Ubisoft's Passive-Aggressive Decision To Drop DRM

from the yet-again dept

Ubisoft has a long history of bad DRM choices, and tops it off with a usual misunderstanding of DRM, but its latest move is curious — in a sort of passive-aggressive way. The company has decided not to include DRM in Prince of Persia, but posted an accusatory note about it:

You’re right when you say that when people want to pirate the game they will, but DRM is there to make it as difficult as possible for pirates to make copies of our games. A lot of people complain that DRM is what forces people to pirate games but as PoP [Prince of Persia] PC has no DRM we’ll see how truthful people actually are. Not very, I imagine.

Of course, no one said that the only reason people pirate games is because of DRM, but it is most likely a contributing factor. So, there will certainly be plenty of piracy, but other experiments have shown that if the game is good and worthwhile, plenty of people will buy it as well. But of course, part of getting people to actually want to buy the game is treating your customers with respect, which is exactly the opposite of what this guy’s note did.

And, of course, the guy is wrong in saying that DRM makes it “as difficult as possible for pirates to make copies.” Once someone makes a copy, it’s available everywhere. That’s the core reason why DRM is ineffective. It’s not about stopping each individual. For DRM to work, it needs to stop EVERY individual, because as soon as one makes a cracked version available, it’s available to everyone, and no amount of DRM in the world will matter.

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Companies: ubisoft

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Comments on “Ubisoft's Passive-Aggressive Decision To Drop DRM”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Perhaps, but how are we going to measure the difference? PoP might not sell very well. Will it be because of piracy? Will it be because the game sucks? Will it even be because we are in an economic slump? No way of knowing. If you are comparing it to a previous game, there are too many factors to take into account. Most likely PoP will do average, then Ubisoft will say “This should have been a blockbuster, but it wasn’t; because of the pirates.” In order to settle it, PoP would have to be one of the best selling games of all time, which I have no doubt in saying that it will not be.

d says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If you can’t figure outwhat the difference is what does that say about techdirt’s original speculation “..but it is most likely a contributing factor” ? isn’t that just BS ?

To talk about “difference” it would be nice for you to setup identical conditions for the same game except for DRM is there or not. Seems like you don’t know what you are trying to establish here.

kirillian (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Dang, someone’s panties are in a wad…seriously…try thinking about what you are going to say, taking the time to make sure that you are calm and collected enough to make sense, and THEN and ONLY THEN, try posting. Posting before you are calm makes you sound like a total nitwit. We actually do care about what you have to say, but you are not helping yourself by making a fool of yourself before we even know what you are trying to say. Just repost your comment and make a little more sense. Mike is just addressing the fact that your argument was left uncompleted. It’s difficult to be fair to you unless you have respect enough for others’ thoughts so that you can explain yours calmly and clearly. We can’t do anything but ignore you otherwise…

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If you can’t figure outwhat the difference is what does that say about techdirt’s original speculation “..but it is most likely a contributing factor” ? isn’t that just BS ?

Let’s try a little logic 101 here. Ubisoft’s guy was implying that they’ll still see plenty of piracy and that will somehow “disprove” the idea that DRM influences piracy.

But he’s setting up the wrong metric. There are lots of factors that influence piracy, but it’s a KNOWN FACT that DRM does make some folks pirate. You just need to talk to people to find that out.

So, the original post is both correct and consistent.

If you want to criticize us, that’s fine, but it helps if your criticism actually makes sense.

SomeGuy says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

If you talk to people and they say (as they have) that they pirate because of DRM, then it establishes as a known fact that some people pirate because of DRM.

If you talk to people and they say (as they have) that they think Elvis is still alive, then it establishes as a known fact that some people think Elvis is still alive.

I’m not sure what your point here was.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Hmm… Must be either an exec or in marketing, since it is apparent that this person does not understand scientific method. In order to observe a difference, a control must be set. Since it is impossible to set a control in these conditions, no ‘difference’ can be observed. With this in mind, it becomes blindingly apparent who does and does not understand this blog.

Evil Mike says:

Piracy = Free PR

In my halcyon younger days I pirated many, many games.
(Now that I have a real job, I don’t bother 😉

When my friends came over, I’d be playing the “coolest” of the lot… I’d let me friends play it too, tell them the name of it…

Usually, my piracy of the GOOD games resulted in 10+ purchases from people who initially would have had no interest in the game.

Conversely, my piracy of the PISS POOR games would warn off all of my friends who had even considered wasting money on such a pathetic example of “entertainment.” Resulting in numerous lost sales…

Plus, if the game was good enough, I’d buy a copy, just to support somebody who’d done a good job.

Geoffrey Kidd (profile) says:

Perhaps an analogy would help

Committing DRM has a parallel in committing murder.

To put it in game terms, the perpetrator, whether it’s DRM or murder, gets the first move … one move: committing the DRM/crime.

Then the perp’s opponents(crackers/cops) get all the moves they want to crack the DRM/solve the murder.

A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

Anonymous Coward says:

Good information

Conversely, my piracy of the PISS POOR games would warn off all of my friends who had even considered wasting money on such a pathetic example of “entertainment.” Resulting in numerous lost sales…

One starts to wonder if that’s the reason they’re against copyright infringement.

Think about the executive railing against moviegoers using text messages to warn others about which movies are bad.

Matt says:

Face it, the pirates are going to pirate no matter what. Legitimate gamers are going to pay for the game – or at least they will if the game itself is worth playing. Dropping the DRM is a good thing, since then they aren’t punishing the paying customers by putting crapware on their computer.

DRM or not, there are plenty of cheap-asses in this world that won’t pay for software no matter what. Not much the software industry can do about those people.

The gamer community would be far better off if it stopped whining about the damn DRM all the time and started promoting people actually BUYING the games instead of ripping them off. All the bitching about DRM is getting really old. If you don’t like it – don’t buy, download, or PLAY the game. Simple as that. Pirating it and playing it puts you on the low ground and justifies the use of DRM.

LJSeinfeld says:

DRM Vs Piracy Vs Customers

I find it funny that media producers (including video games) count their pirated units as lost customers and use this as a rationale for punishing their PAYING customers with DRM.

While I’m sure that having “airtight” DRM would drive more sales to a certain extent, the fact is that most people that take the time to pirate your video game would NEVER pay for it in the first place. You can’t count someone that would never be a customer as lost revenue.

Enhanced content for paying customers is the way to go. Make a good product and give us a reason to support you financially and we will.

Consider all the downloaded versions as cheap advertising.

Itty Bitty Whale says:


I totally agree with the “cheap advertising” theory.

Autodesk pretty much admitted that Autocad became the #1 CAD program BECAUSE of piracy. I think my Dad’s first copies of Autocad were pirated but he wouldn’t think about doing that now. And it’s not necessarily because of a moral adversion, but rather becuase he’s a professional now and wants to own the program.

So we should recognize lack of DVM as a marketing tool. 🙂

Lucretious (profile) says:

Ubi should worry more about there shitty forced multiplayer registration and awful server implementation. Supposedly FarCry2 PC sold over a million copies yet you’ll be hard pressed to find more than a handful of populated servers in the online server browser.

Contrast that with any of the Call of Duty games (going all the way back to CoD 1) where with a couple of clicks you get a blazing fast server browser with tons of people playing and no registration required.

Jesse says:

Mike, I agree with you, first of all. The other fellow, I think, was just saying that if DRM is a contributing factor, and you remove the DRM, then sales should improve or else piracy should fall.

Not really sure how you would measure that, because you can’t exactly do a test with that, but I think that was his point. It also ignores the point that piracy and sales aren’t really independent; as you have mentioned, increased piracy seems to cause (or be caused by) increased sales.

Anonymous Coward says:

The statement “For DRM to work, it needs to stop EVERY individual …” is interesting, but not automatically true.

DRM only needs to be effective at DELAYING people getting ahold of the software for free. Taking out the whole Christmas effect, games, like movies, has a heavy buy-in that first week, then drops off quickly (aside from sleeper movies, obviously).

If that guy who HAS TO HAVE the game the first day does not find it easily available and cracked, he’ll buy it.

That’s all DRM needs to be “successful.”

People who buy a game then notice a cracked version of it after playing it for a week do not drive back to the game store and get a refund.

Delay is the success.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If that guy who HAS TO HAVE the game the first day does not find it easily available and cracked, he’ll buy it.

I suppose you have some fantastic piece of evidence to back that little claim up right? What’s that? You don’t. Thought not, guess that was you just mouthing off your opinion as fact.

Finally, you have clearly NEVER heard of ZERO day releases. Would you like to have a tiny little guess at what that means?

It means the game is available in a cracked, non-DRM infested version on, or often before, the launch day.

John (profile) says:

I guess I'm missing something...

… when the spokesman says that DRM makes it hard for pirates. From what I read about “Spore’s” DRM, it made the game hard to play *for paying customers*. The pirates got a cracked version of the game and didn’t have to deal with registering the game or validating the license number or having to call the company after 3 installs or whatever.

And how many times have we heard about people who buy the software but then use a cracked version so they don’t have to worry about a hardware dongle or a CD key or SecureROM or getting a rootkit installed on their machine (or their company’s machine)?

Arrrr says:

Re: piracy

“People pirate because it costs nothing, not because of DRM you idiots so stop boo-hooing about a perfectly reasonable point”

and in addition … no one at all has ever bought a game only to find out it does not work (for whatever reason) and then obtained a copy from elsewhere (p2p) just so that they could enjoy what they have already paid for.

barrenwaste says:


Sure, people pirate because it costs nothing. They also pirate for other reasons. Think about it for a second. You have a great game, but the developers put all kinds of restraints and locks on use. As a result you have to go through phonecalls, re-installs, and and hours of forms. Or, you could get it free and without all the hassels. So you look at the price of the game, prolly more than you want to spend, look at the hassels involved with installing and playing…then you look at the pirate version. It’s a simple case of who offers the better burger.

So, the majority of people are saying make it cheaper and easier to use, and the companies are saying we’ll add all kinds of protections that up the price and make it harder to use. I think the outcome is pretty obvious. Qualification for major media company CEO….Braindeath.

ulle says:

When I look for a new game or any software I first look for a demo version to try out, I work hard for my money so I like to try and get my dollars worth when I purchase something. If I can not find a demo then I turn to pirate bay, if the game or software is what I was expecting then I buy it, if it is not what I want then I trash the files. When was the last time you bought a car without a test drive or even bought shoes without trying them on. I realize there are going to be some who will rant that I am stealing but I have hundreds of cd/dvds with games, software and movies that I bought and alot of those purchases where influenced by demos and pirated files.

CN says:

Hard to measure...

It will be hard to measure. There are too many variables. I have decided against purchasing several titles due to DRM. PoP has no DRM, but I don’t really have any interest in it. So, just as some people don’t buy games because of the DRM, does not mean they will buy any game that doesn’t have DRM.

And if the “delay” is all that DRM needs to be considered successful, couldn’t I buy a DRM-free version of the game a month after it came out?

I don't pirate games. says:

Close, but...

I haven’t played Prince of Persia because I’m not a console gamer, but lots of my friends have had good things to say about the series. When I read that this PC version was going to be DRM-free, I was ready to shell out some cash and buy it regardless. Then I read this guy’s note and decided that, yeah, DRM-free software is a good thing to support, but Ubisoft obviously still thinks we’re a bunch of lying cheats, and i’m not willing to give my money to a company with such a bad attitude.

mslade says:

For this to be an accurate litmus test...

…it would have to be conducted by a non-UBI company. This is because I’ve already long-since lost faith in UBI who (along with EA) has proven themselves to deliver no support or respect for their customers in return for the product cost.

The bottom line is I don’t trust UBI. In fact, I bet they have DRM in there and are just making up stories about it not being in there. This mistrust, well-placed or otherwise, will effect my decision to buy, steal, or ignore the new PoP game.

Ed says:

Does DRM Cause "Some" Piracy?

I say definitely yes! How can I say this, well I am one of those idiots who purchased spore. Okay game, a little simple minded, but I wanted to play. Now my laptop has died, so, my spore installation is wiped out by the reinstall, that leaves 4 installs.

So… once my system is up and running I will be installing the cracked version. Yes, they got their money from me, but still, I can’t tell you how many programs I have purchased, then cracked, just to leave the CD in the box while playing.

As for P.O.P., now that I know there is no DRM, I will be making a point of buying. I own all the previous games on Nintendo, I liked them. This one I will get on the PC. Thank you UBISOFT!

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