Plugged In

Ubisoft facing backlash over controversial DRM plans

Plugged In

Regardless of how effective it might be at combating PC game piracy, Ubisoft's DRM (digital rights management) program is quickly growing into a public relations disaster.

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From Dust (Ubisoft)

Just a few weeks after proclaiming it would require owners of its upcoming Driver: San Francisco to remain online as they played the game, the company has backtracked, bowing to a flood of protests and catcalls from gamers who view the piracy protection system as being intrusive.

"We've heard your feedback regarding the permanent internet connection requirement for Driver and have made the decision to no longer include it," the publisher said in a statement to Rock, Paper, Shotgun. "So this means that Driver PC gamers will only need to sign in at game launch but can subsequently choose to play the game offline."

Normally, that would have players celebrating, but the gaming world's a bit skeptical about Ubisoft's DRM promises these days.

That's due in part to how the publisher handled the PC release of Xbox Live Arcade hit, From Dust. After vowing that the game would only require a one-time Internet authentication the first time you played, Ubisoft shifted gears. To play now, the game requires an internet connection every time it's started.

Add that to a game that's being savaged as a "glitch-strewn port of a console game" and it's a recipe for disaster. Valve Software's Steam is reportedly offering From Dust players refunds, due to the anger over the DRM.

The chief reason players hate games that require constant connections is the instability of that DRM. Any interruption in service typically results in players being booted from the game, simultaneously erasing any progress since the last save. Also, should the company's servers falter, the game could be unplayable -- as Assassin's Creed II and Silent Hunter V were for days after their release.

Some publishers, like Capcom, have abandoned plans for similar policies after seeing the impact this sort of DRM has had on Ubisoft. Others, though, are moving forward with it.

The biggest of those is Blizzard, who recently announced that Diablo III would require players to be constantly connected (as StarCraft II currently is). Players howled, but those protests have quieted since -- and the company has not shown any sign that it plans to change the requirement.

-- Play Gems Twist on Yahoo! Games --

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