Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
 
The Settlers 7 and the Ubisoft copy protection

So I've been playing The Settlers 7 for a while, and that was the first game I bought from Ubisoft since they introduced their new "need to be online to play" copy protection scheme. Copy protection is a difficult subject, because a lot of people nowadays have an overly developed sense of entitlement, and no clue whatsoever what it means to "buy a license"; so whenever publisher introduce means to prevent pirating, various forums and gaming sites explode in outrage how a publisher *dares* to prevent them from doing things that are actually forbidden in the end user license agreement. So instead of joining that discussion, that never leads anywhere, I decided to simply test both the game and the copyright protection scheme.

The Settlers 7 as a game is very nice, and has been sped up significantly from earlier incarnations. Instead of a game about building up an economy and watching your settlers go about their business, The Settlers 7 now delivers a gameplay which is a lot more competitive. This will not necessarily be to the liking of every veteran Settlers fan, but was probably a good move to make this game a bit more mainstream. While building up your economy is still the core of the game, gameplay now reminds me a bit of RTS games in speed the need to frequently watch what the opposition is doing. If you act too slow, the computer opponents will continue gathering victory points until it is game over for you.

The interesting part of the victory point system is that you have three different choices on how to win: military, trade, or religion. Thus you can win the same map by either sending out lots of soldiers, or with no soldiers at all, buying sectors with coin or sending out priests to convert them. As the different strategies rely on different resources, choosing the right one based on the available resources is helpful, but usually various strategies or mixes work. But whatever you choose, the main skill required in any case is to build up a working network of production sites, with short roads and frequent storage houses to optimize logistics. Even if you choose the military option, there isn't much you can do to influence battles except sending more soldiers. The economic system is quite complex, and The Settlers 7 is not an easy game, with the added speed making it still more difficult. I really would have liked an option to start a map without any competition to just play around and watch my settlers, but the best the game offers in that direction is the option to continue playing after you won a map.

The Settlers 7 has a campaign with 12 missions, but that is considered an extended tutorial. The "main" game is then played in battles on various maps, against computer opponents or other players. There are 8 maps that come with the game, but there is also a map editor, and additional maps that can be unlocked with "coins". No, not real money, but coins you earn from winning games. The same coins also unlock additional AI opponents, and various building blocks for your castle. How your castle looks has no influence on gameplay, but in principle you can start with a simple castle, and then decorate it further as you progress in the game. Your castle as your avatar, so to say.

I started The Settlers 7 during my holidays, and thus installed it on my laptop. Which brings us to the Ubisoft Cloud Copy Protection, which unlike other copy protection schemes at least has some small advantages: You can install the game on as many computers as you like, and your save games are synchronized. Thus when I came home and installed the game on my main computer, I could continue the campaign where I had left it without having to copy any saved games. Unfortunately that, and a half-baked achievement system, are the only advantages from being forced to be always online. Well, that and not needing the DVD to play, but that is more the absence of a disadvantage from other copy protection schemes.

The disadvantages of the copy protection scheme are more serious: You can't play without internet connection. If you lose internet connection during play, your game stops working. Fortunately it does that in a rather controlled way, so when you get internet back and restart the game, you'll be at the last autosave point, which seem to have a rather short interval, thus you never have to replay a lot. Another problem is that even if *your* internet connection is fine, sometimes Ubisoft's servers are not. Not all of that is their fault, some copyright protection haters amused themselves by bringing the Ubisoft servers down with denial of service attacks. There is quite a war waging there, with hackers saying they cracked Ubisoft's copy protection scheme, and Ubisoft claiming that the hacked versions are incomplete. The DoS attacks tell me that Ubisoft must have hurt the hackers somewhat, otherwise they wouldn't have found it necessary to prevent regular players from playing the game just to spite Ubisoft. I didn't download a pirated version just to find out whether it was working and complete.

Now if you only ever played single-player games, the Ubisoft copy protection scheme can seem quite severe. MMORPG veterans and other players who play a lot of online games however will quickly realize that these Ubisoft games have exactly the same set of disadvantages as most online games. Whether it is World of Warcraft, Farmville, or The Settlers 7, you can't play if either your internet connection or the game companies servers are down. That is most certainly annoying, but as that happens to us every day for the last decade, we kind of got used to that particular obstacle. It is simply something that you need to keep in mind when making the decision of whether to buy Ubisoft games. Just like you wouldn't buy World of Warcraft for a computer without internet connection, you shouldn't buy new Ubisoft games for such a computer either. Oh, and unless you sell your whole Ubisoft account with it, you can't resell The Settlers 7, which is also something you should consider when looking at the price. Legally you aren't buying the game, you just acquire a license to play it. It's a bit like renting a car, Hertz *would* object if you tried to resell the car you rented from them.

While I'm not a fan of copy protection schemes, I didn't find this particular Ubisoft system all that bad. I dislike for example games which force you to keep the disc always in the drive to play much more annoying, or games which install a rootkit on my PC. No copy protection scheme whatsoever would be nice, and so would be peace on earth and goodwill to all men, but neither is realistic due to the existence of bad people. Game companies and pirates are equally to blame, its a vicious cycle. The grown-up thing to do is to consider how much that copy protection system really hurts you, based on your experience with internet outages with other games, and to factor that into your buying decision. But first you might want to download the demo, because how much you like the game is probably more important than how it is protected.
Comments:
The DoS attacks tell me that Ubisoft must have hurt the hackers somewhat, otherwise they wouldn't have found it necessary to prevent regular players from playing the game just to spite Ubisoft.

I think you underestimate the vindictiveness of crackers, and the ease that they have accessing botnets for DDOS.

In any event, I accept having to have a constant connection for an MMO because there is no other way for it to work. I don't accept it as a requirement to give a company warm fuzzies (because frankly, there is no support for the assertion that it protects any of their sales.) If they want to treat me like a thief, then I will treat them like the insulting asses that they are and spend my money elsewhere. I've bought Ubisoft products before. I won't buy any that have gratuitous requirements like this.
 
I still don't think its fair to require a full-time internet connection for a game that really doesn't need one. Single player games don't have need for an internet connection unless they are updating leaderboards.

Also, don't you think if you are renting the game (as you said) then you should pay less than the cost of a game you buy? That would make sense to me. Last I checked Settlers 7 was still $50.
 
All the other games you thought you "bought" for $50 are also only rented. Read the fine print! Really "buying" a game would mean acquiring real property rights to it, and that would cost several million dollars.

Oh, and that car you got for $50 from Hertz was also just rented, sorry, you'll have to give it back!
 
With the 'standard' single player games the license to the game could be transferable while this one is not.

When you pay for rights, if the right is transferable to another party then you are getting additional value.

So if you buy a Ubisoft game you are getting less value in the rights than you would with other games. The requirement for you to always be online further lowers the value of the game since the gameplay experience will be inconsistant.

So if you are going to pay the same for an Ubisoft game as other games then the Ubisoft game has to bring in more value to compensate for the loss of value due to the copy protection.

It is like a choice between renting a car with air conditioning vs renting one without. The car without air conditioning better be cheaper to rent or have some additional value that will offset its disadvantage.

So while I would be quite willing to buy a Ubisoft game with the copy protection, right now none of the games they offer have sufficient additional value that I would choose them over other companies' games.
 
>but that is more the absence of a disadvantage

In related news, legged people don't ACTUALLY have an advantage over amputees, seeing as how having legs is just the absence of a disadvantage, and not REALLY an advantage.
 
The reason the internet connection requirement would be an absolute rock-solid deal breaker for me is that the only time I ever play single-player games is when my internet is acting up, and thus I can't play an MMO, or surf the net. :-)
 
All the other games you thought you "bought" for $50 are also only rented. Read the fine print! Really "buying" a game would mean acquiring real property rights to it, and that would cost several million dollars.

I'm going to call bullshit here, because people walk into Gamestop every day and re-sell games they OWN after buying them from the seller. And just because a corporation scribbles something in a 200-page "contract" doesn't make it legally enforceable.

We need to start pushing back against this growing "rental/lease" variant of consumer culture. When you buy milk or clothes the farm and the factory don't get to tell you when you can use them.
 
Whatever the reason, the Ubisoft servers seem as unreliable as an MMO in launch week.

I wouldn't waste my time and money on the latter, so will do the same with the former.
 
Your posts, if nothing else, get me to think on the issue.

I think you take it far too personally though. Well, I guess that isn't true, pirates take it WAY more personally than you, but your comments on the DDOS attacks show that you aren't as above the fray as maybe you might otherwise be.
 
So tobold, does this mean that now Ubisoft has full control over the copies of games sold with their new DRM retailers and publishers will stop hiding behind the claims they can't accept returns?

So consumers can now take back these games when they're defective or disagree with the copy protection when they find out is doesn't work as intended, ie. can't play on a laptop offline, etc. If they've got full control now to disable your copy of the game from their DRM servers and you have lost your right of first sale?

This DRM is of zero benefit to consumers and again only hurts legitimate paying gamers.
 
When I want to play an online game - like WOW, I accept that having an internet connection is mandatory. You can't post an auction if you can't talk to the Auction house NPC.

There are times that I don't have an internet connection, often for several days at a time. I would like (and do) have games to play.

I will admit that WOW comprises the majority of my online game time. UBISOFT have declared that I am not playing their games when I'm offline. While Settlers is a game I would like to buy, your review has helped me stay clear of it.
 
So if 'buying' a game actually means 'renting' it. Or rather 'purchasing the non-transferable right to play the game', shouldn't that mean that, because I purchased the right the play the game and not to 'own' it, when my physical disc breaks, I should be able to get a new one for material cost only? So when my DVD breaks, I should be able to get a new one for under 1 euro. Mind you, that this new one should not include a new serial key. I still have the old one.

In that respect I like WoW better. I do pay for the right to play the game and I can download all the software I need to play it.
Hell, even Steam got that right. I wonder what Ubisoft's stance is on that.
 
What about people that have a xDSL line, don't have problems to download games with digital delivery having broadband...

but pay xDSL per hour of use?

A solution like Steam is far better
You can digital download, you just validate the game and then you can play offline

No need for a CD in your computer, no need to stay always connected.... and game publisher know that the game can't be resold.

Paying about 1euro per hour of play just to let a game to ping pong with a server.... that's bad
 
I know you don't live in the UK, Tobold, but here we have a thing called the "Unfair Contract Terms Act". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unfair_Contract_Terms_Act_1977

Companies say lots of things in thier quasi-legal documentation that they can't stand up in court. Often they don't even intend to try. There are also all kinds of issues of "reasonable use" going on here.

The upshot of all of this, though, is that eventually boxed games are just going to go away and it will be online or nothing. That's what will happen, whether we want it or not.
 
To be clear Tobold, I've also bought a retail version of Settlers 7 just before easter and am genuinely enjoying the skirmish mode with the AI at the moment. Well, i would have been able to enjoy it yesterday as well if the DRM server worked on MONDAY =P (05/04/2010)

But what about the drm server maintainence? Surely there's a reason why mmos have a monthly fee, and part of it is for server maintainence. Granted, i'm not a server admin, but the drm server needed to authenticate users constantly (or fairly frequently) as is the case, probably need a decent amount of money to pay for it. What happens in a few years time when ubisoft decides it's no longer financially viable to keep the servers up and running? Would they be like EA and turn the servers off?
 
Ubisoft gives us three selling points:
-No need for a cd in your drive
-Install on an unlimited amount of pc's
-Cloud saving

The first two are DRM themselves. No pirate ever has to insert his dvd or limit his installs. The last one is already promised by Steam. Benefit? None.

Offering us a product that is worse then a free, pirated copy is just a terrible idea. You should be giving your customers value above the pirated copies. Give us online leaderboards, high score tables, free DLC, match making,...
 
Zaeni said, "What happens in a few years time when ubisoft decides it's no longer financially viable to keep the servers up and running? Would they be like EA and turn the servers off?"

I could be wrong, but I believe these servers authenticate all the games Ubisoft sells with this DRM. There are not separate auth servers for each game. So as long as they keep selling games with this DRM, the servers will stay up. In fact, in order to keep running them, they likely need to keep selling games with this DRM.
 
There's a rather lengthy history of media companies abandoning their current form of online-based DRM and leaving customers who bought into it hanging out to dry.

And, as many people have pointed out, just because it's in the EULA doesn't mean it's legal. And just because it's legal doesn't mean it's appropriate or helpful in the long term, either. Currently we're in a stage where a lot of laws that weren't intended to apply to modern products are being hacked around to fit them, and there's a good bit of effort on behalf of those doing the hacking to gain as much advantage out of the process as possible.

That might be legal, but it doesn't mean it SHOULD be legal, or won't appear as a colossal mistake in the long run.

(Personally I'm extremely unlikely to buy a Ubisoft game at this point, no matter how good it is. I can live without a good game, and I find the trend they're leading extremely disturbing.)
 
WOW tobold did you compare a 50 dollar car rental to a piece of software you buy install and give up all rights to any type of compensation if it blows up your computer?

No the Software industry , just like the video and music industries are equally responsible for the piracy they freak out about. Every honest customer they inconvienence is a potential new pirate.

And most of the pirates originally were people that didn't have the money and wouldn't have bought it anyway. They've just made it easier for those that have money to play that game.

Its a negative sum game no matter how you play it. Anything a programmer can code, another programmer can crack. Even Wow has unauthorized servers out there for those that want to steal it.

And they do fine. It all goes back to quality. Do the game right and they'll make money. Do it halfway and they'll lose money.

Its the same with studios. They have the same broken business model for all thier movies and they scream because 80 percent of the junk they make doesn't make money. Its because them movies are junk and they invest too much money in them. The movies they do right make a lot of money even with pirates.
 
I'm going to call bullshit here

And I'm calling bullshit on your bullshit: I am simply reporting things how they are, and the legal situation as can be verified by reading the fine print of the various end user license agreements of games and other software. What you THINK how the law SHOULD be, or what some people do, has absolutely no relevancy on how the law really IS. Holding a disc with software in hand does *not* make you the legal owner of that software. Unless you programmed it yourself, you don't own any of the software on your computer, you only acquired a license to limited usage rights.

Even in Germany, where the right to resell used software is in the law and can't be overridden by license agreements, courts recently accepted that customers lose that right to resale for products with an online account.

The point of my post is not to defend that, but to tell you that you should use your brain to FIRST find out what you are actually paying money for, and THEN decide whether you want to buy this under these conditions. Different software comes with different licensing agreements and different restrictions, and it is naive to base your understanding of what you are paying for on some vague notions of what you would consider fair. You need to consider both EULAs and national laws to find out what your rights actually are.
 
Please boycott this poor excuse of a company called Ubisoft. Their DRM scheme is insulting to anyone who's played a single player game in their life.
 
We should go back to code wheels for copy protection. That would be awesome.

I've thought for years that this was the only way to really prevent pirating of video games. The problem now is when ubisoft decides to turn off those servers 10 years from now, it'll mean the entire Ubisoft library will disappear from history unless some fan boys make some (also illegal) fan version of the game that doesn't require server authentication. While I don't especially like that, I do have to admit that I'm not sure if the absence of working copies of Settlers 7 from the historical record is really something to get too worried about.
 
I'm gonna take a swing and say it's not a particularly difficult patch for Ubisoft to release to turn off this DRM if/when the servers are shut down.

Is Settlers a more pirated than most franchise? I remember purchasing Settlers 3 and having the garbage DRM prevent my trees from growing -- and customer service had no idea how to fix it. That franchise always seems to be coming up with goofball DRM for their games ahead of other companies.

Also -- for any American veteran fans of the Settlers franchise (before it became every other RTS) go with Dawn of Discovery. It's not quite the same, but it's very faithful to the econo-centric thrust of the early Settlers games.
 
A product that is offered for rental needs to be clearly stated as rental.

When you buy a game it does not say RENT this game. It says BUY this game. Of course after you bought it the publisher would love nothing more than turn what you bought into something that you rent. That is the gist of the issue here.

When games are listed not for sale but for long term rental there then there will be be no question about the ethics of it all.

When do you think this will happen? Exactly.
 
Just wanted to chime in on:

"There is quite a war waging there, with hackers saying they cracked Ubisoft's copy protection scheme, and Ubisoft claiming that the hacked versions are incomplete."

There are no fully cracked versions of any of Ubisoft's games using this new DRM scheme. A "scene" group, Skidrow, released a crack of Silent Hunter 5 the day after its release but the crack was partial at best, allowing players to roam about in an empty world but nothing more.

Gaming news sites have been irresponsible in their coverage of this because of the repeated suggestion that Ubisoft's DRM has been and was fully cracked from day one. So much of the vitriolic backlash to the DRM is informed by the "fact" that the DRM, draconian as it is, still didn't stop the pirates. It did stop the pirates. It's still stopping them.
 
>A product that is offered for rental needs to be clearly stated as rental.

It does. Don't read many EULAs, do you? They typically say 'you own the CD, but nothing else. You don't own the code, our servers, or any of your saved games/characters you store on our servers.'

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what you say, because you SAYING it's wrong or illegal doesn't MAKE it illegal. If you really think it's so wrong, hire a lawyer and see how far you get.
 
My main reason for disliking this always online DRM is because there are many circumstances where I'm not always online while playing a single player game.

If I game on my laptop I shouldn't be able to access my games while on the move? In a car, bus, plane, whatever?

Free Public Wi-Fi isn't as wide spread in the US as it is in the UK, so this type of DRM would make my gaming laptop near useless.

What if I live out in a rural area and don't have a stable connection or no connection at all? So I don't get to play videogames then?

Again, in the US in some regions including Florida where I live, there are very few options for internet service. I lived about half an hour from Orlando, one of the largest cities in Florida and when I lived there the only option for internet I had was a Sat connection that was incredibly expensive. So I shouldn't be able to play games because of some arbitrary decision by a company to support the area I live in?

What happens in 5 years when Ubisoft shuts down those Settler 7 servers Tobold? Maybe you never go back and play older games, but I and many others certainly do. I find it really annoying knowing that in a few years I'm going to have to search for a crack just to play my games.

I don't mind Ubisoft protecting their invesments. They have all the right in the world to do so. My only complaint is how they implemented this DRM. This always online DRM will end up hurting more legit customers then it will pirates. At the very least Ubisoft could offer an option for an offline play mode, much like Steam does for Steam games.
 
"I'm gonna take a swing and say it's not a particularly difficult patch for Ubisoft to release to turn off this DRM if/when the servers are shut down."

The problem with this is why exactly would Ubisoft do that? Why would they waste man hours and resources on making a patch for a 5 year old game? Call me cynical, but I seriously doubt they would go back and release a patch for any of their games once they stop supporting them.
 
I'm calling bullshit on your calling bullshit on his calling bullshit.

First, the previous comment was correct, many EULAs and TOSs are not legally enforceable. They may help prevent litigation, and even may stand up against weak cases. But a clear cut violation of laws or rights will overturn the vast majority of EULA\TOSs. Especially the ones that you agree to by opening the box. What the fuck? I agreed to it and I haven't seen it?

Second, you say that we are all renting all the games we play. This is 100% not true. You may only be buying the license for WoW, Settlers 7, and similar games; but most games are not sold in that manner. NO console game is sold like that, and not all PC games are sold like that.

When you buy a game, you are purchasing a packaged piece of code that has an intended purpose. Just because someone else made it, doesn't mean it's still there. To use your car example, does the artist that created the design for the car own the car? No, the manufacturer does, then the dealer does, then the owner does. Even when you rent a car, the company renting owns the vehicle, not the creator.

Lastly, my own personal opinion is in line with others here. We accept that we have to connect to play WoW, Counterstrike, etc.; they are online games. We don't complain that we have to pay the phone bill when we make a call.

But one of the advantages of single player games is that they are standalone. You don't need people, a connection(cough, ahem), or a schedule. You have a few minutes, you play.

Connecting to the DRM server provides me with no benefits whatsoever. In fact, it may incur more costs for me. What about Joe Farmer in farmland where there is no connection. (A lot of my country) He shouldn't be allowed to play single player games because there is no network infrastructure where he lives?

Even with the rental type attitude, it's still fucking stupid.

Would you accept having to call the movie studio every time you watched a movie? Would you even accept having to be connected to the internet? Because this is the precedent they are setting.
 
I expect you will get many comments like mine decrying Ubisoft's protection scheme:

I quite simply won't buy a Ubisoft game with this scheme included. My principle reason for buying a single player game is so that I can play when I'm offline. If I'm online I play an online game.
 
@Mike

Fair enough. In five years the online/offline distinction will be meaningless and this sort of response will be laughable.
 
Sean - That's a huge assumption 5 years. As someone in the IT industry, with a firm understanding of networking and it's challenges that will not happen. Even with the FCC's broadband plan, it's still going to be a minimum(even this is a liberal minimum) of 10 years before you see internet to every door, or in every locale. Never mind the outer reaches of European countries, all of Africa, a lot of South America, and half of Asia. And with Asia, there is no guarantee that in 5 years they will have access to non-Asian servers, if China continues it's Imperial March.
 
@ Tobold's last post

I don't think you understand how purchasing video games or how property law works. If reselling titles was illegal OR actually enforceable (as techdeft said, they aren't), Gamestop would have been sued into oblivion by now.

Lawyers write down every reservation under the sun in an effort to establish a history/precedent, but under the law, you aren't bound by every provision in a contract _just_ because you opened a box or digitally purchased a game.

The point is when you _buy_ a product, it's yours, not theirs, and you should be able to do with it what you want. Why accept a feudalization of software?
 
It's also a huge assumption that in five years the internet usage relationship will change. People who were skeptical about certain aspects of the automobile were mocked by others saying that everyone will have one. Well, there are a lot of people in major metropolitan areas that don't use cars and use alternatives to the automobile due to cost.

Predicting the future is dangerous and unhelpful in this case as the comments aren't directed at how they will be acting in 5 years. They are talking about the here and now.
 
Second, you say that we are all renting all the games we play. This is 100% not true. You may only be buying the license for WoW, Settlers 7, and similar games; but most games are not sold in that manner. NO console game is sold like that, and not all PC games are sold like that.

All big PC titles have such a "this software is licensed not sold" clause. See for example The Sims 3. And this PS3 console game proves that your statement that console games don't have such a clause is not true. Just because you didn't SEE the EULA doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Is the EULA enforceable? That depends where you live, not just which country, but even where exactly you live in the USA. And even if you live somewhere where the EULA isn't enforceable, you can still get in trouble with the law if you for example break the encryption to copy the game, due to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act

I quite simply won't buy a Ubisoft game with this scheme included.

That is a valid and reasonable reaction. Loudly singing "nanananana, I close my eyes and thus make software license agreements disappear" isn't, because ignorantia juris non excusat.
 
"The grown-up thing to do is to consider how much that copy protection system really hurts you, based on your experience with internet outages with other games, and to factor that into your buying decision"

That does disqualify it for the "game to buy for when the Internet is down" category. It could still be bought for the "tuesday maintenance window" category.
 
Cell companies in the United States are now starting to roll out their 4G service, with most planning to have that fully implemented by the end of 2011. WiMax, LTE, Cable, DSL, Fiber, and government sponsored broadband service including all of the above will spread basic broadband access to nearly everyone in the US in the near future. How near is near is open for debate and I am not qualified enough to argue for any time period, five years or otherwise. I'm optimistic though that technology and the access to it will increase exponentially.
 
Funnily I just noticed that some of the commenters here who claim that "EULAs are not enforceable" are the same people that commented "you shouldn't buy gold in WoW because the EULA forbids it" in a previous thread. So, EULAs should only apply if *you* agree with what they say?
 
Tobold, did you read the whole Software agreement?

Yes, you are absolutely right, you refuted my pseudo-fact that console games do not have restrictive licenses.

However, according to that license, it's illegal to play multiplayer. Doesn't that void the contract right there, by writing a contract that specifies that one of the intended uses is a breach of contract.

And yes, because I did not see the EULA it does it exist. If the packaging has no indication of a contract, the game has no confirmation of the contract, and I am not informed of the contract at the point of sale, how am I supposed to be aware of the contract.

A lawyer saying, "They should have read every page of included documentation to look for licenses that specify somewhat unusual terms," is not going to stand up in court.

Additional, if you read about "ignorantia juris non excusat." You will find that it applies to laws, not contracts, and that even within laws there are some exceptions to this rule.

Also, "Some modern criminal statutes contain language such as stipulating that the act must be done "knowingly and wittingly" or "with unlawful intent," or some similar language."

That would indicate that(if a court even allowed you to call the concept up as a point to prosecute) you would have to be copying the game, or some other similarly nefarious activity, before they could claim that ignorance wasn't an excuse.

All this brings us away from the point that even if you as a company feel DRM is necessary, why would you want to limit your sales to customers who can't afford or have access to the internet?
 
"why would you want to limit your sales to customers who can't afford or have access to the internet"

Rightly or wrongly the people who can't afford the internet are assumed not to be able to afford the game either. Yeah, $50 once is a lot more affordable then $50/month, but since the internet is so generally useful, it is not unreasonable to assume that the majority of people that can't pay for the internet also can't pay for a game.

Rightly or wrongly it is also assumed that "not many" people have no access to the internet. If the game plays over dialup this is likely even correct, if you can't get dial up internet you don't likely have power either. (yes there are exceptions, you could have a nice low power laptop and a solar panel...).

The cruel truth is you can leave money on the table from some set of people and still make more money with copy protection... IF the pile of money from folks that can't or won't buy your product because of the copy protection is bigger then the pile of money from the folks that would have casually stolen it, and now won't.

That isn't a happy fact. It isn't a win-win.


(it also isn't a "fact" that this particular copy protection has converted more casual pirates into payers then it has converted buyers into inconvenienced non-buyers...we don't have numbers we can use to figure this out, only feelings)
 
Interesting to see that a lot of discussion is about the legality or even the 'fairness' of a EULA, when this whole online DRM thing makes a lot of stuff in the EULA no longer important.

In the EULA they state you may not resell the software. Sure, you can start a lawsuit for that, or just simply ignore it. But now the whole software is constantly monitored online. Now it's simply impossible to resell the software, because it is bound to your PC, or some online user account. So now they could remove the restriction out of the EULA. It's no longer a question if that part of the EULA is enforcable, they just made the thing it tried to prevent impossible.

You can still argue if it's fair or not, but I think the whole legal side of the discussion was just taken out of the equation.
Same thing for disc copy protection. Now you need to be online and 'authenticated' to play, they probably don't care how many times you copy that disc. It's worthless. Another legal discussion solved.

The only way to fight this (if you'd want to) is with your wallet. Don't buy the game. Simple.
 
I'm not going to get into the overall conversation about DRM/Copy Protection, but I will say this.

User agreements are not anything more than a piece of paper (electronic or not) until tested in a court of law. In fact there are many instances of portions of user agreements being invalidated when tested in court.

You have your interpretation about "over-inflated sense of entitlement" and many other people have theirs.
 
86 F.3d 1447 (1996)
ProCD, INCORPORATED, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Matthew ZEIDENBERG and Silken Mountain Web Services, Inc., Defendants-Appellees.

No. 96-1139.
United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit.

Argued May 23, 1996.
Decided June 20, 1996.
 
At some point in the near future, Ubisoft will determine that the costs of running activation servers destroys the profit from their PC sales. When they realize that they aren't making a profit, those servers are going down faster than the Hindenberg in a hurricane.

No, they will not release a patch for every game. They didn't make any promises, and this is not about you, this is about Ubisoft and big piles of MONEY!

So if you have a company that guarantees nothing, yet wants you to plunk down the full 60 dollars (or worse, 60 Euros!) it's an easy decision for me. If a game company won't give me old-school "ownership", then they gotta come down on the price.

I thought this was an easy decision for everybody. If we don't say NO to this with our wallets then we deserve to be raped at the cash register.

When you guy a Ubisoft game, God clubs a baby seal with a kitten.
 
I can understand protection schemes used to make it harder for people to pirate a game.

Problem is that someone is going to figure out how to pirate a game, regardless of the protection used.

There is someone already playing this game, offline, without purchasing the game.

That said, the only people who are disadvantaged and "hurt" by the copy protection scheme are the people who actually bought a copy of the game.

I buy any game I can from Steam, but I don't have to be online to play it. I'd never buy a game, especially a single player game, that requires a constant internet connection. I might as well do it right and get an online multiplayer game if I'm already bothering with a game that required an internet connection.

Developers should realize that every copy protection scheme they come up with will be broken. Requiring an internet connection to play is ridiculous...but needing one to KEEP playing after Ubisoft has declared that you aren't a criminal is just dumb.

There are an infinite amount of better ways to attempt copy protection without requiring a constant internet connection. If they choose not to do so, then that is there fault. All criticism is rightfully due to their lousy copy protection that treats anyone who plays the game as a possible criminal.
 
All criticism is rightfully due to their lousy copy protection that treats anyone who plays the game as a possible criminal.

I so hate my neighbor, who treats me like a possible criminal by keeping his apartment door and his car locked. Damn him, and everybody who protects himself against real criminals! Any such sort of self protection should be outlawed, I say! By the way, where do you live, and what car do you drive?
 
Wowsers, that was a lot to read!

Tobold, you are doing a great job on some of your posts, especially with the rebuttals. Some people just don't get the idea that just because a person is stating a fact, does not mean that the person agrees with it.

I will not be buying any Ubisoft products, if I can help it...sometimes the name you hate is not the name at fault. For instance, you might hate Amp energy drinks and choose to not support that kind of food product, but you also then have to avoid all Mountain Dew products and even Pepsi products (and perhaps another, bigger umbrella name). So, Ubisoft may not be the only thing here you need to boycott.

Other things to watch out for if you are against this online requirement crap:

Blue Ray discs, the players that play them and Sony and any of Sony's other products and brands. Why? Because you have to (or will have to, I'm not sure because I don't have one)verify the legitimacy of the Blue Ray disc player online on a regular basis in order to play the discs.

Also, if the Digital Millenium Copyright Act can not protect a university professor from opening up a game console to show his class how it works, what does that say about the one that you purchased and your "ownership" of it?

I sense that a lot of people have not been paying attention to the changing landscape of law and technology.
 
Some people just don't get the idea that just because a person is stating a fact, does not mean that the person agrees with it.

And some of us see that point, and like to play devils advocate anyway. If we all agree all the time, the discourse is meaningless.
 
@hound
I dunno man, persistence such as this suggests tacit acceptance or approval. I haven't seen any "btw guyz I dun like this either" anywhere.


I so hate my neighbor, who treats me like a possible criminal by keeping his apartment door and his car locked. Damn him, and everybody who protects himself against real criminals! Any such sort of self protection should be outlawed, I say! By the way, where do you live, and what car do you drive?

This metaphor is bad and incorrect. DRM is the criminal equivalent of your neighbor putting ankle bracelets on everyone else in town so he can make sure no one else steps on his azalea plants. I have a right to protect myself from others intruding, I don't have a right to intrude on everyone else.
 
I dunno man, persistence such as this suggests tacit acceptance or approval. I haven't seen any "btw guyz I dun like this either" anywhere.

I dunno man, your persistence suggests that you are a software pirate. I haven't seen any "btw guyz I dun like software piracy" anywhere from you.
 
I so hate my neighbor, who treats me like a possible criminal by keeping his apartment door and his car locked. Damn him, and everybody who protects himself against real criminals! Any such sort of self protection should be outlawed, I say! By the way, where do you live, and what car do you drive?

That's a totally spurious analogy and I think you know it.

A neighbor or anyone, for that matter, keeping their door locked is a way for them to keep themselves and their property protected. They aren't necessarily worried about YOU, they are worried about people who may steal from them.

Ubisoft, on the other hand, checks to make sure that you aren't a thief EVERY TIME YOU PLAY THE GAME. So lets take a second and go through this. You decide you want to play a game. You connect through the internet, where Ubisoft generously declares that you aren't a thief. You play for an hour, and take a few hours break. Then you decide to play, and have to be declared by Ubisoft AGAIN that you aren't a thief.

Again and again and again.

Seriously, how many times must someone be declared not a criminal before they are allowed to enjoy their property?

If someone had to log on ONE time to activate their game, I'd find it perfectly adequate and called for.

But to require someone who has bought your product AND VERIFIED that they own a legit copy constantly check in with you to make sure you actually bought it... AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN...is just dumb.



How would you feel if every time you wanted to sit on your couch, chair, bed, etc, you had to call up the place where you bought it and read to them a special code that proves you bought the couch and didn't steal it?

That'd be dumb as hell, right?

Thats exactly what Ubisoft is doing now.

You can say that its an electronic product, so they have the ability to do it, and have given themselves the right to do it through their EULA/TOS.

Well, just because the power exists doesn't make it right. Unless you're a huge fan of 1930's Germany.

Hey Tobold;

You can scoff at my analogy of having to call up a furniture company every time you want to use furniture, but if the furniture company had the power to make you do exactly that, would it be OK since they are just protecting their property...like Ubisoft?

Just because they have the ability to constantly check up on their customers doesn't make it right. And I think you know that, regardless of where you find yourself on the sliding scale.
 
@techdeft

You realize that even with your lengthy posts, you come across as having no actual foundation or evidence to back up your claims?

In addition, you seem to continually miss what Tobold's point actually is.

I see you mentioned that you did not "see the EULA". I don't know what games you are buying, but every single computer game I have ever played has had an unavoidable part of installation that requires you to say "Yes, I have read the EULA" to continue.

And although console games often have the EULA in the manual instead, it is of absolutely no consequence legally that it is not forced upon you.

It is the responsibility of the user to read and accept the terms and conditions. Failure to do so does not in fact grant you exemption as you claim. There is no defence in court that "I didn't read the laws on murder" that gets you a get out of jail free card. The fact you claim this destroys whatever credibility you had left after all your other outlandish claims.

YES, you do "own" the physical disc that your game is on. You "own" the right to play the game on the disc.

However, you do not own the "game" itself. As in the software itself that is on the disc. In the legal sense, if you "owned" it, you would have the right to sell it and copy it, etc.

You are confusing ownership and what basically is a license to play the copy on the disc.
 
You do have the right to sell your licenced and physical media of software, regardless of what EULA claims there are.

There's a reason why the industry has moved to tying one-time codes and online account activations tied to your copy of the game, it cuts down on their percieved loss of sales through 2nd hand sales which have always been the right of consumers as tested in the courts. However the courts have also upheld the publishers right to tie these accounts and codes to their games so if you don't agree with them, you simply need to not buy or support the company engaging in that practice.. which also includes DRM.

The problem, especially with Settlers 7, is when these companies don't disclose the fact they've crippled the software with these limits or DRM until after you've opened and installed the software and can no longer return it for a refund.

Also if you check the fine print on the Settlers agreement in some of the product info online, Ubisoft reserves the right to terminate all online services and access for Settlers with a 30 day prior notice..
 
Sure, it's just like renting a car... if you're paying the full purchase price just in order to rent it. If Ubisoft were making its games cheaper to compensate for non-resaleability and reduce usability, then your analogy might be a better fit.
 
Whats it with all that EULA stuff?
Its not like EULAs are even legal outside the american continent because a license (contract) is only legal if you can read and sign it before putting your signature on it (buy it).

Anything after that is not legal if it impacts the proper and expected usage of a product and you are entitled to full refund in most countries legally in such a case independent if your retailer wants to or not.

So if a new DRM is put out and it only mentions on the box that it contains DRM for example but comes with a fullscale online requirement DRM, then thats actually breach of contract from their end.

There was one game before that was cloud saving and pure online connected playable before and it flopped terrible actually although being a great RTS, that was Worldshift
 
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