When I learned about the upcoming release of Ubisofts „Silent Hunter 5“ I was really looking forward to this game. One of the first games I ever bought for my brand new PC was Silent Service back in 1991 and since then I played nearly every submarine simulation I could get my hands on – even such awful ones as „Das Boot“ or „Wolfpack“. I fought Japanese vessels with American Gato class boats, sunk whole convoys with the (in)famous German type VII boats, softly whistled the Tipperary song while watching my prey through the periscope and got sunk by depth charges from nearly every country imaginable. In other words: I was not just „looking forward“, I was freaking exited!
I was perfectly ready to spend my money for this game, but just when I wanted to add the game to my shopping cart on Steam I found this unsettling notice that said „3rd-party DRM: Ubisoft’s Online Services Platform. Ubisoft requires a permanent Internet connection to play this video game at all times.“ within the product details. Wait, Ubisoft wants me to stay on-line while playing a single player game for the mere reason of enabling them to permanently monitor my usage of the game I bought?!?! If the game loses connection for whatever reason it will pause until E.T. is able to phone home?!?! They gotta be fucking kidding me!
Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely OK with the idea of protecting intellectual property – but I don’t think the legit customer should pay the bill while so called copyright pirates get to play the better game without all these silly restrictions. Steam for instance is a damn good example. You buy games on Steam, you add them to your account and you just play. You don’t have to care for discs being in the drive while you play, you don’t have to care for discs scratched or lost and you don’t have to care on how many computers you installed this in the past. You’re perfectly allowed to install your stuff on every computer in the whole, wide world. You log in, you download your stuff, you play. And if want to, you play off-line I might add.
How could anyone possibly imagine selling more by making the product less appealing?! If you guys don’t sell anything this is a matter of your products being just not good enough. Left 4 Dead 2, Mass Effect 2, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2… all these game sold a couple of million copies within weeks, the whole games industry showed a double-digit growth for years. Think about it guys! Seriously! Create games instead of DRM software. Only a game worth playing is a game worth buying!
Edit: Just wanted to add this enlightening article from 2008: It’s unlikely Ubisoft has learned any lesson