By Jared Newman | Thursday, August 18, 2011 at 2:41 pm
Ubisoft already uses some of the worst digital rights management for its PC games, at times requiring a steady Internet connection to play, but this week the publisher made things worse with mixed messages to players.
PC gamers are upset with Ubisoft over its treatment of From Dust, a strategy game that launched last month for the Xbox 360 and this week for PC. On its forums, Ubisoft first said that the game wouldn’t require an online connection for each play session, as long as players signed in once after installing the game. But then, Ubisoft removed that forum post, and instead said players would have to connect to Ubisoft servers every time they fired up the game.
From Dust players are also reporting crashes, a lack of graphical customization settings and a limited frame rate of 30 frames per second, Rock Paper Shotgun reports. A Ubisoft forum moderator is telling players that they can pursue refunds.
For another one of its games, Driver: San Francisco, Ubisoft swung the other way, telling players that they won’t need a constant Internet connection to play, as originally announced. Instead, they’ll only have to sign in once per play session. That’s good news, but only adds to the confusion.
What Ubisoft really needs is some sort of clear, across the board policy for all of its PC titles. The problem is that Ubisoft probably wants to adjust its DRM strategy for each game based on the likelihood of piracy vs. the risk of alienating legitimate customers.
But that problem can be solved. Why not publish a firm timetable for DRM that becomes more relaxed as a game gets older? Why not, at the very least, announce a DRM policy months before launch and stick with it? Blizzard, by comparison, angered some PC gamers when it announced that it’ll require a constant Internet connection for Diablo 3, but at least the publisher is giving players plenty of advance notice. (The game doesn’t even have a release date yet.)
I’d say that Ubisoft should ditch draconian anti-piracy measures altogether, but the company is convinced that they work. (Ubisoft’s DRM curbs piracy, at least. Whether it improves sales is a lot tougher to measure.) Better communication and a bit of compromise would do a lot to pacify PC gamers.