Piracy Works

That’s probably what an awful lot of Ubisoft’s customers will be thinking right now, at least those who loaded up Silent Hunter over the last day or so hoping to enjoy some quality gaming time.

It turns out that Ubisoft’s incredibly stupid DRM scheme has completely shafted all their legitimate customers according to reports from Rock, Paper, Shotgun. The DRM servers that each customer has to be connected to, all the time, just to be able to play the game have been down for an entire day.

No gaming for you!

What’s even more precious is that the claims that Ubisoft made concerning the inability of pirates to crack the DRM code in a way that allows players to play while these servers were down seem to be false too, according to the Rampant Coyote. It turns out that those who pirated the game were able to play it when the servers hit the deck.

I’m going to admit something bad. No, not pirating games, I don’t believe in doing that. But I have enjoyed a bit of the old schadenfreude in reading these reports. This situation reinforces the whole concept that treating your customers like criminals is a bad thing, and that it will backfire. In this case it backfired sooner rather than later. And that’s absolutely wonderful because it reinforces this position. Will it affect sales of other Ubisoft games infected with this customer hating crap? I hope so, since that’s the only way these companies will stop pushing this nonsense on their customers.

I also noticed over the last week or so that a couple of bloggers made the assertion that there’s no difference between an always connected DRM and the need to be connected to play a MMORPG. I just want to spend a moment to say that assertion is not entirely true for the following reasons.

First of all, nearly every modern MMORPG is meticulously designed to cope with random disconnects in such a way as to prevent the loss of progress as much as possible. That’s not the case with this DRM. Disconnect or get line lag and expect to restart from the last checkpoint. Ubisoft’s DRM is designed to interrupt the game experience. MMORPGs are designed to prevent interruptions even in the case of individual server crashes.

Secondly, the fundamental expectation of playing a solo single player game is to be able to do it anywhere. Some people just don’t have good internet. They may not be able to play a MMORPG, they shouldn’t be able to play single player games either?

And as we’ve seen today, server downtime can affect legitimate customers. Should a single player game be unplayable if the publisher has a bad server day?

PS. Don’t pirate games. It’s wrong, and it’s part of the reason these companies are doing this.

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  1. hunter

    one thing i don’t see anyone mention is, what happens when ubisoft goes out of business? or they don’t see the profitability in running their drm server after a while? what if the game flops and they can’t justify the cost of the drm server, so the few people who did buy it are screwed?

  2. Stropp (Post author)

    @hunter — I think Ubisoft have stated that they’ll release a patch to remove the DRM before that happens (or after a certain amount of time.) And it’s unlikely they’ll go out of business before AC2 drops off the radar, so there’s not too much to be worried about there.

    It’s more likely they’ll just shut the servers down when it becomes unprofitable to keep them going and release a patch at that time.

    Still, with a company so obviously not concerned about their players getting a good gaming experience, I wonder if they’ll even bother spending the development dollars to remove the DRM.

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