This week, Ubisoft Entertainment has once again decided to spit in the face of every PC gamer in the world. They have announced that, in order to play their games, you will be required to be connected to the Internet. Should a connection be dropped for any reason, your progress in the game will be lost. This applies to at least three of their upcoming titles.
What this means to you is that you will not be able to play these games on a plane without paying for an in-flight connection (assuming one is offered). You will not be able to play them if a squirrel chews through your cable. You will not be able to play them while you are waiting for the phone company to install your connection after you move to a new house. You will not be able to play them if your wireless is spotty. Of course you will not be able to play them where there is no wireless access (assuming a wired connection is also not available). Should your Windows have a networking hiccup, should your kid pull a cable, should there be a power surge…yeah, you will lose your progress.
Very soon you will not be able to play at all after your game’s authenticating server is taken down. If you think that won’t happen, take a hard look at EA, which has closed servers for a couple of games that are not even two years old. Moreover, should anyone ever carry out something as simple as a DDOS attack against the server, you will be out of luck. With the number of tech-savvy enemies that Ubisoft is making, this can be a very real possibility.
Oh, in case you are wondering, this is not the first time Ubisoft has been in the middle of a nasty DRM controversy. In 2005 they began shipping the StarForce copy-protection scheme along with their games. It resulted in an untold number of issues, including hardware damage. Yours truly had a DVD-RW drive murdered by StarForce. The outcry was so enormous that, a year later, Ubisoft backed down and announced that they would no longer use StarForce. Apparently, however, they are incapable of learning from their mistakes.
Some say that DRM is meant to fight piracy. I say this argument is as pathetic as it is fallacious. We all know that the pirates will simply crack a game and play all they want without having to be connected to anything. An honest paying customer, on the other hand, is going to get shafted for no good reason whatsoever. So far this only affects PC gamers, but if it’s not stopped, this will come to haunt those who play on consoles as well.
Those of you who know me are well aware of how much I detest piracy. A month or so ago I even had an article published in which I implored pirates to change their ways. To me, stealing any of Ubisoft’s games is not an option, although I have heard plenty of people say that this is exactly what they will do. What you can do, however, is not buy any of their games until this idiotic policy is discontinued. But do not just boycott. Let other people know what’s going on. Tell your friends. Post on forums you frequent. If you see someone pick up a Ubisoft title at a store, let them know what’s going on.
You can also tell Ubisoft directly. There is no e-mail address on their site, but you can call them up and tell them how upset you are about their ridiculous and insulting policy. Tell them you were going to buy their games but have no intention of doing so anymore. This worked five years ago and it will work again today. You have to do it. All of us do. I own a number of Ubisoft’s games, and I hate to see it come to this, but since we are faced with this reality, we must take action to protect our interests.