Gamers were in uproar when they downloaded Ubisoft’s god game From Dust only to discover that the game’s DRM (digital rights management) software meant they had to be online to authenticate the game… not just once but every single time they wanted to play.
Yesterday, Ubisoft responded to the backlash by saying that it would be removing the DRM from the game entirely and that a patch would be soon forthcoming to do this. On top of this, Rock Paper Shotgun is reporting that Steam itself is now offering refunds to PC gamers that are unhappy with the DRM and don’t want to wait for the patch.
The site reports that people who have bought the game are being sent emails from Valve stating, “Ubisoft has just announced that they are working on a patch that will eliminate the need for any online authentication for From Dust. The patch will release in approximately two weeks. If you don’t want to wait for the patch or if you haven’t played the game, per Ubisoft’s request, we will issue refunds for this title. If you would still like your purchase of From Dust refunded, please reply to this ticket.”
Usually Steam has a blanket ‘no refunds’ policy so it’s an interesting instalment in the story. The email makes it sound as if the request has come directly from Ubisoft, no doubt scrambling to stem the flow of bad publicity.
Originally, Ubisoft had sought to reassure gamers with a post in the official From Dust forum which stated, “From Dust PC will release with DRM requiring a one-time only online activation.” This post has now been removed and replaced with one that says, “We recognise that one of our posts in the From Dust forum regarding the need for authentication in the game was not clear. We sincerely apologise for the misunderstanding.” The company has stated that a patch will be available within approximately two weeks.
Although publishers claim they need to use DRMs to cut back on piracy it’s supposed to stop piracy, they often make lives inconvenient for gamers, by, for example, making them have a copy of the game disc to hand before they can play, entering codes and requiring them to always be online to play offline games. If you have an Internet connection, you’ll know that it sometimes goes down, and to then have to restart your game is incredibly frustrating. It’s also annoying to have to be tied to the Internet – what about if you wanted to play a game on a long journey, for example?
Less than a month ago, Ubisoft was singing the praises of its restrictive DRM system in Driver: San Francisco to PC Gamer, telling them that it had resulted in “a clear reduction in piracy of our titles which required a persistent online connection” and said that it considered it to be “a success”. It has also now been announced that Driver: San Francisco will be patched to remove the system and will now only require users to be online one-time to activate the game.
Capcom had to also bid an embarrassing retreat from using a similar DRM system in Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition. Gamers were only able to play a kind of demo version of the game, with a small selection of characters, whilst offline.
What do Kit Guru readers think about DRM? A necessary evil to help stamp out piracy or an unnecessary inconvenience for legitimate gamers?