Ubisoft Debuts Limited Hardware Activation DRM

UbisoftEarlier this week Guru3d, reported that they were in the midst of bench marking Ubisofts latest title Anno 2070 for a performance review, and as traditional in a performance review they needed to change the video card, generally with a high degree of frequency.

The game had been installed on one system with a AMD Radeon HD 7970 video card, then on another system with a Nvidia GTX 580, where they had no issues until they changed it to a GTX 590 and this prompted the game to require a reactivation. The Chief Editor for Guru3d Hilbert Hagedoorn, had this to say:

“This means that if we’d like to make a VGA performance review on Anno 2070 we’d need to purchase the game seven times. Ubisoft claims that you can send an email towards their support so that the activations are reset, we did so .. yet are still awaiting reaction. When contacting Ubisoft marketing here in the Netherlands, their reply goes like this: ‘Sorry to disappoint you – the game is indeed restricted to 3 hardware changes and there simply is no way to bypass that. We also do not have 7 copies of the game for you’. I’m sorry, but I am not about to purchase the title seven times to make a review that by default benefits Ubisoft sales.”

Analysis: Ubisoft has been a giving the PC gamer the finger with DRM for quite some time, I talked about how it has impacted their sales here at Gaming Bus last year. The problem with this kind of DRM is that something similar is being used by Microsoft for their Windows Product Activation. This became a major nuisance when Vista was first released, especially when just running a Windows Update could prompt a reactivation, some of these problems have been ironed out but it is still a headache for many the average Joe included. I can not tell you how many times I have been asked how to stop that from happening and all I can say is “Well were going to have to crack Windows to stop it because this is required by Microsoft.” This begins either a rant about how stupid it is or just them saying do it, either way it was ends the same we end up cracking Windows because it is a nuisance.

I know that there will be those who say “The average Joe doesn’t need to worry about this because they only have one machine, they don’t change hardware that often and they are not going to run into this problem.” I am not saying this is going to happen to every one, however I will say this: When you tie the amount activation’s of a product to hardware, a majority will run into this at one point or another. In the case of Windows I know that many legitimate retail and professional customers are cracking their OS, thus this is driving the need for a crack which unfortunately leads to others pirating it. The same pattern that will happen here with out a doubt in my mind. Therefore, in the long this will do nothing other than annoy their paying customers, again.


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