Ubisoft Learns Nothing From Its DRM Past; Condemns Paying Customers To Repeat It

from the achievement-unlocked:-infinite-stupidity dept

Rock Paper Shotgun brings us the unfortunate (but rather unsurprising) news that Ubisoft will be (once again) requiring an online connection to play their upcoming title, Driver: San Francisco. As far as DRM options go, this is by far the worst one, especially considering the failure of Ubisoft itself in keeping its own servers up and running.As is par for Ubisoft’s effed-up course, this DRM will also cripple the apparently unsociable "single player" part of the game. This crippling will also extend to any player, single or not, whose internet connection fails them for whatever reason:

Even if the system weren’t a gross mistreatment of customers, unforgivably stupid and spiteful, it’s a DRM designed for a universe other than this one. My home internet, with the extremely reliable Be, drops frequently. A noise on our BT line causes problems, along with normal service outages, sudden blips, and all the times I trip over the phone wire and pull it out of the wall. Let alone if I want to do something crazy like, I don’t know, play a game outside of my house.

Compounding this farce is the fact that console players will be saddled with additional DRM in the form of U-Play. Granted, this won’t affect the original purchasers whose outlay of ~$60 will nab them a full-featured game that will often be rendered unplayable. However, second-hand gamers looking to save a few dollars will find themselves in possession of an incomplete game.

"In each new copy of a Uplay Passport-enhanced game will be a one-time use registration code that, when redeemed, provides access to Uplay Passport content and features," the company said in an emailed statement. "The code can be found on the insert card inside the game box. Gamers can identify Uplay Passport-enhanced games by looking for the logo on the back of the box."

Given that this code can only be redeemed once, consumers who purchase a used game laced with Uplay Passport restrictions will be forced to shell out an extra $9.99 to unlock online content and features. This means that a used game which normally costs $5 less than the new packaged version will essentially cost $5 more than the new unopened copy.

Well, that is certainly a fine way to stick it to the second-hand market. At this point you might as well buy it new, or better yet, not buy it all. And you have to love the PR team’s misinterpretation of "enhanced," which is rarely linked to something that is also described as "mandatory."

But it’s not all bad news, as RPS points out. Ubisoft is going the extra mile to make sure that PC gamers will be screwed just as quickly as their console counterparts:

Astonishingly, Eurogamer reports, when one customer complained on Twitter about the PC DRM, Ubisoft replied saying, "Bear in mind though that the PC version of DRVSF is released simultaneously to consoles."

Brilliant. I suppose the bright side is that cracked versions for consoles and PCs should appear within moments of each other. But Ubisoft isn’t done ruining the "game experience" yet:

Oh, this one just keeps getting better. As reader Anarki points out, Ubisoft have now tweeted confirming the driving game will not support steering wheels!

The question at this point is no longer "When will Ubisoft learn?" but rather "How much does Ubisoft despise its customers?" And it looks as if the answer to the second question is swiftly approaching "infinitely."

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: ubisoft

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Ubisoft Learns Nothing From Its DRM Past; Condemns Paying Customers To Repeat It”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

This only works because game players are gullible

If they would simply IGNORE Ubisoft — which goes beyond refusing to buy its products, and extends into refusing to play their games, own their games, sell their games, pirate their games, etc. — then could easily force Ubisoft to undo all of this.

They simply don’t have the willpower to make it happen.

Donnicton says:

It’s reasons like this why I don’t even buy Ubisoft games during Steam’s 75% off sales, just on principle. I typically devour anything that hits the 75% sale rack on a mid/end-week madness sale or daily deal.

Even back when they had the entire Ubisoft lineup on sale. Which sucks, because I would want to buy the Prince of Persia games otherwise.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

After the last DRM fiasco (and seemingly this following replay) whenever I see Ubisoft anywhere in a game I automatically think “Oh, let us download the cracked version and save myself both the money and the irritation the DRM would cause”. That if I really want the game, otherwise I’ll just think “Just crap. Next.”

I’d buy a few of their titles. But they can get their DRM and shove it up their arses. And kiss goodbye to an otherwise good customer 😉

80sRelic (profile) says:

Wanna Drive San Francisco? In a Muni BUS?!

I’m definitely *NOT* a gamer, but I’m waiting for the English version of this: http://www.buscablecarsimulator.com to hit the shelves… Your choice of vehicles include 4 kinds of muni busses, 2 streetcars, a cable car and more..

Driving Downtown SFO in a big vehicle sounds like perfect self-abusive fun!

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Wanna Drive San Francisco? In a Muni BUS?!

I’m definitely *NOT* a gamer, but I’m waiting for the English version of this: http://www.buscablecarsimulator.com to hit the shelves… Your choice of vehicles include 4 kinds of muni busses, 2 streetcars, a cable car and more..

Driving Downtown SFO in a big vehicle sounds like perfect self-abusive fun!

I have to say, as a resident here, that sim looks *crazy* realistic. Like you can place almost every location with ease, and the buses look perfect. When I started watching the video, I actually though internally “it would be funny if they showed having to reconnect the muni electric buses to the overhead cables”… and then they *did*. Damn.

blaktron (profile) says:


Steam is basically an online-only game DRM service, and it works great, AND has a ‘play offline’ feature that allows you to use online-purchased software offline. Why this isnt a mandatory feature I will never know, but it feels a little like illegal bundling to force 2 products (download manager and a software title) to function together and not without the both of them…

HothMonster says:

Re: Steam.....

“illegal bundling to force 2 products (download manager and a software title) to function together and not without the both of them…”

with the exception of some indie games, that arnt sold elsewhere, and a few other that require steamworks for multiplayer you can buy most games from another retailer and then not require steam.

without the few exceptions thats a bit like saying it feels like its illegal for gamestop to make you walk into the store to buy things off their shelves

Donnicton says:

Re: Steam.....

Steam also provides some value to the online aspect of the client. Which is amazing in and of itself considering that it’s more or less ‘free’ to the end user(the finances coming from Valve’s cut of developers’ sales).

It provides an easy portal for developers to gain publicity and boosted sales for their software that they wouldn’t have otherwise gotten(read: Recettear, Cthulhu Saves the World). Many developers praise Valve for how easy it is to do business with them and the returns that they get for it, compared to…say, X-Box Live Arcade.

It provides an easy way to link online gameplay without constant convoluted account systems that the user would have to deal with on a per-game basis, as well as a central achievement system that is tied to your Steam account(for those that are into that kind of thing).

Steam constantly has mid-week, weekend, and daily specials where games can be obtained at 50-75% off. When was the last time you saw a game being sold willingly by a retailer at anything less than full price that wasn’t a used copy or via a rewards card? This also has the side effect of dramatically increasing sales, a fact that many developers that have games on steam have attested to.

Steam also occasionally has “free play” weekends with some games, where players can play an upcoming or newly released game for an unlimited time over the course of Saturday and Sunday, allowing people to try it and see if they like it before they buy it.

Let’s not forget that the Steam overlay supports friend-to-friend chat, and the built-in web browser as well.

And these are all just off of the top of my head. What does Ubisoft offer? Why, you get to be treated like a potential criminal before you even buy the game. And by god, you’ll like it!

Lesath (profile) says:

Crap like this is why I don’t play PC games anymore. I’d rather experience them on Xbox Live with no DRM. This is basically what EA has done with their sports titles. I guess this is much better than the ‘always connected’ crap Ubisoft pulled a few years ago with AC2. Great call with that, good thing their servers never went down.

Drizzt says:

Well, a ton of companies have found a different approach: cripple the game by not shipping everything developed and sell the stripped parts as DLC. And part of that stuff is “for free” with a code only the initial buyer can use. In the good old days you would get a big cardbox with a CD, a printed manual (often containing back story, details on units/items/whatever) and additional stuff ranging from simple stickers to cool maps of the gameworld. Today you need to buy at least a “Collector’s Edition” for that kind of things.

I’m still startled, that so many studios/distributors are surprised, that many people aren’t willing to pay for this anymore. I’m happy with my old games and won’t buy new ones until they get back to their senses. Ok, I still go after stuff like the Humble Indie Bundle or cool FLOSS games like Battle for Wesnoth. But intentionally crippled games I’m expected to pay an amount of money for, for which I’d get two games and an expansion in the past is not going to happen.

Drizzt says:

Re: Re: Re:

Especially since you don’t get meaningful demos anymore. I mean: playing half of the first level might pass as a graphics demo, but to get a feel for the UI or the characters and the game world? Not so much.

As for finding good games: you can always employ the “let others get burned” method and ask friends/acquaintances, who’ve bought something you’re interested in, how it is and whether you could test play it a little. If you like the game you need only to wait until the game is sold as a “ultimate edition” or GOTY, so you get all the expansions and DLC with the game itself for a reasonable price of under $ 20.

That Anonymous Coward says:

Because you can just run to the media and scream how it is Pirates who destroyed your game, and we need more laws and punishments for people who are tired of intrusive DRM, and get the “crack” for their legal copy.

Everyone else is getting rich from our product!

People selling their old games costs us more money for bandwidth! – Maybe had you not used stupid DRM that required a net connection your bill would not have gone up.

The used game market is stealing money from us! – Maybe had you not priced your product out of a majority of consumers price range, or made your game have more replayability. Or put out a playable demo instead of perfectly rendered youtube videos on machines tweaked for the best possible performance.

Maybe if they stopped focusing on scraping every cent out of a game, many of which released in a buggy state to begin with, and instead focused on releasing a quality game and then what they are building next.

SLK8ne (profile) says:

I'll pass...

This is very similar to a software bundle I saw last Christmas. You got Corel Paint, and two other piece of software and a 2 gig flash drive for $50.

Sounds like a great deal on the surface doesn’t it?

Turns out that every time you open any of the programs you have to have an Internet connection because they use the same silly sort of DRM that Ubisoft is using.

I passed. I’ll stick with open source thank you very much.

Truth is, probably a lot of people got the hacked versions just to avoid the DRM headache.

They may have kept someone from pirating their software, but, they also are loosing legitimate sales as well. So, what exactly did they gain on this?

At some point I hope that industry wises up and realizes that their paying customers aren’t criminals and that the pirates they fear so, exist, in part, because of their own paranoia.

HMTKSteve (user link) says:

Used Sales

I don’t blame companies that include one use/$9.99 codes in their games when it comes to the used game market. I blame the companies that sell a game, buy it back for 25% of the sale price and then expect to sell it again for only $5 less than new.

If the game requires a $9.99 code to get full value from the used game then the used price should reflect that.

As to my feelings on one use codes in games I have to say that it depends on the added value that code provides.

I play Battlefield and the extra content I get from the VIP code and the stat tracking is an added feature that I consider worth paying for. I can’t pass that on in resale unless I also give up the linked account. So, I can pass it on (technically) but I’m not going to.

What I find confusing is that if I buy the download copy of Battlefield Bad Company 2 from the xBox Live Marketplace I still have to pay extra for VIP. You don’t get much stronger DRM on a console than buying a download game!

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Used Sales

Erm, this makes no sense. The first sale doctrine is very much in force, and it doesn’t matter what you like. If people want to buy used games, they will buy them. It might even lead to sales in the future if you’re not a greedy asshole (example: I bought Assassins Creed 1 & 2 used when they dropped below ?20, I bought Brotherhood new for ?40 when it came out).

“I have to say that it depends on the added value that code provides.”

There is no added value. They’re removing a component that should be in the game and then trying to sell it back to you. Use a code like this? I won’t buy your game, new or used. Suck on that.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

That reminds me of an old joke.

An american, a frenchman and a swedish guy are all on an airplane. Suddenly the pilot comes and says that the plane is going to crash, but they only have 3 parachutes, so he dons one and jumps out of the plane to safety. The american punches the frenchman and the swedish guy screaming “America rules!” and dons a second parachute, jumping off the plane. The frenchman comes to his senses before the swedish guy, and realizes he has a chance to take the last parachute, so he



Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...