Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory? Well, I’m not a big fan of them…but I’ve uncovered a theory behind the whole DRM debate. Read on…


Ubisoft’s decision to utilize a new type of Digital Rights Management (DRM) certainly isn’t breaking news as this was reported a month or so ago, but apparently has once again received the attention of the public and media because of its integration with Assassin's Creed II. I feel a disturbance in the Force.


For those that don’t know what DRM is, think of it as a tactic used to discourage and/or prevent piracy of copyrighted digital media (or what you and I would call games, but may also include music or movies). Ubisoft’s new approach is to employ a technique that requires a persistent Internet connection. The concern is that any disruption, no matter how slight, will interrupt game play. And not just multiplayer game play, but your single player game play as well. Imagine if you will, getting to the last boss and just as you are about to vanquish said boss, a very subtle and almost non-detectable dip in the power causes your router or modem to hiccup and your game stops, only to display a “lost connection to the Internet” alert. Or worse, imagine an unplanned outage with your Internet Service Provider that last for hours and not being able to play SP/MP at all. Think that’s a bit far fetched. HAH! I wish. Happened to me last week during a Steam outage. I could NOT play Modern Warfare 2 single player because I could NOT connect to Steam.



Well, since the community is abuzz with DRM news, I suppose I should stay on target and write about something relevant in the gaming industry. The problem is this story can be approached from so many different angles, deciding on which one to pursue is the challenge. It’s like a pick your own adventure book, Spell of the Winter Wizard, all over again.


Okay…I think I’ve narrowed it down. Hang in there.


I’ve never really had a problem with DRM. I’m not a pirate, after all. (Well, not that kind of pirate anyway.) Sure, I’ve had to deal with Windows online activation challenges like some of you have had to, but as far as games, it’s never really been an issue. I do what is required to make it work.



Before I begin my theory, let me say that I like Ubisoft. I have purchased and played so many of their games I couldn’t even begin to name them all. I’m very excited about the future of Ghost Recon Future Soldier. So, to suggest boycotting Ubisoft titles in protest is ridiculous. It’s almost as absurd as those who skipped out on Modern Warfare 2 in protest of no dedicated servers.



Look, I don’t like the price of gas right now…but I’m not about to boycott buying gas and start hoofing it to work. So any crazy talk about boycotting Ubisoft is nonsense. What do you do when the other big game companies follow suit? Give up playing altogether? Not gonna happen.


But to be honest, I don’t think this issue of DRM is as much about anti-piracy measures as it is about controlling and manipulating the gaming community and ultimately the gaming industry. We are being steered by one of the gaming giants. Gradual at first, but once the turn begins it sometimes takes awhile before you feel the motion. I fully suspect other companies will follow suit.


Ubisoft is attempting to use restrictive and intrusive DRM measures to persuade gamers to migrate from their beloved PCs to a gaming console.




Why does a company ever do anything? Money.


It’s a well known fact (that means it’s true) that sales of console games net far more than sales of PC games. It also seems like Ubisoft has migrated away from the PC over the years by not dedicating near the resources to PC game development. Some titles for the PC were cancelled altogether.


The future of gaming (at least in my opinion) is going to expand and rely heavily on digital distribution and cloud computing. What does that mean for us, the gamer? It means no more trips to Gamestop or Best Buy. It means no more hard drives full of games and profile data.


Your console will become more of a “dumb terminal” used to connect to the cloud. You will purchase and play your games online. Your game progress and user profile will be saved online. Everything will be done online. Game companies will make more and spend less with this approach. If they make a percentage off of sales and don’t have any of the responsibilities of distribution or connectivity, then the rest is profit.


This infrastructure is largely in place now with Xbox Live and the Playstation Network.


It’s only a matter of time.


Choose the blue pill or the red pill…


The cake is a lie.