Ubisoft Unveils New PC DRM Requiring Online Connection To Play (Updated)

Update: Ubisoft has sent over an FAQ with more details (below) including a promise that should the service be stopped, games would be patched to remain playable.

Original: Developer and publisher Ubisoft's new PC DRM solution will feature no CD checks or installation limits and pack support for 'cloud' online saved game storage but will require players be online to authenticate before playing, GameSpy reveals.

Players will be required to login to their Ubi.com account to authenticate each and every time they wish to play--and there will be no support at all for offline play.

"We think most people are going to be fine with it. Most people are always connected to an Internet connection," said Ubisoft director of customer support Brent Wilkinson.

The DRM platform will debut with the closed beta test of Blue Byte city-building strategy The Settlers 7. "Most upcoming Ubisoft PC games" will make use of the platform, though GameSpy says not all will support cloud saves.

What are the key elements of this platform for PC gamers?
Although a permanent online connection is required, this means that a CD/DVD is not required to play the game after installation. The protected game can be installed as many times and on as many computers as you like. Saved games are also synchronized online so the user can continue playing from any location with the game installed.

How many players can the server system support?
There is no limit to how many players can play at the same time. For each title, we carefully study the demand and allocate servers accordingly. We will also of course allocate back-up servers in order to be able to respond to fluctuations in demand. Ubisoft provides 24/7 monitoring of its servers.

How many computers can I install the game on?
There is no limit to the number of computers on which you can install the game. However you can only play with your individual Ubisoft account on one computer at a time.

Can I play my game from another computer?
Yes. As long as the game is installed on the PC, you can play from any computer and your Ubisoft account will recognise your last saved position as well as automatically save any updates.

I am in a strict environment with lots of firewall rules etc. Can I still play the game?
If you can access the Internet from the computer, you can play the game.

What if Ubisoft decides not run these online services in the future? Will my game stop working?
If any service is stopped, we will create a patch for the game so that the core game play will not be affected.

What will happen if I lose my Internet connection when I play the game?
If you lose your Internet connection the game will pause while it tries to reconnect. If the Internet Connection is unable to resume you can continue the game from where you left off or from the last saved game.

Will I need to be online the whole time when I play the game? Including for single player?
Yes. You will need to have an active Internet connection to play the game, for all game modes.

Will this platform use unique keys?
Yes. Unique keys are verified throughout this system.

Will this affect the performance of my PC?
No. The services that we offer run only when you start the game and there are no background services.

Do you have to be a member of Uplay to use this service platform?
This system requires you to have a Ubi.com account. A Uplay and a Ubi.com account are the same. You don't need to use Uplay to use this service platform, but if you wish to do so, it's very simple.

Do you plan to implement this system on home consoles?
This system is for PCs only.

Will this system be available for every Ubisoft game?
Most upcoming Ubisoft PC games will make use of this system.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    January 26, 2010 10:03 AM

    Why waste time and resources on this when they can just use steamworks. Boggles the mind.

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      January 26, 2010 10:08 AM

      This is different. They are not allowing offline play.

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      January 26, 2010 10:18 AM

      I'm sure using Steam for this would cost them quite a bit of money. This way they can take care of it on their own without paying.

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        January 26, 2010 10:34 AM

        Steamworks is free.

        Developing your own server and DRM system is not.

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        January 26, 2010 11:52 AM

        Implementing this system is going to cost them quite a bit of money.

    • reply
      January 26, 2010 10:24 AM

      Yep, they should just use Steam instead. It's a much more proven and socially acceptable DRM platform.

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        January 26, 2010 10:46 AM

        Steams DRM is weak. If it was decent you wouldn't see companies adding drm on top of it.

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          January 26, 2010 10:53 AM

          No DRM works, every game ends up on Torrents within a week before or after the game is released. So why use DRM the PC community as a whole doesn't like when you can use Steam. DRM that is good enough and doesn't bother the majority of PC gamers.

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            January 26, 2010 10:57 AM

            With steam, you don't even need torrents, just hijack an account, suck all the games down on the publishers dime, run something that I'm not listing here, and now you have a bunch of games that you never have to log onto steam again to get. Like I wrote before, there is a reason publishers are insisting on DRM on top of steam. I'm sure valve is addressing this in their many patches but I wouldn't be surprised to see offline mode go away someday on steam.

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              January 26, 2010 11:47 AM

              This could be effectively combated if valve implemented a verification system each time a user logs into steam from a new location for the first time. Login from new location? Verify the user is legit by sending an email validating the new login location.

              This way, if sniffers or fishers get ahold of someone's account name and password, they still can't download games unless they know the email address and password tied to the email address.

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                January 26, 2010 11:53 AM

                Then people will just complain about the personal information gathered to create unique IDs for systems so it can determine different locations.

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                  January 26, 2010 12:16 PM

                  So. People complain about EVERYTHING. Their complaint in this instance is illegitimate for smart Steam users who happen to use a verified email address in the first place.

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                    January 26, 2010 1:03 PM

                    Let me rephrase that, PEOPLE WILL STOP BUYING STEAM GAMES as a way of complaining. Not saying I will, just trying to make you realize that you are in a circle arguement that auto escalates. The more you try to tie down the product, the more people will pirate it. Then companies try to tie it down more, back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, etc etc etc, yada yada yda. blah blah blah

                    The short of it is, you can do a lot of things. The only proven effective way to reclaim sales from piracy is to make paying customers jump through less hoops, which is why steam works so well. Not the greatest protection against piracy, but its transparent enough to not cause a backlash among the userbase.

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                      January 26, 2010 8:29 PM

                      It's not really much of a hoop to jump through if there is a 1 time email verification whenever a steam user signs on to steam from a unique pc for the first time. Extreme case: you've got a laptop, two home computers, and two buddies you game with at their house. Verify once on each computer and then have complete access to your steam account from those PC's.

                      It's hardly an issue at all since most people only have 1 or 2 PC's to game with, and this will significantly cut down on the amount of steam hijacks - which are probably a large majority of steam piracy.

            • reply
              January 26, 2010 12:18 PM

              But you are missing the point. That extra DRM always gets cracked anyway, so while you say its less work with steam, I highly doubt the amount of work to crack the game is a huge detterant. You either want to pirate it or not.

              But when you use draconian DRM on top of steam, a lot of potenial buyers just don't get it. I have not and never will buy a securom game. I don't give 2 shits, 4 shits, or even a flying fuck if they change into a decent company or not, they pulled some unforgivable shit. I know I'm not the only one either.

              So the real question is, what is causing more "lost sales", people avoiding DRM or piracy? Not everyone who pirates the game would have bought the game otherwise, so thats why "lost sales" is in quotes. I imagine at least half of the piracy that goes on is simply because something is available, a notion none of the game companies want to realize, much like the RIAA doesn't want to admit that people download a lot more shit than they would actually buy. How many times have you downloaded a song and listened to it only once or twice?

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              January 26, 2010 2:14 PM

              im sure valve can disable offline mode for certain games

        • reply
          January 26, 2010 10:55 AM


          *thats* why you see more DRM on top of steam. steam's protection could be utterly iron clad (and perhaps it is, i dont know) and youd STILL see additional layers of DRM on some games. why? ill say it again for emphasis:


          • reply
            January 26, 2010 11:55 AM


            • reply
              January 26, 2010 2:11 PM

              hmm... thats all possible... but i still think "retarded" accounts for most of it.

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              January 26, 2010 2:11 PM

              There are people around here who will try to tell you that a company has some inherent capacity for rational behavior. These people have claimed that a company will not continue behavior that loses money.

              I can only conclude that these people have never actually worked for a company. A company is a collection of individuals, who are each capable of some catastrophically stupid, irrational behaviors. Combining all of these people can, in many cases, only serve to compound the stupid.

              So: yes, a company (a committee, an executive, whatever) can continue a money-losing behavior, if they have been convinced that it's working. Accountants and researchers may all conclude that the behavior is cutting into profits, but that is not always taken into consideration.

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          January 26, 2010 11:10 AM

          If by weak you mean ‘least intrusive to real customers’, then yes Steam is real weak. ;)

          But if you were trying to imply Steam DRM is weak at preventing piracy you are way off the mark. Any pirated game you download has the DRM cracked, therefore DRM free. So you can talk all day about DRM effectiveness but it only really has any meaning when we discuss how it affects paying customers. Because in the end DRM only affects paying customers. And Steam’s more reasonable conditions catch less flack from paying customers.

          • reply
            January 26, 2010 11:23 AM

            I agree that steam isn't intrusive to customers. However pirating games off steam (as in downloading them from steam servers and thus costing valve and publishers real money unlike torents) is trival.

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              January 26, 2010 2:13 PM

              i recall modern warfare2 wasnt even pirated until the steam date, thats one step better than most drm's

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          January 26, 2010 11:15 AM

          You seem to be assuming that logic plays a vital part in corporate meetings, baron.

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          January 27, 2010 6:59 PM

          I always assumed that putting Securom on top of Steam was intended to deny DRM hackers a clean copy. Otherwise, the hacker would get 1 copy with Securom and 1 without. This would make it much easier to identify the DRM sections of code.

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            January 27, 2010 7:03 PM

            In other words, it's there as protection for the retail Securom version.

    • reply
      January 26, 2010 2:26 PM

      +1 vote for steamworks solution.

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      January 27, 2010 1:05 AM

      The real question is, why are they wasting time with the PC at all? Ubi is already one of the worst publishers with regards to after market support on the PC; they put out passable console ports with no support and bitch about poor sales continuously.

      It seems reasonable that after this DRM stupidity fails they are just going to make an excuse to go to console only - which is probably what they really want to do anyways

      So I say there is no need to beat around the bush about it, and certainly no need to rip off / piss off a lot of unnecessary people in the process - just ship good console games and leave the PC platform to the devs / people that actually care about supporting it.

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