DRM Assassination: Let's send a message to Ubisoft
PC gaming is doomed, I can feel the storm clouds gathering, ready for the apocalypse. Sure, it’s no more doomed than it has been for the last 20 years, but there is definitely some doom going down right now.
Ubisoft have got a new form of DRM for all their PC games, which will require a constant internet connection to play their games. Tom Francis over at PC Gamer has been playing Assassin’s Creed 2, and this his experience of it:
If you get disconnected while playing, you’re booted out of the game. All your progress since the last checkpoint or savegame is lost, and your only options are to quit to Windows or wait until you’re reconnected.
I don’t like the sound of that. Do you? If you would like to join my protest, read on.
Why this shit is bad?
This new DRM is not good. Here are some reasons:
1. Ubisoft are selling you inferior products at the same prices that they used to. People who buy games using this DRM have a lot less rights than equivalent other games. You right to resell is completely removed, your ability to play offline is removed, your privacy is being infringed, and paying customers are being punished for the actions of pirates.
2. It is a far from perfect system. Ubisoft’s servers will go down, routers will be flakey, ISPs will have downtime and they are refusing to 100% commit to supporting these games in the future. You may be left with a coaster. For AC2, there is no reason that in the event of your connection dropping, they could let you play until the next checkpoint, but it appears that invasive DRM is even more important than game design.
3. Ubisoft are not taking responsibility for it effectively. Of all the retailers selling AC2, only two at time of writing actually state that it requires a constant internet connection to play. If I were selling a game with this kind of DRM, you can be damn sure that I would be doing everything I could to ensure that my paying customers knew about it.
There are plenty more reasons why it is stupid, but these are the main reasons that I think it is bad.
What should we do?
I’d like to try and organise some way of encouraging Ubisoft to stop this. There isn’t any decent mechanism for giving Ubisoft feedback of this kind that they will actually listen too. Boycotts will be ignored (and frankly, gamers are bad at doing boycotts), protesting by buying the console version isn’t going to bother them at all, since they still get paid, and pirating it will do nothing but prove them right (at least in the mindset that they are in).
I’ve racked my brain, and I’ve come up with a form of protest that might just work. If Ubisoft won’t listen to gamers, we need to get someone else that they will listen to to take up our cause.
Perhaps a big retailer.
The reason that pirating the game and saying “I would have bought it if it did not have this DRM” doesn’t mean anything is that it is just words. For all Ubisoft know, you might have never bought the PC game at all. For anything to actually effect their decision making process, they need facts and figures.
What I propose is this. We all decide on one, preferably high profile, entertainment retailer to buy the PC version AC2 from. We pick one that has no mention of requiring an internet connection on their listing. We all then get as many people to preorder the game as possible, we can hopefully get as large amount of the retailers allocated stock as possible.
When the game arrives, we will keep it inside the plastic seal.
Then we will look at the back of the box, and notice that it requires a constant internet connection, and decide that we do not want this game. We will then have 28 working days to return it. Assuming it arrives on day of release (5th of March), we would have until Friday the 16th of April to return it (taking into account Good Friday and Easter Monday: UK bank holidays), so posting it on Tuesday the 13th of April should leave enough margin for error.
When the retailer receives our copies of AC2 with the seal in tact, they will give us full cash refunds. We should very plainly state that the reason we are returning the game is because we are rejecting Ubisoft’s DRM. The game will ship with a return slip that you fill in explaining why you want a refund. You will have to absorb the small cost of postage (90p first class).
The retailer will have a mountain of games that are of much lower value to them than they were at release. They will not be happy about this. This message will get back to Ubisoft.
I’ve looked through the range of retailers selling AC2, and have decided to pick Tesco. They have no mention of the DRM whatsoever in their listing. They are also fairly high profile.
Click here to order it from Tesco.
If everyone who wants to be part of this protest emails me here with the subject “Ubisoft are baddies”, then I can keep track of how many people are going to be taking part, and I will email you to remind you to post it back too.
So here is the plan.
1. Order AC2 from Tesco.
2. Email me to let me know you are in on it.
3. When it arrives, do nothing.
4. Wait until the 13th of April.
5. Post it back to Tesco, explaining that you do not want it because you find the DRM to be unacceptable. Then get a full cash refund.
For this to work, we need to get as many people on board as possible. If you like the sound of sending a message to Ubisoft, then please join in. It will cost you £26.99, but you will get all of that back (minus P&P). Please also spread this around to anywhere you can think, forums, social networking, blogs. I think a good target is holding 100 copies to ransom, but who knows how well we can do.
Are you with me?
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