Ubisoft Officially Removes Always-On DRM from PC Games
This piece of news should be one of the best things you hear all day, as Ubisoft has officially dropped always-on DRM from its PC games. The studio apparently quietly dropped it months ago, but only went public with it today. All future Ubisoft games will require a one-time activation after installation, with no limits to how many installs you can make or the amount of PCs you install the game on. This is a massive turnaround from its earlier stance, where it called the DRM a "success" and viewed it as a necessary means to combat piracy. All of that is apparently out the window now, as Ubisoft's worldwide director for online games, Stephanie Perlotti, explains, "We have listened to feedback, and since June last year our policy for all of PC games is that we only require a one-time online activation when you first install the game, and from then you are free to play the game offline."
Ubisoft's DRM policy was one of the most despised around, as an Internet connection was required constantly and there was a limited number of activations. The DRM servers could also be affected, so if it went down then you could not play the game you purchased, even single player ones. Sometimes the outages were due to a server upgrade, but now it looks like PC gamers will not have to worry about any of that for any future Ubisoft title. Single player games, like the upcoming Assassin's Creed III, can be played offline and on as many machines as you want, while multiplayer games and online services still require an Internet connection, obviously. Still, this is a big about-face for one of the staunchest supporters of DRM, and can be celebrated by PC gamers everywhere.
Update: The full interview with Ubisoft is now published at Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Piracy numbers to support the 93-95% rate are still not mentioned by Perlotti, but she did say the number varies by territory. The claim of the DRM being a success was "unfortunate," but no comment was made on the data to support it, again. Michael Burke, Ubisoft corporate communications manager, said the company has been listening to feedback from PC customers, which resulted in the always-on removal. He did not acknowledge any damage to Ubisoft's reputation from the DRM, but stated the customers were not happy about "some of the policies."
The interview is rather lengthy, but it is well worth the read. Neither Perlotti or Burke go into specifics about the efficiency of DRM, but they do understand how not dicussing it damages the argument. Perlotti also talks about launch delays for PC versions of multiplatform games, and said the company needs to do a better job at relaying information. The studio wants to tailor the game to its specific platform and some, like the PC, require more time to perfect, which it will let us know if that happens. She did give us a ray of hope for the future since Far Cry 3 launches on the same day for all platforms and Assassin's Creed III releases on the PC a few weeks after the console, so maybe things will improve for all games. There is plenty more to read about in the interview, so hit up the source to see it all!