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Ubisoft Considers Always-Connected DRM "A Success"

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the all-about-the-benjamins dept.

DRM 224

Ubisoft made headlines a couple days ago for bringing back their restrictive DRM for an upcoming racing game. Speaking with PCGamer in response to the overwhelmingly negative feedback to this news, a Ubisoft representative said the company has seen "a clear reduction in piracy of our titles which required a persistent online connection," adding, "from that point of view the requirement is a success." One wonders how they measured this, and how they compare it to sales lost due to the bad press it's generated.

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224 comments

It is a sucess (5, Interesting)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 3 years ago | (#36926770)

I spend much less on games now

Re:It is a sucess (4, Funny)

g00mbasv (2424710) | about 3 years ago | (#36927102)

This was a triumph! I'm making a note here: "huge success!!" It's hard to overstate My satisfaction. Ubisoft: We do what me must Because we can. For the good of all of us. Except the ones who are buying our games.

Re:It is a sucess (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927508)

But there's no sense crying over every mistake.
You just keep on buying every game that they make.
Even if they're not fun
The corporations have won
They own everyone who is alive.

Re:It is a sucess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927190)

I don't, I just spend it on games that Ubisoft didn't publish.

Re:It is a sucess (1)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | about 3 years ago | (#36927244)

I was going say 'Thanks Ubisoft', it save me more money also. I guess it is a success for me too....

Re:It is a sucess (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927972)

I guess I'll just play the pirated versions that hack around the always connected code. Good going Ubi! Smart!

Re:It is a sucess (1)

hardburlyboogerman (161244) | about 3 years ago | (#36928146)

Not with me.If it has DRM,I won't buy.Period

Re:It is a sucess (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 3 years ago | (#36928406)

I know the DRM is about PC games, but I just got an XBOX 360 not too long ago.

I have bought several games, and plan on buying more. I prefer cheap new games than used, but when it's an Ubisoft title, I make sure to get it used. I don't know if I'm helping or not.

http://www.ubi.com/us/games/search.aspx?pltag=xbox360 [ubi.com]

They can take that c___ and blow it out their a__ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36926798)

First one to fill in the blanks wins a Tardis.

Re:They can take that c___ and blow it out their a (3, Funny)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about 3 years ago | (#36927104)

...take that crack and blow it out their authentication?

Re:They can take that c___ and blow it out their a (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927164)

Hint: Kentucky Fried Movie

Re:They can take that c___ and blow it out their a (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927958)

It is a "Kentucky Fried Movie" reference, in the A.M. Today segment.

good for you Ubi (5, Funny)

spidercoz (947220) | about 3 years ago | (#36926802)

I hope you succeed all the way to bankruptcy

Re:good for you Ubi (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36928384)

Heh... They're "Succeeding" much like Sheen was "Winning".

Sales lost? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36926816)

I doubt it. Gamers simply aren't that hardcore or idealistic.

They all flocked right back to PSN, credit cards in hand, when it came online, didnt they?

Everyone flocked to Steam to get HL2, when it was doing the same thing.

They're right. Gamers will put up with just about anything. And don't kid yourself, you're never offline, you fucking nerds.

Re:Sales lost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36926968)

You should talk, you're always online .. see even right now.

Re:Sales lost? (2)

redherring728 (1927764) | about 3 years ago | (#36926990)

And don't kid yourself, you're never offline, you fucking nerds.

Everything else you said was simply stating the obvious, but for this one I have to call bullshit.

Re:Sales lost? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927054)

Everyone flocked to Steam to get HL2, when it was doing the same thing.

You have no clue what you're talking about. Steam allowed you to easily switch to offline mode from the online mode, ensuring you could use your games if you went on a trip or something like that. There's the downside of not being able to play if your internet goes does unexpectedly, but that's way different than the game shutting you off if your internet connection ever misses a beat no with no possibility of offline mode.

Re:Sales lost? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 3 years ago | (#36927080)

And don't kid yourself, you're never offline, you fucking nerds.

I'm guessing you don't travel, busy hotels often times don't have internet between the hours of 7pm and 11pm (2-4 second ping and 5-25KBps).

I doubt it would be stable enough to work with this, and yes, when working away from home, I do like to play on my laptop for a stretch.

Re:Sales lost? (4, Insightful)

VGPowerlord (621254) | about 3 years ago | (#36927100)

I can play HL2 (or any other Steam game) for the PC for up to a month offline after initially activating it.

I can't play Assassin's Creed 2 or Driver: San Francisco for the PC offline for even 1 second.

Re:Sales lost? (4, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 3 years ago | (#36927350)

Only a month? I've seen computers go for ~9 months w/o an internet connection still able to play steam games offline. Technically, I think you can go as long as you want, Steam just has a minor issue where it deauthenticates for some reason (incidentally, I believe you can backup the user authorization files and reload them if this happens.)

Re:Sales lost? (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | about 3 years ago | (#36927514)

Only a month? I've seen computers go for ~9 months w/o an internet connection still able to play steam games offline. Technically, I think you can go as long as you want, Steam just has a minor issue where it deauthenticates for some reason (incidentally, I believe you can backup the user authorization files and reload them if this happens.)

I've never tried it, I was just going by what other people have said in the past.

Re:Sales lost? (2)

MoFoQ (584566) | about 3 years ago | (#36928030)

sadly, except if you "patch" AC2/Driver:SF

the irony is that the legit users have to resort to the pirated version to actually be able to play with less headaches or to be able to play at all.
that's when you know DRM has epically failed

Re:Sales lost? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#36928390)

Moreover I can buy a game and install it on my desktop and my laptop, and play it on either machine so long as I don't try to play both at once. Makes sense to me. Companies that feel they are entitled to a "per cpu" license can just go screw themselves.

Re:Sales lost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927140)

Hey, welcome to UK! A country were most people have a shitty connection! I've had trouble with the connection for the past five days!

Now really, always online drm is shit. I buy games exactly for this - times were I've no connection.

Re:Sales lost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927236)

I doubt it. Gamers simply aren't that hardcore or idealistic.

They all flocked right back to PSN, credit cards in hand, when it came online, didnt they?

Everyone flocked to Steam to get HL2, when it was doing the same thing.

They're right. Gamers will put up with just about anything. And don't kid yourself, you're never offline, you fucking nerds.

False. The only way that games are installed on my dedicated gaming machine is via the DVD drive. There is no Steam on it, and there are no games on it that require an Internet connection, neither to "register" nor to play. I can't wait for Skyrim to come out, and I even bought a new (well, to me) Radeon 6970 for it, but it'll either work without a network connection or it won't, in which case I'll be buying and playing something else.

Re:Sales lost? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927820)

Yes but that's you. Most of us aren't anal chucklefucks, and will use things like Steam because the DRM simply isn't invasive at all. Ubi's shit is different though.

Re:Sales lost? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36928318)

And don't kid yourself, you're never offline, you fucking nerds.

That's a lie. My ISP is AT&T.

Re:Sales lost? (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about 3 years ago | (#36928410)

And don't kid yourself, you're never offline, you fucking nerds.

1) No, we're not. There's been loads of times where I couldn't do this or that because of limited access to the Internet. Especially out at the Horse Farm I'm trying to get started.

2) You're on /. Pot. Kettle. Black.

Game developer == Hollywood studio (5, Interesting)

Compaqt (1758360) | about 3 years ago | (#36926818)

While most software development companies (Microsoft as the biggest example) had long ago given up copy-protection for software, game development companies seemed to be a strange exception to the rule.

But it's no anomaly: As games have drifted more toward the category of movies and away from the category of software, it's only natural that they've begun to see things the MAFIAA way.

Re:Game developer == Hollywood studio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36926980)

True, they are banded as entertainment industry and are shifting away towards MAFIAA more and more. Good thing is that there is a golden age for indie games. Ubisoft, Sony, Capcom are all on my blacklist and i'll be more than glad to add more.

Re:Game developer == Hollywood studio (2)

cwrinn (1282510) | about 3 years ago | (#36927044)

Microsoft gave up on copy-protection software? What universe do you live in? I still get checked for Windows Genuine Advantage anytime I install something from microsoft.com. Windows Games checks your serial numbers of games for pirated licenses, so on. Palladium Lives. :D

Re:Game developer == Hollywood studio (1)

3vi1 (544505) | about 3 years ago | (#36927580)

I'm sure it was an honest mistake; the GP author probably simply uses pirated copies that remove WGA and serial checks.

It's easy to ignore how much a pain in the ass Microsoft makes everything when you spend days looking for and installing pirated versions instead, and in the process turn yourself into a criminal. But, it's so much easier than spending an afternoon learning your way around the desktop of a free and perfectly legal alternative.

Re:Game developer == Hollywood studio (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | about 3 years ago | (#36927976)

Oopsies, it's been a while since I've had to deal with that. Just for the record, Windows XP came with my HP, and I'm now using Ubuntu.

Anyway, I still do think the more that games have moved from something a programmer would come up with to something a scriptwriter and other assorted creatives would come up with has something to do with the increasing affinity of game developers for MAFIAA thinking.

Re:Game developer == Hollywood studio (4, Insightful)

zlogic (892404) | about 3 years ago | (#36927866)

WGA is not as bad (just a serial number check for installation of optional software). Windows Activation is much, much worse. If your PC dies then have fun calling support and proving that you're replacing a PC and not installing the same copy everywhere. Too many reinstalls? Suspicious activity. This is almost as bad as buying virtual stuff in online games.

Re:Game developer == Hollywood studio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927996)

I've never had an issue with that.. and I've reinstalled the same vista license (and repeated this with 7) multiple times on different machines with no issue. If i was reinstalling on the same hardware, there was no issue. If I installed it on different machine, I get sent to an automated system where I type in a code provided by the machine and the automated system replies with a code to manually type in. that's it, don't even have to talk to a real person in the entire process. Granted I only ever have 1 install working, and I only do this every few months at most, usually I do it annually. I'm sure if you do it often it's suspicious and they might have additional steps like talking to customer support, but I haven't had any issue otherwise.

Re:Game developer == Hollywood studio (2)

BLToday (1777712) | about 3 years ago | (#36927294)

Microsoft giving up on copy protection???? You don't use Windows Vista/7, Office, Games for Windows, or any Microsoft product? I can't think of a MS product that doesn't have "xxxxx Genuine Advantage" or some sort of authentication.

Reduction in Purchases too (1)

armanox (826486) | about 3 years ago | (#36926840)

I know that I stopped buying Ubisoft games when they first added this feature. It hurts the customers more then the pirates.

Re:Reduction in Purchases too (2)

frosty_tsm (933163) | about 3 years ago | (#36927440)

I know that I stopped buying Ubisoft games when they first added this feature. It hurts the customers more then the pirates.

They probably attributed the reduced sales to "this game sucked more than the last one."

In all seriousness, suits forget that they are supposed to maximize profits (which often correlate to maximized revenue) and that it's better to have 1 more sale even if it means 1,000 more pirates (this ignores extra load on multiplayer servers, but CD Keys will keep the multiplayer-playing pirates from adding significant cost).

How does one measure the value of "nothing"? (2)

CaptSlaq (1491233) | about 3 years ago | (#36926846)

Lost sales are just that: Nothing. They don't exist. There are unsold units, but just because you have unsold units doesn't mean you have lost sales.

Re:How does one measure the value of "nothing"? (2)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about 3 years ago | (#36927228)

Lost sales are just that: Nothing. They don't exist. There are unsold units, but just because you have unsold units doesn't mean you have lost sales.

No one knows how many freeloaders convert to customers when the ability to freeload is removed or reduced. It's certainly more than the zero you imply, but also certainly less than the 100% Ubisoft implies.

From Ubisoft's perspective, anything more than zero is a win if they assume it will more than offset those who won't buy because of the DRM. Not a happy thought, but I suspect the numbers add up the right way for them.

Re:How does one measure the value of "nothing"? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 3 years ago | (#36927384)

How many sales are lost due to this DRM though?
I avoid games with really bad DRM, steam is about as much as I would tolerate.

If you convert 1000 pirates but lose 500 other buyers and had to spend another 501 players worth of profit on DRM you might as well not have done it.

Re:How does one measure the value of "nothing"? (5, Interesting)

Sancho (17056) | about 3 years ago | (#36927494)

I know so many people who used to pirate music before music became DRM-free. Then Apple got through to the studios, and people still pirated because they didn't want to deal with iTunes. Finally, when Amazon started offering mp3s and no crappy software to download, 8/11 of the people I still keep in touch with switched. There were two big changes: they'd all grown up and could now afford music, and the music was easy to buy, download, and use. No messing with bloated programs, no DRM restricting where you could play the songs, no problems.

I feel largely the same way about movies and TV. Right now, I use Netflix and Hulu with smatterings of Redbox to get my video media, as well as OTA signals. I'd buy digital downloads of movies and TV shows from Amazon in a heartbeat if I could play them anywhere, any time, without an Internet connection. I've been tempted many times to buy them anyway, however because they won't play on my iPad or offline laptop, I won't. I could buy from Apple, but those videos won't play on my laptop at all. So I won't buy there, either.

I genuinely want to give these people my money. They just don't (yet) offer a product I'm willing to pay for. So instead, I use free or cheap options that almost certainly don't help them.

Fail (1)

SpinningCone (1278698) | about 3 years ago | (#36926860)

Every pirated copy is a sale lost. therefore any apparent reduction means sales are up.

duh.

on a side note i've been boycotting Ubisoft since before Spore came out due to crap like this.

It's their product (2)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | about 3 years ago | (#36926862)

If they want to stop their nose bleed by putting a tourniquet around their neck, that's their business.

just a thought... (4, Insightful)

MichaelusWF (2225540) | about 3 years ago | (#36926904)

but perhaps they should spend more time and energy on making games that are worth paying for, and less time and energy on making people regret paying for their games?

Re:just a thought... (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 3 years ago | (#36927750)

What I don't get is why they think they'll make more money this way. In the olden days, they'd sell games and never hear from the customer again. These days, they need servers and people on phones to authorize people to use the copy they paid for. Since they have to pay for these services, now every satisfied customer is drilling away at that profit the earned yonks ago.

I honestly can't believe with all the money grubbing these companies do this is the approach they took.

Re:just a thought... (1)

zlogic (892404) | about 3 years ago | (#36927956)

Servers usually go down after people stop buying the game.
Why waste money on something that doesn't generate as much cash as it used to? For example, Microsoft shut down the PlaysForSure DRM server, without refundung puchased songs. If you're lucky, the vendor will create a patch to remove DRM once the servers go down.

Reduction in piracy? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36926910)

Or an overall lack of interest? Ubisoft hasn't been putting much good out for a while now.

Re:Reduction in piracy? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#36928464)

Not since they bought SSI I think. Yeah ok IL-76 was decent back in the day, despite the lack of a real campaign generator.

Re:Reduction in piracy? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#36928476)

il-2, doh, dunno what I was thinking. Maybe got confused with "1946" somehow.

It works! (5, Insightful)

Leslie43 (1592315) | about 3 years ago | (#36926934)

Ubisoft has created the perfect DRM system.
Combine horrible DRM with horrible gameplay and no one will pirate it. Of course no one will play it either, but hey, it's the perfect DRM system.

I almost feel as though I should be thanking them for all the time and money they are saving me.

I call baloney (1)

JustNiz (692889) | about 3 years ago | (#36926962)

>> a Ubisoft representative said the company has seen "a clear reduction in piracy of our titles which required a persistent online connection,"

Notice how he was careful to avoid mentioning the corresponding reduction in actual sales.

Anyway I think his statement must be blowing smoke. I personally would never buy any product with such restrictive DRM, but say I had bought the game, I for one would have also immediately downloaded a hacked version just so I could play it offline, and so I could play after they turn off their DRM server when the product is no longer making them money. It seems to me, overly restrictive DRM would necessarily cause more piracy not less.

Re:I call baloney (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927464)

They could prevent people from playing cracked versions by moving critical but non-performance-sensitive parts of the code into the cloud running on Ubisoft servers. In order to play it offline with a crack, people would have to write alternate versions of those functions which isn't really feasible.

In the future, when we all have super fast internet connections, there's a decent chance that companies will only allow internet streaming of their games a la OnLive. If you don't have internet or the publisher goes out of business, tough luck.

Re:I call baloney (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 3 years ago | (#36927472)

Anyway I think his statement must be blowing smoke. I personally would never buy any product with such restrictive DRM, but say I had bought the game, I for one would have also immediately downloaded a hacked version just so I could play it offline, and so I could play after they turn off their DRM server when the product is no longer making them money. It seems to me, overly restrictive DRM would necessarily cause more piracy not less.

What they do is simple. You advertise it as storing your game saves In The Cloud(tm). Sorta like SteamPlay where the game saves are uploaded to the server.

Except in Ubisoft's case, if the game save server isn't available, then no game saving is possible. Thus initial "offline play" basically consists of running through the game and hoping to not die (which requires reloading a game save) as well as keeping the game running on the PC for the duration of play.

So, it's DRM, but it can be spun around as "Cloud Saves - pick up and play your game anywhere on any PC".

The beauty of this DRM scheme is, well, nothing needs to be installed on the PC to handle it - no special drivers, no licensing agents, nothing. The game starts up, connects to your account, and accesses your save on the remote side. Plus, it can be advertised as a feature.

Time for some Activism? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36926978)

Ubisoft would probably want other developers to get on board with this scheme so that it makes it feel like what they're doing is not wrong. To that end, it's conceivable that they would lie about their success or failure in order to sell it.

Maybe it's time we took a harder stance against companies like this; in essence they're reducing games into short-term playable, non-ownable rentals. That 'always-online' game won't work after Ubisoft takes down the servers or goes out of business. And they hold ultimate power in whether you can or cannot play, despite your purchase. You'd better not say anything bad about them in forums.

So, we need to fight back against this. Make it an issue; single them out for criticism. Make sure people know the issues.

this a triumph! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36926996)

This was a triumph!
I'm making a note here:
"huge success!!"

It's hard to overstate
My satisfaction.

Ubisoft:
We do what me must
Because we can.

For the good of all of us.
Except the ones who are buying our games.

Re:this a triumph! (1)

Killall -9 Bash (622952) | about 3 years ago | (#36927642)

But there's no sense crying
over every lost sale.
You just keep on trying
'till the company fails.

Software engineers are pissed
Target release date's been missed
Are there people who still buy our games?

Pirating hurts Gamers. (-1, Flamebait)

andy9o (1235174) | about 3 years ago | (#36927000)

When will people realize, when you decline to purchase a game due to restrictive DRM, opting instead to pirate it, you are hurting other gamers. Your decision to pirate the game, rather than not play it at all, contributes to the justification for these companies to come up with even more intrusive DRM, to combat the "rampant" piracy of their titles. As long as piracy occurs on any title, those studios will blame sales shortfalls on piracy. Not the ever decreasing length, or quality, of the their games. Not the decision to kill dedicated servers, cap player limits, or release slapped together console-ports. Not the required third-party multiplayer platforms (GFWL, Gamespy, etc.). They see things in one context: If there be pirates, there be demand, we just need more DRM.

Re:Pirating hurts Gamers. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927150)

But Ubisoft owes them to give them the product in the manner they want so it's clearly justified to take it for free when they don't get what they are entitled to.

Re:Pirating hurts Gamers. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927158)

When will people realize, when you decline to purchase a game due to restrictive DRM, opting instead to pirate it, you are hurting other gamers. Your decision to pirate the game, rather than not play it at all, contributes to the justification for these companies to come up with even more intrusive DRM, to combat the "rampant" piracy of their titles. As long as piracy occurs on any title, those studios will blame sales shortfalls on piracy. Not the ever decreasing length, or quality, of the their games. Not the decision to kill dedicated servers, cap player limits, or release slapped together console-ports. Not the required third-party multiplayer platforms (GFWL, Gamespy, etc.).

They see things in one context: If there be pirates, there be demand, we just need more DRM.

What an incredible stretch in denial you've made. I assume you are someone who buys these games.

Let me inform you:

The gamers buying games with restrictive DRM (e.g. you) are the ones hurting gamers, because they're actually monetarily supporting the studios putting this bullshit out.

It's time to rethink your actions. Get Ubisoft and co. out of your ass, stand up straight, and pull up your pants.

Re:Pirating hurts Gamers. (1)

andy9o (1235174) | about 3 years ago | (#36928102)

I should have clarified, but I just don't play restrictive DRM titles.

Re:Pirating hurts Gamers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927274)

According to your logic: If i decide not to buy ice cream from a shop I should not enjoying free ice cream someone gives me. It's a sale they are not gonna get, period. If i download the game or not after I decided Ubisoft is evil and greedy it does not affect them at all. There is no game worthy of this villainy and scum.

Re:Pirating hurts Gamers. (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | about 3 years ago | (#36927566)

I don't think you're far from the truth. The part you're missing is where to spend one's gaming dollar in lieu of the games with restrictive DRM. In simple terms, instead of spending time playing pirated games, gamers should be spending their time playing purchased DRM-free games. Carrot AND stick at the same time. The carrot that promises a market (read: cash) for games that meet demand, and the stick that punishes for not meeting that demand.

As long as companies think that the demand is merely for "good games" regardless of inconvenience, they will continue to market that way. It's only by putting your money toward companies that produce what matters to you (DRM-free) that you'll encourage proper behaviour.

Putting these companies on one's shitlist is a good start, but it's only half of the equation.

Cause and Effect (1)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | about 3 years ago | (#36927006)

I would warrant they are seeing a reduction in piracy because no one wants the game, not because your DRM is scaring them off.

As the Lorax would say... (1)

davevr (29843) | about 3 years ago | (#36927024)

Unless people like you care a whole awful lot
and instead of buying DRM'd games they do not
nothing is going to get better. It's not.

Based on the history of fan rage vs. fan action, I think Ubisoft will do just fine.

Re:As the Lorax would say... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about 3 years ago | (#36928434)

I'm disinclined to buy anything they're putting out, console or otherwise, with this tripe included in the product they're selling. I can't imagine I'm the only one.

Only the pirates will play their games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927030)

So, then, the only people that would play their games will be actually only the pirates and some lost lambs!!!!

Details? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927042)

Anyone know what game they are talking about? And if the DRM truly prevented piracy? I don't play many games these days, but my general sense has been that every game ever released has been cracked shortly after, and that the cracked versions usually come minus all the inconveniences.

I don't really care one way or the other, but its hard to believe that their scheme really works (is there any teenager who does not have a friend who can explain bittorrent?) or that it is fair (the paying customers get the worse experience.)

How do you measure success? (1)

WiiVault (1039946) | about 3 years ago | (#36927048)

Seems to me it is impossible to measure the lost sales caused by their insane always-on DRM system. PC gamers are a fairly savvy crowd, so I doubt its insignificant. Just seeing your games less torrented doesn't say shit about potential lost sales.

They measure cost of bad press by lost sales (4, Insightful)

LordZardoz (155141) | about 3 years ago | (#36927070)

Most game companies (Ubisoft and EA for certain, Activision and the rest highly likely) have API's that have the app phone home and send metrics / telemetry data back about the usage stats. This is even done in games that have no multi-player component. Some of this is done for determining how much ad revenue is generated from ingame advertisements. Some of it is just marketing and research data. (ie: If only 2% of users actually use the mode that took 15% of the development resources to create, chances are that the mode will be dropped or at least not developed any further. If 90% of users die in the room with 13 snipers, they may patch the game to remove some snipers). I suspect that some portion of this data includes unique user id / cd keys.

I would expect that titles with a great deal of piracy are somehow detected by this. If they know that they have actually sold X units through retail, and they have X+Y connections, then the number of pirated instances is Y.

Lets say a game without this DRM has 150 000 users, and that 75000 users are legit. If they are taking a beating in the press, but the number of legit users has increased, the system is a success. Ubisoft is happier to have 80 000 legit users in a pool of 90 000 total users, even if they drove off 46% of the total user base to do it.

Losing a user means nothing except in subscription based games. Losing a sale means a whole lot more.

END COMMUNICATION

Re:They measure cost of bad press by lost sales (1)

ccguy (1116865) | about 3 years ago | (#36927276)

Losing a sale means a whole lot more.

Well, what you described doesn't measure the number of sales lost in future Ubisoft games by pissed off customers who did buy the current game (and playing it legally).

I don't know why Ubisoft assume that where there's a console there must be an internet connection. Some of us when going on vacation (beach house of whatever) take the console with us to play whenever we're bored *precisely* because we don't have an internet connection there (or it's mobile and just used for basic stuff).

Re:They measure cost of bad press by lost sales (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927344)

I would expect that titles with a great deal of piracy are somehow detected by this. If they know that they have actually sold X units through retail, and they have X+Y connections, then the number of pirated instances is Y.

Why would the pirated copies phone home at all? In fact, if the companies are making the same assumption you are, and none of the pirated copies are phoning home then they would come to a similar conclusion that their anti-piracy code must be AMAZING! When in fact it's just a headache for everyone not pirating it, and the pirates are actually enjoying a better quality of life.

Because of this flawed reasoning however you now have a feedback look that's just going to propagate this horrid DRM to more titles, while the pirates go on about their merry way.

Re:They measure cost of bad press by lost sales (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 3 years ago | (#36927458)

Given that I am not aware of a single DRM system that hasn't been cracked, online requirement or no, I somehow doubt that the DRM is what is reducing piracy. I'm more inclined to think it's the shitty quality of their games making people not even want to pirate it. Just a thought.

Or maybe it just looks like they have reduced piracy, since the new cracks stop the game from even phoning home (they'd have to to crack it), while the old ones didn't. Just a thought.

Re:They measure cost of bad press by lost sales (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36928420)

It took several months to crack the Settlers VII, a couple weeks for Assassin's Creed 2, and years for Cubase >3. Sometimes the DRM just has to be "good enough". If you put in 100 random bugs throughout the game campaign that only exist in the pirated version (I do realize these spill over) it becomes significantly harder/more time consuming to crack, and most publishers nowadays only really care about avoiding pre-releases and 1st day cracks, gamers are impatient and entitled, if you can't get the game you want right now, some of them will actually go and buy it.

Re:They measure cost of bad press by lost sales (1)

Shompol (1690084) | about 3 years ago | (#36928184)

The 70,000 not legit users they are driving away represent both Goodwill and potential future sales. If the game is good, they will both tell all their friends and can buy some game in the future (when they have more money and less time for obtaining hacked versions).

Having not legit users costs the company nothing. Driving them away costs upkeep of the DRM scheme. When DRM breaks down and locks off legit customers, that's even more lost goodwill and future sales.

So there is a tradeoff between a slight revenue increase today and a significant loss of goodwill and sales in the future. Of course, for the management types, the slight increase "now" trumps everything in the future, when they might not be part of the company.

Re:They measure cost of bad press by lost sales (1)

Svartalf (2997) | about 3 years ago | (#36928446)

It doesn't work over-well when you factor in used sales there...

Making Piracy Preferable (4, Insightful)

farbles (672915) | about 3 years ago | (#36927128)

When Ubisoft makes it so a pirated version of their game provides better functionality and convenience than their own product, it is safe to say that they are NOT GETTING IT.

Gee, Ubisoft, I can give you money and be stuck with crippling and inconvenient DRM, or for free I can download a nice clean cracked copy that will play at once conveniently whenever and wherever I want it to. Decisions, decisions.

I blame MBAs. There is something in their sense of entitlement and smug assurance they know the best no matter what the facts may dictate that leads them to live out The Peter Principle and rise to levels of authority where they have no competence. I'll betcha there's some MBA or group of MBAs telling Ubisoft to stand firm on the DRM.

In the meantime, Valve will take my money without the crazy bullshit DRM and I can play my games even if the Internet is down. If I want to try an Ubisoft game, I'll know where to go.

Re:Making Piracy Preferable (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36928524)

So rather than trying to make some statement about the evils of DRM and the bad, bad company that is using by grabbing an unlicensed copy, why not do the right thing and simply not support them at all, financially or otherwise? If you're going to play the game (regardless of where you got it), pay the money. You're not automagically entitled to a DRM-free game just because you disagree with DRM.

Decreased piracy, but what about SALES ? (4, Insightful)

Superken7 (893292) | about 3 years ago | (#36927132)

Note how NOTHING is said about sales, only that piracy has decreased. Less piracy does not equal more sales, in fact it could have been less piracy AND less sales (or just average sales).

The most important data was missing :P

BOYCOTT UBISOFT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927188)

If by success you mean the worst thing to ever happen to PC gaming...

I long ago declared I will never buy a product with this DRM, and I've stuck to it. Even though there are games I *know* I would have purchased otherwise. I'm also doing everything I can to convince my friends of the same. This is a cancer.

The Second Law of Public Relations (3, Interesting)

jalefkowit (101585) | about 3 years ago | (#36927196)

... is: never admit failure. Just talk about what a wonderful success whatever you're being asked about has been. If the product really is a failure, keep talking about its success until the people who make the decisions get around to canceling it. After that, if you're asked about it, dismiss it as yesterday's news and change the subject to what wonderful successes your other products are.

The Mac Cube [wikimedia.org] , for instance, was a major stinkburger. [wikimedia.org] Did Apple ever say anything to that effect publicly? Nope. They were always bright and sunny about how well the Cube was doing, until the day they killed it. [apple.com] At which point inquiries about the failure of the Cube were answered with glittering stories of how well their other Macs were selling.

In other words -- what a company's spokesperson says about the success or failure of something like a DRM system is meaningless. They will always say it is a great success. The only way to learn the truth is to watch whether the company puts more effort and money behind it, or less.

Not new for Ubisoft (1)

Rog7 (182880) | about 3 years ago | (#36927216)

I recall Ubisoft talking big about copy-protection a decade ago, in particular when they acquired Blue Byte and Thomas Hertzler went on several rants about how strong copy-protections (DRM in today-speak) were the difference between good sales versus poor sales. What a horrible way to assume the behaviour of your customers. I tried to fire up a few of those games recently and the copy-protections made the compatibility issues even more problematic. As a customer, they sold me less of a product and as of today, I'm less happy with Ubisoft than I would be with other publishers.

Now I'm not the boycotting type, so what happens in this scenario is I'm less happy with them, so I want to spend less. Instead of purchasing their games upon release, I wait for the discounts. I save my premium purchases for publishers who either use no DRM, or DRM that is less restrictive. I'm really thrilled with publishers that enable their games to still work years down the road. Valve for instance.

What they've managed to do with this persistent love of intrusive and restrictive DRM, is successfully make my purchases less about the quality of the game and more about the DRM. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

It's been successful in keeping me from buying (1)

BLToday (1777712) | about 3 years ago | (#36927226)

It's been successful in keeping me from buying their games. I think the last Ubisoft game I bought was FarCry 2 and that was at Christmas when it was on sale on Steam.

There has been worse schemes in the past (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927262)

"Go to page 12 of the manual, paragraph 5, sentence 3, word 2 and enter it here ________". Or even better you have to put the CD/DVD in the drive (guess you are screwed if you don't have one) for the game to play.

The problem is if something is free, people will pretty much take it whether they really want it or not. If you have to pay for it, you will only take it if you really want it.

For instance, on my iPod Touch I have over 8 screens of apps installed on it. On a regular basis I might use 12 of them. I have the Groupon app, and I don't even have a Groupon account. Some people are also digital hoarders. They have 3 terabytes of movies they have downloaded with a 'street' value of say $10,000 if they were to go out and buy the DVD at retail. Most of the time they never even watch them, or would even have time to watch them.

Make a great game, make the price reasonable, and people will buy it.

Re:There has been worse schemes in the past (1)

PitaBred (632671) | about 3 years ago | (#36927562)

So... what exactly are the publishers losing to those digital packrats? The ones that wouldn't have it if it wasn't free?

Re:There has been worse schemes in the past (1)

BLToday (1777712) | about 3 years ago | (#36928086)

The lose absolutely nothing from digital packrats. They only use the it from the paying customer that don't want to deal with crap like it. DRM is acceptable to me if it doesn't treat me like a pirate if I'm the one buying it. If it's going to treat like a pirate then I might as well pirate it and save the money.

Fuck You Ubisoft (2)

HisOmniscience (1361001) | about 3 years ago | (#36927280)

Still boycotting you from the first time.

Settlers (1)

emuls (1926384) | about 3 years ago | (#36927352)

I was going to buy the new Settlers game, then I didn't because of the DRM. I guess that's somehow success.

Correlation != Cuusation (2)

milbournosphere (1273186) | about 3 years ago | (#36927378)

Fuck you, Ubisoft. Your DRM is 'working' because your games suck balls. Nobody's downloading them because they suck. You've succeeded only in alienating your customers. How can you call this success? Bullet, meet foot.

Make it all up... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927444)

They didn't actually have any valid way to measure or even gather these statistics as far as I know. However, that's not really the point for them. Justification was needed for the DRM and thus they simply made that justification up. Games that are pirated and of actual interest for people to do so typically create a modified version that will run without the phone home and then someone simply adds the application into a full block on their firewall. Granted it means they simply cannot play multi-player but that doesn't seem to matter to most.

Personally, I simply won't buy a game with this sort of restrictive DRM attached to it. In the VERY few cases that I do purchase games with a "phone home feature" I always make sure that I can get a hack for it that will allow me to play without needing to do so. I still buy the game but I simply won't be tethered to their restrictions on how I use it. Do I support them with my purchase; most certainly. Do I agree with them dictating when, where, and how I'll use the product I bought from them; not in the slightest!

I reserve my rights to play the game I paid for. I don't distribute it nor do I steal it but if I bought it then I should be entitled to play it as I see fit. EULAs and similar agreements that suggest I don't actually own the product I'm actually paying for are a monstrous corruption of our current software / media industries. If you buy a toaster you can toast what you want with it! Hell, you can destroy it with a sledge hammer, give it to a neighbor, or donate it to Good Will if you want. Because you bought it, own it, and it's yours. A game, movie, or cd shouldn't be any different!

I sincerely doubt this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927568)

I know that Assassin's Creed 2 was available, fully functional and cracked, within 48 hours of release. I don't know about other Ubisoft titles since the whole "you must always be connected" thing, but I doubt it was much more successful.

as you no doubt realize... (1)

Press2ToContinue (2424598) | about 3 years ago | (#36927728)

This is the first stage of an insidious invasion by which all of earth is threatened with ultimate destruction. These creatures are from another world. We cannot stop them. We are helpless. We must capture one. That is the onlyway we can learn about them.

who needs Ubi anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927778)

Who needs Ubisoft's crap when their best people already left the company, and started to work again (after the ridiculous 1year abstinence period )!!!
http://www.giantbomb.com/news/patrice-desilets-has-several-ideas-for-his-thq-project/3528/

This is why I refuse to buy ubisoft games new. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36927798)

Honestly ubisoft doesnt make much I actually want to play but when I do find a game by them Im interested in I NEVER buy the games new so they dont get a penny of my money.

DRM, cdkeys, online connections, registrations and all that stuff only punishes people who pay money for the games legit. All they do is frustrate their paying customers. I have pirated games before and its much easier and less hassle than when buying a lot of games new.

Devs just dont understand that people who steal games all the time will never buy them even if they couldnt steal them and intrusive drm only hurts their reputation with legitimate customers because it causes them hassle.

What about sales? (1)

p51d007 (656414) | about 3 years ago | (#36928258)

a Ubisoft representative said the company has seen "a clear reduction in piracy of our titles which required a persistent online connection... What they FAIL to tell you is that "we've also seen a clear reduction in sales of said software with a persistent online connection LOL

Relative percentages (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 3 years ago | (#36928358)

If less people are interested in a game due to this DRM, or due to the game just not being very good, that will also translate to less people interested in pirating it...

games have always had DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36928424)

Remember answering trivia questions to play Leisure Suit Larry?

Who payes for the wasted bandwidth? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36928472)

So.. since this game *must* be played online, who is going to pay for the bandwidth just to keep it active?

Lets say I have a 250GB/month cap (DSL from AT&T) and I'm getting close to that limit for whatever reason. Just so I can play this game, I have to stay connected which means they are checking for that connection, and then checking their server to see if I can play. That uses up my allotment. Who is going to pay for that? I didn't ASK for it. It is their DRM that is causing it. I don't want the DRM, I just want to play the game on my machine without having to eat up my monthly allotment.

Piracy just got a bit harder? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36928526)

ok kids, start bitching that it's harder to steal now.

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