EA.com's Editor In Chief Attacks DRM; Ubisoft Hits New Low

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News Posted: Thu, Mar 25 2010 2:45 PM
We'd like to begin our coverage of the latest DRM idiocy in gaming by apologizing to Ubisoft. After reading about some of EA's recent bright ideas and the constant connection EA's Command and Conquer: Tiberian Twilight requires in order to play the single-player game, we realized we'd unfairly painted Ubisoft as being uniquely stupid, out-of-touch, and clueless. With EA on board, this constant-connection concept is something we gamers need to worry about and vote against financially.

The one great thing about Ubisoft is that the company doesn't sit on its laurels. It wasn't enough to pioneer invasive DRM in single-player games; Ubisoft now requires a constant connection in single-player game demos. I downloaded and installed the Settlers 7 demo yesterday, patched it up today, and ran it, only to encounter the following error: "An internet connection is required to play this game. Failed to connect to the Ubisoft master servers. Please verify that your internet connection is functional and try again."


The Settlers 7 Demo is a 2.6GB download of Screw You


Not only was my Internet connection functional, Windows Firewall was disabled, Ubisoft's launcher was set as an exception *anyway* (just in case something snafu'd), and I confirmed that my system was configured to run in my router's DMZ. There's literally no firewall whatsoever sitting between my rig and the Ubisoft servers, but the demo can't connect.

We're (nearly) past the point of mockery. DRM schemes that attach to a commercial product can at least be marginally defended on the grounds that they exist to safeguard a company's financial investment. Demos may be an investment in the sense that they take resources to create, but the entire purpose of a trial product is to address the legitimate desire of consumers to try before they buy. To that end, it's in the best interests of the company to make trial versions available to anyone who wants one. Potential customers who can't access the demo of a product due to malfunctioning DRM systems certainly aren't going to drop real money for a broken program. In this sense, I suppose Ubisoft is doing gamers a favor by showing them just how poorly the authentication system functions.

EA's DRM Drives EA.com Editor Batty


It's absolutely beautiful right up to the point you're kicked to desktop.

If you've payed attention to computer games much over the past 20 years you should remember Jeff Green. Green helmed Computer Gaming World for nearly a decade; he's currently the editor-in-chief for EA.com. He took some time recently to play Command and Conquer: Tiberian Twilight, and tweeted the following about his experience (in chronological order.)

  • "Booted twice--and progress lost--on my single-player C&C4 game because my DSL connection blinked. DRM fail. We need new solutions."
  • "Yeah, Steam's ability to have off-line play is the clear, better model when talking about SP games."
  • "However, C&C4 experiments w/what a "single-player game" is--given it's constantly uploading progress/stats for unlocks. It's complicated....I agree with what you guys are saying. A better solution would be to cache progress/stats for upload later."
  • "I think if we think of C&C4 as an "online-only" game--which it basically is--then maybe we'd adjust our expectations accordingly."
  • "Welp. I've tried to be open-minded. But my 'net connection is finicky--and the constant disruption of my C&C4 SP game makes this unplayable."
  • "The story is fun, the gameplay is interesting and different at least--but if you suffer from shaky/unreliable DSL--you've been warned... the online connection killed it for me personally--my router is too shaky. :( Not a fan of this scheme."

Jeff is one of the older salts around in PC gaming and he's not known for being a hothead or rushing to conclusions. An intermittant web connection is bearable if you're surfing the 'Net or even watching video (provided you let it buffer first). The fact that a dodgy connection makes games unplayable and kills the fun from advancing is further proof that players that encounter these sorts of issues don't suffer through it ad nauseam; sooner or later they just plain quit.
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Inspector replied on Thu, Mar 25 2010 3:49 PM

See even their own employees say they fail :P lol, the game looks interesting up to the point as you said you got kicked off... Them trying to keep piracy low is making their customers even lower.

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lol DRM Fail!

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I love Ubisoft because of their ability to make quality games, but I hate the fact that I'll probably never be able to PLAY those games because of the extremely stupid DRM policy. 

I mean come on. I understand that companies are trying to crack down on content pirating, but by putting the entire game on lock down, you are losing more customers day by day. In fact, people are more inclined to pirate the game and attempt to bypass DRM because of this mockery. 

I don't want to be nagged about constant internet connections, especially when I just bought the game. I just want the ability to sit down, have a nice beverage, and engross myself in the world that these game developers have worked tirelessly on creating. 

I don't want their hard work bogged down by something as irritating as D.R.M. Even saying it is distastful. 

/end fail rant

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JoelB replied on Thu, Mar 25 2010 5:13 PM

I think they've missed a key word here:

Software as a Service

The key is service. By booting your clients and annoying the heck out of everyone, the only service you are doing is driving customers away from your shoddy products.

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Zestia replied on Thu, Mar 25 2010 5:42 PM

For those of you who didn't catch it, this is the most important sentence in Joel's piece...

"this constant-connection concept is something we gamers need to worry about and vote against financially."

He's spot on everyone. You need to worry and by voting with your wallets now we have a better chance at getting game producers to rethink their DRM strategy.

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AKwyn replied on Thu, Mar 25 2010 6:27 PM

So if we can organize a nationwide protest where we won't buy Tiberium Twilight or any of Ubisoft's games with DRM. Or if we can get lots of people to complain about this new DRM scheme and how it's lost their business then it can get rid of the DRM.

Mainly companies won't dump something unless there's a major flaw. In that case, it could be the fact that if you lost your connection to the internet then you couldn't play the game offline, if Ubisoft's servers went down then you couldn't play the game (both are common flaws) or for the fact that the saves are stored on the Ubisoft server and if the hard drive containing your saves goes down or is accidently reformated then you might have to play the game all over again.

That flaw is really important, at least let us have the saves on our computer instead of on their servers.

 

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The thing here is that for a lot of people the DRM has made the game unplayable. If you have a flanky internet connection, and who's is rock solid realistically, then you can't enjoy the game legitimately. Which basically means you either pirate it or don't play it. Either way ubisoft, and now EA loses. I really don't think this DRM scheme was thought up by people who life anywhere near this planet - or the market they are trying to sell to. I can't see it doing anything other then increase piracy of those games, and make there release profits tank horribly. Which isn't good for the game because if it is a money loser then it is likely not to be supported, or continued in sequels. Which is just sad because everyone loses. I will always purchase games I play often, because I want to encourage the companies to continue to produce them. I will not pay any amount of money for a game with invasive DRM - ever.

What companies have to realise is that their are basically 4 types of consumers when it comes to piracy:

1) The gamer who will buy the title regardless because s/he is a die-hard fan. (Either of the company or the title.)

2) The gamer who may or may not buy the title based on their money and interests. But feels piracy is wrong and will not pirate ever.

3) The gamer who may or may not buy the title based on interests, and feels piracy is ok, but prefers to purchase the title for whatever reasons.

4) The gamer who pirates everything, and anything because why pay for what you can get for free. If it's not free then they won't get it.

Companies can discount group 1 because regardless of what they do, this group will buy their products. Companies can also discount group 4 because no matter what they do they will never get their money. Game companies do however have a chance with groups 2 and 3. However, invasive DRM will push group 2 towards not playing and/or buying a similar game without the DRM. Invasive DRM will just push group 3 towards piracy, not away form it. Which means that only out comes of this DRM is that group 2 buys a different game, and group 3 pirates it. E.I less people actually purchasing it, and more people pirating it who otherwise would not have.

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Inspector replied on Thu, Mar 25 2010 8:48 PM

Oh while you mentioning a flanky connection... BFBC2 should place a disconnection timer for multipliers, When ever my internet disconnects for even one second i get kicked out of the game :(

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Zestia:

For those of you who didn't catch it, this is the most important sentence in Joel's piece...

"this constant-connection concept is something we gamers need to worry about and vote against financially."

He's spot on everyone. You need to worry and by voting with your wallets now we have a better chance at getting game producers to rethink their DRM strategy.

What he said.

Things like this show the company nothing and is actually quite sad. 

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realneil replied on Fri, Mar 26 2010 9:29 AM

I will not let myself in for the BS that this obviously dishes out.

Not way am I gonna pay money for this kind of hassle.

They can 'Kiss' my big fat digital rear end first.

Dogs are great judges of character, and if your dog doesn't like somebody being around, you shouldn't trust them.

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In this theatre of operations, everyone must realise. The players have the power.

In today's society, everyone wants something for nothing. Even if you go to a P2P and get the game. If you like it and think they did a good job, then go out and buy it. if people who are playing it don't support it with purchase then they cant keep making quality games. Then all you get are some executives trying to save their salaries at the expense of the artists. All the while, they will go out and do things like hire people to come up with things like DRM. Just like the new price increases for movie tickets.

In this economy, it is good to be frugal and really know you want something before you support it with purchase. With sites like HH, most gamers need to stick together when it comes to decisions on what games to buy. All must understand that most of these games are made by people who love games and the same stuff we do. When we go out and purchase every new iteration of a certain genre of game, it does nothing but fuel the executives into thinking we need more like this so we can make more money. Then they turn around and fire them until the next game needs to get done. When in fact, if they invested back into their artists (profit sharing/property rights), then we would all have new/unique games that everyone will rush out to buy.

Instead everyone rushes out to get the latest game trend whether it is Rock Band, GTA, WOW, or whatever is named Battlefield this month? I mean seriously how many WW2 FPS's do we need that all look roughly the same, ecept with new and improved graphics? Seriously they did that to housewives in the 70's and 80's, they stuck new and improved on it and people rushed out to buy? I guess all the ones that are out there is the answer. At least Wolfenstein added some twists to it and did it well.

When something like this happens in the first week of a game like this. Thanks to all the Internet connectivity, sales SHOULD immediately drop to nothing. At least until the company feels the bite and fixes the problem and does something to fix the problem and win back the audience. I know it is easier to measure when it comes to a movie. It should be the same way with games as well. Rent first, then Buy!

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animatortom:
Even if you go to a P2P and get the game. If you like it and think they did a good job, then go out and buy it. if people who are playing it don't support it with purchase then they cant keep making quality games.

I hear this a lot. I honestly don't think a lot of people will do this. I think most pirates 1 have no money to buy games(like kids) or 2 are kinda righteous and feel they deserve the game that people spend hours on for free. I used to pirate when I was younger, but now that I have a job and money I don't, because frankly it is a pain in the butt. Steam makes things simple.

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RyuGTX replied on Fri, Mar 26 2010 5:29 PM

bob_on_the_cob:

animatortom:
Even if you go to a P2P and get the game. If you like it and think they did a good job, then go out and buy it. if people who are playing it don't support it with purchase then they cant keep making quality games.

I hear this a lot. I honestly don't think a lot of people will do this. I think most pirates 1 have no money to buy games(like kids) or 2 are kinda righteous and feel they deserve the game that people spend hours on for free. I used to pirate when I was younger, but now that I have a job and money I don't, because frankly it is a pain in the butt. Steam makes things simple.

 

I don't think a lot of people do this either. I know some friends that do. You would really have to want to support the developers and/or thought it was a good game to buy it after you pirate it and beat the game. Because after you played through it, you have less of an incentive to buy the actual copy of the game. They would spend that money on something else that would give them more entertainment.

 

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AKwyn replied on Fri, Mar 26 2010 8:28 PM

animatortom:

In today's society, everyone wants something for nothing. Even if you go to a P2P and get the game. If you like it and think they did a good job, then go out and buy it. if people who are playing it don't support it with purchase then they cant keep making quality games. Then all you get are some executives trying to save their salaries at the expense of the artists. All the while, they will go out and do things like hire people to come up with things like DRM. Just like the new price increases for movie tickets.

Here's the problem. Most games people pirate are mostly games with a good single-player campaign. Games with good multiplayer are actually going to get people to buy the game. I'd pirate Modern Warfare 2 because I'm interested in it's story but I'd buy Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare because it's got a story and it's got multiplayer which actually has dedicated servers. The reason DRM exists is because people pirate the game for free (DRM will always be circumvented) and also because people can make counterfeit copies of games they've downloaded or bought and sell them on the black market for a reasonable margin.

animatortom:

In this economy, it is good to be frugal and really know you want something before you support it with purchase. With sites like HH, most gamers need to stick together when it comes to decisions on what games to buy. All must understand that most of these games are made by people who love games and the same stuff we do. When we go out and purchase every new iteration of a certain genre of game, it does nothing but fuel the executives into thinking we need more like this so we can make more money. Then they turn around and fire them until the next game needs to get done. When in fact, if they invested back into their artists (profit sharing/property rights), then we would all have new/unique games that everyone will rush out to buy.

Instead everyone rushes out to get the latest game trend whether it is Rock Band, GTA, WOW, or whatever is named Battlefield this month? I mean seriously how many WW2 FPS's do we need that all look roughly the same, ecept with new and improved graphics? Seriously they did that to housewives in the 70's and 80's, they stuck new and improved on it and people rushed out to buy? I guess all the ones that are out there is the answer. At least Wolfenstein added some twists to it and did it well.

That's why we got game reviews, user reviews and personal opinions. While I agree with game developers putting a lot of work into their product, I don't agree with the certain genre of game argument. Gamers will only buy new games of a certain genre if it offers something new and revolutionary. You should note that people are smart. If EA took Madden and made a few changes but never really added any major features then people will notice and feel ripped off. We're not mindless drones. There is no such thing as game trends, sure a game can be hyped but once the reviews and general impressions come out, either the hype will be worth it or it'll be a letdown. And there is such as thing as competition, ever heard of 2K Sports?

Also I don't think GTA, WOW or Battlefield belongs in this category. Rockstar North works really hard on any GTA game, it's not like Rock Band or Madden. Some people here enjoy Vice City, San Andreas and IV, and they don't think it's derivative. WOW is an MMORPG that was released 6 years ago and it had a lot of expansion packs and patches during it's time. I'm no WoW player but Blizzard is a company that puts care into it's products as well and those Expansion Packs are not made for money, they are made for the players of WoW. And Battlefield even though they're releasing games at a fast pace still has developers that care about the game, it's not the same in the sense that it's not released yearly. And when have I seen a WW2 FPS in this day of age, the only time I've seen an WW2 FPS was 2 years ago when Call of Duty World at War was released.

animatortom:

When something like this happens in the first week of a game like this. Thanks to all the Internet connectivity, sales SHOULD immediately drop to nothing. At least until the company feels the bite and fixes the problem and does something to fix the problem and win back the audience. I know it is easier to measure when it comes to a movie. It should be the same way with games as well. Rent first, then Buy!

Most people who buy the game have perfectly fine internet connections and therefore won't be affected, the sales don't drop because most people are unaware or don't care of the scandal and just want the game. The only time when people will not buy a game with this kind of DRM is when there is something that effects mostly every game that'll be released today. Ask this to the consumer, does your internet connection need to be online in order to play a single player game that probably doesn't need a internet connection to play.

Also rent first, then buy doesn't really work for most people. I rent movies because I'm the kind of guy who watches them only once, people who buy DVD's are more likely to watch them a few more times in a row. Same goes for games, only games with a strong multiplayer or replayability component will make people buy them.

 

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barmmer replied on Sun, Mar 28 2010 6:30 AM

I'm sorry, a bug just landed on my monitor for the first time ever and directly on your "firewall is not activated your computer is at risk" menu. Hilarious.

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Inspector replied on Sun, Mar 28 2010 4:56 PM

LOL barmmer... why did you post that here though? :P

 

 

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