Last week Ubisoft announced a new DRM plan which would require gamers to maintain an internet connection at all times while playing their new games. The new DRM has been confirmed to ship with Assassin’s Creed II, The Settlers 7 and Silent Hunter 5.
Of course the announcement was met with disdain from the majority of PC gamers around the world. South African gamers in particular have reason to be concerned, as our internet infrastructure has a way to go before we can confidently claim to have constant, reliable and well priced internet access.
Initially, Ubisoft claimed that in the case of Assassin’s Creed II for instance, upon losing internet connectivity, players would be booted from the game and lose all their progress until their last save. Of course, with intermittent disconnects being all too common in South Africa, such a system could potentially ruin the game for local gamers.
Ubisoft confirmed at the time that “most upcoming Ubisoft PC games will make use of this system”.
The company later back peddled slightly, stating that although always-on internet would be required to play their games from now on, players would not necessarily be kicked off the game immediately upon losing internet connectivity, and their saved games would be stored in Ubisoft’s cloud servers.
The update did little to appease PC gamers who were at this point fuming, with one central complaint being echoed repeatedly: This sort of DRM does more to inconvenience legitimate PC game buyers than those who download and crack games.
It would seem that the complaint has proven prophetic, as hackers have already circumvented the draconian DRM scheme. In less than 24 hours after release, the infamous cracker group known as Skid-Row has stripped Silent Hunter 5 of all its DRM protection software.
This effectively means that everyone who goes out and pays for the game at retail will be subject to the always-on internet requirement, while those who choose to pirate the game will not.
It is almost certain that exactly the same thing will happen to Assassin’s Creed II and other Ubisoft games when they are released. Therefore, as long as Ubisoft maintains its new DRM system, it will be hurting its legitimate supporters, while pirates will continue undeterred.
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