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Ubisoft, do you hate your consumers?
Posted on Tuesday, February 14 2012 @ 07:06:08 PST

We all know that piracy is an issue that every publisher is fighting today. It is an issue that even the US government trying to remedy with legislation like PIPA and SOPA. However, some publishers stand out from the crowd with the policies they have implemented. Ubisoft is one of those publishers. For about four and a half years Ubisoft has been implementing very strict DRM policies on all of its PC games, starting with Assassins Creed. It required a persistent internet connection to be able to play the game, even during the single player mode. This made playing the game very problematic, because if Ubisoft’s severs went down (which they did) then you were not able to play your game.

It can be argued that Ubisoft implemented this DRM policy with the first Assassins Creed because the game was pirated almost 700,000 times before the game even launched on PC, but since the code that required that connection was so easily removed it could not serve its purpose. When the pirated version of a game doesn’t have unnecessarily restrictive DRM, the legally purchased version becomes obsolete.

Now Ubisoft is implementing far more sinister DRM policies along with its constant internet connection requirement. A couple weeks ago Guru3D was doing some benchmark testing with the Ubisoft published game Anno 2070. When they swapped out graphics cards in their PC they quickly ran into this new DRM menace. The changing of the graphics card required Anno 2070 to be reactivated. That’s right; the changing of any hardware component inside of the PC triggered the game to deactivate. The way the game knew there was a hardware change is because the game reads every piece of hardware in the computer so that it can’t be installed on different computer hardware. So when the game reads a different graphics card than the one it expects, it thinks it was installed on a totally different machine.

These policies have been implemented throughout the years with limited to no success and large amounts of consumer backlash. The main problem is they do not fight the current pirate. When a game is pirated all DRM is removed and it is posted online for all to download. I would argue that pirated versions of games are the superior versions simply because they haven’t been handicapped by their publishers.
I have come to the conclusion that Ubisoft is just ignorant to how the current pirate operates. They believe that antiquated DRM is the only way they can hinder their games from being pirated. But all they are doing is enraging their paying customers by giving consumers inferior products compared to what can be stolen for free. So, where’s the incentive to buy your games? I’m just not sure any more.

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- Nickson

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