As an anti-piracy tool DRM simply doesn’t work – and it never will, although not everyone fully realizes this. For example, Ubisoft recently decided to introduce a new solution to prevent pirates from playing their games. Their new DRM requires gamers to be online all the time when playing the game. Without an Internet connection the game simply won’t work.
The new plans were welcomed with skepticism by fellow game developers and the majority of gamers. Instead of hindering piracy the DRM only restricts legitimate customers from playing the game how and where they want, most people agreed.
A survey among members of the Subsim community regarding the DRM on Silent Hunter 5 shows that, if anything, the new DRM is putting off customers from actually buying the game. Only 15% of the respondents said that the DRM wouldn’t affect their plans to buy Silent Hunter 5, while 85% said they would delay or cancel their purchase until a DRM-free version becomes available.
From these responses it could be concluded that many potential customers would prefer to use a DRM-free (pirated) copy instead of the legitimate product, which is the opposite of what Ubisoft wanted to accomplish.
Silent Hunter 5 was released on Tuesday and just a few hours later a cracked version of the game was published on many file-sharing sites. Ubisoft, worrying that DRM-haters would download the game illegally, quickly responded to the news about the cracked DRM and released a statement in which they downplay ‘the issue’.
“You have probably seen rumors on the web that Assassin’s Creed II and Silent Hunter 5 have been cracked. Please know that this rumor is false and while a pirated version may seem to be complete at start up, any gamer who downloads and plays a cracked version will find that their version is not complete,” Ubisoft quickly responded.
While many downloaders report that the game works just fine, Ubisoft’s statement does hold some truth because in their view the game is obviously ‘not complete’ without the DRM. At this point it is not entirely clear what else could be “missing” in the cracked version, but that is beside the point.
The bottom line is that their revolutionary DRM invention was cracked in a matter of hours, and although the crack might not be perfect yet, it will be eventually. The end result will be that the pirated version of the game will be more appealing and less restrictive than the actual retail product. Thus, the DRM is encouraging and increasing piracy instead of putting a halt to it.
It looks like Ubisoft has made a massive mistake with their strong focus on DRM. In fact, the time and effort spent on fine-tuning the DRM would have been better spent on game development, so that they didn’t have to release a patch with bugfixes a day after the game was released.
Let’s hope Ubisoft quickly comes to its senses and releases another patch that removes the needless DRM from the game.