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Despite backlash, Ubisoft calls its DRM a success

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Assassin's Creed 2

Ubisoft's first attempts at battling piracy did not go smoothly - to say the least. But that's not stopping the publisher from trying to use them again.

The company, in 2010, instituted a DRM (digital rights management) program that required players to remain online as they played a PC game. The concept was simple: Any interruption in service resulted in players being booted from the game, simultaneously erasing any progress since the last save. After getting feedback from a lot of angry fans (and weathering a denial of service attack that made games like Assassin's Creed II and Silent Hunter V unplayable for days), the company put the strategy on ice last February.

So when Ubisoft management declared its Internet-connected DRM movement a "success" last week, it was the corporate equivalent of poking a bear.

Of course, success is often a matter of definition. While gamers were united in their hatred of the service, the company told PC Gamer that it did what it was supposed to do. An Ubisoft representative said the company had seen "a clear reduction in piracy of our titles which required a persistent online connection, and from that point of view the requirement is a success."

As a result, Ubisoft is bringing it back - with the PC version of the upcoming Driver: San Francisco. And that's not going over well with their customers.

"I'm to the point where I avoid Ubisoft games because of invasive-anti-consumer DRM," says commenter Cutting_Orchids on 1Up. "When I pay $60 for a game I should get the royal treatment from developers/publishers, not [be] treated like a criminal."

It's reactions like that that ultimately led Capcom to back away from instituting a similar policy. When the company first announced plans for required Internet connectivity for Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, its fans growled. Capcom management quickly relented, noting that it feared the experience of legitimate users would be compromised more than those people who pirated the game.

If this were a normal time in the gaming world, the restoration of Ubisoft's DRM program could be a PR nightmare. Fortunately for the team's marketing division, Blizzard today announced that Diablo 3 would have the exact same requirements.

Within minutes, the (virtual) torch-wielding mob had shifted its focus - and run off after another developer.

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