Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ubisoft And A Self-Inflicted Wound To The Head

Ubisoft today announced something called the Online Services Platform For The PC.

First, the marketing:
What is the added value of this platform for PC gamers?

A CD/DVD is not required to play the game. The protected game can be installed as many times and on as many computers as you like! Saved games are also synchronized online so the user can continue playing from where he/she left off from any computer; at work, at a friend's place etc.

Nice! So it sounds like Ubisoft is adapting Steam's "cloud saves" concept. That's a great idea.

Wait, there's more:
Is there an "off-line" option?

No. The added services to the game (unlimited installs, online storage of saved games and the fact that you don’t need the game disc to play) require you to have an online connection while playing the game.

What? Maybe I didn't hear that correctly, because what I think you're saying is so f-d up that I must be misunderstanding you.

Will I need to be online the whole time when I play the game? Including for single player?

Yes. You will need to have an active Internet connection to play the game, for all game modes.

What-the-bleeping-f? So I buy a game from Ubisoft in disc format, I install it, and then I have to login and maintain a connection online the whole time I'm playing the game? What happens when my Internet connection goes down? What happens when your servers go down, or they get completely overwhelmed by the player volume for a new game?

Oh, wait. That will never happen now, will it?
Look, I just paid $50 for your product. Now leave me the f--- alone, please. Why is it so hard for a company to understand this?

If it's an MMO and I'm interacting with hundreds or thousands of other players, no problem. And if you make this optional,  no problem--some people would certainly choose this method. But making it mandatory is one huge, gigantic FAIL.

Of course, this is from the company that used Starforce copy protection (the DRM equivalent of tentacle erotica), so why is anyone surprised, exactly?

Since my paranoia radar is up and fully functioning today, here's one little section that no one is talking about yet:
Will this platform use Uniquekeys?
Yes. Uniquekeys are verified throughout this system.

Wait a minute. What is this question even doing in here? WTF is "Uniquekeys", anyway? It's not "unique keys", because that would only make sense if they're talking about a database, plus it's capitalized.

This question 100% looks like a plant. No one would even know to ask this question, because no one has any idea what "Uniquekeys" even is, so why would they plant this unless it's the name for some kind of additional DRM scheme?

Adding to my suspicions: "Uniqekeys" doesn't exist in Google in any context other than a database field. Well, except in relation to this FAQ Ubisoft just issued.

I could be totally wrong here--hell, I usually am. But wouldn't it be so "Ubisoft" of Ubisoft to pull a sleight-of-hand like this? Announce a controversial policy, but hide the real controversy in language so vague that no one will notice.

I'd like to thank Ubisoft for one, thing though. They are going to save me a TON of money this year. All these Ubisoft games I planned to buy for PC? Not anymore.

Au revoir, bitches.

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