Is it even worth getting upset over this Ubisoft nonsense? By now you’ve certainly heard about the company’s plans to implement a new form of DRM for its PC releases—I’ve only written about it 800 times in the past month! The DRM is bat-shit crazy, sure, but it’s the sentiment behind it that has me concerned this Sunday morning.
Ubisoft gave its side of the story to PC Gamer in a rather breezy interview. I encourage you to read the whole thing: it’s not too long, and it really does frame where Ubisoft is coming from.
I’ll isolate a few parts here.
So what’s in it for gamers?
Ubi say there are three advantages to their online services. The first: you don’t need a disc. The second: that you can install the game on as many PCs as you like, as many times as you like. And the third: the automatic uploading of savegames to Ubisoft’s servers.
I love the first two “advantages,” like, wow, you mean we don’t need to keep the disc in the drive? That’s great. Incidentally, that’s how it should have been all along—what’s the point of installing a game to a hard drive if you’re going to insist that we keep the disc in there? And oh, I can install the game on as many PCs as I’d like? You’re too kind! The fact is, it’s really not too uncommon to own more than one PC these days. Maybe you have a custom-built PC in one room and a laptop in your bedroom. So there’s two installs right there. And maybe stupid Windows crashes, or your hard drive spontaneously explodes—who hasn’t had a hard drive on them? Bam, there’s a few more installs.
There aren’t “advantages” so much as what should be considered business as usual. (Steam is quickly making disc-based games seem old and silly.)
The last point, that your saves are automatically uploaded to Ubisift’s servers, sure, that’s nice, but it’s not exactly something that PC gamers have been clamoring for. Besides, is this merely syncing your local game saves with the Ubisoft cloud, or is the wholesale management of your saves for you? What happens if it’s the latter, and Ubisoft’s servers go down? Would you be able to access your game saves then?
My absolute favorite part of the interview is:
Ubisoft: The system is made by guys who love PC games. They play PC games, they are your friends.
Yes, and war is peace.
The smart reaction to these games—so far, the games afflicted with this DRM include Assassin’s Creed II, Settlers 7, and Splinter Cell: Conviction, among others—is simply not to buy them. Don’t buy the Steam version, don’t buy it from Amazon, and don’t buy it from your local GameStop. (Do GameStop even sell PC games anymore? No idea.) More importantly, don’t pirate it! Don’t grab the Torrent, don’t download it from Rapidshare, don’t drop the NZB into your watched folder. Just because you exist on planet Earth doesn’t give you the right to download the game because you’re upset at The Man. Besides, for every knucklehead seeding the game on BlackCats, Ubisoft can say, “See, piracy is a gigantic problem on the PC.” I think it’s more accurate to say that piracy is a problem, end of.
So again, do not buy the games, and do not pirate it; pretend they don’t exist. Because if Ubisoft is even remotely successful with this new scheme, you can be sure other publishers will follow suit.