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Ubisoft DRM Analysis

A couple of recent articles highlight vastly different takes on Ubisoft's controversial "always on" DRM, which requires a constant internet connection to play games. On the one hand we have comments from Gamesbrief.com founder, analyst Nicholas Lovell, who calls the DRM "draconian" in speaking with Computer and Video Games and saying: "There is no doubt in my mind that pirates now have a better experience than legitimate consumers." On the other had there's outspoken Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter, who offers thoughts on the topic in his Pach-Attack videocast (thanks VG247), saying he likes the system, and if your opinion differs from his, you are a thief: "I think anything a publisher does to make sure you don’t rip off their games is their right, and I think that people who steal should be in jail. I welcome the flamer comments on this one; if you think that’s right good for you; we have no interest in your business since you don’t pay for stuff anyway."

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92. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis Jun 2, 2010, 13:48 Reactor
 
*hopes the game isn't too old*

For the record, we've learned a lot since then. The game seems so cheap in many ways to me now. But, I hope its zen-like repetitiveness is worth the bucks!
 
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91. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis Jun 2, 2010, 13:26 Prez
 
Bought! I love Impulse, and I love space games. I'll delve into the game when I get a chance this weekend.  
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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
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90. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis Jun 1, 2010, 23:46 Reactor
 
Heh, thanks Prez. I'm not sure how to pm on Blues (I didn't realise there was pim'ing!) so the cheapest way is to grab it on Impulse. It's an old game now, called Cellblock Squadrons. I have no idea if it'll be your cup of tea, but... thanks!

Hopefully in the not too distant future I'll be able to escape the clutches of real life and get another game out the door, and eventually reach Cliffski status
 
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89. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis Jun 1, 2010, 20:25 Prez
 
Good points Reactor. PM me a link to your games' website and I'll buy one on principle. (2 or 3 if I like what I see)  
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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
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88. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis Jun 1, 2010, 07:23 tgr
 
Reactor wrote on Jun 1, 2010, 06:54:
Anything that urges people to pay for games, or spreads the word that piracy is hurting developers makes a difference. The key I think is in the balance of it all.

I agree. I have no issue with the more or less inobtrusive methods chosen with f.ex having to keep the disc in the drive, it's just when we're dependent on external resources, or we're all labelled as pirates even before we've even tried to fork over the money that I, as a customer, become annoyed.

I think that one of the major reasons the PC gaming is having the amount of issues it is having lately, is the ever-increasing focus on glitz over pure gameplay. While graphics is nice, gameplay is better (I'm still playing Jagged Alliance 2 once in a while, and you can hardly say that's start of the art graphics), and gameplay is (I believe) much cheaper to accomplish than graphics glitz and gloss. So 10 years ago games probably cost a lot less to make than they do today, which means the publishers of today is probably under much more pressure to actually sell sell sell. And that probably makes them get a lot worse with regards to how they word everything they say and do.
 
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87. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis Jun 1, 2010, 06:54 Reactor
 
Just once I'd like to see a developer who has been a victim of piracy make it a point to offer a sincere sign of gratitude for the customers who made it a point to pay when piracy is so easy rather than continually harp on the fact that their games are being pirated and how unfair life is, yadda yadda yadda.

I'm an indie dev. I'm not as prolific as cliffski (not many are :)), but I have been the victim of piracy. Generally I prefer to ignore it. We did put something in place that allowed us to see quite easily who floating around the forums had pirate copies of the game, but otherwise we didn't bother worrying about the issue, and just got on with selling the game and supporting those who'd purchased it. For those who hadn't, we weren't nasty. We simply urged them to buy a copy, which to my knowledge one guy did. We used a basic key to unlock the game, mainly to track who had what copy. Using aggressive DRM didn't enter our minds. I hate it myself, and would hate to subject people to it.

I don't personally believe there's any excuse for pirating games, but I'd rather get on with making great games than spending all day getting stressed about the attitudes of people. But, that's just me. Most indies (for better or worse) like to make some effort to either voice their disapproval, or put some kind of measure in place to prevent piracy. For those who are trying to support a family through their efforts, one can hardly blame them. Finding people who want to both play your game and pay for it, in what is now a heavily flooded industry, is difficult. Anything that urges people to pay for games, or spreads the word that piracy is hurting developers makes a difference. The key I think is in the balance of it all.
 
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86. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis Jun 1, 2010, 04:38 tgr
 
As it is now, I feel like kxmode, that I, as a legitimate customer, don't matter because all developers ever want to focus on, talk about, and make business decisions for are those who DIDN'T pay.

I can only emphasize this bit. I have hundreds of games that I've bought over the years, and I've literally only bought 4-5 games each year the last 2 years because the DRM has gotten too bad, because I do not want to support idiotic stances like ubisoft's. However, I keep seeing how it just keeps on getting worse and worse for PC gamers, with more and more awful systems implemented month after month, no matter how much I keep telling them "stop doing this, you're losing my money by doing that".

Hell, I even bought prince of persia for the PC because it was (in some versions) released without any DRM whatsoever, to try to convince ubisoft to take a step back from requiring activations on their games. And what happened? They upped the ante by requiring us being online all the time.

Basically, I feel like nothing I do will help, and I don't really feel like being a console gamer (until they give us the possibility of having a KB/M interface for strategy games etc). Which means that from my perspective, PC gaming really is dying. And there's fuck-all I can do to help stop this development.

* If I buy a drm-infested game, ubisoft will take that as "it works".
* If I don't buy it, I lose out on a potentially great game, ubisoft lose out on a sale, and the statistics show that PC gamers don't want those games anyway.
* If I pirate it, I at least get to play the game, ubisoft loses out on the sale, and ubisoft get to point to the piracy statistics and say "see? see?! they're all ebul piwates!".

It's frustrating, but it looks like I'll have to find another hobby, because this one seems to finally be imploding in on itself, with no proper replacement I'll consider viable for my gaming style.
 
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85. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis Jun 1, 2010, 04:19 Dev
 
Stanly Manly wrote on May 31, 2010, 18:39:
"Getting off that, personally I'm finding fewer games in the last 5ish years worth buying."

I'm in the same boat. Might have something to do with the new "hi def" era, where game design seems to be 90% graphics, 10% gameplay.
I agree. I much prefer gameplay, there's plenty of flashy stuff if I want it, but not much with great gameplay. Thats one reason why I've been picking up good older games on steam when they go on sale, some I've played and want to play again, others I've heard in the past they are good but never got a chance to play and now I want to.
 
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84. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis May 31, 2010, 23:46 Hump
 
Great point Prez.  
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"Both the “left” and the “right” pretend they have the answer, but they are mere flippers on the same thalidomide baby, and the truth is that neither side has a clue."

- Jim Goad
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83. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis May 31, 2010, 22:03 Prez
 
It's great having a developer's perspective here, especially one who is willing to weigh in honestly and openly like Cliffski. It makes me stop and look at things from a dev's perspective, which is something I don't normally do because I lack the proper insight. Sure, I can imagine what it feels like to have your stuff used without proper compensation, but this guy knows it first hand, and he has openly dealt with it in his "parley with pirates" campaign from a couple of years ago.

Having said that, when I hear devs, even respectable ones like our friend Cliff, speak their mind on piracy, I always left with the distinct impression that they feel it's more important to lambaste the pirates than to show any appreciation to the many people who did the right thing and became a legitimate customer. Virtually every developer had to have been a gamer first; it should be FAR easier for them to look at the issue from a gamer perspective, but it seems that they so rarely choose to.

Just once I'd like to see a developer who has been a victim of piracy make it a point to offer a sincere sign of gratitude for the customers who made it a point to pay when piracy is so easy rather than continually harp on the fact that their games are being pirated and how unfair life is, yadda yadda yadda. When you constantly release press releases, posts, comments, and other communique like that, how can honest gamers NOT feel that they are being painted with the broad brush the developer is using to label gamers a bunch of thieves? At the very least start your tirade with something along the lines of "I'd like to offer my deepest thanks to my thousands of customers without whom I'd be unable to make a living, BUT..."

It sure would go along way in helping us gamers try to see things from your point of view in my opinion. As it is now, I feel like kxmode, that I, as a legitimate customer, don't matter because all developers ever want to focus on, talk about, and make business decisions for are those who DIDN'T pay.

This comment was edited on May 31, 2010, 23:33.
 
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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
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82. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis May 31, 2010, 20:00 Hump
 
cliffski wrote on May 31, 2010, 06:35:
I know there are a ton of people who claim they pirate because they cant afford the games, yet the same kdis always seem to have PC's that can run Crysis at max settings, and have a mobile phone that costs more than my car.
If you could pirate mobile phones, then I'm sure mysteriously a lot of them would not eb able to afford to buy phones either. Its a question of choosing where to spend your money.
If you chosoe to spend all your cash at starbucks and pirate all your games (for example), then expect to get lots more branches of starbucks and far fewer games in future.

Cliff, I appreciate your opinion and mine would probably be the same if I were a developer as well but don't you think the piracy issue affecting sales is a tad overplayed? Don't you think falling sales numbers are due to more people choosing consoles over a desktop? The fact is desktop PC's are becoming obsolete in many ways and kids growing up now tend to use laptops or phones for functions that used to be mainly done with a desktop PC. Like music, the market is simply in transition and it's up to developers and publishers to find creative ways to market their products instead of finding ways to keep an old and inefficient model in place. Part of that is serving the needs of paying customers and not getting so caught up in a group that *probably* wouldn't have bought said products in the first place. I know it's getting stale to bring them up as an example but Valve has shown that serving the needs of their core customers is a far more profitable way to go than pissing people off with DRM that is NEVER EVER going to stop piracy.
 
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"Both the “left” and the “right” pretend they have the answer, but they are mere flippers on the same thalidomide baby, and the truth is that neither side has a clue."

- Jim Goad
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81. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis May 31, 2010, 19:25 Mashiki Amiketo
 
Stanly Manly wrote on May 31, 2010, 18:39:
Also may have to do with the $60 price point on games.
Wasn't all that many years ago(about 10) where new game titles in Canada were $69-89. I still have my copy of independence war 2 with the shiny $89 sticker on it from EB World. Along with a pile of other games, only been in the last 5 years or so that prices here have dropped by $20 or so to match the US prices. And when I could order things from the US being $20-40 cheaper, boy did I.
 
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there is a neat, simple solution;
and it is always wrong."
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80. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis May 31, 2010, 18:49 wallace321
 
Oh, and two things about the video and Michael Pachter

1. In regard to his answer to the very first e-mail; from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man


A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position.[1] To "attack a straw man" is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar yet weaker proposition (the "straw man"), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position

2. He said "flamer" - isn't that now (and always has been) the term for a flamboyant homosexual? LOL! Fail at being hip.
 
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79. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis May 31, 2010, 18:39 Stanly Manly
 
"Getting off that, personally I'm finding fewer games in the last 5ish years worth buying."

I'm in the same boat. Might have something to do with the new "hi def" era, where game design seems to be 90% graphics, 10% gameplay. Also may have to do with the $60 price point on games.

Heck, I would love to see a new big, triple A title get a digital download release in a "pay what you want" format, with no DRM. I think that would open a lot of eyes.
 
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78. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis May 31, 2010, 18:20 wallace321
 
Golwar wrote on May 30, 2010, 19:02:
I wonder if even anyone at Ubisoft is so dumb to agree with Pachter. Why should it make us a thiefs if we dislike this DRM? Thiefs crack it and simply don't care, only legal customers are upset.
Great way to insult those customers while proving that he is a douche, well done Mr.Pachter.

QFT

No gamer should care about properly executed DRM, if it protects the game from piracy and does not cause issues for the end user in the daily use of the game.

Reasonable gamers understand the need for sacrifice in the form of loss of some flexibility in their games/gaming habits (eg internet connection requirement for single player, CD-Keys, sign in to various online service and the accompaniying user names and password issues, loss of ability to resell, limited product activiations, etc...) if necessary in the name of helping developers protect their product and make money from their efforts to fund future games.

Smart gamers are fed up with listening to crap from PR clowns like this guy; about how they're saving the industry with DRM when the only thing that should be obvious to everyone is that no DRM has ever worked. EVER. Pirates download DRM free copies of "protected" games (and they would have done the same thing if it originally had DRM or not) while legitimate customers pay for crippled versions, and the sacrifice of ANYTHING on the legitimate gamer's part is insulting and pointless as it isn't accomplishing a damned thing.

And anybody who says anything to the contrary about DRM probably works for Ubisoft or Electronic Arts.
 
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77. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis May 31, 2010, 17:01 Jerykk
 
First hand knowledge they were better than console version, by playing each on the list on both console and PC?

First-hand knowledge (except for BC2) that the PC versions had higher resolution, AA, AF and framerate and no major PC-exclusive bugs.

Like I said, it's really not difficult for a PC port to be better than its console equivalents, even if it doesn't offer new features or content. Here's my criteria:

Bad port: Lackluster support for mouse or keyboard, unstable, so poorly optimized that it actually runs worse than the console versions, no or minimal support for PC hardware features.

Solid port: Decent support for mouse and keyboard, stable, sufficiently optimized that it consistently runs better than the console versions at higher detail settings, average support for PC hardware features.

Great port: Full support for mouse and keyboard + full configuration, support for all gamepads and peripherals, very optimized, stable, full support for PC hardware features, added game features or content, redesigned UI for M/KB, rebalanced gameplay.

As you can see, the vast majority of games fit firmly into the "Solid port" category.
 
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76. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis May 31, 2010, 15:22 Yosemite Sam
 
Is what Pachter said really that horrific? Blue's interpretation makes it sound worse than it is.

I think anything a publisher does to make sure you don’t rip off their games if their right

Ok, so he thinks publishers have a right to do whatever they want to make sure you don't pirate their games. I think this isn't absolute, as I doubt he thinks they can put you in some SAW contraption, but is this such an unfair statement? Publishers definitely have a right to throw in DRM. And we have a right to completely ignore their releases for it.

Ya your right, I'd gone by Blue's interpretation "saying he likes the system, and if your opinion differs from his, you are a thief"
Thats not what Pachter said... but it is funny that he never answered the question posed to him, someone asked if he thought Ubies new DRM was a wise decision and Pachter went off on a rant about how hes old school and thinks if you steal games your a thief, totally side stepped the question asked, he should run for office.


 
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75. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis May 31, 2010, 15:13 Sepharo
 
Verno wrote on May 31, 2010, 15:01:
We also have an entire generation of PC gamer that is now grown up with families, wives and so on.
It's important to teach your (future) children about the glorious PC gaming master race lest our hobby disappears.
 
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74. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis May 31, 2010, 15:01 Verno
 
kxmode wrote on May 31, 2010, 13:43:

You're right, but I mean at what point do these publishers take notice of us and decide to remove their insane DRM? Is it going to keep getting worst for PC gamers before it gets better? Are we doomed to a wasteland of CIC DRM infested, AAA, single-players titles?

It seems hopeless at times but the market tends to be self-correcting. Digital distribution platforms like Steam, Impulse, Direct2Drive and so on are really changing the landscape for PC gaming. We might not see every 50mil budgeted title hit the PC but as long as there is money to be made, people will serve the platform.

It just seems so bad this cycle because instead of just the usual console uprising that happens every five years, MMOs and casual games also took huge chunks of the market. I honestly believe World of Warcraft has done more harm to the PC market than anything else in the past five years. We also have an entire generation of PC gamer that is now grown up with families, wives and so on.

This comment was edited on May 31, 2010, 15:10.
 
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Playing: Dark Souls 2
Watching: Korengal, Legends, Intruders
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73. Re: Ubisoft DRM Analysis May 31, 2010, 14:55 .Drifter
 
Jerykk wrote on May 31, 2010, 07:10:
Some recent ports that were stable and had better image quality and performance than their console equivalents:

Mass Effect 2
Wolfenstein
FEAR 2
Prototype
DIRT 2
RE5
OF: Dragon Rising
Mirror's Edge
Dead Space
Far Cry 2
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Street Fighter 4
Assassin's Creed 2
Just Cause 2
Bioshock 2
CoD:MW2
Splinter Cell: Conviction
AVP
BF:BC2

It seems like you're just taking a handful of crappy ports and assuming that they represent all ports.
First hand knowledge they were better than console version, by playing each on the list on both console and PC?
Or third hand knowledge?
Added the following in an edit:
The Batman, SF IV, and RE5 games I can agree with (heck, throw in about any recent Capcom game too, since they seem to be doing a fine job of porting lately).
 
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