Ubisoft’s crazy DRM: Cracked on launch day?

A new type of digital rights management from Ubisoft, which requires a constant Internet connection to play games, may have already been cracked.

One of the first games to use this DRM, Silent Hunter 5, was released on Tuesday. TorrentFreak reports that the game appeared on file-sharing sites, sans-DRM, just hours later.

Ubisoft's crazy DRM: Cracked on launch day?

Ubisoft denies that the cracked version is fully-functional. “You have probably seen rumors on the web that Assassin’s Creed II and Silent Hunter 5 have been cracked,” the publisher said in a statement to several Web sites. “Please know that this rumor is false and while a pirated version may seem to be complete at start up, any gamer who downloads and plays a cracked version will find that their version is not complete.”

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Ubisoft didn’t explain the problems illegal downloaders could run into. PC World says that the game’s initial check for connectivity has indeed been bypassed, but later checks could prevent the game from running flawlessly.

The new method of DRM has been panned in the press and by gamers for its stringent demands. A constant Internet connection is required to play new and upcoming Ubisoft games. If the connection drops, player can’t continue until Internet is restored. Unlike the download service Steam, which also uses Internet authentication, there’s no offline mode whatsover.

Criticism has done little to sway Ubisoft, which insists that its DRM is a good thing because it lets players install the game on an unlimited number of computers and doesn’t require a disc (of course, a pirated copy has the same advantages). It also allows players to save games on Ubisoft’s servers so they can resume progress on another computer, but the benefits of that feature compared to the DRM’s overall drawbacks are debatable.

For Assassin’s Creed II, Ubisoft at least relented on one gripe: the game will no longer wipe out players’ unsaved progress if their Internet connection is lost. Instead of returning players to the last checkpoint, they’ll pick up where they left off. The game will still pause if the connection is lost, however, so this concession will do little to stop the rage directed at Ubisoft, and the demand for pirated versions of their games.

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