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Ubisoft Has Windows-Style Hardware-Based DRM For Games

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the must-biopsy-left-kidney-to-activate dept.

DRM 473

New submitter Man Eating Duck writes "Guru3D describes how the activation system in Ubisoft's RTS game Anno 2070 also tracks hardware changes: 'So yesterday I started working on a performance review. We know (well, at least we figured we knew), that the game key can be used on three systems. That's fair; the first activation is used on my personal game rig. The second we installed on the AMD Radeon graphics test PC and the 3rd on our NVIDIA graphics test PC. ... For the NVIDIA setup I take out the GTX 580, and insert a GTX 590. When I now startup the game, 'BAM', again an activation is required. Once again I fill out the key, and now Ubisoft is thanking me with the message that I ran out of activations.' Guru3D subsequently discovered that Ubisoft was less than helpful: 'Sorry to disappoint you — the game is indeed restricted to 3 hardware changes and there simply is no way to bypass that.' I, and many with me, will never buy games with such a draconian DRM scheme, as it's very likely that I'll swap out enough components to run into this issue. Even the Steam version includes this nice 'feature.' It's probably a good idea to let Ubisoft know why we'll pass on this title."

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And they wonder why people pirate (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727962)

At least we don't have to put up with too much of this activation DRM hassle on the console versions...for now anyway. Of course, consoles do tend to follow on the heels of PC developments. And you can bet Ubisoft and other developers would love nothing more than killing off the secondary and rental market for consoles the same way they've killed them off for the PC market. I don't look forward to a day when I start up and console game and it saying "Sorry, you need an internet connection to activate this game," or the day when I can't loan a game to a friend or sell it (or buy it) used.

I'm not a pirate, but I can definitely understand why some otherwise honest people might turn to it (in light of the way honest people get screwed these days).

Re:And they wonder why people pirate (5, Insightful)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728072)

I agree in principle. I don't think I have ever pirated a PC game, but I would never buy a game that I can't continue to use in perpetuity. I understand their efforts to prevent piracy, but this rises to the level of me paying full price for a game and only getting a temporary license for it. No thanks.

At least if I buy a console game I can be sure I won't get zapped with a "Sorry, you have to pay for this game again" screen eventually.

It doesn't seem smart at all for Ubisoft to alienate their best customers, power gamers who probably make more hardware chances than anyone.

Re:And they wonder why people pirate (3, Insightful)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728152)

Right. When I buy a game, I want to be able to use it for 20+ years, whenever I feel the desire. How many computers have you had in the last 10 years? If you count hardware changes as small as a swapped out graphics card, I'd say at least 5+ computers in the last 10 years.

Re:And they wonder why people pirate (1, Offtopic)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728250)

With a reasonably decent emulator like DOSBox, I can play 20+ year old games if I like.

Re:And they wonder why people pirate (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728352)

Cool story bro.

Re:And they wonder why people pirate (4, Insightful)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728372)

I think you're missing the ENTIRE point of this being a thread on Windows DRM. I'm saying that as many computers as I've had in the last 10 years, there's no way I could buy a game today with this DRM and still be able to play it in 20 years, because of the DRM and count of hardware changes.

Re:And they wonder why people pirate (5, Insightful)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728542)

You won't be able to play it in 2 years, when they shut down the auth servers and forget to release a DRM patch.

Re:And they wonder why people pirate (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728488)

Well, they didn't lock Castlevania to only one console serial number. I'm guessing in the future things might not be as simple...

Re:And they wonder why people pirate (3, Informative)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728476)

It's just 5 hardware changes across all devices you own worldwide, which is even more ridiculous. Those hoping to play the game on both a desktop PC and a laptop around the house or on the road are even worse off. (again, something Ubisoft's best customers are more likely to do than anyone else)

Re:And they wonder why people pirate (3, Insightful)

Xenkar (580240) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728094)

Pirates don't pirate because of DRM. They pirate because it is easier than working for x amount of hours and then driving to the store, hoping it is in stock, only to be hit with DRM.

Pirate version has a small chance of being infected with something that will destroy your system, versus a guaranteed 100% chance that the retail version will be infected with something that'll ruin your computer's performance and deny you access to what you have bought. Usually the Pirate Bay comments will include stuff like "don't download it is infected" and eventually the admins will delete it.

Re:And they wonder why people pirate (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728266)

I've downloaded many pirate versions or cracks for games I own and even bought on launch day because the DRM is an annoying piece of shit that interferes with my ability to play, and sometimes with other functions of my machine.
These other functions have even included being able to make functioning system backups or the ability to burn cds.

I've never tried to crack a game on Steam, because once it's installed and has had it's activation, I've never been annoyed by any Steam game. With the frequency of changing hardware and the occasional nuke & pave (something that happens when you test beta software), I'm sure I'd hit their fuck you, err, activation limit in 6 to 8 months.

Am I not what you call a pirate? Doesn't matter, I'm what Ubisoft calls a pirate, and their antics are the exact kind of reasons I use cracks. Not too likely to be doing it with their software now, they really pissed me off last year and I've vowed to not buy their stuff again, until they back off of the screw the customer garbage, because that DRM B.S. doesn't stop the pirates, it only slows them down, often by less than a few hours.

Re:And they wonder why people pirate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728300)

It's available on Steam, whats this "stock" you speak of? I was actually intrested in this game, but I was put off by the DRM scheme attached with it. I still play Baldur's Gate on occasion, I imagine that would be quite difficult if it had the same DRM scheme as Anno 2070.

Re:And they wonder why people pirate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728406)

That's not true. I know a number of people who buy games that they really want to play, but pirate games with overly restrictive DRM. While I may or may not agree with them, their reasons are:

1) Philosophical. Companies should actually care about their customers, not abuse them.
2) Security. Remember Sony's rootkit DRM? The one that eventually became a security hole?
3) Economic. As mentioned above, the solution is to "buy another copy" as you get new video cards is just offensive and unfair. How to solve this? Get a pirated version.
4) Resource management. How much supplementary stuff should you have to install that runs continually in the background just to play a game?

Re:And they wonder why people pirate (3, Insightful)

teslafreak (684543) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728442)

Pirates don't pirate because of DRM. They pirate because ..... only to be hit with DRM.

So in other words... they pirate becuase of DRM.

Of course they do (5, Informative)

Brain-Fu (1274756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728560)

Many pirates pirate because of DRM. Some also pirate out of an interest in trying the game before buying it, some because they feel entitled to their license even though the CD got scratched, some because they have no disposable income of their own (or no room in their budget for it), and some out of sheer sloth/greed.

But to say that DRM doesn't create pirates is to completely fail to grasp some of the most basic principles that drive human behavior.

Re:And they wonder why people pirate (4, Interesting)

FalleStar (847778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728212)

It's getting to the consoles now as well. I was fully intent on purchasing Battlefield 3 for PC, but I'd already gone well over my gaming budget due to good Steam deals. Some friends and I went out and rented a copy of BF3 on Xbox 360 instead just to find out that you need to enter a one-time use code that comes with the game to access the multiplayer. I fully understand the used game market hurts the developers; however, would it really have been unreasonable to include a 3-7 day trial for renters like myself.

I'm glad this happened though, after playing the single-player campaign instead I deemed the game not worthy of a purchase. EA had a definite sale with me and managed to mess it up, my how these DRM schemes save them so much money.

Re:And they wonder why people pirate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728332)

There's already a lock on most console games already. You CAN'T change the hardware at all. You upgrade to the next gen console ("modify the hardware"), more than likely you won't be able to run older games. They've already got draconian DRM on consoles; it's just implemented in such a way that people seem to pass off as okay.

When's the last time you ran unsigned code (even for homebrew games) on a console that hasn't been hacked?

Re:And they wonder why people pirate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728586)

Think i'll start putting in floors in apartments... max 3 objects allowed to be brought into the apartment before full price of the floor will be charged again...

Not fair (2)

Brain-Fu (1274756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728588)

Despite what the article says, a three machine activation limit for a game is NOT FAIR. It is an utterly unreasonable restriction of my use of the product, and I refuse to buy games that have such a restriction.

Of course, I don't pirate them either (out of a near OCD-level desire to keep my nose clean), I just buy other games instead.

I won't touch Ubisoft's products with a ten foot pole.

PC gaming (1, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38727978)

I really have to wonder the point of bothering with PC gaming anymore. Most PC games today are now just unoptimized console ports, and there is restrictive DRM from companies like EA and Ubisoft. I do consider Steam to be a bright spot, and its DRM is so invisible that I've never actually encountered it in practice, but then again, Steam is already moving to consoles as well [] , and Blizzard seems to be dipping its toes in the water [] .

I just think integrated platforms, like consoles and mobile devices, always win out in the long-term. I certainly don't want to maintain graphics card drivers or other PC-related issues anymore. It's boring and takes time away from playing games. Consoles today practically are PCs, but without all the headaches.

Re:PC gaming (5, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728070)

The ability to mod games & to use a mouse & keyboard are the main reasons I'll never bother with a console.

That being said, I swore off Ubisoft sometime after they ruined the Might & Magic franchise.

Wow, you are stupid (2, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728118)

So rather then dealing with the easily cracked DRM of the PC, you accept the complete and total DRM of the console? That is like saying you hate the eroding freedom in the west and move to North-Korea.

Ah but you are trolling because you suddenly draw in drivers which have nothing to do with DRM anyway. Oh and if consoles are PC's now, you don't mind donating your PC and reading the net from your console from now on do you? Oh, thought so.

Re:Wow, you are stupid (4, Insightful)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728202)

Consoles aren't general purpose, they're game appliances.

DRM on the console won't interfere with my ability to do other things that aren't related to games.

Re:Wow, you are stupid (4, Interesting)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728536)

DRM on the console won't interfere with my ability to do other things that aren't related to games.

You mean like installing Linux? []

Re:Wow, you are stupid (1)

Luthair (847766) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728358)

You can still sell console games and (as long as you have the hardware) you can continue to play them indefinitely (though multiplayer might go away)

Speaking of trolling (1)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728606)

First off, thanks for calling me "stupid."

Second, the DRM of a console has never affected my ability to play its games. I never notice the DRM. I can even sell used console games without issue. Notice that I praised Steam on the PC for its non-intrusiveness.

Third, I mentioned drivers because I was explaining why PC gaming is a maintenance chore compared to consoles and why consoles are such an appealing target for both developers and gamers. That is not "trolling."

It sounds like you got extraordinarily angry over the idea over criticism of the PC platform and the suggestion that consoles might be better at something. Some people are so attached to their PCs, so bitter at the rising popularity of consoles and mobile devices, that they lash out at anyone making a valid point. As for reading the net, most people today do that from their mobile phones! Frankly, if you still think PCs are the paragon of consumer computing, you're living in some prior decade and refusing to accept the reality of the world around you.

Re:PC gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728186)

Many of those brought up on PC games, such as myself have difficulty moving from the Keyboard and mouse to the controller - My ability at call of duty drops massively between keyboard and mouse and gamepad. Also the Game in mention, is an RTS so does not play well on a gamepad (also Anno is a PC only tittle). Another point is that a console is just a PC where the hardware is fixed from the day of fabrication and with software (spyware) installed on to stop you using it for other purposes. Steam for example will auto update your graphic card drivers for you making it as user friendly as consoles in many respects.

Re:PC gaming (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728330)

Steam for example will auto update your graphic card drivers for you making it as user friendly as consoles in many respects.

More recent versions of Nvidia's Windows drivers will do this as well.

Re:PC gaming (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728234)

That's kind of the point. They're trying to kill PC gaming and get everyone to move to locked down consoles. Thankfully the PC is open, and as long as its open there will always be games for it. They're likely to be better games than the mass market console stuff too.

Re:PC gaming (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728584)

Exactly. Ubisoft just doesn't get it: anyone can make PC games, people aren't forced to buy the shovel-loads of crap they make, and you don't need a license from Nintendo/MS/Sony to do so. When they declared a while back they were going to stop making PC games because of piracy, they obviously thought that was a threat. In reality, no one gave a fuck, because there are other, better developers out there, and there always will be. Anyone who wants to can make a PC game, and a fun one at that (Terraria, Minecraft, Braid, etc). That cannot happen with the console: if a developer moves away from one, the platform suffers. PC gamers just shrug and go "meh."

Re:PC gaming (4, Insightful)

AdamThor (995520) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728278)

Indy gaming is why to stick with the PC. It's inexpensive and user-centric, compared to $60+ DRM'd AAA titles.

Re:PC gaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728384)

Ummm .. cause game consoles get dated and cant be upgraded so easily as a PC?

Have you looked at how craptastic Skyrim is visually on the Xbox and PS3? It PALES in comparason to what it looks like on a half decent gaming rig with a GTX460!

And you can still play with your precious gaming controlers ./end rant

gamers changes hardware a lot (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728018)

This is really insane! 3 times, and that's it? Can you even buy the same game on Steam twice with one account? Hah!

Re:gamers changes hardware a lot (4, Informative)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728180)

To answer your question, no you cannot buy the same game twice; even if bought retail you cannot register two keys to the same account.

You would have to make a second account for the second key/copy.

Someone said it on slashdot in an earlier case (5, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728020)

When some idiot from ubisoft execs or something told that 'Game demos are a thing of the past' a year or so ago - when ubisoft was again throwing around drm stuff and accusing demos for piracy or this or that :

"As long as razor1911 has anything to say about it, we will have game demos..."

i think that applies to this situation as well.

There are already cracks for this specific game (5, Insightful)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728044)

the effort to control game piracy through DRM is futile.

The only thing that might work is if you keep the game online either by not releasing the server code for a multiplayer game or keep the the whole thing on line by using a system like OnLive to keep the whole game code in the cloud.

Short of that... it will be pirated.

Re:There are already cracks for this specific game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728240)

Not so, DRM is the dog's bollocks. Not.

It is the desire for a 100% conversion (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728408)

In the adult industry the trick of the trade is to show just enough free content to convert people who want to see more without giving them to much. The to much is very simple, if they "come" before they join, they don't join.

Conversion ratios are very low, 1% would make many an adult web site owner cream his pants. But the idea that you can get 100% if only you do X has yet to take hold although companies that sell anti-piracy scams sure are trying.

PC gaming has a LOT of "gamers" who want to try a game, or have zero budget. They are the equivelant of kiddies watching the scambled porn channel for just enough signal to "get off". People with ancient PC's downloading games they can't play or afford. There is no way to convert them to paying customers but the anti-piracy scam industry, the makers of DRM or the anti-piracy lawyers, sell the idea that those 1 million downloads from brazil where computers are 486's for the rich can be turned into paying customers for Crysis 2.

The proof? I got none EXCEPT that completely and utterly crap games or very early releases that barely work or 3D CAD software only people with engineering degrees can use are STILL downloaded in their millions. I am not saying piracy doesn't have an effect, I myself pirate games I once would have bought because the companies behavior disgusts me (Bethseda, fuck you and your horse armor) but its total effect is over-rated. A game like Anno 2070 has a niche appeal, a lot of the people downloading it just don't really want to play it, they are not even trying it out as a demo, they just want the "street cred" for having had it, played an hour or so and then discard it. Ubisoft might be having a wet dream that if there is no option to pirate it, then they would pay full price for it, but that just isn't there.

If piracy goes away, the sales might double, that sounds amazing but Ubisoft is dreaming of a 1000% increase, remember that they think every illegal download is a missed sale. But with DRM sales actually decrease because for a lot of people, they just got to many bad experiences. Like me and Betsheda game.I am not even bothering with a single player RPG anymore until it latest "expansion" pack has been announced and someone wrapped it all up with some user made bug fixes and released it. The pirate experience both in DRM and in getting the "whole" game has become fastly superior to the bought experience. Smart move Betsheda in limiting certain starter packs to certain regions, gods knows RPG players are not known for being completionists who want to experience everything and so you force them to pirate sides to get content already included in the game but withheld from them because they bought it at store X instead of store Y. That is like forcing a good kid to get his coca-cola from the coke dealer because you don't want them to know about drugs. No that makes no sense and neither does region restricted content in the modern age.

Re:It is the desire for a 100% conversion (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728554)

For a limited amount of proof. I pirate. I've pirated a LOT. Everything I pirate was/is for real use. Not because "I want to have it".

From the early P1 time to the late P4 time I didn't have much money, no real money to spend on games. So I pirated everything. I didn't care, I loved playing those games. Now, fast forward to today, I still love games, and I do have money. So my steam game list is quite large (94 games), because it's easy to buy games this way and I can support the developers with my money now. So the piracy during my early times caused me getting hooked on games, and now I can pay for them. Piracy improved sales in the long run!

However, I still pirate. What do I pirate? The heavy DRM games (the extra DRM scheme is listed on steam, but it's hidden near the features on the side) are a no go for me. And the expensive software packages, like 3D studio max and autocad. I simply cannot afford those for hobby use. (Paying 20$ for a game is one thing, paying 3600$ for a 3D tool I sometimes use is another)

Re:There are already cracks for this specific game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728454)

That still does not work, ever play World of Warcraft on a free server?

Re:There are already cracks for this specific game (1)

subanark (937286) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728538)

You want to make a DRM that is really hard to break? Simple, just add a hardware usb device that contains a chip which handles some of the instructions of the game. Emulating that would take a while.

Or, you know, just make it online only and put all the AI logic on the server like most MMOs.

That's funny... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728046)

When I pirated the game, it didn't have that restriction.

Is it in the terms? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728056)

If this isn't made clear to consumers before purchasing -- or licensing, I guess -- the game, this is a great opportunity to make DRM even less profitable for Ubisoft:

1) Buy game. Keep receipt and copy of terms.
2) (Legitimately) Update/change your hardware more than 3 times over the course of a a year or two
3) When the game stops working, ask for an activation
4) When they decline, ask for a refund
5) When they decline, sue in your local small claims court. It's usually free to do
6) Let Ubisoft either issue thousands of refunds or defend thousands of small claims cases

(Note that if the issue is described but is buried in fine print or displayed as grey-on-black, it's likely still arguable as such a material condition that hiding it is itself deceptive).

Re:Is it in the terms? (5, Interesting)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728224)

EULAs are not as binding as many would think.

In part due to how way the transaction is handled. I am expected to hand over my money and buy the game THEN get to see the terms, if I do not agree to them I am still out my money with no recourse.

Look at any other agreement and the terms are known up front, even if in legalese.
Taking out a loan? You'll see the terms before you sign.
Singing a lease? Again you get to see the terms.

In both cases you can walk away with no harm done.

so glad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728058)

I am so glad I did not buy that game. I got steam so I could play MY games on ANY OF MY computers. Then again. If you legally purchased it once. You can then pirate it beyond the 3 hardware changes.

Re:so glad (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728148)

I'm surprised that Steam allows the additional DRM scheme on top of the Steam system. It totally wrecks the value of Steam. Now we have to research which titles are draconian before a Steam purchase. I haven't really worried about it up to this point.

ImpulseDriven (1)

Luthair (847766) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728082)

This was where ImpulseDriven (Steam competitor started by Stardock) was nice, it would show the DRM used prior to purchase. Unfortunately this doesn't seem to be case since GameStop bought them out.

Personally I don't buy DRM'd games, which unfortunately means most PC games.

If it's already on steam... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728086)

Why not just pay Valve the extra few dollars and make it a steamworks game to handle the DRM issues. Sure, it's not foolproof but it would technically provide the piece of mind the investors want while being tolerable to PC Gamers

Re:If it's already on steam... (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728160)

You mean it isn't just using both types of DRM?

Gabe Newell should treat them to lunch... (4, Interesting)

MetricT (128876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728096)

These guys are walking billboards highlighting the value of Steam vs the crap DRM-ware of Ubi, Origin, MS Games, etc.

I was stuck at the office very, very late one night. Nothing to do. So I logged into Steam, downloaded a game I owned ("Bloody Good Time", excellent FWIW), and played a while until I could get of there.

The MBA's at Ubu/EA/MS would explode at the very concept. And it is why I will be spending my money at Steam.

(And Gabe, if you read this, I can haz HL2e3/HL3 now plz?)

Re:Gabe Newell should treat them to lunch... (2)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728282)

These guys are walking billboards highlighting the value of Steam vs the crap DRM-ware of Ubi, Origin, MS Games, etc.

Not enough of a value obviously. FTFA: Even the Steam version includes this nice 'feature.'

Re:Gabe Newell should treat them to lunch... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728342)

Reading the summary is too tricky for the average PC gamer, clearly.

Re:Gabe Newell should treat them to lunch... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728346)

Except this DRM applies to Steam versions of these games as well.

Three hardware changes? (5, Informative)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728110)

People bitch about Windows activation, but on the few occasions I've experienced where Windows needed to be re-activated because of a hardware change, the process was completely painless. As in, "I'm helping out my mom on Christmas Eve and dinner is going to be served in a half hour" painless.

The first couple of times I called, I spoke to an Indian man who asked me a few questions and gave me a code. More recently, it was a fully automated system. I don't think the process has ever taken as much as five minutes from beginning to end. It seems to me the for individual users, Windows Activation is more of a way to scold you than anything else: "You do know you're only allowed to use this copy of Windows on one computer... right?"

Now, if Ubisoft is really claiming that you get three activations and after that your software is useless, well, that seems like something else entirely.

Re:Three hardware changes? (0, Troll)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728276)

You've been lucky. I've witnessed a retail version of windows XP be refused activation after a hardware change. Calling microsoft was unproductive.

Re:Three hardware changes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728292)

Now, if Ubisoft is really claiming that you get three activations and after that your software is useless, well, that seems like something else entirely.

You do realise that Microsoft did the same thing with Flight Simulator X almost 7 years ago ?
After 2-3 activations you're out of luck. No more codes, you basically have to buy a new game.
Ubisoft is just catching up that's all.

The only difference is that Ubisoft considers hardware changes for games, Microsoft for FS X did not, they only considered the total number of activations. And furthermore, Microsoft uses hardware based activation for windows. Change hardware too many times and kiss your windows licence goodbye.

Proprietary software companies are shit. With the internet that manged to sell the concept of cusotomers "buying" the software but in reality you're really renting it. We decide when its ok to deatcivate what you legally purchased.
Thieves, they are nothing more than thieves.
Thieves for thieves, its better to be a pirate. At least you keep the software. Ironic isn't it ?

Re:Three hardware changes? (1, Funny)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728568)

That's great. Installing any other OS on new or changed hardware a) doesn't involve a phone, b) doesn't involve talking to an Indian man or a computer and c) doesn't involve getting scolded.

Boycott! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728116)

Sorry but you had it coming for not boycotting Ubisoft already.

Assassins Creed - Brotherhood works ok? (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728120)

What if you use a re-buildable machine for software development? What if the suppliers server goes down? And in ten years time? Face it, your money has been stolen unless the disk installs offline without paranoid ulterior assaults on the user such as this online system. Assassins Creed - Brotherhood works fine like this. This is an old lesson that successful software houses learned in the 90s ...

Shocking (1)

FalleStar (847778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728124)

Anyone who thought the idiotic DRM schemes from Ubisoft were really going to stop was delusional. I've been boycotting Ubisoft ever since their "always on Internet connection" DRM for Assassin's Creed 2 was introduced. Once they pulled that move I trashed all my Ubisoft products (of which I had many) and haven't so much as touched a demo from them ever since.

I suggest any of you who like to play your legally purchased games how/when you want to should do the same. And to those of you who say to just go pirate the game, you're simply treating the symptom & not the problem. Let them know that they can't pull these sorts of things or it'll catch on to other developers soon enough (I'm looking at you EA).

Reviewer's sweet revenge (5, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728126)

"Sadly, all four games from Ubisoft used in our benchmark failed to work on six out of our nine configurations."

Re:Reviewer's sweet revenge (5, Insightful)

PIBM (588930) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728238)

I was about to suggest the same. I just hope all the reviewers start doing this for games in general, so that any review published will be tanked so low that no one will buy them in the first place when DRMs are encountered =)

Re:Reviewer's sweet revenge (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728404)

Movie reviewers are doing something similar now when studios refuse to screen a movie before it's released (usually the sign of an awful movie). Instead of just not reviewing it, they're hitting back by by highlighting the fact that the studio didn't offer advance screenings and reminding people that this is usually a bad sign.

Re:Reviewer's sweet revenge (0)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728432)

Reviewers are sent copies of the games by the game companies. Bet you a doughnut that they send DRM free versions to be reviewed.

Ubsisoft is ... ubisoft. What did you expect ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728136)

I'm so happy I gave the finger to the videogames industry 6-7 years ago.
Couldn't care less nowadays how they fuck their customers to be honest. I've got over 60 games not one of which requires internet or hardware based drm. No remote kill switch of any kind. I can enjoy those classics for decades to comes, I can install them on virtual machines etc... Its all good.

"simply is no way to bypass" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728150)

lol. how do you explain my pirated copy? i can install it as many times as i want without calling anyone, for free. if a semi-professional hardware and game review website can't even get Ubisoft to bend the rules for THEM, then why the fuck should I even think about buying a game from these idiots?

Is "Anno 2007" Correct? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728154)

Did the submitter mean to type "Annoy 2007"?

Oh boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728162)

"there simply is no way to bypass that"

Here we go again...

Re:Oh boy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728284)

there simply is no way to bypass that

Challenge accepted.

UbiSoft never seems to get a clue (4, Interesting)

Ameryll (2390886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728164)

The worst is they never seem to respond to the customers needs. I have Heroes VI (one of the games with the always networked DRM of horribleness). I bought it for christmas and there was a period of 36 hours straight where the server was down. There were three separate days where it was down for at least an hour. And this primarily a single player game. The reviews for Heroes VI on Amazon almost all complain about the DRM and it has 2.5 stars as a result. At this point, there seems to be nothing to do except to refrain from purchasing from them until they go belly up.

Slashdot never seems to get a clue (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728256)

Everyone around here knows that Ubisoft has draconian DRM. So the solution is simple: don't buy the games. It probably isn't worth the time to review their games either, after all it is just giving them undeserved advertising. (Remember, the biggest problem for any business is brand recognition. Some people will still buy stuff that receives bad reviews, but they won't buy stuff that they never heard of.)

Doesnt effect me in the slighest (4, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728168)

I dont bother with ubisoft games anymore, I wont even waste my time pirating them because THEY NO LONGER EXIST outside of the fact that people should know that Nazisoft is a worthless shit company who blames all their problems on piracy and not the fact that 99% of their games suck donkey dick.


cavtroop (859432) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728170)

The article has an update:

Update monday Jan 16 - 2012: We have been contacted by bluebyte over the weekend, the company that developed the Anno series. Our key has been pretty much unlocked allowing us to properly work on this article. To be continued ....

Uh, NO, NO, NO! Ubisoft and other vendors will continue this trend of archaic stupid DRM until it hits them in the wallet. The 'review' industry should take a stance - no reviews, no press, nothing, until Ubisoft (and any other vendors that do this kind of shit) stop the excessive DRM.

Do you really think the developer of the game will give out an 'unlocked' code to anyone OTHER than a high-profile website reviewer? What if you ran into this at home, which with a grand total of 3 registration attempts, is easy to do over the course of a short period of time: "When contacting Ubisoft marketing here in the Netherlands, their reply goes like this: 'Sorry to disappoint you - the game is indeed restricted to 3 hardware changes and there simply is no way to bypass that. We also do not have 7 copies of the game for you'.:"

THATS what average joe-user will get, a simple 'tough shit'. STOP REVIEWING THEIR GAMES


hurfy (735314) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728364)

So they are no longer reviewing the copy of the game i would get!

Not sure i want much to do with the reviewers either then :O

If they can't review a retail copy give it a 0 or a pass and move on to the next game......
I don't give a hoot about reading reviews of versions i can't get.

Re:STOP REVIEWING THEIR GAMES, duh (3, Interesting)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728518)

This. Review the games, but make it a short review. "Worked great until we decided to upgrade the video card to benchmark it." Or perhaps alter the listed game price to reflect repurchases. So there is a "initial price tag", a "5 year price tag" and a "10 year price tag" for games with this kind of system. $50 to play for a year. $100 if you want to play it for 5 years, $150-$200 if you want it for 10 (depending on how many times you upgrade).

Just buy it again. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728184)

Just buy the damn thing again. At least the proceeds for that are actually going to game developers rather then whatever slave-labor factory is cranking out hardware for "gottahaveitfasterbetteraholics". Clearly you have the funds.

Why not just pirate it? (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728190)

Pirates don't have to deal with that stinky DRM shit, they just bypass it. Why'd you pay money for something that's crippled? Was your brain turned off?

Re:Why not just pirate it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728376)

Because by pirating the game you just show Ubisoft that you would have bought the game, had you no option to pirate it. Maybe that's not true, but this is what the bean counters tell to the shareholders.

That said, I feel no pity for people who get screwed by this. Ubisoft has long been known for breaking their games with DRM. Think of this when you consider buying DRM ridden software again.

I won't be purchasing that game. (1)

consumer_whore (652448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728192)

And I doubt I'll be purchasing any Ubisoft game in the near future.

Just dont buy the stuff. (3, Informative)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728198)

You can live without the game. If a company acts like this, stop buying their products. I will no longer buy Eidos games after they stuck Star Wars blu-ray advertisements in Dues Ex. Likewise I will not buy Ubisoft games because of the DRM. I am staunchly against piracy since I write software for a living and am not a hypocrite, if companies see no sales and no torrents of a title they may start to wonder why that is.

The game key can be used on three systems. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728218)

"...that the game key can be used on three systems. That's fair; ..."

and he is surprised?

That to me screams do NOT purchase this game.....

I dont' get the point (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728226)

First he acknowledges that it is restricted to 3 HW changes. Then he tries that and notices it is true. Then there is big effort from him to write an article about it. For what? Zero content. And it gets marketed on Slashdot. Thanks for nothing.

Seriously? (4, Interesting)

fallen1 (230220) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728244)

THIS. This shit right here is what _creates_ people who pirate software. Not because it is "free", but because it is FREE OF RESTRICTIONS on what I can do with the software that I (would have) legally paid for and own.

Hey, Ubisoft employees! Start thanking your bosses now for the loss of your jobs, especially those in the PC gaming section. I have a business idea for you: Start a new gaming company with the best and brightest among you and put out your games for the PC market WITHOUT DRM of any kind. Skip the major distributor route (no EA, no Ubisoft, no Company X). Put it on Steam. Put it out at a good price (_not_ $59.99 US). Put in GOOD game play with replayability. We will fill your coffers with gold and jewels.

Those that ultimately pirate your title? Well, fuck em because they were never going to pay for it anyway. They aren't a lost sale, they are just lost.

DRM overtop DRM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728246)

So now Ubisoft is adding their own DRM activation restriction overtop of Steam DRM activation? I can't imagine that's going to make the folk at Steam very happy.. They've worked very very hard to be known as the on-line store with DRM done right (as in, doesn't get in legitimate customer's way.)

Re:DRM overtop DRM? (2)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728456)

I can't imagine that's going to make the folk at Steam very happy.

I think Valve has the most to lose here. If people encounter DRM problems with these titles, they're probably going to blame Steam--not Ubisoft. Not sure why Valve would even agree to something which could really hurt their brand like that. The whole point of Steam was to avoid shit like this.

Another Sale Lost (3, Interesting)

Riddler Sensei (979333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728264)

This game was actually on my radar (on my Steam "Wish List" and all). I was planning on picking it up when the price had gone down a bit or when Steam had a special on it. Now no. Never. You lost a sale. Hell, I'm not even going to pirate it. Fuck. You.

Last ubisoft game you purchased? (3, Interesting)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728268)

So I had to google search a list of Ubisoft games to find out what the last one I bought was. I had to go all the way to the M's before I found one I owned. Funny enough once i got past the Myst series I didn't see any more games that I bought. So you just keep in spitting in to the wind Ubisoft.

Restricted Install Games (2, Informative)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728348)

I bought one game that had a restricted number of installs and that game was Bioshock back in the day. Much as I had fun going through it I've not bought anymore games that have restricted installs. I've also avoided companies that have a reputation for nasty DRM in their games. Ubisoft is at the top of my "Don't Buy" list.

Sigh, Ubisoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728350)

I gave up buying their games years ago because of their odiotic behaviour. I will not stand this kind of invasive DRM. And i do not pirate games. Ever. So to have the false sense of protecting yourself against pirates Ubisoft, you will not see the colour of my money.

Not Windows style DRM (4, Informative)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728354)

Rant and rave about Windows DRM all you want, but the way Windows activation was designed, it actually appears intended to stop piracy. You activate once, and store that hardware key on their validation servers. It doesn't repeatedly poll the server to ensure validation, it only gets used during updates, and it will only block a new update until you re-activate. If you change hardware after a certain amount of time, it will allow you to validate a new install, invalidating and blocking updates on the old install. If you do so before that certain amount of time, all you have to do is call a number, claim you replaced hardware, and replace the existing validation. They're not going to care unless you start doing that multiple times each month.

This, you get three times, period. There is no expiry period. There is no way to call and flush out an old install. Three times, and then the product is dead. This sounds more like a mechanism to prevent resale of games, rather than a way to prevent piracy. How dare someone else get to play the game without paying them additional money! Just wait until they start requiring a webcam, so they can perform facial recognition and ensure you are the only one playing the game.

I'm out (5, Insightful)

DerCed (155038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728368)

I've actually spent quite some money recently on games produced by EA and Ubisoft. When I learnt about the bad behaviour of the Ubisoft activation scheme, I stopped playing the game immediately and reinstalled my workstation to clean up. Shortly afterwards I wanted to sell an EA game and got told on the hotline that there is no way I can transfer the activation key to another Origin account (Steam à la EA, with lots of privacy issues). I told them they have just lost a customer who paid lots and lots of money for their games. Because of the privacy issues I again reinstalled my system and I will not buy games from large producers anymore. I will either choose DRM free indie games, or ... well you know what the other option is.
Video game industry, you can thank EA and Ubisoft for not getting any money from me anymore.

We? (3, Interesting)

Cragen (697038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728428)

You keep using this term "We". I do not think it means what you think it means.

Boycott Ubisoft! (2)

thexile (1058552) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728438)

Never ever buy Ubisoft games! The draconian DRM is getting worse and worse. Boycott Ubisoft!

Re:Boycott Ubisoft! (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728550)

Agreed. Myself and 3 of my RB6:LV2 buddies will not be buying the next RB6

The issues we've run into ...

- bullshit login server stops us from playing. We all have reached Elite status and unlocked all guns. We don't give a shit about levels, unlocks, XP anymore anymore --we just want to _play_.
- no map editor
- retarded decision when hosting a game you are dumped into the game instead of the game lobby
- host can't force force "Ready"

Goodbye Ubisoft. Your Rainbow Six games used to be good.

Re:Boycott Ubisoft! (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728570)

Forgot a few more:
- no more then 4 player coop. It's not 1990 anymore -- allow us that run servers to decide what the max players are.

Forgivable, but extremely annoying
- only 8 terrorists spawn at any one time
- the AI cheats -- spawns right behind you when you've cleared the area

I know... (4, Interesting)

MetricT (128876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728440)

I was talking about games that use Steam DRM, vs just the Steam store. The only two non-Steam games I have are Fallout 3 and Arkham Asylum. Past that, if you don't use Steam DRM, I don't buy it. Respect your customer, or you won't have customers.

Destroying The Legacy Of Their Own Games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728470)

The problem with all these games is what happens when the company stops selling the game. Even if Ubisoft would do manual activation if you ran out they would stop doing that when they stopped selling the game. This means that 10 years from now our games could be unplayable. I still have a lot of fun on Halo CE but that will probably be impossible with new DRM systems. As much as the games Ubisoft produces are high quality I am never buying anything from them again until they learn that all DRM does is drive away actual consumers.

When they eventually stop making PC games because no one is buying them we all know what they will blame. Piracy.

Bring back the Code Wheel Copy Protection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728472)

You want to be sure that your users aren't copying the discs and only paying once? Include some sort of difficult Code Wheel [] device with a built in challange/response in game. It'll either take someone really dedicated to reverse engineer the code wheel or to duplicate it so you'll be able to recoup the cost.

Re:Bring back the Code Wheel Copy Protection (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38728530)

Those are no longer used because the executable can be easily hacked to automatically approve any code.

non-free software sucs- itt is YOUR fault it exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38728500)

it is your own damm faults fo continueing to buy this shit. I stopped buying games back in 1993. I stopped buying copies of Microsoft Windows in 1998. If I had known back then what I know now I wouldn't have touched propritary software to begin with.

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