Ubisoft Officially Announces Scrapping Always-On DRM
Cavalary (4537), Sep 07, 2012
After quietly scrapping it months ago, Ubisoft representatives have officially announced, in an interview given to Rock, Paper, Shotgun, that the always-on DRM system previously used by the company will not reappear in any of their future PC releases. It will, instead, be replaced by an one-time on-line activation, after which the single-player portion of the games, devoid of any on-line components, will be playable even without any active Internet connection.
Despite the reporter's repeated attempts, however, they have blatantly refused to admit that the system was a mistake or a failure. In addition, and without offering any solid reason, they have stubbornly refused to provide any data to back up their claims about the extent of piracy, the losses caused by it or the effectiveness of DRM as a whole as a method of fighting it, though they were forced to back down on some of their most extreme earlier statements on the issue, blaming miscommunication.
On another note, in the same interview it was stated that, despite PC sales only making up 7% of the company's revenue in the last fiscal year [wonder why...], gamers will no longer need to wait nearly as long for the PC versions of Ubisoft games in the future.
Funny thing: In the next post the PC version of I Am Alive was being announced and, in light of this interview, it was called "DRM-free" by the RPS writer; despite the game's data sheet clearly stating that it uses Tages. Tages is not only DRM through and through, but it's such a poorly coded one that some older games don't even work until you go to the Tages website, download a 64-bit compatible version and install it --all of which you have to figure out and do all by yourself, because the DRM will simply error out without giving you any kind of clue as to what's going on.
I just want to note that we're happy because they're turning back to *this*.
So I guess Ubisoft is the one having the last laugh, after all.
Dr. M. "Schadenfreude" Von Katze Wrote:
I beg to differ, our loss isn't always their win. Sometimes, there are only losers.
Well, as long as they can make press-statements instead of good products the crowd will be happy. I ceased buying Ubisoft products with the AssasinsCreed-Series and spent the money instead on old games at the flea-markets, giving me 10 times more benefit. BTW: which _remarkable_ titles did Ubisoft develop, produce, publish in the last years?
(Edited by Klaster_1 (57844), Sep 09, 2012)Re: Ubisoft rapping Always-On DRM
Klaster_1 (57844), Sep 09, 2012
The last two titles in the Anno series, which I think is a good city building series.
I Am Alive is actually quite good, in fact --in a low-budget-game-that-sort-of-looks-like-AAA-and-even-though-it-not-always-succeeds-still-tries-to-do-some-rather-interesting-and-somewhat-original-things kind of way.
Re: Ubisoft Officially Announces Scrapping Always-On
Daniel Saner (2319), Sep 09, 2012
I would not have expected an admission or apology anyway, but I might have expected them to stick to it for a while longer, if just to sulk. It was clear that it was coming though, to not see that you'd have to be twice as stupid, if you can imagine that, than the dorks at Ubisoft who decided to try this in the first place. Because I can only imagine the amount of money it must have cost them dealing with all the additional customer support requests that must have exploded to who-knows-how-many-thousand percent. Everyone who knows a teensy bit about games understands, in contrast to empty business management suits, that DRM costs you 3 times and pays off never. And the more involved it is, the more it costs, especially in the third stage, which Ubisoft must have felt bad if they're already dropping it.
I'm still not going to buy an Ubisoft game, because even a one-time activation is one activation too many for my money.
Eight months from now Ubisoft quietly releases a game with always online DRM. Cites market conditions.
The one thing I never fully understood is what exactly do they think they're achieving using DRM in the first place. The amount of money you have to invest in a 'secure', heavy-handed DRM-scheme, not to mention the customer support for all the people who have problems with their genuine copies of the game because of the DRM and all the bad publicity and loss of potential customers due to it surely must outweigh any potential sales boost (which I think would be marginal at best).
Besides, I think any game worth pirating will eventually be pirated, and sooner rather than later. And while that's happening, the only people who actually are affected by DRM are the legitimate customers.
Every game is pirated, even the ones that aren't worth pirating.
Ubi has crunched those numbers. Their math may be incorrect, but if the numbers they get tell them that DRM gives them more money than it costs, even by the smallest margin, then they have to use DRM. That's business.
Well, it may also be needing to save face, as in they believe they'll look as if they're admitting defeat (which technically they would be) if they'd stop now after pushing for DRM for so long, and probably have went by that idea and pushed even harder for a long time now.
(Edited by Giu's Brain (470), Sep 11, 2012)Re: Ubisoft Officially Announces Scrapping
Giu's Brain (470), Sep 11, 2012
For all I care, any math they do is purely a speculative estimation; I don't remember any big publishing company ever releasing survey results that irrefutably prove that DRM heavy products sell more than they otherwise would have. As far as I'm concerned, any claim that each pirated copy is a lost sale is bogus and any claim that fewer pirated copies means more sales is equally spurious. Simply because you can download Assassins Creed 2 via torrents and the like doesn't mean that you'll go buy it from the store if it wasn't free on the Internet.
If I could go into a store and take a copy of every game ever made free of charge, maybe I would; if I'd have to pay one million bucks for the same thing, I'd probably settle for buying a few of my favourites and be done with it. Any loses publishers have are tiny compared to what they claim (and maybe actually think) they're losing.
My opinion is that DRM and all those other anti-piracy measures that big publishers (game, music and film industry) keep pushing are just the effects of corporate suits desperately trying to cling on to economic models that would otherwise go the way of the dinosaurs. Still, to be fair, the gaming industry isn't nearly as anachronistic in this respect as those from the film industry; probably because the latter is worth much more so what they think they're losing is proportionally outrageous.
Going back to the interview mentioned at the beginning of this discussion, the way I see it is that it's as close to an admission of 'we messed up' as you're going to get from corporate representatives of a big company. "We've heard you and we're looking for ways to balance..." is PRspeak for "We know we were wrong and we'll be backing down on our stance, but we really can't admit it because the consequences could be dire both for us personally and for our company".
Even if they fully understood that their DRM measures were a failure, they could never admit as much. Backing down a little without actually admitting anything is OK, openly admitting a mistake could lead to really big loses for them. You know, shareholders lose faith in the board and start selling, people lose jobs, stocks plummet, the company loses millions, maybe is on the edge of bankruptcy. The worst case scenario for admitting to the world the company has been wrong for years is much graver than anything Internet piracy could do to them.
So, yes, in a sense it is about 'saving face'.
Everything you just said is opinion.
Their numbers may have been flawed, and they math may have been bad, but it was based on something that they agreed was solid information. That is how business works.
It's quite obvious what I've said is an opinion considering I've even said 'my opinion is' somewhere in there, but thank you for clearing that up for me.
Here's another opinion: I think that "that's business" is so overused, it's trite. I'd call it one of the great clichés of the modern era.
(Edited by Daniel Saner (2319), Sep 11, 2012)Re: Ubisoft Officially Announces Scrapping
Daniel Saner (2319), Sep 11, 2012
It's opinion—and so is everything the guys on the other side claim. They might have agreed that they were basing their decisions on solid, sensible information, but that doesn't change the fact that there is at least as much circumstantial evidence pointing towards DRM hurting sales as there is towards it protecting them.
Maybe some schmuck in a cheap suit, trying to sell his protection scheme, told them his story so often that they started to believe it. Maybe their hand was forced because they had to assuage the fears of some clueless idiot shareholder. But there can be no sound argumentation for DRM (and there would have to be one for a sound argumentation against it to be even called for).
The very idea that preventing illegal copies would make a pirate buy an original is so ridiculously absurd, it makes my head spin.
Daniel Saner Wrote:
A mixture of these two sound like the most likely cause, actually: The people selling DRM come up with scary numbers to push their product, and shareholders demand their investment to be protected by any means necessary. It's not very different to the scam of the antivirus market, when you think about it.
At any rate, Ubisoft does seem to finally have taken note of how damaged their image ended up among the PC folk, and what a terrible time it is now to have that happen; because right after these not-really-all-that-convincing interviews they announced their own attempt at some sort of UbiSteam, which not only aims to offer third party games and crazy sales and whatnot, but would reward customers with some stuff that I have to admit do sound rather interesting --something along the lines of earning points by playing games, which can be later traded for DLC in other games or some such.
In other words, they seem to be taking the advice that Gabe Newell gave out like 3 years ago, and they're trying to entice people into being paying customers by offering more value for their product, instead of treating them like criminals.
As much as I've come to despise Ubisoft for pretty much insulting me at every turn, I have to admit that they're actually starting to act clever. I'm still a long way from being anything close to a fan, but at least they seem to be serious about cleaning up their image a bit.
(Edited by Daniel Saner (2319), Sep 13, 2012)Re: Ubisoft Officially Announces Scrapping
Daniel Saner (2319), Sep 13, 2012
Dr. M. "Schadenfreude" Von Katze Wrote:
And that's what it all boils down to. If I think of all the time and money spent by how many publishers on trying to influence what people who don't buy their products do. How many have indirectly driven themselves near or into bankruptcy by this? It's so simple: focus your efforts on the people who are willing to buy your product, not those who aren't.
I'm also glad that Ubisoft has changed their stance. Watchdogs sounds like it could be an interesting game, and I was a bit disappointed that even if it turned out good, I couldn't try it. We'll see what they do; in some circumstances (depending mostly on price) I can make an exception and live with one-time activation (heck, I'm using Windows 7 so Pandora's Box is open already anyway).