Over the past week a news post of ours resulted in a lot of coverage on the web. Long story short -- while we where testing the RTS game Anno 2070 for PC (from Ubisoft) we ran into downright silly DRM copy protection issues. You may install Anno 2070 on three PCs as you get three activations. That's fair and OK we feel.
However we discovered that while swapping out NVIDIA graphics cards, each time after reinstalling a card the DRM kicked back in, rendering the game inactivated. Three strikes, an you are out.
Our news post on this went viral on the web and Ubisoft got a lot of heat due to this. After getting into contact with the game producer BlueByte our activation limitation was lifted.
By itself great, but then we ran into a judgment call we needed to make. Initially we had a hard time rethinking, should we even test Ubisoft titles anymore as the DRM protection is way too heavy. We've thought about it hard and long.
In our opinion not writing about something is the most bad thing you can do and as such we decided to continue with that article. By excluding Ubisoft from the benchmarks we'll never be able to address issues like this DRM story, and they'll continue what they are doing. In fact if we'd have excluded Ubisoft titles we never would have been able to report about this issue.
By posting an article and explaining/mentioning DRM time after time, there will be more awareness about it and in the end that message will get across to Ubisoft and the producer. In the hope that one day they'll see the light.
Secondly, BlueByte certainly do not deserve getting the heat that they do this way. This company together with the developer Ralated Designs makes such brilliant and very unique game titles. It would be such a shame if they'd get damaged in the process. I would not like to have that on our account.
That said and with the VGA performance review posted moments ago we received an email from BlueByte, the producer of the game with the following information:
Just wanted to let you know, that we now remove the graphics hardware from the hash used to identify the PC. That means everyone should now be able to switch the GFX as many times as he/she wants.
We are very happy to see that the activation scheme has been changed for anybody and everybody who purchased and is purchasing the game, you may now swap out as many graphics cards as you want. It doesn't mean though that you can change hardware (significant hardware like motherboards) more then three times. As that protection will still will apply.
But this certainly is progress, a small success really and we are happy to see that the game industry does listen towards their user-base. Overall though BlueByte and Ubisoft should have realized earlier on that this is just not the way to go.
DRM has become an annoyance factor for end-users. And though we agree there should be a certain level of game-copy protection, DRM has evolved way too much up-to a point where the publisher slowly but steadily moves into the same level as what they are fundamentally fighting, piracy and software pirates. And you as a consumer, should be protected from a publisher sniffing and checking your PCs hardware components and demanding that you are on-line to play a game.
With this statement made I'd like to invite you to check out our Anno 2070 VGA Graphics performance review. We thank everybody that helped out and although it leaves everybody with a bitter taste in their mouth something did change on the positive side of things .. and that's progress.
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