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SHAMEFUL: a new low for gaming
on March 9, 2010
Gaming has hit an all time low thanks to UBI Soft. If you didn't like draconian DRM schemes, you're going to hate UBI Soft's new policy: you must be connected to their servers 100% of the time to play Assasin's Creed 2. If you don't have internet, or if your internet is out, or if you are on vacation, stationed in Iraq, or want to play at the airport, you are out of luck. No game for you. That in itself is very troubling and reason enough to NOT BUY THIS GAME. However, there are additional reasons that are even more frightening:
1) Setting the precedent for future games
If gamers buy Assasin's Creed despite this huge limitation on game play, it will open the door to many more games like this in the future. That would be awful for the consumer.
2) Turning 'owning' into leasing"
Tying games to some sort of server for activation is bad enough, but making them DEPENDENT on a server is horrible for the consumer. It takes away our rights (to play the game we paid for on our terms) and creates a system whereby you are simply LEASING a game. If at some point UBI Soft decides to take down their servers, you lose your game. They can take away your rights to play the game at any point in the future if they decided to. They have you by the cajones! If you give into this model, expect to never own any digital medium again; the makers of games, producers of music, and distributors of movies would love to see our current model of OWNING a physical copy of your game \ album \ movie replaced with a system where you only own the 'right' to access \ play that medium. It's their wet-dream to turn the current system of ownership on its head so they can re-sell you things endlessly as well as take them away from you at their discretion. As a consumer, it's important that we speak out against this by supporting DRM free games (Mass Effect II, Dragon Age, Fallout III, etc...) and DRM free music (buy it from Amazon!) and REFUSE to buy this junk with built in limitations and restrictions that SERVE NO PURPOSE.
3) Making games dependent on 'phoning home' means you're at the total mercy of UBI Soft (or whomever runs their servers)
If their servers are down, you lose access to your game. If their servers are overtaxed, you may experience problems connecting to your game. Think that isn't likely? Think again. Currently (03/09/2010) the servers have been down for the last 12 hours or so, creating chaos for all those who expected to be able to fire up Assassin's Creed. It doesn't even matter if UBI Soft is malevolent or not; if your service provider has a bad week you may be out of luck. If there is a storm in your area, you could end up out of luck for weeks (this happened to me when a tree knocked out my cable internet for 9 says straight--I thought I was going to die). You're screwed if your internet, their servers, or anything along the line between the two goes down.
4) DRM is pointless (and this online restriction is one of it's worst forms!)
Want to pirate games? It's tragically easy these days. Even more tragic is that DRM, supposedly designed to prevent piracy, is a total failure at actually accomplishing that. Want proof? Google "Spore + DRM + Piracy" and see what you come up with. I'll give you a hint: Spore was pirated BEFORE it was officially released. Many games are unto torrent sites well before their release date. The worst part of this is that the pirated versions are in almost all cases SUPERIOR to the DRM infested versions: they don't contain the invasive, crippling, and destructive DRM that past games have been ruined by (Bioshock, Mass Effect I, Spore, etc...). I am NOT ADVOCATING PIRACY. I think you should buy the games you want to play. I am advocating NOT BUYING games that violate your basic consumer rights (right to resell your game, right to play your game WHENEVER you want to without restrictions). If a game limits those rights, I say skip it entirely. Because UBI SOFT are morons doesn't give anyone the right to steal. As your Mom (or at least mine) used to say: two wrongs don't make a right!
I am not opposed to simple DRM schemes (disk check, or even Steam which has established very good rapport gamers by being both consistent, fair, and show a long track record of stability). I am totally opposed to anything that PREVENTS ME FROM PLAYING THE GAME that I paid money for. I don't want to see this standardized (and I don't think it will be) and so it's time to take action NOW and refuse to buy this garbage.
The bottom line is DRM is not and has never been about preventing piracy. It's about CONTROL. Control over you and how you are able to play the very game you paid your money for. It's about wrenching ownership away from the consumer and replacing it with something much lesser: rental \ leasing. Don't let them do that to you.
UBI SOFT and those like them have got to be taught a lesson. The only way to get heard by these huge companies is by hitting them where it hurts: their pocketbook. Refuse to buy this game or games like it that infringe on your rights. Tell your friends not to buy it. Write reviews that inform people about the risks of doing so. That's how you get things to change. To the inevitable trolls who will tell me that DRM should just be 'given in to,' I'd like to point out that currently game makers are MOVING AWAY from DRM schemes. The reason is because of the backlash against pointless restrictions by those like myself who are unwilling to sit around and watch PC gaming be ruined by greedy scumbags. It's because of grassroots action (Spore for example) that the tide has turned and that DRM is now much less common than it was a year ago. Top shelf games are being released DRM free. You know what? I've bought all of them and recommend you do the same. Let's all give our money to the makers of games that RESPECT us--after all, WE ARE THE CUSTOMERS. Enough said.