you care about their opinions, and appreciate their investment, you will lower the amount of bootleg copies."

While Sundberg admitted that a publisher could easily force the studio to add intrusive DRM, he said he "can assure you we would go down screaming before anything like this ends up in any Avalanche game."

Ubisoft's recent PC release of From Dust included a DRM scheme that required an internet check every time the game was launched, but the company recently announced it was working on a patch to remove this requirement.

The publisher has defended its DRM efforts in the past, citing "a clear reduction in piracy of our titles which required a persistent online connection."

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