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Hardware Upgrades Not Welcomed By Ubisoft DRM, Ubi Says It's Normal

Posted by: , 20:43 AEDT, Tue January 24, 2012

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Ubisoft caught in new DRM controversy, as change of graphics card for the game Anno 2070 will mean using up one of only three reactivations

Ubisoft's use of the controversial Tages DRM became even more controversial, when popular video game website Guru3D found that changing the graphics card in your PC is enough to trigger the DRM and force you to reactivate the game. 

With Guru3D doing a review using the benchmarking performance of the Ubisoft game Anno 2070, the game was installed onto three different PCs, using up all the available activations that come with the game. But when the reviewer changed the graphics card in one of the test PCs to continue on with the testing, the DRM prevented the game from working, as a new activation was required, and all 3 had been used up already. Guru3D calculated that, at this rate, they would need 7 copies of the game to finish their review.

Many DRM work by generating an unique hash based on the hardware in your system, but most would allow for hardware upgrades, especially for something like a graphics card, that changes more frequently than other parts.

When game site Rock, Paper, Shotgun contacted Ubisoft to see if this was indeed a bug in their DRM, Ubisoft replied at first stating that this was in fact intentional. "On the rare occasion when a customer does need additional activations, Ubisoft customer service is available to quickly resolve the situation, and we encourage those customers to contact us directly so that we can ensure they are able to continue to enjoy their game," read Ubisoft's reply.

But when Guru3D tried to do just that, in order to continue testing, they were told a flat no by Ubisoft's marketing team in the Netherlands. "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," replied Ubisoft. Only when the developers of the game, BlueByte, intervened, did Ubisoft finally relent and unlocked Guru3D's key for Anno 2070, allowing them to finally finish testing.

With Guru3D posting their entire ordeal online, the subsequent public backlash eventually forced Ubisoft to reconsider their policies, by removing the graphics card from the list of hardware checked by the Tages DRM. 

An eventual victory for gamers, perhaps, but one that some would say should never have been needed.


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