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Ubisoft denies Silent Hunter 5 DRM cracked on first day

Thu 04 Mar 2010 12:24pm GMT / 7:24am EST / 4:24am PST
OnlinePublishing

New anti-piracy system is working, insists publisher; torrent sites are hosting incomplete game

Ubisoft has denied that its new anti-piracy measures have been cracked for Silent Hunter 5 on the day the game was released, saying that versions currently being hosted on torrent sites are incomplete.

According to a report published earlier today by Eurogamer, submarine simulator Silent Hunter 5: Battle of the Atlantic, and the day one patch that fixed many fundamental bugs, were immediately hacked, with the game appearing on torrent sites and Usenet. Sites were also hosting versions of Assassin's Creed II.

In the case of Silent Hunter 5, the anti-piracy system was apparently circumvented by replacing an executable file with a patched replacement similar to most PC hacks. The piracy group responsible said that, in addition, the user turning off their internet connection or not using Ubisoft's game loader was enough to get the game running DRM-free.

However, Ubisoft denies its systems have been circumvented, saying in a statement, "You have probably seen rumours on the web that Assassin's Creed II and Silent Hunter 5 have been cracked.

"Please know that this rumour 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."

Forum users seem to disagree though, with some today saying they are playing a pirated version of Silent Hunter 5 without an internet connection and by saving offline.

Ubisoft's new DRM system relies on gamers having a constant internet connection in order to be authenticated on the company's servers to play. If their connection drops out, they can lose progress made in the game up until that point.

Since its announcement, the PC community has largely been opposed to the new restrictions it imposes on them. However, Ubisoft has said there are upshots to the system such as being able to run games without a disc and play on any number of PCs, and store save files remotely and point out that most people are always connected to the internet anyway.

25 Comments

Robin Segitz

11 0 0.0
Come one, Ubisoft... we all know as well as you do that this is just the way it is with PC games.

Rather than restricting usage for the legitimate buyers, you should go the other way around and make it worthwhile for them! Why on earth would I want to buy a PC game, which I am not sure it'll work in 5 years time (I am a nostalgic gamer), when your DRM servers might be shut down or whatever?

Posted:4 years ago

#1
Dear Ubisoft: I'm living in Trikala, Greece right now. I have Internet in this university, but I don't have an Internet connection in my apartment, it will never happen. And I want to play games at my apartment, not in the university.

It's ok, I will not buy DRM'd games anyway. Piracy is a serious problem, but you're not going to solve it by prejudicing your costumers with initiatives like this one. You're only going to create more pirates.

Posted:4 years ago

#2

Jeff Wayne
Technical Architect

83 37 0.4
A DRM scheme that is acceptable to honest paying customers and successfully combats piracy and theft is unimaginable currently. I personally wish it did exist so everyone could move on happily, but alas it does not.

EA saw sense here and the fact that they listened and changed drove me to gain a whole new level of respect for them. I purchased ME2 and DAO not only because they are two fantastic games but also in support of EA listening to the customer.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jeff Wayne on 4th March 2010 2:23pm

Posted:4 years ago

#3

Mark Raymond
Functionality Tester

20 0 0.0
Jeff, I will probably be buying BF:BC2 on the PC for that same reason.

Posted:4 years ago

#4

Ville Vuorela
Senior Game Designer

2 0 0.0
I want to buy Silent Hunter V to support the genre and I don't want the forced Internet connection. I just hope the pirates have already made a DRM-skipping patch for the legal digital distribution version as well.

Posted:4 years ago

#5

Dave Turner
Director

13 0 0.0
I actually support EA's moves into supplying those who buy new product in game content, this combats both pre-owned and encourages people to not download illegal copies as they will miss out on the full experience.

Posted:4 years ago

#6

Jason Marchant
Editor/Journalist/Copywriter

8 1 0.1
Dave - it's interesting that you use the term "combats pre-owned". I my opinion, once purchased that copy of the game is yours and you can sell it on as you choose - the same with CDs, books, clothes, cars, luxury yachts. It's implicit when you buy any non-perishable that you can re-coup some of the cost should you need to by selling it on.

With games publishers circumcising this option with DRM in a supposed battle against the pirates, they are effectively trimming away part of the VFM of a game. Therefore, legitimate consumers are actually paying more for less.

That being said, I think game retailers selling over-priced pre-owned copies isn't helping anyone - consumer or industry - and used sales should be left to the grey market of eBay and secondhand shops.

Posted:4 years ago

#7

Manfred Huber
Editor

1 0 0.0
Reminds me a little on the Iraqi information minister who still insisted that "there are no American infidels in Baghdad" when you could already hear the sound of explosions in the background...

Posted:4 years ago

#8

Stephen Wilson
graphic/web designer

21 0 0.0
Whilst the decison to implement DRM into Silent Hunter 5 may or may not have had an effect on piracy it certainly may have had an impact on sales with a recent poll conducted on the internet's largest naval gaming portal Subsim.com showing that a large percentage of users (45% at present) would not buy the game due to the intrusive "always on" nature of the protection system. A loss of custom in such a proportion would surely mean the end for a niche genre title such as this? How can that be good business?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Stephen Wilson on 4th March 2010 3:56pm

Posted:4 years ago

#9

Aidan Fitzpatrick
Artist

48 2 0.0
I've already seen forums with people saying they'll be buying a legitimate copy... then immediately looking for a crack to get the better experience that the pirates have - a sort of moral high ground compromise if you will.
Personally I'll just stick to console version of the offending titles. Bit of a shame for those who don't have that option, as Ass Creed 2 is immensely fun :)

Posted:4 years ago

#10

Dave Turner
Director

13 0 0.0
Jason, I understand your point and have personally worked in both retail and publishing so have seen both sides, I used the term "combat pre-owned" as this is the reason companies like EA are doing what I mentioned.

The consumers rights to do what they will with their purchased and owned products is important to be protected and the publishers are obviously concerned that retail are making money twice out of a product purchased once from them.

Bring piracy into the mix with users bypassing both retail and publishers and this becomes a very tricky issue, we end up going round and round.

Posted:4 years ago

#11

Andrew Jakobs
Lead Programmer

230 89 0.4
The DRM method Ubisoft is using is ofcourse a very idiotic DRM-method, as having to constantly have a internetconnection just to play a singleplayer game is madness and too much.. Ofcourse that doesn't mean people should just pirate the game because they do not agree with the DRM (mostly the DRM is just an excuse)..

Posted:4 years ago

#12

Jeff Wayne
Technical Architect

83 37 0.4
Andrew, I agree that some people who are of indifferent moral standing on the piracy issue may use the DRM hot potato as a convenient excuse for their piracy. The fact that these people exist only make arguments against draconian and illogical DRM schemes even more difficult for the honest, yet frustrated consumer.

For example, Spore and Bioshock 2 are two games that I really wanted to buy but did not due to their DRM implementations. The upcoming Settlers title is another one I would love to own but will do without because of the DRM.

My point is that I hope publishers and those concerned with this issue can see that there are honest people out there who want to buy their game and support their development houses but cannot stomach ridiculous DRM schemes versus the people who simply rant and use it as a convenient excuse.

There seems to be bizarre merit in purchasing a game but using a crack to get the best experience out of it on the PC these days. You really know there is something wrong when those who pirate a game have a far superior gaming experience to those that legally purchase it. I have not done it myself but only because I would see my purchase sending the wrong signal to the publisher (that they think their DRM is acceptable) and simply do without instead.

Posted:4 years ago

#13

Martyn Brown
Managing Director

137 33 0.2
20yrs ago, when we were protecting our Amiga releases (yeah, right) we discovered that for every week of effort to protect the games, meant about 1hrs extra protection. i.e. ultimately a waste of time, expense and irritation. I don't believe much has changed.

Had they wanted to delay the security issues, they could have just spent a few weeks filling p2p and torrent sites with bogus editions to spoil & confuse. Cost & effort minimal. People would give up and move on.

Posted:4 years ago

#14

Mark Raymond
Functionality Tester

20 0 0.0
The other night when I couldn't sleep I sat up and actually spent some solid time thinking of possible solutions to the piracy problem. Flooding the p2p sites with fake torrents was one strategy that I thought could be quite effective. The other idea was to insert some sort of silent alarm into these fakes which would then contact the publisher and notify them of the downloader's identity, so they could then start legal action against them. The idea would be that by creating an atmosphere of shared suspicion and paranoia, those of little heart may give it up.

If I'm not mistaken, though, the ISPs in this country currently aren't willing to release that kind of information. I would not be surprised if that changed sometime in the near future, though.

Posted:4 years ago

#15

Christopher Bowen
Owner, Gaming Bus

118 0 0.0
Mark, the latter idea you had is illegal. Yes, pirating games is illegal, but that is entrapment. At least in the US, it is. It would never, ever fly in court, and worse, it would be a PR disaster.

As for Battlefield: Bad Company 2? It has SecROM. So who's picking the worse poison?

Posted:4 years ago

#16

Mark Raymond
Functionality Tester

20 0 0.0
Well, I'm no big city lawyer... so I wasn't sure if it was illegal or not or if it had even been tried. It was just an idea.

I actually was not aware that BFBC2 had SecuROM software attached. However, as long as it doesn't interfere with the player experience then I'm okay with it. Having looked at the type of SecuROM EA are using, it looks quite reasonable.

Posted:4 years ago

#17

gi biz
;,pgc.eu

341 51 0.1
I believe over here in Europe it would be seen as privacy violation. A user has the right to know when his actions are being observed, unless police got suspicious about his activities and has a special permit to do that. It's like spying over phone calls I think.

Back to the subject, I personally hate when I own an original game and it doesn't work because of protections (see Broken Sword 2 from SoldOut series, Civilization 3 after wrong language patch, old games in dosbox or everything in wine). I think this type of DRM causes more problem than it solves (see http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2010/...), and cracking will still be possible. The risk is to give a better game experience to those playing a pirated version, but it's true I don't really see any effective solution other than flooding the net with fakes.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by gi biz on 5th March 2010 11:33am

Posted:4 years ago

#18

Laurent Mandement
Freelance Journalist

8 2 0.3
Why is Ubisoft using a DRM-scheme that shuns the very people who can't pirate games ? I mean, the people who have a permanent internet connection that allows them to play these new protected games, are precisely those who will not buy them ...

As for a solution to piracy, it doesn't exist (except shutting down the internet). What publishers need to do, in my opinion, is to find a way to get the money back from another source. And it may sound weird, but a taxation per country adjusted to the level of aggregate piracy per year in the said country would probably be the best answer to the issue.

Now that games have been available illegaly for free for a decade, a lot of people will not pay for games again, even if it means not playing games. The only way to get that money back is to force people to pay it, and only taxation can do that.

As for the idea of moving to the consoles, it's probably going to be ineffective in the long term because console games will ultimatly be as much pirated as PC games.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Laurent Mandement on 5th March 2010 9:24pm

Posted:4 years ago

#19

Christopher Bowen
Owner, Gaming Bus

118 0 0.0
@Mark - There was a press release put out that stated that SecuROM was only a disc check that didn't install anything to the hard drive, but I call BS because the Steam version also has SecuROM. How is it "just" a disc check when there's no disc?

@Laurent - That's... either impossible, or will involve regulation the likes we've never seen. Who are you going to "tax"? Just gamers? If so, how will you know? Are you going to make a grandma pay a tax because she plays Bejewled? And if not just gamers, you're going to tax non-gamers, as well as - God help us - people that think videogames are anything from making our kids more violent to the Devil's way of intoxicating our youth? Really, I don't think you quite understand the Pandora's Box that would open.

Posted:4 years ago

#20

Mark Raymond
Functionality Tester

20 0 0.0
This link should explain, Chris:

[link url=http://blogs.battlefield.ea.com/battlefield_bad_company/archive/2010/01/26/BFBC2-PC-Copy-Protection.aspx
]http://blogs.battlefield.ea.com/battlefi...[/link]

I am not bowled over with joy at the prospect of limited activations, but as long as the user can choose to de-authorise a computer at any time, it's bearable. As I understand it, SecuROM is incorporated with the BFBC2 installation, but it has a very limited function and is completely uninstalled along with the game, if you choose to do that at a later date.



Having SecuROM packaged with the Steam version devalues it considerably, yet having it incorporated into the retail version arguably adds value to the package. As I said, it's a strange proposition.

Posted:4 years ago

#21

Antony Cain
Lecturer

263 21 0.1
[link url=http://kotaku.com/5487918/ubisofts-new-drm-system-falls-down-locks-out-paying-customers
]http://kotaku.com/5487918/ubisofts-new-d...[/link]

The entire concept fails miserably and should be given up as a bad job.

Posted:4 years ago

#22

Pierre Vandenbroucke
Assistant de production

47 0 0.0
What about a nice box, and a few goodies. Instead of a lame DVD box, with a simple inlay sleeve.

Back in the '90s, you had a nice cardboard box.
-you don't want it? you're not thinking of trading the game? Make compost out of it.
-you like the box? you have room to keep it?

Add a few goodies, a figurine, an exclusive-content disc, whatever. You should have people buying the game, mainly first hand so that you have everything.

You have to get people happy for paying.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Pierre Vandenbroucke on 8th March 2010 3:07pm

Posted:4 years ago

#23

Christopher Bowen
Owner, Gaming Bus

118 0 0.0
Thank you, Mark. But you know what's sad? My testing of SecuROM has shown that, since everyone went snooker-loopy hating it - myself included - they've made tools that get rid of the executable, even at the risk of rendering older games unplayable. Their PR has gotten better, as has that of the companies that are using their games, with EA making that post, companies getting ahead of the announcements, etc. The days where I would install the Bioshock Demo, or just put the Oblivion GOTY disc into the drive and get a surprise seem to be dead, more or less. The journalist side of me is satisfied, because the journalist side of me has proven that when the programme says it's "uninstalled", it's actually uninstalled and didn't leave behind traces, which at least shows that Sony learned a lesson from their abominable uninstall "process" they had with the old rootkits that came with their music CDs.

The consumer side of me, on the other hand, has been burned so much that I automatically react like Joe Wilson: "YOU LIE!". I read something like this and want to verify every minute detail that the article states, as if the article wasn't worth the bandwidth it transferred just because it related to SecuROM. When it comes to that S-word, their credibility after all this time is at absolute zero, even if he's 100% accurate.

That's the kind of mentality that these people are dealing with. Especially with Ubisoft, who's servers went down over the weekend, rendering their games unplayable... except for the ones who literally cracked the games so they could play. Congrats, Ubisoft: you've turned people who want to play your game properly into criminals.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Christopher Bowen on 8th March 2010 4:00pm

Posted:4 years ago

#24

Dan Bolivar
Character Concept Artist & 3D Modeler

1 0 0.0
I will not support corporate enterprise that prefers to treat ALL of the public as potential thieves instead of happy purchasing customers.

I refuse to go through the moves to authorize software I have legally paid to use. My word is all the proof any company needs to corroborate whether or not I paid for their product. The more they insist on treating us all like criminals, the more I will turn to the 'available free versions' of their products.

They want our money? They need to lower game prices, get rid of copy protection entirely, offer FREE, ACTUAL & LIVE phone support and value each person as a CUSTOMER and not treat them like plausible thieves! They need to offer games without all the packaging fluff at MUCH lower prices since distribution is much cheaper if done digitally.

They need to STOP blaming piracy for purportedly causing the loss of nonexistent sales.
It's NOT piracy that generates new pirates, it's having to deal with the copy protection bullshit and the fact that 90% of the games on the market are sheer and utter CRAP.

Posted:4 years ago

#25

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