The Average Gamer

Ubisoft’s Anti-Piracy Plan Is Short-sighted

Earlier on this month I reviewed Ubisoft’s excellent Assassin’s Creed II on the Xbox 360. I won’t be reviewing the PC version of this game, as I will never buy it because of Ubisoft’s idiocy.

With the release of the PC version of Assassin’s Creed II Ubisoft launched their new “online platform.” This platform requires your copy of Assassin’s Creed II to constantly validate itself with Ubisoft’s central servers via the internet. Any break, however tiny, in this connection will result in you getting kicked out of your own game. Yep, kicked out until the game can revalidate itself. Ubisoft is saying that the benefits of this online platform outweigh the hassle of your game constantly validating itself. These benefits include:

  • Unlimited installs
  • Play the game without a disk
  • Save data that is accessible from multiple computers

According to Ubisoft’s marketing director, Murray Pannell:

We are aware that some players will not be able to connect to the internet but with the proliferation of WiFi, the majority of people can connect most of the time, so these instances should be very limited.

Quote via MCV

Personally I think this anti-piracy plan is myopic. I have no problem with Ubisoft wanting to have PC owners buying their games rather than just pirating them as they deserve to profit from their hard work. However, I do have a problem with a game that it stops me playing it just because my wireless connection dropped. When I buy a game I expect to be able to play it whenever I want, which I can on the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 versions of Assassin’s Creed II.

Going back to Mr Pannell’s quote, that the “majority of people can connect most of the time”. I’m sorry, most of the time isn’t good enough. This is not an acceptable level of service. The customer buys the product, in this case £26.99 PC version of Assassin’s Creed II, and then the customer has the right to play then game at any time.

There is something I just don’t understand about both games and film companies. Why do they persist in making the legitimate purchases of their products pay for the fact they haven’t pirated them? If you watch a downloaded film from the internet, you don’t have to sit though the awful anti-piracy ads which infect DVD and Blu-rays.

Someone (via @jackschofield on twitter) has summed up perfectly the difference between pirating a movie and watching a legitimate DVD:


Does anyone else think that this approach is counter productive and just plain stupid? Stop pissing off people who buy DVD’s and Blu-ray with all this anti-piracy crap and put more content on the discs (e.g. behind the scenes stuff) instead.

So don’t buy the PC version of Assassin’s Creed II, buy the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 versions instead, otherwise you’ll miss out playing a great game.

Update 7th March 2010: Well it didn’t take long for this crappy DRM solution to prevent people from playing their game. There’s currently a problem with the Ubisoft DRM servers meaning people can’t play Assassin’s Creed II. Just buy any version of Assassin’s Creed II apart from the PC one. Then Ubisoft might come up with a less idiotic DRM solution. The post from acetken nicely sums up the whole mess:

Wow. Bought it for my brother for his birthday and now he can’t play it. Thanks, Ubi! You’ve made this a great weekend.

To quote the front page of Joystiq:
“Find a less abominable DRM policy.”

We’re done until you do. (And improve your tech support while you’re at it. It’s the worst I’ve seen yet.)