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Ubisoft Plans Constant Online Authentication For PC Games

In an attempt to make its PC games more secure and take advantage of online services, Ubisoft says it will require constant connectivity in "most" of its upcoming games.
In an attempt to make its PC games more secure and take advantage of online services, Ubisoft says it will require constant connectivity in "most" of its upcoming games for the platform. Ubisoft has been particularly vocal about the severity of PC game piracy, with executives mentioning the issue in numerous analyst conference calls. Last July, the company pledged to cut down on piracy rates with then-unannounced tools. Now it seems the company is moving away from externally-developed DRM solutions like SecuROM and StarForce in favor of online integration that is tied into the game itself. In addition to verifying the game's legitimacy with Ubisoft's servers, the system will automatically make use of features that keep a player's settings and game synchronized online, making that data portable across PCs. It's a strategy that is likely to be increasingly common in the PC gaming world, as internet access becomes more ubiquitous and publishers struggle to find ways to combat piracy in reliable ways. EALA's upcoming Command & Conquer 4 and Blizzard's upcoming StarCraft II will each make heavy use of online authentication to discourage piracy and enable persistent online features. After announcing the system in a GameSpy interview, Ubisoft released an official Q&A detailing a number of aspects of the technology. The company says players will be able to install their games on as many computers as they like, with no need to keep the DVD in the drive, but they can only play it on one computer at a time. Ubisoft noted that players must be online to play games outfitted with the system, even during single-player gameplay. The publisher claims that, in the event it takes the authentication servers down, it will release a patch to allow offline play. The first game to make use of the system will be Blue Byte's PC-exclusive The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom. Ubisoft did not say whether Assassin's Creed II or Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction, neither of which is exclusive to the platform, would incorporate it.

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