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Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM

Ubisoft will stop using its always-on DRM scheme that required an internet connection to play their PC games, Ubisoft's Stephanie Perotti states in a Rock, Paper, Shotgun interview. The quotes about dropping the unpopular anti-piracy protection are highlighted separately, noting that it has been over a year since they last shipped a game using this DRM, and this will continue to be their policy going forward. "We have listened to feedback, and since June last year our policy for all of PC games is that we only require a one-time online activation when you first install the game, and from then you are free to play the game offline," the publisher's worldwide director for online games tells them. "Whenever you want to reach any online service, multiplayer, you will have to be connected, and obviously for online games you will also need to be online to play. But if you want to enjoy Assassin’s Creed III single player, you will be able to do that without being connected. And you will be able to activate the game on as many machines as you want."

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66. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 7, 2012, 02:32 saluk
 
Thief was better when you are trying to avoid fights than when you are fighting; but the actual fighting itself wasn't terrible. These games force you to do quite a lot of fighting, and most of the time I am crying. Each game introduces some new convoluted mechanic to try and distract from the lacking combat mechanics, I don't know why the developers don't just sit down and figure out how to fix them! Many other games in this genre have fighting mechanics that are just fine. Heck, the Batman games almost use the same system, but it works so much better there. I feel like I am a part of the action, rather than just clicking random buttons and hoping the characters in the movie I'm watching play out how I want them to.

But I still enjoy the games regardless. And as weird as the story is, I love the whole Desmond side of things. I think if it had just been a story about an ancient assassin, it would have felt a little bit empty.
 
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65. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 7, 2012, 02:19 Jerykk
 
I see it!

Can't argue with Thief's combat being weak, though. Luckily, it's a stealth game so I don't really have any issue with that. In fact, if I'm playing a stealth game and I'm ever discovered, I just restart the level.

As for AC, my issue with the series is that it's way too streamlined. I like platformers, stealth games and action games but I also like having complete control over my character at all times. AC doesn't really offer that. If you want to be stealthy, you hold the stealth button. If you want to run around and traverse the environment, you hold the run button. If you want to kill stuff, you hold block and then press counter when enemies attack you one at a time. I just don't find it satisfying when games do everything for me.
 
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64. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 6, 2012, 18:05 Prez
 
The story is batshit crazy and pointless though.

Oh yeah totally. I kinda get why they did it from a design standpoint - it explains away what would otherwise just be arbitrary and "gamey" limitations of the gameplay, but when I'm playing it I just ignore the whole "hoodie-wearing dude in a simulator" aspect.

The combat is indeed weak but I love the fluid movement and stealth kills. Just as in Thief (I know I'm playing with fire when I continue to draw that parallel - hopefully Jerykk won't see this!), the combat is by far the weakest aspect.
 
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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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63. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 6, 2012, 09:47 Verno
 
Prez wrote on Sep 5, 2012, 23:33:
Assassin's Creed conceptually was a realization of a dream I had ever since I feel in love with the Thief games. In practice the first one was a bit of a disaster, though with just enough hints at brilliance that it made hope for an improved sequel. Assassin's Creed 2 totally scratched that itch for me, once I got a hold of a non DRM-riddled version anyway. I've heard the complaints that people have about the series, but after AC they just don't register for me. I enjoy the hell out of the AC series and look forward to each new release.

I enjoy it for what it is although the combat is always disappointing to me since it's so non-interactive. The story is batshit crazy and pointless though. They've iterated way too much on it IMHO. I'm glad AC3 is coming out because after that I will need a break from the AC games.
 
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Playing: Divinity Original Sin, Destiny, Fire Emblem
Watching: Continuum, Star Trek TNG, Haunt
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62. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 6, 2012, 01:21 Jerykk
 
ViRGE wrote on Sep 6, 2012, 00:23:
Bhruic wrote on Sep 5, 2012, 19:07:
ViRGE wrote on Sep 5, 2012, 18:34:
That's an excellent point. Ubisoft's last experiment with DRM free games was a miserable failure (the sales to BitTorrent piracy ratio was something silly, and that's before casual copying), which is what led to UPlay in the first place.

That's a ridiculous point. While we don't know sales numbers, the idea that the sales-to-piracy numbers went up when they introduced UPlay is asinine. If anything, the piracy numbers went up, and the sales numbers down. That's the reason they are scaling back their efforts - because they obviously didn't work. So claiming that DRM free games were a "miserable failure" is absolutely incorrect.
No, it's not a ridiculous point. I can't remember who wrote the article - maybe Eurogamer or RPS - but they combed through Ubisoft's financial reports and that's exactly what they found. There was every sign that without any DRM paying customers were switching to piracy, which isn't all that surprising. It's the tragedy of the commons in action - why should paying customers pay for anything if the pirates get the same thing for free at the exact same time?

As for whether sales-to-piracy numbers went up when UPlay was introduced, that's equally well-founded. Remember, it took months for UPlay to be correctly cracked, which means no one was able to pirate it.

So... how exactly do you determine if a paying customer switched to piracy? Do you track the IPs of all your legitimate customers and then compare them to a list of IPs taken from torrents? I doubt that very much.

As for Ubisoft's DRM-free experiment, it's important to note that the three games involved (Prince of Persia 2008, HAWX and EndWar) didn't sell well on ANY PLATFORM, not just PC. To automatically attribute their lack of sales to piracy is silly. Conversely, let's look at Assassin's Creed 2. High profile, well-reviewed game that wasn't properly cracked for a month or so. Therefore, it should have sold well on PC, right? Nope. It sold like crap because it came out five months after the console versions. Ubisoft's insistence on delaying their PC ports is costing them more sales than piracy ever has. On top of that, their ports are usually half-baked and buggy on launch. I thought they were using the extra development time to polish them? Oh wait, no they aren't. They delay the PC ports for the sole purpose of delaying piracy, which ends up being a self-defeating effort because delays cause more lost sales than piracy.

If Ubisoft wants to test the effects of piracy, they should do the following:

1) Release AC3 on PC at the same time as the console versions.
2) Make AC3 DRM-free.
3) Make AC3 a high-quality port that meets PC gaming standards.

If they do those three things, I can guarantee that AC3 PC will sell better than AC2 PC. In fact, it will probably sell better than any PC game Ubisoft has released in the past decade. Will it still get pirated a lot? Of course. All heavily-hyped games get pirated to hell. However, that doesn't really matter. What matters is how many units you actually sell.

This comment was edited on Sep 6, 2012, 01:30.
 
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61. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 6, 2012, 00:23 ViRGE
 
Bhruic wrote on Sep 5, 2012, 19:07:
ViRGE wrote on Sep 5, 2012, 18:34:
That's an excellent point. Ubisoft's last experiment with DRM free games was a miserable failure (the sales to BitTorrent piracy ratio was something silly, and that's before casual copying), which is what led to UPlay in the first place.

That's a ridiculous point. While we don't know sales numbers, the idea that the sales-to-piracy numbers went up when they introduced UPlay is asinine. If anything, the piracy numbers went up, and the sales numbers down. That's the reason they are scaling back their efforts - because they obviously didn't work. So claiming that DRM free games were a "miserable failure" is absolutely incorrect.
No, it's not a ridiculous point. I can't remember who wrote the article - maybe Eurogamer or RPS - but they combed through Ubisoft's financial reports and that's exactly what they found. There was every sign that without any DRM paying customers were switching to piracy, which isn't all that surprising. It's the tragedy of the commons in action - why should paying customers pay for anything if the pirates get the same thing for free at the exact same time?

As for whether sales-to-piracy numbers went up when UPlay was introduced, that's equally well-founded. Remember, it took months for UPlay to be correctly cracked, which means no one was able to pirate it.
 
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60. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 5, 2012, 23:33 Prez
 
Assassin's Creed conceptually was a realization of a dream I had ever since I feel in love with the Thief games. In practice the first one was a bit of a disaster, though with just enough hints at brilliance that it made hope for an improved sequel. Assassin's Creed 2 totally scratched that itch for me, once I got a hold of a non DRM-riddled version anyway. I've heard the complaints that people have about the series, but after AC they just don't register for me. I enjoy the hell out of the AC series and look forward to each new release.  
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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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59. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 5, 2012, 21:17 Sepharo
 
nin wrote on Sep 5, 2012, 19:54:
I still don't understand what everybody likes about the Assassin's Creed series. I find it to be bland and uninspired with awkward controls, amongs other criticisms.

I've tried to get into the AC series 2-3 times now, and always end up putting it down in favor of something else. It just doesn't seem to hold my interest...

After the Steam Summer Sale I got my hands on Revelation, played for about an hour and remembered that I don't like fighter/platformers. Was really more interested in the story and setting but it didn't take hold quick enough.
 
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58. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 5, 2012, 19:54 nin
 
I still don't understand what everybody likes about the Assassin's Creed series. I find it to be bland and uninspired with awkward controls, amongs other criticisms.

I've tried to get into the AC series 2-3 times now, and always end up putting it down in favor of something else. It just doesn't seem to hold my interest...

 
http://www.nin.com/pub/tension/
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57. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 5, 2012, 19:29 Jivaro
 
A major gaming publisher not understanding how to use technology in an effective way that doesn't become a problem for their customers does not really surprise me. I see it all the time.

A major gaming publisher having to backtrack, re-write history, gloss over facts, and spin the shit out of company moves does not surprise me either, as again..I see it all the time.

What surprises me is that after all of the games in the series, I still don't understand what everybody likes about the Assassin's Creed series. I find it to be bland and uninspired with awkward controls, amongs other criticisms. Usually when a series is so popular I can at least "see" what everybody likes about it, even if I myself don't appreciate it. Dead Space is a good example of such a situation. In AC's case, I just don't see the "attraction".
 
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56. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 5, 2012, 19:26 Julio
 
avianflu wrote on Sep 5, 2012, 14:20:
this change of mind wont help Ubi's HOMMVI game since the mandatory online crud is written into the game in a few different ways.

True, even though HOMM6 isn't very good a show of faith would have been Ubi fixing recent games to exclude uplay. Take out the DRM and rootkits.
 
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55. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 5, 2012, 19:08 Dev
 
Jerykk wrote on Sep 5, 2012, 12:40:
That interview was hilarious. Really wish more videogame "journalists" had the balls to grill interviewees like that.
All the ones that did, stopped getting interviews from the companies. They give most interviews to companies that won't grill them.

Also note that it took multiple YEARS of bugging ubi, for them to grant an interview on DRM. Most sites and journalists are going to give up on most game interviews way before that time length has passed.
 
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54. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 5, 2012, 19:07 Bhruic
 
ViRGE wrote on Sep 5, 2012, 18:34:
That's an excellent point. Ubisoft's last experiment with DRM free games was a miserable failure (the sales to BitTorrent piracy ratio was something silly, and that's before casual copying), which is what led to UPlay in the first place.

That's a ridiculous point. While we don't know sales numbers, the idea that the sales-to-piracy numbers went up when they introduced UPlay is asinine. If anything, the piracy numbers went up, and the sales numbers down. That's the reason they are scaling back their efforts - because they obviously didn't work. So claiming that DRM free games were a "miserable failure" is absolutely incorrect.
 
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53. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 5, 2012, 19:04 Prez
 
Jerykk wrote on Sep 5, 2012, 12:40:
I wonder how long this will last. At one point, Ubisoft completely removed all DRM from their games (even rudimentary disc checks). I believe this applied to Prince of Persia, HAWX and EndWar. Then they went right back to online activations with limited installs and Uplay shortly thereafter.

In recent years Ubisoft has practically been a study in corporate schizophrenia. They released Assassin's Creed 2 with their always online garbage to near universal derision, but the follow-up, Brotherhood, released with far more reasonable DRM. Then they turn around and release Revelations with uplay again. All the while they were releasing conflicting statements about their own DRM and its future while backtracking on some games' DRM and regressing to the worst DRM for others, only to later relent in the face of the public outcry. For a long time now, since the release of Silent Hunter 5 and AC 2, Ubisoft has seemed to have no clear direction and no clue. It would not be surprising if they re-asserted their commitment to using uplay for all future releases inside of 3 months.
 
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52. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 5, 2012, 18:39 RailWizard
 
Now if only they had games worth playing, this might actually have been good news.  
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51. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 5, 2012, 18:34 ViRGE
 
Jerykk wrote on Sep 5, 2012, 12:40:
I wonder how long this will last. At one point, Ubisoft completely removed all DRM from their games (even rudimentary disc checks). I believe this applied to Prince of Persia, HAWX and EndWar. Then they went right back to online activations with limited installs and Uplay shortly thereafter.
That's an excellent point. Ubisoft's last experiment with DRM free games was a miserable failure (the sales to BitTorrent piracy ratio was something silly, and that's before casual copying), which is what led to UPlay in the first place. It sounds like Ubisoft isn't getting rid of DRM entirely this time around, so hopefully they'll find a bit more success here than with either of the two extremes.
 
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50. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 5, 2012, 18:22 Prez
 
Considering just how badly Ubisoft has screwing up in recent years I don't think that 7% revenue number is at all useful for gauging PC market viability. They release games that are often broken with almost no post-release support and are riddled with the most anti-consumer DRM seen thus far- hardly the right conditions for an honest representation of the PC market's revenue potential.  
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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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49. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 5, 2012, 17:39 Elf Shot The Food
 
They probably dropped it because it cost too much to maintain and run the servers.  
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48. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 5, 2012, 17:11 PHJF
 
Sweet, because I would really like to start buying Anno games again.  
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Steam + PSN: PHJF
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47. Re: Ubisoft Scrapping Always on DRM Sep 5, 2012, 17:05 Topevoli
 
NKD wrote on Sep 5, 2012, 11:40:
Interesting bit of information from there regarding how much they make from their PC versions:

Burk got back to us soon after the interview to say that in the last full fiscal year PCs made up 7% of revenue, and in the last quarter it's been 12%.

I wonder why they'd invest time on PC ports at all...



PC revenue is only 12% of the total business but there is a much higher profit margin, especially when they sell through their own store front.
 
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