In an interview with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Ubisoft has announced that they will be turning the DRM dial down quite a bit. The always despised, “always-on” DRM will be completely thrown out. Things like limiting a game to the amount of times it can be installed or the amount of PCs it can be installed on are also being taken down. Ubisoft has always been the poster child for draconian DRM policies that are easily circumvented by pirates and typically become a huge bane to people who actually purchase the games.
“We have listened to feedback, and since June last year our policy for all of PC games is that we only require a one-time online activation when you first install the game, and from then you are free to play the game offline.”
What might make some do a double-take is that this policy has been in place since last June. Online activation isn’t asking for too much as long as the single player game is available offline later. This is not quite the luxury you will find with those who have decided to go with DRM-free policies, but its a great deal better than Blizzard’s latest take that games must always be online to be played.
Sadly, Ubisoft still has some way to go with appeasing PC gamers. They frequently delay the PC version of games for no apparent reason and usually port them very poorly at that. I personally instated a “no PC version” policy with any Ubisoft game some time ago and will probably stick to it for awhile. I honestly think they are just OK with that since its apparent they would rather me buy the Xbox or PS3 version, but considering that its pretty rare that I to get on my Xbox these days, they might want to reconsider. PC gaming is not dead, as has been said countless times over the last couple of years, but Ubisoft refused to listen until now. The trust between them and the consumer on the PC platform was a gulf too wide to cross for my taste. All I’m saying is the damage has already been severely done.
But this is a step in the right direction and I hope they continue to walk down the right path. I know its difficult to appease the PC gaming master race, but some of this stuff is pretty common sense: don’t bully your customers around, release at the same time as other platforms and throw in lots of advanced features for settings. That’s not asking a whole lot from a company that employs hundreds for just one game.