Ubisoft Explains Australian DRM Scenario

Ubisoft Explains Australian DRM Scenario

Last week it was discovered Ubisoft is launching one of the most draconian Digital Rights Management systems yet seen for the PC. Given the demands of constant live connectivity throughout even solo play, we queried Ubisoft on how they are aiming to ensure Australians aren’t going to be really stung if living with less than stellar broadband. Here’s what they had to say.

In what is very much a ‘bad news’ situation, the closest thing to good news Ubisoft had to offer is that the system will have “worldwide coverage including Australia.” The system was created with consideration to “sometimes unreliable Internet connections” in various parts of the world, and we have been told specific testing has been done in Australia and they feel the system works fine.

An interesting technical point is that the maximum bandwidth required for the system will be 50kbit/s. Fine for those with any sort of reliable broadband connection. Definitely out of the question should you be stuck on dial-up which is somewhat unimaginable for someone interested in playing a spanking new copy of AC2 on a recent spec PC?

The official line on what happens in the event of lost connectivity is that the game will pause and automatically try to reconnect once your connection is restored. However, with Assassin’s Creed II this will actually drop you back to your previous checkpoint. For Settlers 7, the game will pause at current state and continue from that point when you resume.

Words still fail to describe how hard this DRM concept punches devoted PC gamers in the throat.

This is Ubisoft’s ultimate gambit in the war on PC piracy. What is the ultimate aim? To sure up the security of their PC titles? Or perhaps to drive console-owning PC gamers over to the couch for good?

Remember, just last year Ubisoft released Prince of Persia for PC completely DRM free. We asked whether this latest DRM move was a response to a severe case of piracy around that title, but Ubisoft states this new platform has been in development “for some time” and it is not a direct reaction to the last Prince of Persia release.


  • Sorry Ubi. I’m not buying your game. I’ll be getting it through other means… I WAS going to buy it… I honestly was. But not with that DRM in place. I DID buy it on 360 and I wanted it on pc, but not with that DRM in place.

    • I’m with weresmurf.

      I’ve been really proud of having legitimately bought and paid for every game I’ve got since I got my new gaming PC (before then it was only Xbox 360). But I’m moving soon and my wife and I are choosing to not have internet at our rental while our house is being built.

      So I’m screwed over because some dumbarse at Ubisoft thinks this will tackle piracy? Good work, now I’m going to get it pirated, and when steam sells it for $20 one day in the future, THEN I will pay for my retrospective “licence” to use “their” game.

  • I suppose I could put up with this. Or I could wait for the crackers to relaese a patch that will get around it. The only question left is; If I’m going to crack the game regardless, should I bother buying it?

    • THIS

      This is not a valid flow of logical processing. This is the reason there is a piracy problem.

      OF COURSE you should still buy it, even if you plan to crack the game. If you don’t then you’re still stealing. Its just making the problem worse, because you’re one of the people Ubisoft expects to pay for the game. If you don’t buy it, then Ubisoft stops developing for the PC altogether.

      • @Glen: Every single one of their games from now on, whether on Steam or not, will have this new DRM.

        I am another person who was extremely interested in some of Ubisofts upcoming games, such as the new Splinter Cell, but now I won’t be buying, demoing or even looking at another Ubisoft product.

        Absolutely ANY system in existence can be reverse engineered. It’s not even that hard once you understand the architecture of the processes you are trying to follow.

        Steam has been cracked, IW.net has been cracked, WOW has been cracked. Having to be online will not make a difference to crackers. Your system will fail, Ubisoft, and it will fail within days of being released.

        There are plenty of other publishers who don’t treat their customers like prisoners, and I am more than happy giving my money to them instead.

      • I disagree Anon. While I stand by your point that many feel they are entitled to the game and that piracy is wrong, I can see the merits of wepoo’s position. I have never pirated a game in my life, and do not plan to in the future, but quite frankly this DRM is entirely offensive and will, inevitably, prove ineffectual.

        Ubisoft have to know that this DRM will be cracked within a week, so the question is, why do they bother? This basically just amounts to the industry venting its frustration at the platform, and I cannot understand nor condone it. Undoubtedly the message will be received at Ubisoft when sales plummet and piracy rises.

        • bottom line is and nothing go lower – there would no issues like this if piracy didn’t exist.

          Well there will always be piracy no matter how great or small, there has been for many many many many years.

          But with piracy the way it is – i don’t blame them for doing this. If it means less sales, well so be it. They’re not going to stop until the piracy of their games and PC games in general, come a loooong way down.

          I don’t play PC so this doesn’t affect me – but i don’t give a crap if you’ve never pirated a game in your life. You play on a platform that is a piracy target, expect the consequences that others seem to abuse.

          If you like the game that much and want it so badly, you will buy it. or Unfortunately pirate it. But stop whinging about DRM because its going to happen a lot more frequently. The excuse that “its gonna cause more piracy” is just stupid too.

        • if you plan on buying the game and playing a cracked version to avoid DRM which will in most cases not effect you (this drm is like getting tickled to the DRM that destroyed your hardware, just because) thats fine.

          However not buying the game and deciding to pirate inevitably leads to high prices of games, and its pretty much condoning game developers not getting paid for there time.

          If you dont want to deal with the DRM buy it on the console or buy it and use a pirated version. However refusing to buy the game out of some morale stand point while downloading a pirated version is disgusting.

          Dont touch the game if you dont want to support a developer trying to secure there hardwork, but dont pirate it out of some misplaced sense of self worth. its disgusting to even see merit in an opinion that would see piracy as a viable option.

  • What world do these people live in. It’ll still be cracked, the pirates will still pirate it. Meanwhile I’ll be spending my money on and playing other games.

    Oh, and anyone who thinks this is a valid excuse to pirate it in order to “stick it to the man”. No it’s not, there are plenty of other good games out there. Go buy and play one those instead. Pirating it just makes them think you can’t do without it, and leaves them wondering if there might be a way to stop you pirating it, thereby forcing you to buy.

    • On the other hand, while I am in no way advocating piracy, you KNOW that when these games sell poorly on PC they will just blame piracy, even if its actually because consumers are ‘voting with their dollars’.

      • You’re also forgetting that those who want to play AC2 will probably have played it on 360/PS3 anyway, not that they’ll take this into consideration when the sales figures come out.

      • To an extent you are correct. In theory they should be able to see games with lesser DRM doing better and make the connection but when they come up with ideas like this you have to wonder what actually goes through their head.

        But to be honest, let them think what they want. Let them have a fit and up and leave PC gaming all together. As I keep saying there’s plenty of other stuff to play, all the big multi-platform developers could up and leave and I’d still be fine for gaming on the PC. Worse off yes, but in no lacking games to play.

        The worst outcome I could imagine from all this is that enough people don’t care and buy anyway that this becomes status quo. And even then it just means cracking my purchased games becomes my status quo.

        Honestly though I don’t expect Ubi to stick with this. They flip-flop on this issue more extremely than anyone else, it’s almost be funny to see their internal meetings on this stuff.

        • This drama has been playing out for the past three decades. I remember the same argument/justification back on the c64, where scene releases would clean out the head rattle bad-block checks and single-file badly loading games.

          Dongles were also in use back then, who wanted to use a dongle for Leaderboard? Nobody so everyone used the crack.

          Piracy was shockingly rampant back then, I shudder to think what the situation is now with the Internet.

  • I does seem ridiculous that everyone is so upset about Ubisoft doing something to ensure that the product they supply is paid for. Yes, it seems excessive, but it was brought about by PC gamers pirating games to begin with. So to not buy the game, just as proof that you don’t need to buy the game is incredibly childish, and exactly the reason this has happened.

    • No it what is ridiculous is that Ubisoft is Punishing people who pay for the game and rewarding those who are going to pirate it no matter what.

    • The reason everyone is so upset is because this system will only hinder legitimate buyers. Pirates will crack it and they will get to play a superior version for free.

    • This is literally punishing their customers for doing the right thing. There is no call for it.

      When you buy a game, you buy it. This is game rental at full retail price. None of the convenience or cost saving, but a whole lot of extra hassle. For what? This won’t even slightly curb piracy. It will certainly kill the second hand gaming market. It will certainly force gamers to buy new games because 18 months after release, a game’s servers are turned off, killing both the multi AND single player.

      This is the closest thing they can possibly have to having a Ubisoft employee sitting in the room with you anytime you want to play a game.

  • I get the impression that one day (if PC gaming hasn’t died by then) then a consumer will purchase from the Distributor a Security/Fob Token.

    So everytime you boot up the game, you will be asked for your registered PIN code and then have to tack on the number from the Fob Key.

    Something like this… http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/33/RSA-SecurID-Tokens.jpg/800px-RSA-SecurID-Tokens.jpg

    Basically it becomes a consistantly changing CD Key. The key is valid for about 3-5 years and then when it’s close to expiring, you simply re-register for a new one…

    • Have you ever used an RSA token? absolute friggin nightmare when they fail or the code go out of sync. Concept is sound, but proper execution of these systems is something to be desired.

      Is a usual thought however they these sort of systems are a good way to protect a product (be in banking or games)

      • I have and do use them, everyday at work. To be honest, we’ve never actually had one fail before though. Hoping that trend continues.

        Within our business though we have a few of them, so if one did go down we have a replacement, our only issue is we’ve never been able to have one successfully replaced before they expired. This was resolved simply with no keys expire together.

        I just remember an old game Quarantine, which asked you a question everytime you loaded (real or pirated) the game and you had to input the correct answer (which was a number), the game came with a grid of numbers which you had to look up for the number.

        If you didn’t have them you were screwed, sure a simple photocopy resolved this, but it does sound like it will work, the game will only boot (real or pirate) if it’s verified with the ever changing security token.

  • Im kinda glad i had no interest in AC2 or settlers 7 since they really did leave us in a situation where the only moraly right way to aquire it is piracy. im not the kind whos usualy into piracy, i own over 200 games on steam and have bought 4 ps3 games this month alone

  • Yeah I’m with Zwa on this one. I’m not going to pirate their game. I’m also not going to boycott their games.

    On the other hand I will not be purchasing titles that include this “copy protection”.

  • I’m with Zwa.
    Further, this DRM scheme is not a problem for me as I’m not buying another Ubisoft game as long as this scheme is in place.

    On any platform.

  • To actually enforce the DRM, Ubisoft will know who, when, and where, is playing their game. Privacy concerns, anyone? They need to face it, the old business model of “selling” software for a high up-front price is dead.

  • Every publisher has seen the bags of WoW money that Blizzard has to step over just to get into their office and wants a piece of that.

    They have also seen that people will buy games which have online MP.

    WoW and online MP requires a constant internet connection to work and people happily hand over money to play them.

    • World of Warcraft isn’t a valid comparison in this scenario. WoW is an MMO which means an active internet connection is a given, else where’s the “massive” part going to come from?

      I think Steam is the closest example I could give here, however Valve realised that people will not always have a persistent Internet connection, hence the addition of the offline mode for when you’re tubes handicapped. I can only hope Ubisoft also relent a little for those who travel with Laptops or who don’t have a persistent internet connection.

  • If they make it available on Steam I’d be quite annoyed if this DRM was tacked on top of the system already in place on Steam.

    This ubisoft thing won’t kill PC gaming, it’ll just be another part of it. When it all goes to hell I’m sure they’ll come up ith something else.

  • I will put this in the simplest possible terms:

    I was planning to buy the PC version of this game.

    Now I am not, because of this DRM.

    Congratulations, Ubisoft, you have officially lost at least one customer because of this. Did nobody learn anything from the EA/Spore debacle???

  • No. Nononononono. Bad Ubisoft!

    I was willing to put up with the annoying SecuROM software for Spore and Bioshock installations on PC, but this is just. too. much.

    No AC2 for PC for me. Sad, cos I prefer PC to consoles as the graphics are more shiny.

  • He’s a thought. Say I play the game and then sell it.

    With the current DRM, will the next guy be able to play the game or does Ubisoft bind the copy to the first buyer?

    Let’s face it, Ubisoft and others hate the secondhand market, full stop. I think this is more of a form of sales protection that copy protection.

  • I feel that piracy, while admittedly a large problem in itself, is being used largely as a scapegoat for this, and other recent DRM implementations, since it is largely undefendable.

    The real reason behind this I feel is because they want to sell games as a service, and not as a product that can be sold on later. But because “we don’t want people to be able to sell these games after they’ve finished” is an even larger PR nightmare, they’re all playing the “blame it on piracy” line…

  • I just moved out fo the metro area and find myself having dial-up as my only internet choice for home. I resigned myself to becoming a single player gamer for the foreseeable future, and I can cross Ubisoft games off that list obviously. Descriminate much Ubisoft?

  • Trying to protect against pirates is just stupid because they see this as a challenge to break the protection. I give it about a week before a crack is out. Which in turn fuels their need to try stupider methods of protection. People who want to pirate the game are just going to anyway. The best method I think to ward against this is to offer a game and collectors editions worth the money. A 5 hour game is not worth $80+ (AvP, MW2, ect) and this is part of the reason I think why piracy is high on pc. The games just aren’t worth the money.

    Look at companies like Blizzard, ID and Valve. Nearly anything they release turns into gold for them. And it helps that these groups seem to actually listen to what people want. Just my thoughts though

  • so how much net usage is this going to cost me to play a game im not playing online. if it is checking constantly, that mean it is sending data constantly.
    What happens to those throttled/paying for extra usage when their normal quota is full. I know lots of people on telstra’s basic plans who could be slogged with a big bill without them knowing because they were just playing a singleplayer game.

  • I was going to buy it, but the DRM is just too sickening. I’ll spend the money on DRM free games from Good Old Games instead.

  • Wow, way for Ubisoft to screw over PC gamers. I bought AC1 and loved it, and was going to buy AC2 on PC. But I have an ADSL connection that goes down alot, so when that happens I play single player modes instead of multiplayer, and now I cant even play singleplayer???

    So Ubisoft, tell me what exactly am I forking over my cash for, cause it sure as hell doesn’t sound like Im getting a game to play.

    (and just for info, I don’t have a console either, Ive always been a PC gamer)

  • And Ubisoft gives me another reason to justify my decision to switch to Console Gaming.

    Oh and since Im on 512k down here in the country where ADSL2+ isnt available….this would suck up all my available bandwidth and piss off my parents.

    Thanks alot Ubi, the way to fight piracy is definately to punish the people who do the right thing…that’ll show em!

    • So you’re doing exactly what they want you to do? Here’s a novel idea don’t buy Ubisoft products. That means all Ubisoft products PC and console.

      I’ll stay a PC gamer. Ubisoft hasn’t made a decent title in years so I’m not missing out on anything. Their handling of Anno 1404 has been less than desirable but they did remove the Tages DRM rather quickly.

      Ubisoft however won’t see any money from me heck they haven’t seen any money from me in ages. They make crapware and blame piracy for that crapware selling well like crap. I hope you enjoy your console games you sheep.

      • Fanboy much.
        Hate to break it to you but you are not a white knight defending the holy grail of gaming. The PC is just another platform now and one with major issues at that.

  • I’m not too worried about this, I’m fairly sure they’ll drop this piracy within a few weeks/months of it coming out because of all the complaints. It’s way over the top and once it bites them they’ll dump it.

  • I want get Silent Hunter 5 when it comes out. I’m going to wait to see if they crack it before I buy it. If they crack it, I will buy it and CRACK MY LEGITIMATELY PURCHASED GAME. Just so I don’t have to deal with the hassle they “reward” me with for buying their game.

    That’s the big issue for me. Pirates get a cracked game with no issues other than maybe they can’t play multiplayer online. (not an issue for me with SH5) We who fork out a LOT of money for a game (especially in OZ) have to deal with this crap and hope UBI’s servers don’t go down. We also have to hope they can patch out the DRM should they choose to discontinue supporting it.

  • I guess it’s unanimous….. every single comment is against this plan. I think Ubisoft is making a terrible mistake here, if they bring this in then they’re gonna shoot themselves in the foot as no-one will buy the games. Plain and simple.

  • A friend and I were saying the other day that it’d be nice to force these developers to live in rural Australia for 6 months and then see how their definition of “even the slowest connection” changes

    Even though I have PS3AC2, I was sort of interested to see how they implement it on pc but this permanent connection thing has killed the curiosity. Or at least I’ll wait 10-15 years until it shows up on GOG.com

  • The other important consideration is that not only are there many places where you still can’t get broadband (flats with a single phone line split into several in much the same way broadband works are a notable example) but there’s the issue of caps & throttling.

    Say your pervert little brother has wasted most of your monthly bandwidth downloading porn that you don’t like (probably those 2 girls and their cup). Because of this you go over your limit in the first or second week of the month and are capped which kills your single player possibilites since you no longer meet the speed requirements, you’re locked out of your single player game for 2-3 WEEKS until your limits reset and to top it all you don’t even have any good porn to entertain yourself with in the meantime.

    That would induce 3 likely results, firstly you kill your brother, secondly you get pissed off with the company and not buy their stuff again, third you search for a way to prevent that situation happening again, perhaps bypassing the system entirely with some sort of download…

    Maybe ubi are trying to explore temporal theory, this is like the start of a predestination paradox.

    • UbiExec1: “We’ve seen the future, the PC market is destroyed by piracy!”
      UbiExec2: “What? Why would they pirate stuff if it will destroy the market?”
      UbiExec1: “Oh there was some bullshit ‘sticking it to the man because of restrictive business practices’ excuse but they’re pirates, who cares why they do things?”
      UbiExec2: “Good point! We have to stop them”
      UbiExec1: “Perhaps some kind of system that puts excessive restrictions on them…”

  • this game will be cracked like just about every other game. the pirates will always win.

    I think Ubi and other developers need to change the way they see pirates. they need to see that pirates arent the enemy. they’re the competition. the paid experience needs to be the best experience.

  • Are they going to refund me my money if I return the product due to my internet connection not being stable enough to play their game? This is a hypothetical question.

    What happens if I don’t have a broadband connection due to Australia’s backwater telephone network being shoddy? I may not be able to get Cable as it is not in my area? I may not be able to get ADSL as well due to my telephone line being on Pair Gain System (or too far from the telephone exchange)? and what if I am in a 3G wireless black spot or not in a coverage area? I am not going to get a satellite internet connection just to play a PC game. Unfortunately the majority of Australia’s land area is not covered by financially affordable broadband solutions.

    Plus, the game will only be cracked, or some sort of work around created, within a week of its release. Not that I that I condone piracy. I have always been one to buy the product if I deemed the product worthwhile.

    To be honest, it doesn’t really bother me as I don’t buy PC games any more. Too many problems getting them to run without software conflicts etc. Just get a console and be done with it. I buy about 1 PS3 or XBOX 360 game every month. I would rather buy a console game and know it works, than buy a PC game and get all excited until it installs and doesn’t run. Then to get a refund, you have to return it immediately. No point trying to get help from the companies web site when it takes days to get a response.

    Half the time the game is not worth purchasing any way. Assassins Creed 1 was a waste of time. So much hype for a game, that would have had to be the most repetitive, boring game released in a long time. MAG is looking to be rubbish as well.

  • My birthday’s in 2 weeks. The wife asked me which one I wanted – Mass Effect 2, Assassin’s Creed 2, or Bioshock 2. Since I have the first one of each for my PC. I told her I’d prefer a case of beer due to their DRM. She asked me if I had to ring Disney each time one of the kids put one of their movies on..

    Addendum : Since our wireless drops out every time the phone rings, the microwave is used, or a couple of trees lean the wrong way, from what I read here I won’t be able to play them unless I pirate them. 3 game sequels I’m looking forwards to after playing the first, and I am point blank refusing to buy them because their DRM will theoretically make the games unplayable. Way to go Ubisoft.

  • GEH! Stupid, I know a lot of people, like me, who like to play PC games when they’re somewhere else on their laptop (eg at school) this is like a massive punch in the face for everyone, bye bye ubisoft, no support for you anymore

  • It sounds like they dont care about the users who will be unable to access the game due to slow or unstable connections. My guess is they are fairly sure their system will be near impossible to crack and hence the number of additional sales they will pick up from those that would have previously attempted to pirate the game would far outweigh the losses from the “kids in the bush” who dont buy it as they are on dialup.

    I havent read much about the DRM method but if its going to be truely unbreakable then my guess is they will likely be feeding you critical components of the game live via some sort of “on demand” system rather than just a simple check every minute to make sure you are still connected. Why else would they need a 50k a sec connection?

  • I seem to remember a boycott when splintercell had the worst DRM imaginable for it’s time, the one that refused to run if you had cd imaging software installed.

    I don’t plan on buying this game, i was going to suggest it to friends for them to play on their PC, but i don’t think i can honestly say that it will be enjoyable, since some of them use 3g connections and those things drop out all the time.

    Well done UBI, you’ve made your potential customers hate you again

  • I’m very disappointed to see Ubisoft taking this utterly draconian approach to DRM. I have purchased many of their games on PC over the past decade.

    Beyond Good and Evil, Splinter Cell 1-4, Rainbow Six Vegas 1 & 2, Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, Peter Jackson’s King Kong, Prince of Persia the Sands of Time Trilogy as well as the recent reboot of the series, and of course the first Assassin’s Creed. All of these games have a place on my shelf or steam account because I purchased them, knowing that it would be money well-spent.


    When Assassin’s Creed 2 hit the consoles, I contemplated simply borrowing my brother’s PS3 copy of the game, but I instead opted to wait for and buy the PC version, as I knew the graphics and overall experience would be superior on my PC. Apparently this is no longer true.

    In my household, we have ADSL2, so our internet is plenty fast, however we are using a wireless network, which is frequently prone to dropouts. I have no desire to have my progress reset every time it happens, especially in a game where there is so much progress to be made, so I guess I’ll be borrowing my brother’s copy after all.

    Congratulations Ubisoft, you screwed yourself out of a legitimate purchase.

  • So… we have publishers making it, lets say ‘difficult’, to play legitimate games- ostensibly in reaction to the admittedly overwhelming piracy.

    We have potential buyers complaining that the DRM is too much bother and unmanageable, so they will either NOT be buying the legitimate games at all, even boycotting all DRM titles, OR will be- lets be honest- stealing them.

    And we have the same publishers and non-buying public complaining that the PC games market is going to shit. It’s all very chicken-and-egg to me…

  • I wont be buying. But that’s because I didn’t like the first game either 😀 But if I did, I probably still wouldn’t be buying. This is just unworkable with my internet connection.

  • Here’s a crazy question.

    What happens, if – for whatever reason, that access to Ubisoft is blocked by the internet filter? There’s already talk that if there are complaints about Steam (it’s selling/advertising banned games), access to it may be blocked.

    I realise blocking access to Ubisoft/Steam isn’t as simple as blocking their website, but according to a few IT guys I know, it’s possible to block the games being able to communicate back to the servers.

  • Wow… a lot of hate for Ubisoft around these parts.

    It seems simple to me. Ubisoft have unofficially left the PC market. It will be official in six months time when they tell us all how their latest games aren’t selling very well on PC, and there is all this piracy going on. Personally I’m over it and couldn’t care less. The majority of Ubisoft’s PC games recently have either been junk or dodgy console ports.

  • The appropriate response is very simple: Don’t buy any Ubisoft game. Unless of course you appreciate a game company that treats you, the customer, like a criminal permanently on some form of virtual parole.


    From the first computer before piracy was anything, prices for software were huge. They were never on the cheaper side, always the most expensive side. I remember paying $50 for games that today would be given away for free. There are only a few games I DONT REGRET BUYING, THAT beign B-17 FLYING FORTRESS 2, THE MIGHTY EIGHT, and the Subsim variants, IV being my favorite. But most were bombs.

    PRICES WERE ALWAYS TO HIGH, THUS, PIRACY AS AN ORGANIZED RELIGION GREW. Piracy has not led to high prices…just the opposite.

    If Ubisoft made the game $30, you would decrease piracy 100 fold.

  • They punish the legal purchasers with these bloated rootkits and DRM’s that make life difficult…

  • Well i have extreme cable but apparently thats not good enough for Settlers 7, 48 hrs after buying the game, still have no servers to connect too.

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