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Report: Ubisoft Releases Patch That Removes ‘Always On’ DRM Requirement

Report: Ubisoft Releases Patch That Removes ‘Always On’ DRM Requirement

It may have been the most draconian and ill-advised copy protection of a copyrighted product since the Sony Rootkit scandal, but now, reports are surfacing that says that Ubisoft has released a patch for the games (including Assassin’s Creed 2 and Splinter Cell: Conviction) affected by the infamous “always on” DRM system. The patch will no longer require a constant internet connection, but will still require an internet connection every time the game is turned on.

Ubisoft made headlines back in August last year over a highly controversial DRM system which they ultimately backed off and used Steam for their products. The controversy began when games like Assassin’s Creed 2 required a constant internet connection to play. The, at the time, new copy protection, or DRM, was hailed as a breakthrough in stopping piracy when it was released – that finally there was a copy protection that would stump video game pirates in their tracks.

It all went downhill from there for Ubisoft.

Just 24 hours after the game was released, the copy protection was cracked and then re-cracked to defeat the copy protection just 24 hours after the commercial release. This allowed the unauthorized downloading and playing of the video game anyway. Many were already pointing out that the constant internet connection of the game for authorized copy was really degrading the gaming experience – particularly for those with flaky internet connections. This meant that those who had the pirated version enjoyed smooth single-player action while those with authorized copies would have the game freeze on them in mid-play whenever their connection gave out. As one could imagine, fans of the game were furious over having such a highly strict copy protection while the same system wasn’t stopping pirates from playing the that game. In short, why should I put up with the game constantly freezing on me because of the DRM when I can go download the pirated version on BitTorrent and basically improve the performance by defeating the copy protection instead?

The issue went from bad to worse for Ubisoft. Shortly after the game was cracked, the servers responsible for the DRM went down. This caused the perfect storm for Ubisoft. Everyone with unauthorized copies were playing their games without a hitch while everyone who legally paid for the game found themselves locked out. If you paid for the game, you were punished for it. If you were pirating the game, you were rewarded handsomely in comparison. Assassin’s Creed 2, as we pointed out when the story was initially making headlines, will probably go down in history as a shining example of how DRM can ruin the gaming experience. It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to assume that this is an incident Ubisoft would rather forget.

Shortly after the controversy erupted, Ubisoft did back off and start using Steam for the games, but the copy protection issue remained for other versions. Now, a report has surfaced saying that Ubisoft has released a patch for the games affected by the “always on” copy protection. The patch drops the requirement for a constant internet connection and, instead, requires an internet connection for starting up the game. This means that after you boot the game properly, you can shut off your internet connection and still enjoy the game if you so choose.

While some are commending Ubisoft for taking a step in the right direction, I’d say the damage has already been done for disenfranchised users who now think that Ubisoft games don’t work. Maybe it shows my age a little, but I think that requiring an internet connection for playing a video game in a single player mode is excessive and ridiculous. Even with copy protection, shouldn’t the only internet connection requirement be for authenticating the game? When someone buys a game and plays it in single player mode, that copy isn’t going to magically become pirated on their own. The company made their money on that copy, leave the user alone I’d say.

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Drew Wilson
Drew Wilson is perhaps one of the more well-known file-sharing and technology news writers around. A journalist in the field since 2005, his work has had semi-regular appearances on social news websites and even occasional appearances on major news outlets as well. Drew founded freezenet.ca and still contributes to ZeroPaid. Twitter | Google Plus
disinter
disinter

Thank god I don't buy games until 6 months after they come out and the bugs are fixed and the price is fair. I would be SUPREMELY pissed if I paid for this game and all this DRM bullshit happened.

Anonymous
Anonymous

in a perfect world where Profit wont come 1st but a small Profit would be evan better thaT would be the case Coward but in the World of today where Profit is overall Key then Ubisoft and others will fail its a shame that all they care about is Huge profit :D

Signa
Signa

Far too little far too late. I won't be happy with news about Ubi's DRM until I hear that there is no online component involved after the first install. No limited installs allowed either.

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

Remember the old Ultima games? They came in nice boxed-sets, with story-related merchandise. Like a cloth map, a shiny black rock, statuettes, etc. They did not need DRM, because in order to get the goods, you had to buy the box. So all Ubisoft needs to do is take the funding out of their DRM-research, and put it into decent quality piracy-deterring boxed-sets. Next they can probably fire their advertising company, and use the game itself as a free torrent-download with a pay-what-you-like option. That way the game would generate interest, the pay-option would generate some money, and the boxed-set would be the icing on the cake.

Gee
Gee

These video game makers such as Ubisoft have some very talented people programming these wonderful games. I don't understand why they can not seem to protect their product in a way that's fair and reasonable.



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