To say that Ubisoft’s in the doghouse with every PC gamer on earth right now is a bit of an understatement. “But wait!” says Ubisoft, its Adam’s apple bobbing as a pitchfork hovers just above its throat. “We can explain!”
Ok, we’re listening.
"As long as you do not quit the game, the game will continue to try to reconnect for an unlimited time. Once the game is able to reconnect, you will immediately be returned to your game," Ubisoft told Ars Technica.
"Where exactly you are reconnected in the game may differ from title to title. Settlers 7 reconnects at the exact point where the connection was lost, AC2 reconnects you at the last checkpoint (and not the last auto save, as indicated in the CVG article). There are many checkpoints so you're back to the point where you got disconnected in no time."
Apparently, DRMed games also won’t miss a beat if your connection goes MIA for a couple seconds. Only “lengthy” disconnects send you hurtling back to the starting line.
As you might have surmised from the title, though, we’re still not sold on this. Not by a long shot. The fact that we can be locked out of our game at all is a head-scratcher, and it really doesn’t help anyone. After all, what’ll happen? Will our legal copy suddenly transform into a pirated copy when Ubisoft stops looking?
Piracy needs to stop – no doubt. But publishers don’t need to treat PC gamers like second class citizens to do it. Shocking, we know, since it’s worked so well in the past.
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.
As a so-called “Future Soldier,” we can only assume you’ll be working with the latest, greatest technologies in an effort to get an upper hand on the battlefield. And where’s the latest, greatest real-world gaming tech these days? On the PC, of course! So where’s the newly announced Ghost Recon: Future Soldier making its biggest push? Why, on consoles, naturally.
Yep, sure enough, the game apparently “features cutting-edge technology, prototype high-tech weaponry, and state-of-the-art single-player and multiplayer modes,” but – via Twitter -- Ubisoft senior community developer Kimi Matsuzaki pegged the game for a holiday 2010 release on consoles, adding that “We will tell more about the PC version later."
When’s “later”? We have no idea. You’ll remember, however, that Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter’s PC version was its own beast, designed specifically for our favorite platform. We can only hope Ubisoft is giving Future Soldier’s PC tour of duty similar consideration.
(Aside: an “Advanced Warfighter” is nothing like a “Future Soldier.” God. Why would you even think that?)
Yeah, sure, “always-connected anti-piracy plan” is just a tongue-twisting maze of exec-speak for “different DRM,” but the devil’s in the details, so let’s see what Ubisoft’s got cooking.
In a nutshell, the publisher’s new anti-piracy measures aim to disarm DRM’s more troubling aspects, removing install limits altogether and allowing you to play without a disc in the tray. Also of note: cloud saves. For the uninitiated, this means that your game saves can be stored remotely on Ubisoft’s servers, which – while a fairly prominent feature these days – is still 12 different flavors of cool.
So, are you feeling sufficiently buttered up? Because here comes the letdown. See, there’s one major string attached, and if you disconnect that string, then you can kiss your gaming time goodbye. It’s the Internet, and you’ll be required to connect to it in order for Ubisoft to authenticate your game. Despite the restrictive nature of that limitation, however, the publisher doesn’t seem too worried.
"We think most people are going to be fine with it. Most people are always connected to an Internet connection," said Brent Wilkinson, Director, Customer Service and Production Planning at Ubisoft.
Which is mostly true, but we’ve been known to game on-the-go from time-to-time, and – unfortunately – where our laptops go, the Internet does not always follow. Maybe it’s just nitpicking on our parts, but still: until someone thinks up a one-size-fits-all anti-piracy measure – one that leaves little-to-no room for griping or outright dissatisfaction -- piracy’s not going anywhere.
With Far Cry 2, Ubisoft managed to take the highly unattractive concept of running around in the jungle while nursing a case of malaria and make it awesome. But the game was far from perfect. Rough edges reared their ugly little heads far too often, as did every firearm-owning citizen of Africa – all of whom hated you, specifically, for no real reason. Fortunately, our utopian vision of Ubisoft’s corrupt, suicidally dangerous African state may very well see the light of day, as Far Cry 3 is officially in development.
“No I'm not," Ubisoft writer Kevin Shortt said when asked if he was working on Far Cry 3. "But I know the team are and what I've seen looks pretty exciting."
Unfortunately, Shortt patched up the leaky portion of his blabbing faucet right after that tiny tidbit – probably because a Ubisoft PR rep glared him into submission. As a result, we know nothing about the game’s setting or features, nor do we have any idea when we’ll find out more.
Which makes this whole thing kind of like ripping open our Christmas presents early. We’ve seen what’s under Ubisoft’s wrapping paper, and now we just want to play it this very second. Boy, sometimes we almost regret running down our time machine’s battery during that adventure that ultimately led to Hitler’s downfall. It’d really come in handy right now.
Assassins like Altair and Ezio love shrugging off The Law by slipping into bustling crowds, so it’s only fitting that the PC edition of Assassin’s Creed II has shoved its way into the most crowded spring gaming season in recorded history.
“Assassin’s Creed 2 PC has moved to the first quarter of 2010. A bit more time for the dev team to deliver the best quality game to you,” reads a tweet from Ubisoft.
The console versions, meanwhile, are still on track to release on November 17.
If it’s any consolation, though, Mac users can finally look forward to the long-awaited release of BioShock. Next month. See, PC faithful? Things could be a whole lot worse.
Rise and shine, Mr. Fisher… Oops, wrong game, but you can forgive us for making the mistake. After all, Splinter Cell: Conviction’s delay-borne trail of broken hearts and crushed dreams is nearly as long as the one produced by Half-Life 2 – especially now that the game’s been delayed again.
Originally Re-scheduled to launch this fall, Conviction’s now looking at an “early 2010” release date. The game’s been delayed four times, and was first set to launch in Q4 2007. Ubisoft’s saying it’ll be out between January 1 and March 31, 2010. So, why delay it again? Apparently, the game wasn’t polished enough.
“It’s just a question of polish. The team was asking that they couldn’t be with the level of quality on all the maps and all the game for the end of the year, so they had asked for more time to be able to come with a better product,” Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said during a recent earnings call.
Good intentions, but – for many gamers – bad timing. BioShock 2 and Max Payne 3 already retreated into 2010, and now that Splinter Cell’s done the same, the winter gaming season just got a bit colder.
Toronto, eager to offset some of the losses in its manufacturing sector, has lured Ubisoft to set up shop north the border by offering the game publisher $263 million. Ubisoft has published such hits as Assassin's Creed, Call of Juarez, Brothers in Arms: Hell's Highway, Far Cry, Prince of Persia, and many more across all gaming platforms.
The $263 million deal, which comes in the form of a tax credit, keeps Ubisoft in Canada for at least 10 years and is expected to create 800 jobs. For Ubisoft's part, the publisher plans to invest upwards of $500 million. Ubisoft reportedly made $1.7 billion last year.
While the tax break is significant, the government said it plans to make the money back through jobs created, tax revenues, and spin-offs, The Inquirer reports.
In the original Far Cry, rigging a tree branch to clothesline a hapless foe was a deadlier alternative to, you know, shooting them. With guns. Unfortunately, Far Cry 2 de-fanged guns in a similar manner (minus the pro-deforestation propaganda) – something for which we nearly awarded it a seven out of ten. Good thing, then, that Ubisoft Montreal has announced a new “Hardcore” Far Cry 2 multiplayer patch that promises to make sure in-game guns’ bite outdoes trees’ bark (grooooan).
"The hardcore mode has been designed as an answer to a community request," Ubisoft community developer Atmon wrote on the game's official forums. "Some players were seeking and expecting a more realistic experience.”
A new damage model will be applied with increased damage for all weapons.
All weapons have been rebalanced on normal mode, and on hardcore mode.
Enemy names will disappear after the spawning invincibility period is over (A shield is displayed above a player’s head for a few second to show that he is invincible).
A new option will allow you to tweak spawning time (but not spawning rate).
A new search option will be available in multiplayer to allow you to find games that are playing on hardcore mode.
The patch hasn’t been given a drop date just yet, but we’ll be sure to give you a heads up when it does.
Looks like the experiment took a few wild swings at Ubisoft’s wallet, because Prince of Persia’s upcoming “Epilogue” DLC will be avoiding the PC altogether – instead giving the game’s story a proper happily-ever-after only on Xbox 360 and PS3.
“Unfortunately for business reasons we won't be seeing any PoP DLC appear. Sorry guys!” Ubisoft’s community manager stated succinctly when speaking of Prince of Persia’s PC iteration.
Epilogue, unlike the bulk of DLC currently on the market, will – as its name implies – actually expand Prince of Persia’s plot, as well as its jungle gym-approved gameplay. Players will face off against a new boss known as The Shapeshifter, who, er, takes the form of two previous bosses, but without being a total cop-out.
In addition, both Elika and the Prince will add a couple new tricks to their racing rapport, and the game’s difficulty is taking off its kid gloves.
In other words: PC gamers are seriously missing out here, and should a direct sequel to Prince of Persia leap the gap that its DLC couldn’t, we might be in for some serious confusion.