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Ubisoft: Less Intrusive DRM Needed, Added Value To Make DRM Go Away

Posted by: , 14:42 AEDT, Sun March 25, 2012

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Ubisoft, surprisingly, says that intrusive DRM (like the kind it has been using and promoting) isn't the way forward, and that adding value to the legitimate gaming experience will make the need for DRM "go away"
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Ubisoft has surprised everyone by acknowledging restrictive and cumbersome DRM, the one that the company has used time and time again, is not the way forward when it comes to IP protection for games.

In an interview with Eurogamer, Ubisoft's VP of Digital Publishing, Chris Early defended the need for game publishers to protect their assets, but also acknowledged that paying customers eventually bear the brunt of harsh DRM measures.

"Is it fair for someone to enjoy our content without us receiving some value for that? I think at the core of that is, no. Otherwise, other than works of charity, there would be few games made. The balance, however, is, how do we do anything about that and not harm the person who is giving us value for that?", said Early, before adding, "As we continue to keep our player at the centre, we want to find ways that don't inconvenience that player who is paying for it."

Ubisoft's controversial DRM schemes, dubbed "Ubi-DRM", required paying gamers to have a constant Internet connection to Ubisoft's authentications servers. A temporary mis-connection could mean that the player gets booted out of the game, even losing unsaved progress in some cases. On the other hand, pirates were able to strip the DRM away from the game and offer a non-intrusive version of the game, for free, usually only days after the game's release.

But Early says that the best solution forward may not be to escalate this DRM "arms race" against pirates, but rather, by adding more value to legally available package. And Early says if publishers can do it right, then the need for DRM naturally goes away.

"There have been different approaches from different publishers at times, some doing no DRM and just assuming it's the cost of doing business. Some are doing a very strict DRM. Some doing an on-going content revision. I don't think we have a single, good answer yet. The interesting thing will be, how do we create enough value that that need for DRM goes away?"

So how will Ubisoft "create enough value" going forward? Early says Ubisoft has to emulate the success of the MMO model, where users are happy to continue paying a monthly subscription, and where piracy is notoriously difficult due to the connected nature of the games. "The question is, with enough on-going content development, content release, engagement at the community level, can we create that kind of MMO value system? I think we can. As the rest of the game industry continues to evolve, the more you hear about cloud gaming, the more you hear about companion gaming, the less a pirated game should work in all of that environment. So, therefore the value of that pirated content becomes less," Early concluded.


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