Ubisoft's Anti-Piracy Solution? Authenticate Online, Every Time

Assassin's Creed 2

Ubisoft's new PC-oriented anti-piracy scheme, which builds on a perpetual Internet authentication angle, sounds like a train wreck of an idea to me, speaking as a guy who frequently travels and therefore games without Internet access.

Per GameSpy, it seems Ubisoft's anti-piracy comeback after using controversial digital rights management "solutions" like StarForce is to simply funnel everyone through its Ubi.com online accounts system. Want to play an Ubisoft game? That'll be your username, password, and an Internet connection, please!

First, the purported upsides:

You can, reportedly:

1. Run games without the disc in the drive.

2. Install them on as many PCs as you own.

Like Direct2Drive. Or Impulse. Or GamersGate. You know, guys who've been around for the last decade or so.

Of course unlike D2D, Impulse, or GG, you'll have to authenticate post-install, each time you want to access a Ubisoft game. Sound like someone else we know? Yep, Ubisoft's essentially cloning Steam while limiting its play catalogue to the Ubi-verse.

For the record, I'm not opposed, in principle, to swapping credentials online for permission to play. I just find myself gaming increasingly on a laptop and often removed from online (or reliable online) access.

Hey Ubisoft, what about planes (well off from universally wireless, much less reliably so)? Buses? Trains? In the back seats of cars? Recreational vehicles? On camping trips? What about moving, where you're off access for days or sometimes weeks waiting on a local provider to turn up service?

Personal anecdote: My wife's folks have been without power for the last six days in northwest Iowa. They have a generator. Computers work fine on generator power, but broadband modems? Generally speaking, not so much.

Internet authentication makes sense for games played primarily online. Maybe in the future everything's an MMO, in which case you lose your internet access, you simply don't game. I probably wouldn't play games anymore were that the case, but there you go.

I guess Ubisoft's marketing department's crunched the numbers and came away concluding most people won't mind, and you know what? They're probably right. They say "most people" don't even realize they aren't getting HD feeds to their HDTVs. The chances the average PC gamer's going to pitch a fit? I'd love to be wrong, but I'd say pretty much zero.

If you can't figure out how to sell PC games without punishing segments of your audience, please stop making them. The segments in question won't miss you...or they'll simply play your games on another platform.

Poll time.

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