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Tuesday, June 18 2019 @ 05:56 AM -08

Ubisoft will never learn, apparently

UPDATE: As of August 18, Ubisoft has started panicking about all the backlash. In a move that will surprise few, they have decided to 'remove' the always-on Internet requirement for its new games - by actually leaving it firmly in place. Which leads to the obvious question: say what? Here's what they've actually done: you still need an Internet connection to start the game, but you don't need one to keep playing once you've started. In other words, this change will only be helpful for people with dial-up and intermittent Internet connections. All twelve of them. Attaboy, Ubisoft! Way to listen to your customers.

You may recall that Ubisoft has a history of making some very poor choices in trying to prevent what they still view as 'piracy' of their games. In this not-so-fine tradition, they have once again implemented a seriously misguided DRM system for their most recent games, including Driver: San Francisco. This despite having earlier stopped using this same kind of DRM, which requires an always-on Internet connection, in response to widespread complaints. Ubisoft seems doomed to repeat its failures and never to learn from them.

What Ubisoft astonishingly fails to realize is that their copy protection efforts only really hurt legitimate, paying customers. All copy protection schemes are defeated, some within hours of being made available. People who want to get a game for free are going to do it anyway. Meanwhile, people who pay for the game are getting something that is less useful than the same game without the draconian copy protection. In fact, more and more legitimate, paying customers are getting fed up with these measures and downloading unprotected versions. Some of these people will buy the DRM'd-to-the-point-of-uselessness game, but play the unprotected version to save their sanity.

There is a large and growing amount of evidence showing that 'anti-piracy' efforts are doomed to failure; that they only hurt legitimate customers; that they don't prevent 'piracy'; that people who 'pirate' games are actually the people who spend the most money on games; that basic economics show that the best way to reduce 'piracy' is to reduce price; and that the backlash from customers to particularly nasty forms of protection can be seriously damaging. Ubisoft, pull your heads out of your collective asses and get with the program.

To demonstrate just how backward Ubisoft's thinking is, try not to facepalm as you read this PCGamer post about Ubisoft's new DRM.