Many of you may be of the opinion that the only good DRM is no DRM, but Sega’s take on the tech world’s most reviled acronym is definitely a step in the right direction.
Here’s how it works: super-spy RPG Alpha Protocol will require an online connection precisely one time for an initial activation – after which, you can play the game on a boat, in a moat, in a box, with a fox, or in other less Suess-inspired locales. Better still, for those stranded on desert islands or other areas that have somehow avoided the Internet’s dominion, there’s an official workaround. The only drawback? Installs are limited. However, deactivating installs will be as painless as possible.
Here’s the kicker, though: Sega’s guaranteed that it’ll release a patch that removes the DRM entirely within 18-24 months. In other words, if Sega’s servers ever kick the bucket, Alpha Protocol will still be alive and kicking. Other game publishers have implied that they’ll employ a similar strategy, sure, but Sega’s the first to look us in the eyes and actually promise it.
It’s not ideal, obviously, but we can live with it. Now, we promised ourselves we wouldn’t beat a dead horse by rambling on about a certain other type of DRM that’s been flooding the news streams lately, so we’re going to be as subtle as possible about it. UBISOFT SHOULD DO THIS. Now then, honest opinion: is that too subtle? Should we maybe add some neon lights?
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?
With colossal mega-publishers like EA and Activision, it’s rare to hear a less-than-positive peep from even the company janitor, so we have to applaud EA for keeping the first amendment alive with corporate blogger Jeff Green. But you won’t see any standing ovations from us, because while EA’s taken a big step forward in that regard, its Command & Conquer 4 DRM counts as a few hundred steps back. Don’t believe us? Then just ask EA blogger Jeff Green!
"Booted twice—and progress lost—on my single-player C&C4 game because my DSL connection blinked. DRM fail. We need new solutions," Green tweeted. “Welp. I've tried to be open-minded. But my 'net connection is finicky--and the constant disruption of my C&C4 SP game makes this unplayable."
“Yeah, Steam's ability to have off-line play is the clear, better model when talking about SP games," he added. "However, C&C4 experiments w/what a 'single-player game' is--given it's constantly uploading progress/stats for unlocks. It's complicated. I think if we think of C&C4 as an 'online-only' game--which it basically is--then maybe we'd adjust our expectations accordingly."
For the uninitiated, Command & Conquer 4’s DRM functions similarly to Ubisoft’s recent digital rights management disaster in that it requires a constant Internet connection to function.
So, videogame publishers of the world, do we have this “always-connected DRM” phase out of our systems yet? Because if you’re expecting our anger to cool while we warm up to your DRM over time, it’s not gonna happen. It’s like when little kids are playing, and one of them adds a series of increasingly ridiculous, self-serving rules to the game. You know what the other kids do? They find a new friend.
Make no mistake, we are living in the future. In a matter of moments, we can publish our thoughts, communicate with people on other continents, or start downloading more information than we can ever consume. We are presented with hundreds of great offers every day—each with a thousand caveats. We hear about hackers stealing identities and kids being sued for copyright infringement, and even a New York socialite slap-fight taking place in an anonymous forum can take the national stage. The future is odd, indeed. To help you get some of it straight, we sat down with various lawyers and asked: How do our rights work in the digital age? Can you get in trouble posting messages about someone online? Are there exceptions to copyright? Is it legal to back up your ebooks? Not all of these questions have clear answers, and some answers don’t make much sense. We might be living in the future, but the legal system was designed to deal with the increasingly obsolete present.
In addition to squashing a number of bugs and shining up the game’s UI, a recent patch stripped Battlefield Bad Company 2’s Steam version of its – most would say – unneeded SecuROM DRM. After all, Steam’s a big PC gaming platform now. It can take care of piracy protection itself.
Sadly, if you didn’t acquire your copy of the game from Valve’s storefront, consider yourself stuck in the bad company of SecuROM for the time being. But hey, here’s this nice list of changes and upgrades to take your mind off that depressing reality. Better than nothing, we suppose.
Seven more of your Earth-days have passed, which means it's time for another No BS Podcast. This time, the gang talks about Intel's 6-core Gulftown processor, Steam for Macs, and Ubi's new DRM. The Star Destroyer vs Enterprise font springs eternal, as we take a number of your calls about this pressing issue. Finally, Gordon tells us all what he thinks about the new A-Team, and why it's not alright to say "brah."
Do you have a tech question? A comment? A tale of technological triumph? Just need to get something off your chest? A secret to share? Email us at email@example.com or call our 24-hour No BS Podcast hotline at 877.404.1337 x1337--operators are standing by.
Earlier, we brought you word that Ubisoft’s much-maligned DRM servers were on the fritz. “But why?” you probably wondered before continuing to stay far, far away from them. Well, what goes around comes around, it would seem, because Ubisoft’s declared that its servers are under “attack.” PC gamers who are both tech-savvy and prone to semi-militant protest? Who’da thunk it?
“Ubisoft would like to apologize to anyone who could not play AC2 or SH5 yesterday. Servers were attacked and while the servers did not go down, service was limited from 2:30PM to 9PM Paris time. 95% of players were not affected, but a small group of players attempting to open a game session did receive denial of service errors. All players with an open session during the attack were not affected,” said the publisher.
But it gets better. You see, a scant few hours later, the servers came under fireagain.
“Our servers are under attack again,” tweeted a Ubisoft rep. “Some gamers are experiencing trouble signing in. We’re working on it and will keep you posted.”
Ubisoft, as much morbid glee as we’re deriving from this twisting train wreck, we think you might want to consider slamming on the breaks before your credibility ends up on the list of casualties. We accept sincere apologies, you know. Actually, we’re surprisingly open to anything when there’s no DRM involved. Ok, not those kinds of things. Oh, wait, you mean those kinds of things and not those kinds of things? Well then, that changes everything!
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.
We love Assassin’s Creed II. It’s a fantastic game that actually lives up to all the promise its predecessor fell just short of.
Its DRM, however, manages to undo all that good will and then some.
We weren’t entirely sold on Ubisoft’s new “anti-piracy plan” when the publisher ran it by us last month, but little did we know that we were witnessing the birth of DRM so sinister that we’re now petitioning to have the guy that created SecuROM canonized.
Here’s how it works (as discovered by the fine folks at PC Gamer UK): as you’re already aware, the DRM requires an Internet connection to authenticate your game. As you weren’t already aware, it requires that Internet connection at all times. Constantly. The second you lose that connection for whatever reason, even for a second – be it a faulty wireless signal, a clumsy roommate, or a fried server on Ubisoft’s end – your game goes dark, you lose all unsaved progress, and you’re locked out of the game until you resolve your connection issue.
We’re reminded, at this point, of an old Internet saying: DO NOT WANT.
Ubisoft’s also afflicting the DRM upon Settlers 7. We weren’t actually planning on purchasing Settlers 7 in the first place, and – shockingly enough – this hasn’t done anything to change our minds.
Is this a joke, Ubisoft? Because we’re not seeing the punchline. That is, unless you burst out laughing every time hundreds of thousands of pirates cause you to lose millions of dollars.