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DRMageddon continues *UPDATED*
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DRMageddon continues *UPDATED*

by Andrew BryantMarch 7, 2010

We said it would certainly happen…

They claimed it wouldn’t…

It has!

It’s surprising how little experience counts these days.  We’re all aware of Steam (for those that missed it, it’s a massive digital download service that has a huge multi-national distributed network and is owned by Valve, who are gods amongst developers).  We are also well aware that it cannot cope with the release of a new, big title.

Half-Life 2, Left 4 Dead, Modern Warfare 2, Mass Effect 2…  All titles that have brought the service to its knees come release day when everyone and their dog, grandmother, fathers cousins sisters brothers former room-mate AND kitchen sink attempts to unlock the latest greatest.  Most of the time this is because everyone is simultaneously slamming the few authentication servers out there.

What tiny miniscule chance did Ubisoft really have?

Back in January, Ubisoft unveiled the PC gaming anti-christ – an always-on persistent DRM that phoned home to the Ubisoft Mothership every second of play.  Like a small puppy, if it couldn’t find the virtual teat, it was designed to just panic & shut down until order was restored.

Roll forward to 2nd March – Silent Hunter 5 was released with this guff DRM and the world shrugged – a few principled people didn’t buy it for the DRM whilst a boatload of others didn’t buy it because the WW2 Realistic Submarine Simulator genre is a bit too specific for their tastes.  A crack group claimed to have a working copy out, but when people tried to play copies, it turned out there weren’t any missions to play, presumably because they’re streamed off some magical server.  A broken release of Assassins Creed 2 also released and considered nuked.

DRM 1 – Pirates 0

March 5th – Assassins Creed 2 released for PC in Europe.  Shit hits fan.

DRM 1 – Pirates 4857393 – Paying customers – 999999999999999999999999999999999999

The following was quoted by the Ubisoft UK Community Manager in response to the massive uproar by disgruntled customers following a mass server outage today (7th).

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.

I’ll do what I can to get more information on what the issue is here first thing tomorrow and push for a resolution and assurance this won’t happen in the future. I realise that’s not ideal but there’s only so much I can do on a weekend as I’m not directly involved with the server side of this system.

…followed by this clarification…

Due to exceptional demand, we are currently experiencing difficulties with the Online Service Platform. This does not affect customers who are currently playing, but customers attempting to start a game may experience difficulty in accessing our servers. We are currently working to resolve this issue and apologize for any inconvenience.

It beggars belief that a company with a fraction of the products or distributed servers as the largest online game distribution server would even consider for a moment that their servers would be able to hold up against the mass onslaught of paying customers.

Regardless of whether piracy has been solved or not, how in the name of all that is just can this treatment be justified?

Ahh well, no doubt they’ll have a patch out soon enough!

**UPDATE**

Ubisoft released word (and unfortunately, nothing *but* their word) stating that the downtime was caused by a DDoS attack on their authentication servers.  Whether this is true or not, it raised the concern that there’s a chink in the systems armour.

Hopefully, more server capacity will be added for new releases ASAP.  Ideally, the system will be removed soon.

I know which one is more likely to happen, but I can dream can’t I?

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About The Author
Andrew Bryant
The resident PC elitist fanatic enthusiast, Andrew’s grim outlook on the industry provides CNS with a hefty dollop of its news content. Oh, and he has managed to convince Barry to let him review stuff too! Hilarity ensues!

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