Ubisoft’s Authentication Servers Go Down

I have been following Ubisoft’s new DRM scheme as it has unfolded. The new wrinkle they are trying is to require a relatively persistent network connection. The downsides of this are pretty obvious. Slashdot was among the first to report today that the authentication servers have gone down, thus depriving owners of legitimate copies access to their games. For the pirates, this DRM scheme has already been cracked so this is a pretty clear and provable case of DRM harming users and not even inconveniencing pirates.

The Register has some details on why the servers went down. This is apparently an intentional act, a protest of the new DRM. I suspect this will cancel out the attack’s intended effect, that Ubisoft will write it off as atypical rather than a poor design or operational choice. They fact that they appear to be downplaying the effect, too, as the article notes, tends to support that hypothesis.

I remain unconvinced that DRM has any effect on outright thieves. To the extent that no-sales reduce revenue to the point where creators choose not to create, I think there have to be better solutions. And I don’t necessarily think no-sales have such an impact on the bottom line though I am open to empirical evidence otherwise.

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