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Ubisoft Responds To Online-Only PC DRM Outcry

After weathering widespread complaints about its planned online authentication DRM solution, Ubisoft has responded, saying the plan is "what we think is the best way to deal with" rampant piracy in the PC market.
Ever since announcing its unusually stringent DRM solution for PC games, which requires players to maintain an internet connection throughout gameplay, Ubisoft has weathered widepspread complaints from gamers concerned about the restrictiveness of the system -- and now the company has responded, saying the plan is "what we think is the best way to deal with" rampant piracy in the PC market. The system, which Ubisoft says will apply to all its upcoming PC games, pauses the game if the player's internet access is interrupted, continuing only when the connection is restored. Speaking to the PC Gamer UK blog, an Ubisoft representative insisted the publisher is "not trying to kill the PC market," but that it is, like many other companies, "frustrated by the PC market" -- in particular, the "big, huge, hairy problem" of piracy that has significantly harmed the platform. "It really is a very important issue that all serious companies need to address," the rep said. "The real idea is that if you offer a game that is better when you buy it, then people will actually buy it," the spokesperson continued, referring to the system's consumer benefits like the lack of a disc check for retail games, online synchronization of save games, and no limit on installs. Some common DRM solutions, such as SecuROM, include the option for publishers to limit the total number of times a given game can be installed; there are frequently ways for players to legally extend those limits. Although the rep said Ubisoft "wouldn't have built it if we thought that it was really going to piss off our customers," the company still plans to go forward with it in "all announced Ubisoft PC games...whether sold online or from brick and mortar stores." The authentication apparently has multiple levels tiers of severity, depending on the game. For example, Ubisoft Montreal's Assassin's Creed 2 will revert to the player's last check point if the connection is broken, while Blue Byte's The Settlers VII will keep a constant auto-save that returns the player to the exact point at which the connection was dropped. Ubisoft admitted that if its own authentication servers go down, its PC games will effectively be unplayable, but the rep stopped short of conclusively pledging to patch out the system in such an eventuality. Such a measure is "written into the goal of the overall plan of the thing" if the need arises, the rep said, "but we don't plan on shutting down the servers; we really don't."

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