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Ubisoft To Implement Server-Based PC Anti-Piracy Measures

by Adam Biessener on Jan 26, 2010 at 08:55 AM

Ubisoft is rolling out a DRM (digital rights management) solution that will require players to be connected to the Internet at all times. Players must authenticate each gameplay session by dialing into Ubi's servers and logging into their accounts. Saved games will be stored server side in addition to locally on your own machine.

"Ubisoft is launching a new proprietary platform in the majority of its PC titles to provide players with added value. This new service allows the customer to install the game on as many PCs as they would like, run the game without a disc in the drive for authentication, and to synchronize their game online, allowing access to game saves on any machine," reads the official statement from Brent Wilkinson, director of customer service at Ubisoft. "It's no secret that piracy is an issue plaguing the PC market and we believe that this new tool will help us decrease the piracy affecting our PC games."

The good news is that you won't have to worry about a hard drive failure hosing your progress, you don't have to put any discs in the drive, and you can log in from anywhere and be good to go – just like in an MMO. Being tied to the cloud is great, as long as that cord doesn't get severed.

The bad news is, in my opinion, a much bigger deal. Losing your internet connection via ISP failure, router wonkiness, or a screw-up on Ubi's end means no gaming for you. Ask one of your MMO-playing friends just how awesome it is to have your playtime exist on the fickle whims of a server farm. Think about the awesomeness of not being able to take your games along on many vacations, or of losing the ability to play on a plane.

In the interest of fairness, we can see why Ubi is taking drastic measures with its PC games. Piracy has been out of control for years. Claiming a 1:1 ratio of lost sales to torrent downloads is disingenuous at best, but it's self-evident that rampant illegal file sharing has made it much harder for publishers and developers to make any money on the platform. The upshot is that you get the DRM you deserve, and the PC gaming public at large ultimately deserves to have to log into a secure account before accessing their games, according to Ubisoft.

Understanding the other side of it doesn't change the fact that not being able to play non-multiplayer games without an internet connection is bad news for many gamers. The normal usage case of sitting at home with your fat broadband pipes flowing should be largely unaffected. Unfortunately, pirates will be likewise unaffected if and when cracked software starts showing up – and history suggests that they will do so very quickly. We hope that Ubi addresses some of the obvious issues (what's that? Steam has an offline mode that solves almost all of these? Crazy talk!), but I'm not holding my breath.

[via GameSpy]