Ubisoft DRM Causes Huge Headaches for Gamers

Dennis Faas's picture

It's no secret: protecting PC games from piracy is a very difficult task. However, Ubisoft, one of the world's biggest game companies, recently introduced a digital rights management (DRM) system that attempted to curtail this issue: problem is, it hasn't worked out particularly well for gamers or Ubisoft.

Video game publisher Ubisoft, based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, is an all-star gaming company. Known for its Tom Clancy-based titles Splinter Cell and Endwar, as well as the popular Prince of Persia franchise, most casual gamers have encountered their products at least once.

Unfortunately, with popularity must come piracy, as many players turn to torrent sites to download Ubisoft games rather than dole out their hard-earned cash at retailers like EB Games, Gamestop, or Best Buy.

Ubisoft Web Authentication System Fails

As a solution, Ubisoft last week unveiled a DRM system for its very popular Assassin's Creed II. Run by Ubisoft from five servers, the apparatus required gamers to authenticate their copies of the game each time they played by logging into Ubi.com accounts.

It sounds like a reasonable system -- so long as one has access to the Internet. However, within 24 hours hackers have already cracked the DRM protection. Piracy gurus The Skid Rowdies recently released a crack via an NFO file that allows downloaders to work their way around Ubisoft's system. There's no word how popular the crack has become thus far. (Source: theinquirer.net)

DRM Servers Fail to Protect, or Work

As of this past Sunday, the DRM servers weren't working properly, meaning many players were locked out of their accounts, and, if successful in getting past security, found their play time was compromised by brutal load times.

Ubisoft reacted by blaming the popularity of the game: "Due to exceptional demand, we are currently experiencing difficulties with the Online Service Platform. This does not affect customers who are currently playing, but customers attempting to start a game may experience difficulty in accessing our servers. We are currently working to resolve this issue and apologize for any inconvenience," said a UK forum manager. (Source: fragland.net)

Ubisoft deserves credit for trying a system that might limit the illegal downloading of its product. Unfortunately, putting together such a shoddy DRM system -- in fact, one that requires a log-in even for single-player -- might just end up limiting the number of sales for Assassin's Creed II.

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