We Confirm: Ubisoft's DRM Scheme Cracked In Hours

We Confirm: Ubisoft's DRM Scheme Cracked In Hours

Ubisoft's eagerly awaited Silent Hunter 5 was released last week as the first title carrying the company's new DRM system. That system, as we've previously discussed, requires that gamers maintain a constant Internet connection or be kicked from the game. One of the major flaws in that system was the fact that the game wasn't saved before you were dumped out; Ubisoft has since corrected this with a patch.

Less than 24 hours after Silent Hunter 5 shipped, several hacking groups claimed to have completely disabled Ubisoft's protection mechanism and began distributing the full game, the 1.1 update patch, and a cracked executable that allows users to install the game and play seamlessly without ever needing an Internet connection.


Actual game footage.

In a statement, Ubisoft has said: "You have probably seen rumors on the web that Assassin’s Creed II and Silent Hunter 5 have been cracked. Please know that this rumor is false and while a pirated version may seem to be complete at start up, any gamer who downloads and plays a cracked version will find that their version is not complete."

We at HH waited a couple of days after the initial crack was announced in order to verify both that the game had been cracked and that the version being passed around online contained the entire game. The answer the first question is unequivocally yes, the game is cracked. As to the second question we've been informed that if the game is incomplete it's the most complete incomplete game ever invented. Those of us who speculated that gamers might have to jump through a complex series of hoops in order to play the game sans Internet connection were wrong; SH5's crack is installed using what we'll call 'standard procedures.'


Not sure if this was rendered by the game engine but it sure is pretty. Blows up real good, too.

Ubisoft's claim that the cracked version of the game is less polished and/or missing content could be read as implying that game pirates won't have access to upcoming patches, new missions, full-blown expansion packs, or customer support. The "No customer support" clause is entirely fair but I've a sneaking suspicion that no amount of post-game patching will prevent hacker groups from stripping the DRM requirements out of the game again.

The irony in all of this is that Ubisoft dismissed Steam as essentially being too pirate friendly. Had the company gone with Steam and allowed for standard offline play this entire brouhaha would have been avoided; reviewers and gamers would be discussing the quality of Silent Hunter 5 while looking forward to both Assassin's Creed and Settlers 7 Instead, the industry is standing around collectively sniggering at a bunch of suits that couldn't find the pulse of gaming with a stethoscope.


Meet Pickles and Peanut, the crack development team behind Ubisoft's new DRM scheme. Say hello, guys!

We at Hot Hardware don't recommend or endorse game piracy; we're not going to start now. We must admit, however, that we'd understand if a person bought Silent Hunter 5, Assassin's Creed 2, or Settlers 7 and then decided to use a cracked version of the program to avoid having to maintain a constant Internet connection. The sad truth of the situation is that once again, it's only the legitimate users of a program who are being punished by this DRM scheme.

Hopefully this latest snafu will convince Ubisoft that their current approach to digital content management is wrong-headed and extremely counter-productive. All this considered, however, we doubt it.
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You know those situations, where you are arguing with somebody and you notice that you are actually wrong. Well, sometimes we keep arguing anyway, digging our hole deeper and making a bigger fool of ourselves. That's what Ubisoft is doing to themselves right now. Metaphorically of course. 

The guys that crack these games are probably software engineers that know exactly what to look for. It wouldn't have surprised me if SH5 was cracked even an hour after release. 

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HA we all saw this coming but Ubisoft so ya :P

@marius i had those situations from time to time :( lol

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I'm all for anything that convinces publishers not to use DRM/copy-protection. That stuff just gets in the way when I want to play under Wine on Linux. It's ironic that many Linux users use the cracks to play their legally bought games because of this.

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See, here's the thing: ALL copy protections are going to be cracked. First were CD keys: keygens took care of that. Then disc checks: cracked .exes came out. Then the online authentication, the first example being Mass Effect I believe: that was cracked too. And now this. Haven't they gotten the point by now? Even I, a legal paying customer, use exe cracks to play images of my games so that the discs don't scratch. This may change when PC games eventually go on the allegedly "scratch-proof" Blu-Ray medium, but for now DRM is useless, just makes it harder for the paying customer.

Conspiracy theory for you all: developers are moving to consoles because of piracy, right? Well, their big plot is to use these DRM schemes to make it so terrible for PC gamers that we move to consoles as well. Mua ha ha ha! :P

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Me, I'm all for "voting with my pocket-book," as we 19th century sorts call it. Rather than download rad nu warezzz (as the kids are calling it today, assuming "today" is 1988), I'd rather spend my money on a game with less draconian policies-- or higher quality.

Are Pickles and Peanut the ones who installed the ATi Radeon video card some months ago? Good to see you again, guys!

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I personally have not played a console game since Nintendo existed, and I am not talking about one of the latter releases. I mean the original Nintendo (you can say that when your 40 or older), to say the least I basically don't game as much in the last year. There have been no new or exciting MMO's released, I am a "hardcore" MMO player by definition, and prefer the questing adventuring to the do 5000 turn in quests to get to max level games like WOW.

Either way this making your customers hate you and your product prior to release by using things like DRM are just stupid. I know there are pirates out there who steal stuff, and distribute it and steal money from the producers.

The thing is here they are going to do that anyway, and most of the people who do this and use that type of software at least to the wider amount are two individuals. The first is going to do it anyway whether you do this or not, the second can't afford it so is in the same boat, but for a different reason.

Neither of these groups are ever going to give you producers a dime. So your shooting yourself in the foot while getting ready to go to the gun fight. It is almost completely ineffective, and because of the media you generate by your actions you add to the problem in two ways as well.

You gain notoriety for doing this especially when really public about it more so when you lie as well. Then you make a certain percentage of people who've never even heard of obtaining software, music or other properties this way intrigued. The second is you make it a challenge for the groups who do this in the first place.

WAKE UP !!!

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Get ready for the really funny follow up...

Ubisoft's authentication servers were overloaded and failed, causing an outage for the paying customers:

http://www.joystiq.com/2010/03/07/ubisoft-drm-authentification-server-is-down-assassins-creed-2/

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