Ubisoft's Annoying New DRM Cracked Within Hours Of Release

from the well-that-helped dept

We recently wrote about Ubisoft's annoying new DRM that requires you to be online to play even as a single player game (and which will stop your game even if your WiFi connection flakes out). Many people responded by saying that while they would have bought the game otherwise, now they would just wait for a DRM-free cracked version to show up. Turns out they didn't have to wait long. The DRM was cracked within hours. So again, we're left wondering what good this did? Those who were going to get an unauthorized copy of the game no matter what still did so with no trouble. The only people who are put out are the legitimate buyers, who now have to hope their connection always works and can't play while away from the internet. How does that help anyone?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    rubbing it in, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 8:11pm

    na na naaa naaa na

    suckers that buy now are well suckers

     

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      Rooker, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:19pm

      Re: na na naaa naaa na

      Honestly, who wants to spend money on software that behaves like this?

      The sooner Ubisoft dies an ugly, bankruptcy-induced death, the less overall damage they do to the PC gaming industry. Even EA seems to be rethinking DRM.

       

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        Dan, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:41pm

        Re: Re: na na naaa naaa na

        "Even EA seems to be rethinking DRM"

        Since when?

         

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          Rooker, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:54pm

          Re: Re: Re: na na naaa naaa na

          For the last year or so. Sims 3 had no intrusive DRM bundled into it. They went with a disc check, which is so simple to bypass, it hardly rates as a form of copy-protection at all.

           

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          BigKeithO, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 2:41pm

          Re: Re: Re: na na naaa naaa na

          Along with Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age. Simple disc checks and nothing more. EA's new game is to include some day 1 DLC for people who buy (codes bundled with the game) and to make everyone else pay upwards of $10 for the same thing.

          This move works against piracy and takes a bite out of the resale market as well.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 8:21pm

    Well, sounds like Ubisoft just missed out on a potentially large amount of sales. Maybe they'll learn a lesson from this?

     

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      mjb5406 (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 8:38pm

      Re:

      Learn a lesson? Good grief, if the past Sony SecuRom debacles (remember Spore?) didn't teach the game industry anything, why should this?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 9:19pm

        Re: Re:

        The Spore debacle taught EA something, at least. Sims 3 has no DRM.

        I hope Ubisoft can follow their example, but I wouldn't count on it.

         

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          PEBKAC (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:49pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Well, it uses a disk check and that launcher thingy, but otherwise nothing destructive like Securom used on TS2 releases (why I don't buy from EA anymore - holding that grudge until they remove it but not holding my breath either).

          Sims games sold over 100 million copies with nothing but a disk check prior to Securom. If they pulled a Spore-type DRM on TS3...yeesh, simmer RAEG! Seriously, that is a huge money-flinging fanbase you do not want to piss off.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:52pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Uhh. Sims 3? Bad example. Really bad. It took me hours to get a perfectly legit copy working for a friend. And lots of troubleshooting. And ye gods, I don't want to think about that again...

           

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            PEBKAC (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 11:08pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Was that due to DRM, though? Or just crap coding on EA's part? I've seen many stories like yours, but not related to anything DRMish. Installing, patching, or playing the game seem to be the basis of problems with TS3, aheh.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 2:14am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Was that due to DRM, though? Or just crap coding on EA's part? I've seen many stories like yours, but not related to anything DRMish. Installing, patching, or playing the game seem to be the basis of problems with TS3, aheh.

              When the cracked version installs with no problem and the DRM one doesn't, it's the DRM.

               

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                PEBKAC (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 9:58am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                There are other reasons that would work, like properly matching region codes or patch applications or hardware issues or even user made content. EA has shown they're very capable of messing stuff up for legit games all on their own (TS2 Seasons - the 5th EP! - shipping with code that broke babies comes to mind; I recall a region code problem with a TS3 WA as well, I think it was the Australian release?). By design or by accident is sometimes hard to tell.

                I'm not doubting your troubles at all nor am I trying to minimize your problems w/installation, it's just that if there were DRM issues I know they'd be blared from the rooftops over there in simland and I've not seen that. :/

                 

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        RandomGuy, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 9:26pm

        Re: Re:

        No I don't remember any Spore debacle because I downloaded the torrent and it worked beautifully.

        When publishers start treating their customers with respect by offering non-crippled software at fair prices I'll buy it, until then I see no compelling reason to change my habits.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:29pm

        Re: Re:

        I still haven't bought Spore, even though I was really looking forward to it because of the install issues my daughter had with her legitimate copy.
        DRM goes bad so often, treats legitimate customers like criminals, does nothing to stop the actual criminals, and makes the software impossible to backup. I now avoid all products with DRM or DRM-like burdens, including the Kindle, Turbo Tax, and chances are, Win7.

         

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 8:52pm

      Re:

      If they have lousy sales, they'll just blame it on the pirates, and not the stupid DRM.

       

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      TheStupidOne, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 12:12pm

      Re:

      It will teach them a lesson, that DRM needs to be much much harder to break

       

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    Kathy (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 8:26pm

    I'm struck speechless by this whole debacle. It was cracked within HOURS. I would be very angry if I had paid 50 bucks for a hobbled DRM copy and my neighbors had an unrestricted version.

     

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    Chris Becke, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 8:38pm

    Just because theyre legitimate buyers

    Doesn't mean thye can't benefit from the crack. I havn't purchased this particular game, but Spore has an annoying SecuROM system they want me to install in admin mode. Which is a no no. I can't believe people let game companies enlarge thier virus & malware exposure area *still* by allowing games to require admin elevated installs with components that are all but guaranteed to have elevation bugs.

    Anyway, my copy of spore remains patched. Even tho its legit. Of course, now that I own it, I rather regret buying it because they really did miss the mark. The game is a lot less playable and interesting than the hype implied.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 8:48pm

    I wonder how much money they invest in DRM.

     

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    Another User, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 9:17pm

    Friend of mine pre-ordered it. He canceled it when he found out about the DRM.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 9:23pm

    Hours

    If not for the DRM, Ubisoft would have only been able to sell one copy. Then that copy would have been pirated and they wouldn't have sold any more! This way they got to sell a few more copies for a few hours anyway.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 6:37am

      Re: Hours

      "This way they got to sell a few more copies for a few hours anyway."

      ...at the expense of pissing off all the customers who choose to pay for it. It's not worth it.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 6:47am

      Re: Hours

      but world of goo had no drm and sold more than one copy O:

      /realizes you may be using sarcasm

       

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        MattP, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 7:20am

        Re: Re: Hours

        With no sarcmark you have to assume AC is serious! After all what good would a sarcmark be!?

        World of Goo was an excellent game and points out yet again that if you offer a valuable product for a reasonable price in an accessible manner people will pay for it.

         

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      Derek, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 1:51pm

      Re: Hours

      This way they got to sell a few more copies for a few hours anyway.
      They got to lose a few sales in those hours too. Lots of gamers wait a day or so after the release, watching blog reviews, forum posts, etc, before buying.

      Besides, I doubt any "pirate" was sitting there going, "Golly, the game's been out since lunch and it's still not cracked?! Guess I'll go buy it, arrrr."

       

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    Coz (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:19pm

    Okay, I'm not a fan of DRM, but someone has to create an alternate business model.

    CwF+RtB works well with music because you have concerts, which is a scarce resource, and there's nothing better than listening to a band live and the difference is huge.

    Selling merchadise works well with online comics, because there's nothing better than a huge detailed poster and the difference is huge.

    For computer games, there's no alternative in sight. DLC is just as easy to spread as the game that uses it. Arcades are good only for a few casual games, and the improvement over computer games isn't big enough. Selling a service is works, but only with online games.

    And when you read that the few people who dare to post pirated game stats show that 70 - 90% of the people who play the game got it illegally( example:
    http://smellslikedonkey.com/wordpress/?page_id=274 ) you get the idea of why companies are trying stupid stuff like DRM.

     

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      identicon
      Dan, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:47pm

      Re:

      "someone has to create an alternate business model."

      It's their alternate business model that's the problem.

      "Our game doesn't run on your system? Too bad. We already have your money, and we're keeping it."

       

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      PEBKAC (profile), Mar 4th, 2010 @ 11:02pm

      Re:

      Read the link (thanks) and one remark stood out:

      [regarding the piracy process] "NOTE: Surprisingly this is MUCH easier than actually buying it on iTunes!!"

      Seems that if your game is going to be pirated no matter what DRM you use, and you don't want to give up and walk out on a still pretty lucrative market, then making it better, easier or more attractive for the paying customer is about all you can do.

       

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 11:23pm

      Re:

      those stats are highly flawed, not only is it only looking at those who upload scores, it only looks at the percentage of top scores. So many other problems with their 'research' as well but those two reasons alone invalidate the data.

       

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      identicon
      Sean, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 11:16am

      Re:

      There are no alternatives in sight? Wrong. The new business model for game producers to digitally distribute their games and then create new content for a low price that allows the gamer to buy new things for little money.

      Just because YOU don't see the alternative doesn't mean there isn't one.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:50pm

    helps me to decide which games to bye and which ones NOT to bye.

    game companies shoot themselves in the foot again.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:51pm

    yeah yeah yeah, Buy, not bye

    Doh!

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 4th, 2010 @ 10:52pm

    DRM = Digital RENTAL Media

     

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    loupgarou, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 1:09am

    I bought dragonage legitly. they only have a cdrom detection (which since I don't want to screw up my disk, I use daemon tools lite to put an iso image mounted virtually).

    i bought it legitly, was because it is a GREAT GAME and i wanted to reward them for not having overtly crappy drm as well.

    however, my free DLC code for stone prisoner seems bugged.. after downloading it , it doesn't appear in my world map, hope its fixed in the next patch.

     

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      Alethea, Mar 6th, 2010 @ 6:11am

      Re:

      @ loupgarou

      You have to log into a bioware account to get the DRM extras to work. Note the bottom left corner of the screen. You also have to set up an account with them.

       

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    techflaws.org (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 2:42am

    A different take on why they keep using DRM

    by game coder Jeff Vogel:

    a) it's to stall piracy only for a limited amount of time to boost initial sales

    b) the more game features (save games, AI) are done on a server, the harder it will be to crack

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 3:08am

      Re: A different take on why they keep using DRM


      it's to stall piracy only for a limited amount of time to boost initial sales


      I'm sorry but I just don't buy that at all. We're not talking about DRM being cracked in a month, or even days. We're literally talking about hours after release. That's if a leaked version of the game doesn't get out early and the DRM cracked prior to release.

      It also doesn't take into account windowed releases for different regions.

      b) the more game features (save games, AI) are done on a server, the harder it will be to crack

      That's true, but it also means you become totally reliant on flaky companies for the game to even function.

       

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      PaulT (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 5:35am

      Re: A different take on why they keep using DRM

      "a) it's to stall piracy only for a limited amount of time to boost initial sales"

      Years ago, I stopped buying PC games at all. The reason? DRM. At least I don't risk spyware and other programs getting hosed with a console title. If that's the plan with DRM, it's backfired for many people, turning a customer into a non-customer without the "pirates" doing a damn thing (at least in my case).

      "b) the more game features (save games, AI) are done on a server, the harder it will be to crack"

      The flip side to that is that if the servers go down - due to technical issues or the fact that it's no longer economically viable for the publisher - the game no longer works. Ever. I'm not going to spend full price on a game that might not work in a couple of years.

      Look at the online servers EA has taken down for 360 releases recently - some titles less than 2 years old. Those only affect the online components of the game, imagine if your games could not work at all without those servers. This removal is almost inevitable, because the costs of running the servers are infinitely more than it costs them to have files stored on my PC ($0), and *every* game will become unprofitable to keep running at some point.

      I can still fire up a game of the original Half-Life, Transport Tycoon or Day Of The Tentacle if the mood takes me (and it often does), and still access the save files from 10+ years ago. I'll be damned if I'll buy a product where that's taken away from me because some publisher is afraid of "piracy". I predict a nice underground community dedicated to hacking said servers, with no rescued profits for the PC games industry (while the console market thrives, of course).

       

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    identicon
    yozoo, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 6:00am

    Leave it to the French

    To create a DRM scheme that gives up before the war has even started

     

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    Zombie Doc Homicide, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 6:32am

    yeah..

    ...but this is for the children they need to be protected from all this 'free' content!

     

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    Xan, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 7:41am

    Bad reviews on Amazon

    One of their new games released with this DRM, Silent Hunter: Battle of the Atlantic, is already getting plenty of 1 star reviews on Amazon due to this.

     

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    Carlosjuero, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 8:52am

    Not quite cracked

    There was a huge buzz when it was shown that the UBI DRM was cracked... only the buzz was (and is) a bit pre-mature. If you do a little research you will find that the 'cracked' copies cannot play the whole game (yet) - they get stuck after a certain part.

    Ubisoft came forward and pointed this out saying that the DRM was in fact not cracked fully. Found this bit on PC Gamer's news feed - PC Gamer had asked Ubi if they would consider removing the DRM if it got completely cracked pre-release, they said they would 'consider it'. Them pointing out the problems that pirates were having with the game was their way of saying "We don't have to remove it as it hasn't been broken".

    The UBI DRM is a very bad business move for them, but it has not been 100% cracked. I wish folks would do full research before posting 'news' in such a manner - especially if their news is a day behind contradicting news.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 10:48am

      Re: Not quite cracked

      Ok, so the DRM is not fully cracked, and cracked versions can only be played up to a certain extent? So you are saying that I can play more of the game with the cracked version then I can with the retail version since our campus wireless is spotty. Thanks for the info Carlos! Nice job on sidestepping the debate and complaining about accuracy! Hey wait a minute, sidestepping the real debate, defending broken DRM, hey you must be an executive at a game company! It is getting a lot easier to find you guys.

       

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    Almost Anonymous (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 9:46am

    Answer: It's not about piracy

    As has been noted by others everytime these discussions occur, it just does not make ANY business sense to do this to discourage piracy since everyone knows that not only does it not discourage it, but the "challenge" usually drives the hackers to try harder to crack the unruly DRM. Therefore, Occam's Razor says that it's not about piracy.

    It is much more plausible that the DRM is there to foil the second-hand game market.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2010 @ 6:13am

      Re: Answer: It's not about piracy

      This is hands down an attempted to stomp out the second hand gaming market. No questions there. Publishers don't make money on resales.

       

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    SkullCowboy (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 9:46am

    Does it really matter if it HAS been cracked? Pirates say yes. UBI says no. But I wonder how happy UBI is that most of the buzz about this game has very little to do with the actual game itself. It's about the DRM. Such a waste.

    Once again, a publisher has so focused on the 'Dread Pirate Roberts' that they lost sight of two REALLY important things. #1 is us. You know, the customers? The one's who actually pay them money for... #2 THE GAME!!!

    What's being talked about now? What's getting all the press? The DRM and whether it works. Instead of pointing to a successful launch and crowing about sales numbers they are fighting a defensive skirmish with announcements that, true or not, no one really believes.

    Valve recently pushed out an update to the game Portal that added some new content that has fans decoding files and morse code and finding an old style phone in BBS to get clues to... something. They have fans all agog over something that hasn't even been officially announced yet. The new HL episode? Portal 2? But they are buzzing about THE PRODUCT. Hows that for marketing.

    What's being talked about with UBI's new releases?
    Yea.
    Way to go, UBI.

     

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    vastrightwing, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 10:11am

    A wax seal

    DRM is like a wax seal: It’s not really there to stop anyone other than the few who are afraid to tamper with it. DRM only works because the state has agreed to prosecute anyone breaking that wax seal. I seriously doubt any publisher thinks DRM is going to stop anyone from being able to break it. Its goal is to give companies a way to monetize the breaking of that seal. Put a different way, it’s like being able to charge a thief with breaking a lock to your front door even if he doesn’t steal anything. The court will force that person to pay you specified or unspecified damages. Potentially a good business model if enough people are caught.

     

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      Sean, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 11:24am

      Re: A wax seal

      You're trying to say the company suing people who use cracked copies is going to be lucrative enough to run a business? That's just stupid, there's really no other word for it. Sure, the company can sue people for $500,000 all they want, but that doesn't mean they're going to get the money. When you consider the legal costs for such endeavors, and the time it would take for a conviction, it's just stupidity to believe this would work.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 10:32am

    Just as it is unfair to paint every downloaded copy as a lost sale (as you point out so often in your articles), it is equally unfair to exclude the middle in this case and suggest that the world is split into just two groups -- pirates who would never have paid a dime no matter what and people who were going to pay anyway.

    Both cases ignore people who would have gotten it for free through the least possible effort, but would buy if they thought there would be trouble down the line. That's really the market that is up for grabs here.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 5th, 2010 @ 10:49am

      Re:

      Also ignoring the people who buy after they download. Or the ones that download, and buy future products because they liked the game/quality. Yes, they do exist, and are also quite numerous.

       

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      crade (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 2:01pm

      Re:

      Thats the point is the middle people, the ones who would buy if it was easier or pirate if that is easier.. Those are the lost sales here since they realize it is easier to pirate than to put up with the annoying drm.

       

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    The Buzz Saw (profile), Mar 5th, 2010 @ 10:39am

    Post it!

    Get this up on the Techdirt Facebook page. I wanna share it on my wall.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 6th, 2010 @ 7:52am

    UBI

    Useless Bloody Idiots!

     

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    Jason Phillips (profile), Mar 6th, 2010 @ 11:25pm

    really, now?

    look. I'm serving with the Marine Corps. If I have a copy of a game bought, paid for, and sent to me I can't play it. The Internet isn't very reliable in the freaking desert.
    I'm a very small percentage but I'm still screwed. what recourse do I have besides playing a pirate copy?

     

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