Ubisoft Frees Upcoming Game From Its Digital Rights Management Lockdown

Ubisoft has dropped its draconian DRM policy, which forces PC gamers to be online the entire time they want to play, from its upcoming game R.U.S.E. Instead the game will use the Steamworks DRM method used by Valve, which requires players to check in online before allowing them to continue their games offline.

The more oppressive Ubisoft DRM, meant to scuttle piracy, has caused problems when its authentication servers crashed, so it’s refreshing to see the game publisher lighten up on its hardcore policy.

This may be a one-off, though. Ubisoft tells Kotaku it will continue to use its own DRM protection on most PC games.

R.U.S.E. will not use the Ubisoft protection [Ubisoft Forums, via Kotaku]

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  1. agent 47 says:

    Lets face it, PC gaming isn’t what it used to be…DRM won’t bring it back.

    • Martha Chang says:

      PC gaming has been “dying” for the past 15 years according to pundits and doomsayers. It’s not going anyway simply because of things like digital distribution and market penetration.

      • agent 47 says:

        I never said it was “dying,” it’ll never die, it’s just not as exciting or groundbreaking as it used to be. Most PC games are either for the casual market or ports of console games.

        • alstein says:

          PC gaming is still pretty innovative/groundbreaking. Moreso then the consoles. The consoles just sell more due to more big-publisher support. It’s easier to rip people off on consoles.

          • agent 47 says:

            Tell me about some of those innovative/groundbreaking games. I’d like to know where they’re hiding.

            • Ouze says:

              How are you enjoying Starcraft II for the 360/PS3?

              • agent 47 says:

                Starcraft is a good game, but innovative or groundbraking? There are 3450802948934 RTS games for the PC.

                • YouDidWhatNow? says:

                  …and effectively none for the consoles, because it’s impossible to play them there.

                  On top of that, the 34578905423455643356 FPS games, all of which are the same, that console gamers get all tweaked over, are all much better played with a keyboard and mouse on a PC.

                  There is nothing a console can do as well as a PC…and lots of things a PC can do that a console can’t.

                  • agent 47 says:

                    That’s not the issue here. You’ve taken this completely off track. You’re acting like I said “consoles rule, pc games suck!” I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is that PC games used be be edgier. They were innovative. They just don’t have that vibe anymore. It all just feels like rehash.

                    BTW, the idea that there aren’t any RTS games on consoles is ridiculous. I thought Halo Wars was quite good. Of course they’re not as good as PC RTS, nobody is arguing that.

              • YouDidWhatNow? says:

                Or WoW. Sims 3?

                Anyway, there is not much in the way of console games that gets me excited. Consoles will never compare to PCs, especially for real-time strategies and MMORPGs.

                Just imagine trying to play WoW, or even something old like Red Alert 2, with a freaking gamepad.

            • alstein says:

              Paradox games, Stardock games for starters (Elemental is looking like it will be awesome in a few months). Gratituous Space Battles is another one I’d Rec. Or maybe Mount and Blade series.

        • dolemite says:

          Until consoles can carry mmos and RTS games (probably never, considering their clumsy controllers), PC gaming will always be around.

          I’ve got an xbox 360 and pc, and while most games are available on both, I always purchase for the PC. Mouse + Keyboard stomp all over those fumbly eyestalk controllers any day of the week (and usually you pay 50-60% less for the pc if you catch a game on sale).

          • grucifer says:

            I do the same with the exception of the CoD series. All my buddies play on 360 so to enjoy gaming with them I’m forced to play CoD there. It’s not too bad, but I definitely love my mouse & keyboard setup.

            I tried BF:BC2 on the 360 (demo) and hated it, but I have blast fraggin’ out on my PC.

            Also, there’s no way I’d play Starcraft2 on a console!

            Not a fan of this DRM stuff by Ubisoft, I was without internet for awhile and it was nice to play my Steam games off-line.

    • coren says:

      I disagree. Most popular releases (at least those that aren’t console exclusive) are available on PC. And of those games, RPGs, Shooters, RTS games – these all excel on the PC above what they could on either console. Plus PCs aren’t static – I can upgrade my specs at any time. PC gaming is pretty much where it’s been for the past 10 years or so and I don’t see it going anywhere.

  2. weestrom says:

    Its not freed from its lockdown, its still locked down, just by a different method. This article shows a fundamental lack of understanding of DRM.

    • SlayerGhede says:

      It’s locked down, yes, but equating Steamworks with UBIDRM is like saying getting a splinter is getting stabbed repeatedly with a wooden stake. Steamworks does not require you to be connected to the internet at all times, even in single player, and if your connection should falter, it will not kick you off your game. Hell, you don’t always have to be online to run your game. Just select “Run in Offline mode” when steam starts, although that varies by publisher.

      And, at the end of the day, if it is REALLY still an issue and you REALLY need this game or you will die because a serial killer has left you a riddle involving this one part of the game, it’s a lot easier to pirate.

      • hansolo247 says:

        yea, Steamworks, while DRM, is light-handed. It really only requires you to buy the game online and install it when online. After that, you can play offline.

        That, and there are enough features that are added by Steam that it’s a no-brainer over buying a Disc, DRM or not.

        Plus, Valve is a private company, and it doesn’t look like they have any aspirations of going public as they like to do things on their schedule.

        • mikeP says:

          What features makes steam so great?

          I can either pay to buy a physical disk with manual,etc , or pay to buy a virtual license complete with virtual documentation that requires me to sign up to some online service where my play habits are no doubt monitored and I have to virtually ask ‘mother may I’ everytime I want to install/reinstall my game. They are usually the same price, so how is Steam so awesome again?

      • Wrathernaut says:

        I find that what steam adds – namely I don’t have to carry install discs with me at all (and the occasional great deal) are well worth the DRM. I’ve deployed and had an internet connection and felt like a quick single-player fix and was able to load Half-life 2 overnight and play it whenever I wanted even when the network was down (frequently). No discs to get ruined by the epic amount of dust either!

        If only steam would do my music collection…

  3. El_Red says:

    Which means that once I buy the game, I’ll look up a crack to keep it running flawlessly. DRM or no DRM.
    It is sad paying clients have to resort to that to enjoy fully their game, while habing crappy internet connection.

    • aikoto says:

      Abso-fricken-loutly. I will crack every stupid piece of software i have that contains this ridiculous restriction. I buy a game but can only play it when I’m connected to the Internet so it can check in? Hogwash! I bought it, now let me fricken play it!

  4. DariusC says:

    DRM does not stop people from pirating games. Most games are cracked so they do not need to go online to play. DRM just stops people from copying the disc and handing it to a friend to play.

    • SlayerGhede says:

      The UBI drm is surprisingly effective, at the cost of access for people who actually purchased the game. It downloads levels while you play, you cannot run it offline, and it requires a connection to a specific server. All three of those make a potent combination. So much so that it took them a month to get assassin’s creed 2 working badly pirated.

      That said, the best DRM of all time has to be the Earthbound method. There was code to detect if it was pirated, I think through a chip that they added to the physical cartridge. If it failed the test, the game would switch to HARD CHEAP UNFAIR mode, with experience gain slowed, and enemy strength/numbers ramped up. Then, when you fight through all that to get to the final boss, the game freezes and wipes your saves.

      • DariusC says:

        The most effective pirating method is what guild wars does. The keys that you need to get on the account with. People can still perhaps play it on another server, but they can never get on the real servers unless they buy/steal (literally) the game.

        Also, downloading levels as you go, you can capture the data and save it. Just have 1 guy buy the game and take the data for the levels to make the pirated version.

        And although the other idea of the physical chip is very useful, people can simply analyze the chip and make their own given the right resources. Or they could re-write the game to not run the test?

        I’m no expert on game hacking, but I know there is always a way around things.

  5. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    When so many games these days are released incomplete, with rushed writing, editing, and unpatched bugs, I can totally sympathize with those who would rather not pay a ton of money for an unfinished product.

    Personally, I would probably buy more games if I had any sort of guarantee that I could return them for full money if the game turns out to be crap. It is one of the reasons why I hesitated so long in getting a Steam account; if you buy a bad game there, you are stuck with it, and cannot even trade it in.

    I have been looking into getting Gamefly; the roomies had it last year before letting it lapse. But they do not rent PC games, and the PC is currently my primary “console” … frustrating. :/

  6. pantheonoutcast says:

    So it’s almost exactly the same authentication method, and will result in almost exactly the same types of frustration leading people to seek out “alternative” ways of playing the game they paid money for?

    Almost a good job.

    • Shadowfire says:

      What? No, it’s not even close. Ubisoft’s DRM required a constant connection. If the server, or your internet connection, went down at any time, the game would wait for the connection to rematerialize or drop you. With Steam, it’s a one time activation.

      • weestrom says:

        So instead of stabbing me over and over, they only stab me once. Wow, I should really thank them for being such kindhearted serial killers.

        • SonicPhoenix says:

          No, it’s more like instead of requesting a stool, semen, and blood sample in addition to a finger print and retinal scan every hour while requiring you to carry an RFID badge that is constantly tracked in order to gain access to a building, they ask you flash a card with a username and password that you came up with yourself or they just grant you access to the building but prevent you from interacting with other people in the building until you show your card once.

      • aikoto says:

        Sorry Shadow, I agree with weestrom. To say that they raped me the least still isn’t very good.

    • alstein says:

      Don’t underestimating the brainwashing power of Steam. It’s similar to that of kittens. ^_^

      • Shadowfire says:

        Oh stop. I may not like some of Steam’s policies, but the fact is that of all the DRM methods used, theirs is the least intrusive.

    • dolemite says:

      I recently had a problem with Steam. Went to start playing a game, and my login popped up. I thought “This is weird, I have it set to automatically log in”. My password was missing, so I typed in a few (I hadn’t actually logged in for over a year). No passwords worked. So I requested my password be sent to my email. Never got it out of several attempts. Now I’m worried. So I email steam and receive a response “it looks like someone hijacked your account. I’ve reset it for you.” Hmm strange. I exclusively play solo games, and have no steam friends. I’ve never given out my password. I used about 3 virus scans and 6-7 malware scans using different programs and no keylogger/virus (plus, I never typed in my password for the past year, so how would a keylogger work?). I ask them how it was compromised, and they say who knows? So of course I can’t play until it is resolved. And of course now I’m paranoid about how they “hijacked” my account.

  7. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Question: Does the new ruling regarding jailbreaking apply to video games? Is it now legal to crack a game to allow you to use the game while offline, assuming you legally purchased it in the first place?

    Serious answers appreciated.

    • hansolo247 says:

      I think the recent DMCA exemption was for the CSS encryption used on DVD movies only.

      • coren says:

        I think you may be talking about something different – didn’t iPhones just become “legally” jailbreakable?

  8. Griking says:

    I prefer to play PC games over console games. Always have and probably always will. That’s not to say that some console games are very good, they’re just usually not as deep as a PC game. Plus I prefer to use my keyboard / mouse over a gamepad.

  9. PBallRaven says:

    Any games I spot on the shelf that require online connection to verify before they can be played, or any of that rot, get moved to behind the copies of “Billy Bob’s Bass Fishing Tournament 2005″.

  10. jim says:

    eh, the game is mostly an online game anyway, which will require you to be online. :)
    With the change though you can play the single player while offline, which may be ok depending on how “deep” the single player is.

    more importantly though is the fact that a small developer did not want their sales to be trashed by drama coming from their publisher.

  11. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    There’s no way that this helps…”checking in” online is not different from being online the whole time from the user’s persepective.

    DRM has a 100% failure rate, and should be illegal.

    • coren says:

      When I game, I do it on the weekends, and for hours at a time.

      If you can’t see the difference between needing to be online, with no server failure for 3 hours, and needing about 2 minutes of internet connectivity and server uptime, then I don’t know what to say. The two aren’t even close.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        The issue is being able to play your game with no internet at all. Like, if I’m on the road and don’t have an internet handy. Or if I’m stuck at home and the internet is down, and I’m looking for something to do…

        If you have no internet, then 2 minutes of required connection is the same as 2 days. Both are impossible. And either method still makes the game unplayable if the authentication server is down…or when the publisher decides they no longer care to support the game.

        • coren says:

          I see what you’re saying – but the majority of games on Steam (or at least the majority of games I play) are ones that you download – which means having a net connection anyway.

          I don’t like DRM any more than anyone else, but given the alternative (2 installs or whatever) yeahhh.

          • Red Cat Linux says:

            But here’s the thing – I don’t buy a retail game in a box so I can then download it from Valve. That’s exactly what happened when I bought Just Cause 2. While I didn’t experience server failures like I did with Dragon Age Origins, I still had to have an internet connection.

            Nowhere on the packaging did the game warn that an internet connection was needed. WTF. So much for playing a game on the road. Which I now cannot return.

            Prior to this last year I always purchased my games legit. Recent DRM nightmares have actually driven me to torrents. All this concession means is that instead of driving a railway spike through both of your shoes, they only drive it through one so they can be amused watching paying customers going in a circle.

  12. Dyscord says:

    So you have to check in online in order to play a game? What’s the difference? If it’s not an internet game, I shouldn’t have to have the internet to play it.

    • coren says:

      What’s the difference between being online for 3 hours constantly and hoping the server stays up and two minutes before you play?

  13. Joe Gamer says:

    Ruse is a RTS which only works on PC and is frankly not a very good game anyway. After reading the response from their Beta testers(I was one) I imagine it was painfully obvious that this game would not sell well and needed every possible advantage.

    Don’t expect the rest of their lineup to follow suit just yet, They have already gone on the record saying that their other franchises will continue to use this invasive, unnecessary and thoroughly ineffective DRM, Of course they started off this year by swearing up and down that EVERY PC game they made would require this “protection/limitation” so I view this early capitulation is a good sign.

    Ubisoft is still no my “Do Not Buy” list but many others will probably buy now that this barrier has been removed and they got a good bit of “look at us, we’re the good guys we took away that DRM you hated” free publicity that will be engendered in PC gaming circles everywhere.

    DRM is about creating artificial scarcity in digital products that are almost completely free to reproduce, this has the effect of making “supply” infinite which if left unchecked should result in a corresponding drop in value/price since demand will remain mostly static. DRM is NOT about Piracy and anyone who tells you otherwise is a dishonest liar or a gullible idiot.

    http://arstechnica.com/media/news/2007/01/8616.ars