Ubisoft's new always on Internet connection DRM hasn't won any fans here at Max PC, but we do applaud the company for at least taking a stab (pun intended) at making amends to paying customers who were shut out because of a DRM server attack.
The game company wrote registered customers; "Following the recent temporary game server outages which may have caused disruption to some Assassin's Creed 2 players on PC only, we would like to reward your patience if you have experienced any problems by offering you some additional content - previously only available with special editions."
The special edition content was previously exclusive to those who ordered the Black Edition of the game, but apparently some users are now reporting that Ubisoft is even giving the option to trade up to a free game. Examples given include Hawx, Heros Over Europe, EndWar, Shaun White's Snowboarding or Prince of Persia.
It's not as good as offering to patch out the DRM, but is this peace offering enough for you to forgive Ubisoft?
The Ubisoft DRM situation has been covered to death, but it's like a train wreck we just can't seem to look away from. The latest news comes out of Europe and is reporting that the DRM authentication servers have been down all day, and have yet to return.
"I don't have any clear information on what the issue is ... but clearly the extended downtime and lengthy login issues are unacceptable, particularly as I've been told these servers are constantly monitored," said 'Ubi.Vigil', adding, "I'll do what I can to get more information on what the issue is here first thing tomorrow and push for a resolution and assurance this won't happen in the future."
North American customers don't seem to be affected by the outage, but it clearly validates all the negative press and comments this DRM approach has been generating across the Internet. PC Gamers across the globe are united for the first time in history, too bad it wasn't under better circumstances.
We've tossed around some pretty harsh criticisms of Ubisoft's new PC DRM approach, and it's very much deserved. Piracy is a tricky issue to combat, we get it, but we also know that no amount of DRM will ever stop the dedicated few kleptomaniacs who for one reason or another, simply refuse to pay for software. The only truth when it comes to copy protection is that the stronger it is, the more honest customers you will accidentally burn with it. This isn't anything we haven't said before, but it's ironic how all of our predictions seem to be coming true.
According to ZDnet a version of Assassin's Creed 2 sans DRM has appeared on Bit Torrents, and the date confirms it took a mere 24 hours to defuse Ubisoft's DRM of mass destruction. If this version works as advertised, it would leave the gimped version in the hands of paying customers who will needlessly be forced to suffer through another failed attempt at heavy handed copy protection. Its hard to gauge if all the bad press is having any impact on Assassin's Creed II's sales, but a quick peek at the Steam player stats ranks the game in 29th place, just below the original Day of Defeat (a game released 7 years ago).
The best way to vote against this type of behavior is with your wallet, not your Bit Torrent client, but perhaps the evolving reality of the situation will force Ubisoft to take action and release a patch for its loyal patrons.
It has long been said that software activation merely inconveniences and punishes honest customers, while pirates rarely have to deal with the same restrictions. It was true in the past, and it has been proven true again today with new reports from the pirate community claiming that the Windows 7 online activation has been successfully bypassed (yet again). Not only do those using the new crack not have to activate, but they don't even need a CD key at all. The crack apparently nullifies sppcompai.dll, and even takes care of those pesky popup reminders that would normally keep nagging you to activate.
The most unfortunate part of this story however, is the fact that the crack seems to take advantage of the leniency of the activation mechanism which was tweaked in Windows 7 to try and reduce false-positives or accidental activation errors. We can only hope that Microsoft's response to this hack will be even handed, and not encourage them to tighten up the activation process so much so that it makes it harder on legitimate purchasers or upgraders.
Have you had any "unfortunate" experiences with online activation? Feel free to share them after the jump.
A week after Microsoft released Windows 7 to OEMs, crackers have cracked Windows 7 RTM Ultimate. Tech website Softpedia was the first to report on the matter, though it stopped short of linking to websites and forums where the proof-of-concept of the crack can be found. You don’t mind, do you?
The OEM copy of Windows 7 RTM Ultimate being blamed for the crack is said to have been stolen/leaked from Lenovo’s safekeeping (or un-safekeeping). The crackers also managed to get their hands on the OEM-SLP (System-Locked Preinstallation) product key and the OEM certificate for Windows 7 RTM Ultimate, both of which are enough to crack open Windows 7 RTM Ultimate on a system posing as an OEM machine.
If you ever wondered what constitutes an epic fail as opposed to a regular fail, here it is. According to UK based news and reviews site PC Pro, one of its readers claims to have received a recovery DVD with his Asus notebook purchase filled with various software cracks and several confidential documents. Oops!
The reader says his antivirus software discovered a key crack for the WinRAR compression software, and upon further investigation, he uncovered a folder labeled 'Crack,' inside which are what he claims are serial numbers for other software. But that's not all that was included. Another directory is said to contain confidential Microsoft documents for PC manufacturers, complete with program files and key codes. PC Pro says that yet another directory contains internal Asus documents along with source code for some of the company's software.
Apparently this isn't an isolated incident, prompting an Asus spokesman to issue an apology to affected customers, saying "We will be investigating this at quite a high level. Once the investigation is complete, we will ensure it doesn't happen again."