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Feign Surprise: Ubisoft's DRM Locks Out Some European Players

ac2diving.jpgWe knew it was a horrible idea from the start, and now we have facts and the ire of hundreds of players on the anti-DRM side, since Ubisoft's European servers were unable to service an undisclosed number of players in Europe for at least six hours yesterday.

In case anyone's forgotten, Ubisoft's perilous position comes from their decision to include a totally new level of restrictive DRM in their newer PC titles, requiring gamers to be online and have access to Ubisoft's master servers at all moments, even for single-player titles like Assassin's Creed 2. Any number of things from ISP issues, picky firewalls, or, in this case, Ubisoft's own servers going down will keep players from logging in to even boot them from the game without saving their progress.

For Ubisoft's part, their response has been apologetic but not explanatory. Yesterday's expected forum outburst had community manager 'Ubi.Vigil' showing his displeasure:

I don't have any clear information on what the issue is since I'm not in the office, but clearly the extended downtime and lengthy login issues are unacceptable, particularly as I've been told these servers are constantly monitored.
Then, this morning, Ubisoft themselves released a Twitter to try and clarify things:
Apologies to anyone who couldn't play ACII or SH5 yesterday. Servers were attacked which limited service from 2:30pm to 9pm Paris time. 95% of players were not affected, but a small group of players attempting to open a game session did receive denial of service errors.
While this seems to give the problem a smaller scope than originally thought, it also directly contradicts some user experiences - most notably John Walker of Rock Paper Shotgun, who pointed out that the servers appeared to be down for over ten hours. It could be that end-user issues make it too difficult to pin down when exactly the problem was on Ubisoft, or it could be that they're just taking the most optimistic view of their own outages given this reasonable doubt. It's also hard to imagine that a 5% complaint rate would have reached the levels it did.

Ubisoft blamed a Distributed Denial of Service attack for the outage, but that's not enough for the gamers who trust Ubisoft by buying their product only to be tied to DRM servers which themselves don't have sufficient security or bandwidth to withstand such.

4 Comments

Decompiled said:

The security guru in me says that Ubisoft did ok if it is true that only some customers where effected, but services like this are huge targets for DOS attacks, mainly because the attacks can be done under a banner of riotousness and the publicity a successful attack incurs.

Hewligan said:

I blame pirates, as they prompted DRM into existence in the first place.
Yarr!

@Hewligan

DRM has always been about controlling and locking in consumers more than preventing piracy. Apple didn't DRM their music and television stores because they care about consumers using pirated content, they did it so that all the songs / shows would play exclusively on iPods.

In a land of no piracy, DRM would be even worse, with more restrictions, rather than less.

Shin Gallon said:

Honestly I've taken a "Buy an official copy, but pirate a copy to actually play" stance with Ubisoft's games. I want to support them, I usually like their games, but this DRM is beyond draconian.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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Shin Gallon on Feign Surprise: Ubisoft's DRM Locks Out Some European Players: Honestly I've taken a "Buy an official copy, but pirate a copy to actually play" stance with Ubisoft's games. I...

theblackgecko on Feign Surprise: Ubisoft's DRM Locks Out Some European Players: @Hewligan DRM has always been about controlling and locking in consumers more than preventing piracy. Apple didn't DRM their music...

Hewligan on Feign Surprise: Ubisoft's DRM Locks Out Some European Players: I blame pirates, as they prompted DRM into existence in the first place. Yarr!...

Decompiled on Feign Surprise: Ubisoft's DRM Locks Out Some European Players: The security guru in me says that Ubisoft did ok if it is true that only some customers where effected,...

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