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Driver dev defends Ubisoft’s DRM

Friday, 2nd September 2011 15:43 GMT By Andrew Groen

Ubisoft’s intrusive always-on DRM policy has seriously irked gamers over the past few years, and now a developer on Driver: San Francisco is coming out to defend the unpopular policy.


Speaking to Eurogamer, Martin Edmonson who founded Ubisoft Reflections (the studio behind Driver: San Francisco,) expressed exasperation and even moral superiority in the fight against internet piracy.

“You have to do something,” he said. “It’s just, simply, PC piracy is at the most incredible rates. This game cost a huge amount of money to develop, and it has to be, quite rightly, quite morally correctly, protected. If there was very little trouble with piracy then we wouldn’t need it.”

He also defended Ubisoft’s Uplay Passport which packages each individual game with a unique code for accessing online features. If you rent the game or buy it used, you have to purchase the passport online for $9.99. “If people don’t buy the game when it first comes out and wait and pay for rental or for second-hand usage, then the publisher sees absolutely nothing of that. [The online pass is] just one of those things we have to get used to. It’s going to happen.”

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7 Comments

  1. DSB

    Fight-the-battles-you-can-win.

    No paying customer is going to care about Ubisofts pirate paranoia, it just puts you at a PR-disadvantage to publishers and developers who use far smarter DRM solutions, or business models that don’t punish the paying customer, and your game is cracked within hours of hitting its first Gamestop anyway.

    Worst of all, I think they know it full well. They’re just on auto-pilot mode, mindlessly playing catch-up with the latest PR-disaster, while obviously just trying their hardest not to admit just how wrong they are.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. uomoartificiale

    So he stated that because there’s a problem they have to use that particular solution, he didn’t said why that solution was the right one. In fact, it’s the wrong one. The problem still exists and you pissed off everyone but anyone who caused the problem in the first place.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Noodlemanny

    Yeah but the problem is that hes right. There is a problem and publishers need some kind of solution. Games just cost too much money to develop for everyone to just steal it and give no money to the publishers.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. ruckus

    No the problem is you’re wrong – because people DO buy it, hence there is a market to make money in. UBI just want to put up barriers to people’s purchasing decisions.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. DSB

    @3 The problem is that those publishers are using ideas on piracy, without even looking into how big the problem really is. There’s no real estimate of how much is lost, and given all the times they’ve cried wolf in the past, it’s highly unlikely that piracy is a serious challenge to their business.

    I’m guessing the reason why studies like that aren’t being performed, is because pirates is a damn good excuse for your company not making as much as it should. It protects Ubisoft from their investors, and maybe even their own board, even if they realize that they’re throwing money away on DRM that does nothing, and might even hurt their business.

    Piracy sucks, of course, but do you honestly think that more people use torrents today, than used floppy discs back in the old days? Back then publishers were crying that floppy disc trading would end their business for good, saying shit like “THERE’LL BE NO VIDEOGAMES IN 10 YEARS!” – Well, 20 years on, and Bobby Koticks Lamborghini isn’t looking short of wax to me.

    In other words, they simply need a better argument if they’re going to justify busting up their own games, and delivering a lesser product. Looking at the last three decades, the only noticeable encroachment on pirate territory has been products of a similar quality. More convenience, less hassle, in exchange for more customers. Ubisoft are going straight in the opposite direction, and have been for more than a decade.

    Ubisoft don’t report the actual profits per platform, but here’s how the PC did on their statements year on year:

    2008/2009 – 9% (of 1057 million) = 95 million euro
    2009/2010 – 8% (of 857 million) = 69,5 million euro, down 27% YoY
    2010/2011 – 4% (of 1039 million) = 41,5 million euro, down 40% YoY

    All years saw revenue between 800 million euro, and a billion euro, so while it doesn’t neccesarily mean that the DRM is the only reason why they’re selling less, the numbers are undeniable.

    Ubisoft Online Services platform was launched shortly before the 2010/2011 fiscal year – Their worst year of PC sales in recorded history.

    Where’s the magic effect of the DRM? I believe them when they say they have fewer pirates today – They have fewer customers too.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. hitnrun

    @3: “Yeah but the problem is that hes right. There is a problem and publishers need some kind of solution.”

    So why don’t they just throw some virgins into a volcano? That would have the same effect on piracy without restricting and pissing off the people actually giving them money.

    Once again, every title is available on bittorrent, usually day-and-date. So what’s the point of DRM that punishes non-pirates? More to the point, DRM actually encourages piracy. I personally would never pay money for a game with those kinds of restrictions. Forget the principles involved, of theft and patronage; Ubi is asking its customers to pay to get less.

    I link this all the time because it never stops being true. Piracy is a reason to stop making titles for the hardcore. It’s a reason to move to consoles. It is not, however, a reason to implement DRM.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Freek

    That would be a valid exuse if it actually stopped piracy, it flat out hasn’t.
    It’s like having a locked door that’s only locked to the owners of the house and every criminal in the world can just walk in without any problems.
    From Dust was cracked within 12 hours of release, day 1.

    Utterly. Pointless.

    #7 3 years ago

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