Digital Wrongs Management

It’s Sunday and I thought I would get in some game time with my brand shiny new copy of Assassin’s Creed 2 (Deluxe edition, via Steam’s Summer Sale). I had a chance to play it a bit last night and….wow, AC 1 has nothing on this game.

To make a long story short, the game requires that you sign up with UPlay in order to play it (more on this in a sec), which is something like Ubisoft’s answer to Steam.

To make a long story short, I went to log in to my account, and it says I don’t have the right username and password, which would probably have been the case if I hadn’t changed it just then. I thought “Okay, maybe it needs time to work,” and tried again.

Zip. Zilch. Nada.

I checked the forums, and this is apparently a global issue. The end result is that I won’t be able to play Assassin’s Creed II until someone fixes this.

I don’t even know where to begin unpacking this situation. There is something incredibly broken about a system which requires that users log in to play a SINGLE-PLAYER game. All the files that are necessary to play the game in single-player mode should already be on my computer! I shouldn’t need to be online to play it, I could care less about online multiplayer. If that means I have to download extra files to do it, I will, my PC can handle it, and it’s not like mine’s the most recent one on the market.

Companies like Ubisoft claim that dick moves measures like these deter pirates. NO THEY DON’T! What they do is alienate paying customers who have LEGITIMATELY bought their products and just want to have a nice time running, climbing, jumping, and knifing Templars. It’s pretty much a guarantee that no matter how sophisticated your DRM is, within minutes some hacker with too much time on their hands will manage to crack it, and then you’re right back at square one. There will always be assholes who will opt to pirate games no matter what, the worst thing a gaming company can do is alienate paying customers by burdening them with draconian DRM. Will I think twice before buying another Ubisoft product? You bet!

Fortunately, some companies appear to be listening to users regarding this issue. The CEO of CD Projekt RED (makers of “The Witcher” and “The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings” had this to say about the use of DRM in their games:

“We release the game. It’s cracked in two hours, it was no time for Witcher 2. What really surprised me is that the pirates didn’t use the GOG version, which was not protected. They took the SecuROM retail version, cracked it and said ‘we cracked it’ — meanwhile there’s a non-secure version with a simultaneous release. You’d think the GOG version would be the one floating around.”

….

“DRM does not protect your game,” Iwinski told Joystiq after the presentation. “If there are examples that it does, then people maybe should consider it, but then there are complications with legit users.”

(Source: Link)

It remains to be seen whether the company will follow through on that promise, but they do have a reputation for being very nice to their fans. (A standard edition of The Witcher 2 came with the kind of goodies most companies include in collector’s editions, not to mention free DLC, free upgrades to the Enhanced Edition for those of us who bought the game early.) Also, The Witcher and its sequel are two of my favourite Western RPGs ever. Srsly, if you don’t mind nudity, swearing, and gore, go pick these games up, they’re great games, if a little immature when it comes to sexuality.

This problem isn’t just confined to video games, though. As great as ebooks are (and as someone with a physical disability, my ereader is much easier to carry around than a pile of paperbacks) they have some major limitations that aren’t an issue with print books. If I buy a print book, it’s mine. No one can break into my house and take it from me. I can write in the margins, lend it to a friend, give it away, sell it, do pretty much anything with it except copy large parts of it and stick it online.

If I purchase an ebook, on the other hand, certain services (Amazon Kindle most infamously) can pretty much go in and remotely delete copies of a book at will. I can read any of the books on my reader on any device I want, but since the books are “linked” to my account, I can’t lend out the book in the traditional sense, and I certainly can’t sell an ebook, nor can I scribble comments on my screen (not that I do that, it’s like defacing a work of art to me). On the upside, ebooks are generally cheap, but ereaders? Not so much. At least with print books, you can go to used bookstores, libraries, sales at regular bookstores. I would say if you can afford it, ereaders are definitely a worthwhile investment, but I might be saying that because the used bookstores in my area have horrendous prices (and have always had horrendous prices). Seriously, I know owners of used bookstores need to eat, but when I can get a brand new copy of a book on Amazon for a lower price than a copy at a used bookstore, why would I go for the one with creases and coffee stains and WRITING IN THE MARGINS! GAAAAH!

For more information on DRM as it relates to games, I’d recommend Extra Credits’ video on piracy. It says pretty much what I’ve been saying in this post. I ❤ Extra Credits!

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One thought on “Digital Wrongs Management

  1. I agree with the DRM on E-Books idiocy – I have a perfectly serviceable Palm Zire 72 – I has Docs-to-Go, which lets me read PDF’s – problem, my converter software that can switch between E-Pub, Mobi, PBD and a host of other formats can’t get around the DRM – so since I don’t have the money for a separate E-book reader, I’m down to two choices – read it on my PC – or forget about it all together

    Most times I opt for the second choice, as when I’m at my computer, I’m involved in other things and don’t have much spare time to read a book while there

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