Sunday, 5 February 2012

Ubisoft Won't Let You Play Their Games

 Okay. Here's the headline. From next Tuesday, Ubisoft are taking their Uplay servers down to move them to a new location, which means that a whole raft of their games with the abominable always-on DRM will be unplayable. The games that you bought will not – through any fault of your own – work. In single player. They're not saying when the games will be playable again.

 Settlers 7, HAWX 2, and Might and Magic: Heroes VI are affected for sure, but they're guarenteeing that Driver: San Francisco and Assassin's Creed: Revelations will stay up. The status of games like Assassin's Creed 2 are a bit more up in the air post-anti-DRM patching. This is, obviously, terrible and stupid. For a method apparently designed to stop the piracy of games to frequently provide a worse service than the pirates – or, as here, no service at all to legitimate paying customers – is an absolute disgrace.

Rayman Origins being released with virtually no DRM suggests that this attitude is not all-pervasive in the company, and that Ubi may be considering changing direction, but I'm not too sure. Driver: San Francisco recently saw the attempted return of always-on horribleness, before being changed to the still-not-good-enough always-needing-to-be-on-at-launch watered-down version, and the less said about PC-only Anno 2070's hardware-tied DRM the better.

You do wonder about Ubisoft's internal politics. Obviously piracy is a convenient straw man for all sorts of ills within PC gaming, but you can't treat it as a kill-or-cure cancer. It's the one case where this sort of cure won't fix the disease, and won't kill the patient, but could rebound and take out the doctor. It's not too hard to look at the record industry and see just that taking place. Until then, my advice is to vote with your wallets.

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