Ubi DRM: Their side of the story

Ubisoft spokesperson answers your questions.

Ubisoft require that all of their games need an always on internet connection, as part of a new DRM and online services platform. We put your questions about their always-online DRM to Ubisoft in a phone interview last night. Their answers are below the link.

What's the problem this DRM is trying to address?
Ubi are increasingly concerned about piracy on the PC. "It's a huge problem - you know it, I know it, other people know it. It really is a very important issue that all serious companies need to address," says their spokesperson. But they also believe that their online services will make PC gaming better. "The real idea is that if you offer a game that is better when you buy it, then people will actually buy it. We wouldn't have built it if we thought that it was really going to piss off our customers."

So what's in it for gamers?
Ubi say there are three advantages to their online services. The first: you don't need a disc. The second: that you can install the game on as many PCs as you like, as many times as you like. And the third: the automatic uploading of savegames to Ubisoft's servers.

Do Ubisoft understand that we don't want to be permanently online?
They've spotted the outcry, yes. "We know that requiring a permanent online connection is not a happy point for a lot of PC gamers, but it is necessary for the system to work.

Which PC games will require an always on internet connection?
All announced Ubisoft PC games will include the online services, whether sold online, or from brick and mortar stores. That includes Splinter Cell, Silent Hunter 5, Assassin's Creed 2, Prince of Persia and the newly announced Ghost Recon. "It's hard for us to say, yes, from now until the day that we all die all of our games are going to include this," says their spokesperson, "but most will."

If my internet connection goes down during play, will I lose my progress?
That depends on the way the systems have been implemented. The two examples we have now, Assassin's Creed 2 and Settlers VII, show differing implementations. In Assassin's Creed, if your connection cuts out, you'll be taken back to the last checkpoint. "With Settlers, your game will resume exactly where you left off," says Ubisoft's spokesperson.

How will I know what I'll lose?
"You'll have to wait for the reviews, and to hear what your peers are saying."

What happens if Ubisoft take the DRM servers offline for maintenance, or suffer a technical breakdown?
In the case of a server failure their games will be taken offline, and you'll be unable to play them. "The idea is to avoid that point as much as possible, but we have been clear from the beginning that the game does need an internet connection for you to play. So if it goes down for real for a little while, then yeah, you can't play.


Are Ubisoft trying to kill PC gaming?
One theory states that piracy is such a problem on PC that they'd prefer to move their customers to the Xbox or PS3. Their spokesperson disagrees. "No, we're not trying to kill the PC market. Are we frustrated by the PC market? I think everyone is. In the end it all comes back to one single truth: piracy is a big, huge, hairy problem. It's a market that suffered a lot because of piracy, and we're all just trying to figure out what we think is the best way to deal with it."

Do Ubi believe this DRM is unhackable?
They accept that it's all DRM's fate to be eventually hacked, explaining that internally, they've already talked of a timescale for how long their games will be protected by it. But, they believe that it's secure enough for them. "We wouldn't do it if we didn't believe in it. The guys who designed it believe in it. Do we think that it's the one system that God has sent onto earth that will never be cracked by anybody ever? We can't guarantee that, but we believe in it.


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