Ubisoft vs. Ubisoft’s Customers

By Shamus Posted Friday Feb 10, 2012

Filed under: Column 99 comments

Ubisoft has been in the news more than once recently for their DRM shenanigans. This week’s column is sort of a catch-all for their recent crimes against customer service. I also allude to the technical problem of how you can make a program identify the specific computer that it’s running on.

Tangentially related anecdote:

Back in the 90’s, the company I worked for needed a way to protect users from data theft. All of the user’s settings, including their password, were stored in a plaintext ini file. That’s madness by today’s standards, but in 1996-ish that wasn’t all that radical. The resulting problem should sound pretty familiar / obvious to anyone familiar with security today: Savvy users began swindling the clueless into sending them these ini files.

This sounds ridiculous today, but this was the early days of the internet as we know it. There were armies of clueless new net-immigrants stepping off the boat every day. When they entered our MMO-ish world and someone offered to help them out with some technical problem, they had no idea that sending people files off your own computer was dangerous.

We policed this problem as much as we could, but there’s only so much you can do in an online world where anyone can instantly create a new account for free and most people are on AOL dial-up where their IP address could jump around randomly. It’s like trying to moderate 4chan. Good luck with that. We tried educating people as much as we could, but the rush of newcomers was so constant that there were ALWAYS going to be a few rubes around.

So the technological solution our programmers devised was to hash these text passwords with something from your local machine. This leads back to what I talk about in the linked article: Software trying to figure out what machine it’s on. There were a lot less identifiable bits on computers back then, but by using things like hard drive volume labels and such it was possible to come up with something that had a good chance of being unique to your machine.

Once this system was in place, the problem went away. The con men couldn’t read the ini files they were stealing. They didn’t have the ability to un-hash the password, because they didn’t have the serial number (or whatever it was) used to hash it. This was a good self-regulating thing: Anyone smart enough to look up a serial number on their computer is too smart to fall for the “Send me your ini file and I can show you how to double your frame rate” line.

The only drawback was that if you moved the program to a new machine (remember the days when you could install something just by dumping the files onto your hard drive?) you would have to re-type your password.


From The Archives:

99 thoughts on “Ubisoft vs. Ubisoft’s Customers

  1. Irridium says:

    You know, every now and then, I wonder if my self-imposed boycott of Ubisoft games is a good idea. I mean, there’s plenty of games of theirs that I want, and maybe the DRM isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

    Then something like this happens. And it makes me very, very glad I don’t buy from Ubisoft anymore. Any of their games. On any system. Not even used or by pirating.

    I want nothing to do with these assholes so long as such anti-consumer practices are in place. My money is better spent elsewhere. Like on Double-Fine’s kickstarter thing.

    1. Aristabulus says:

      Hear, hear!

      I was really sad to find out that Anno 2070 was under Ubisoft’s Iron Curtain of Suck. For what I’ve seen of screenshots, I really like the art style, and it seems to be exactly the sort of strategy game that tickles the right spots in my brain. :P

      Sometime in the future, if it bubbles up on a Steam sale for 5 bucks, I _might_ be willing to suffer the DRM. Until then, I will not buy it, nor will I pirate it.

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      “Not even used or by pirating.”

      But that doesnt give money to ubisoft at all.In fact,pirating it simply shows how bad their system is.

      Anyhow,I am on the verge of recommending might and magic heroes 6,but sadly the bugs and snail like fixing of them prevents me from doing it.Maybe it gets better with expansions,like its predecessor,but i can only hope for that.

      1. Tektotherriggen says:

        ” “Not even used or by pirating.”

        But that doesnt give money to ubisoft at all.In fact,pirating it simply shows how bad their system is. ”

        I see your reasoning: “If everyone pirates Ubisoft games, they’ll see their DRM doesn’t work and remove it.”

        But I suspect their reasoning would go: “Everyone’s pirating our games. We need tougher DRM!”

        I think Aristabulus and Irridium are partly right. Don’t buy them, don’t pirate them, but DO send Ubisoft an email along the lines of, “I love the sound of game X, but will not buy it until you release a DRM free version.”

        1. Alex says:

          “Everyone's pirating our games. We need tougher DRM!”

          Pretty much. Ubisoft, EA, Activision and their ilk are run by people too stupid to understand economics, or consumer behaviour, or any of the things they’re supposed to understand. If I pirated one of their games out of spite, they wouldn’t get the hint. They’d just take it out on the legitimate customers even worse next time.

          It’s too bad too, because I was looking forward to Mass Effect 3 and Rayman Origins. Maybe if so many people weren’t weak-willed Pavlovian slobs, going into withdrawal if they can’t pay for CALL OF MADDENVILLE 3 every year, this medium wouldn’t be so easy to take advantage of.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Sure,but wasnt the music industry doing the same thing?Until that sony fiasco.Afterwards,they started with single songs on demand,which became way better for them.

            1. Irridium says:

              I think it was Apple that started doing that. And I think maybe the industry tried to sue them for it. Because the music/movie industry ends up sueing everything new that they don’t understand. And almost all the things they sue end up bringing them lots of money.

            2. Alex says:

              Well, record labels and RIAA still complain about “dying CD sales”, because they forget to take into account those single-song download sales, and the fact that a lot of the music they release is vomit.

              Which I guess is my way of saying what everyone else is saying: Know-nothing corporate executives(and CEOs) should be used as an alternative source of fuel.

              1. Hitch says:

                The RIAA knows in their heart of hearts that if they somehow managed to eliminate every other option, people would gladly buy a $20 CD for the one song they like. And buy multiple copies for their home, car, office if they have no means of duplicating it themselves.

                1. Peter H. Coffin says:

                  Maybe, but there is ALWAYS a way of reproducing it.

                  1. Robert says:

                    At one time the only way to duplicate songs was to make a tape of them. We used to make mix tapes, copies for the road, and so on “” but the quality wasn’t as good as a CD, and if you copied the copy the quality degraded pretty quickly, so music copying was pretty self-limiting.

                    And people who were audiophiles did buy multiple copies, rather than suffer the poor quality of a tape.

            3. Zak McKracken says:

              These days I’m delighted to see that apparently all CDs can be ripped with no problem. I’ve bought a big pile of CDs last year, and the tendency is increasing, but I almost never actually use the CDs (except in the car, which tends to damage them, though…), so first thing with every CD is to oggify it, and unlike earlier times, they don’t even try to resist, so that is very very comfortable.

              Not sure if they stopped caring, understood it was useless or if it’s technically not possible without making the CD unusable, but I’m really content with this turn of events. I hope it’ll translate to HD movies and games too, some fine day…

          2. JPH says:

            “Maybe if so many people weren't weak-willed Pavlovian slobs, going into withdrawal if they can't pay for CALL OF MADDENVILLE 3 every year, this medium wouldn't be so easy to take advantage of.”

            Geez. Do I sense a bit of hostility?

            You know, some people like playing these games. Some people are willing to put up with the DRM because they enjoy the games themselves.


            You know, if the subject matter involved the publishers engaging in unethical practices (theft, exploitation, etc.) then I’d buy that. But in this case, the DRM only affects your ability to play the game you’re paying money for; if you’re alright with having to rely on Ubisoft’s servers to play the game, I don’t see any ambiguity here.

            In this case it really is just about games. If you don’t think the game is worth putting up with the DRM, fine. Don’t buy it. But regarding the customers with such contempt as to call them “weak-willed Pavlovian slobs” is completely unwarranted.

            1. Zak McKracken says:

              You’re essentially right.
              Except: If everyone else was as firm on these specific principles as the “I’d rather not play at all” fraction, the problem would be resolved very quickly. Instead someone goes on boycott to force an end to this nonsense and sees that it is fruitless because the rest of the mob isn’t following. I understand how that can make someone angry.

              I also understand that not everyone is as serious when it comes to playing…

              1. Khizan says:

                “If everybody was firm on these principles that not everybody shares, it would work just like I want it to!”

                Well. Yeah?

                For some people it’s a big deal. For some people, it’s not. You can’t expect everybody to hold to an arbitrary set of principles.

                1. decius says:

                  Everybody does hold to an arbitrary set of principles. It’s just that not everybody holds to the same set of principles.

                  1. JPH says:

                    I think that’s what he meant.

        2. Sean says:

          Agreed – Don’t buy it, don’t pirate it. There are plenty of other great games that you can get without such ridiculous measures attached.

          Remember that there’s a fair bit of anecdata to suggest that piracy is actually good for the content creator / publisher, in that it provides advertisement of the product, feeds a community, keeps it in the collective zeitgeist, etc. Plus, it may lead to backlash from Ubisoft and show them that yes – their games are much loved… “if only we could stop these pirates and get them to buy it!”

          So don’t support the games by pirating them, promoting them, or buying them. It’s just a bad idea.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            “There are plenty of other great games that you can get without such ridiculous measures attached.”

            I hate that argument,because its meaningless and misleading.Sure,there are plenty of other games,but very few of them are anything like heroes of might and magic.I dont care if I can buy a plethora of avernums or minecrafts when I want to play a fantasy tbs.

            Luckily,new kings bounty will come out soon,and its not only with a better drm,but its also a better game.

            1. Zak McKracken says:

              That’s my main problem with copyright, as applied these days. If you publish one game, you have a quasi-monopoly on it. There’s no competition except pirates and used sales.
              Of course you couldn’t easily create an environment where one company makes a game and several others get to publish it in different packages for different prices and with different levels of DRM. But that would be necessary for the customers to get the game they want in the shape they want, for the price they’re willing to pay.

              1. Alexander The 1st says:

                Copyright is a monopoly system – always was. The copyright holder gets to choose which members get to sell their product, and in return, they get to profit from letting the public have access to it through the authorized channels.

                I mean, first sale doctrine still applies, but with piracy cracks happening in review copies (See Amnesia: Dark Descent, or Batman: Arkham Asylum), pirated copies aren’t sold first from the distribution channels the copyright holder.


                As for computer identification, any chance you could explain how they would do this if the machines have the same hardware details? (Say, akin to console DRM? Which I understand as different – but if you had a bunch of Dells in an University, how would you tell them apart?)

                1. Alan says:

                  A bunch of “identical” computers have several unique things available. Every network card, wired or wireless, has a globally unique number. They need to; it’s a key part of how modern network work. Hard drives also have unique serial numbers.

      2. Irridium says:

        I know, but I don’t care. I don’t want to be associated with them in any way. By pirating or buying used, it doesn’t feel like I’m really making any sort of meaningful statement. By not wanting to have any connection to any of their products in any way, well I feel that makes a much greater statement. And I do realize that I’m just one person and don’t matter all that much. I don’t care. They crossed a line I’m not willing to accept, so I’m not going to be part of anything of theirs until they stop.

        However, I don’t begrudge anyone who pirates. I don’t agree with it, but I’m not completely opposed either. It’s kind of like a “burgler getting mugged” type deal. I’m certainly not going to feel any sympathy for the victim. There’s also the fact that pirating 10+ gigabyte games on my crappy connection is… laughable, to say the least. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t pirate because of my slow and crappy connection.

        As for used sales, well they are legal and one of the last real thing consumers have left. And honestly, if their response to used sales are “we must stop this!” instead of asking themselves “why are so many people trading in the game?”, then they’ll suffer because of their own stupid decisions and that’s just things working as they should. I personally won’t partake because I feel that strongly about this. Others don’t, and I don’t fault anyone at all for buying their games used.

        1. Alex says:

          I definitely CAN blame people for buying used. Used game sales are not the answer. They’re as bad for video games today as DRM, online activation and “Project $10”.

          If publishers/developers still got a cut, even if it’s less than it would be brand-new? Then yes, that would be a viable solution. I would support that. But those glorified pawn-shops take 100% of the profit. And that in turn just makes publishers take more draconian steps to get you to buy it new. And the medium is worse for it.

          No one who pirates or buys used games gets to claim they’re supporting the industry. But if you’re* going to screw over publishers and developers, you might as well stick it to Gamestop too while you’re at it.

          *-Not directed literally at you, just… people, in general.

          1. Irridium says:

            Publishers are already making a LOT of profit off used sales in deals with retail stores. Gamestop, and by extention I’m willing to bet other retail stores, seems to be getting completely screwed when it comes to buying games from Publishers. According to one Gamestop manager, they make more of a profit selling strategy guides than new games. If that’s the case, that would mean that they need used sales to stay in business. Other retailers have all sorts of other products that keep them afloat. Gamestop only has used sales and strategy guides.

            And then there’s UK retailers that say they’ll share the profit with publishers if they’d stop with the online codes and offer better deals with new games. Haven’t seen anyone take them up on that yet.

            Publishers really aren’t the victims in all this. They seem to be getting quite a bit of profit off new games. As for the developer… well if they aren’t making much from all this, that’s probably due to whatever agreement they signed with the publisher. It still sucks, but its not really the fault of used games.

            But I agree. If you pirate or buy used, you can’t say you support the industry, because you’re not. But in the case of used sales, I’d say that’s fine. You have no obligation to buy new. You just buy from the one offering you the better deal. Like publishers buying out small developers, gutting them, and keeping their IP’s to profit off later, that’s just smart business sense.

            Sorry… kind of went off there. It’s just used sales really aren’t as black and white as they seem. While they may be part of the problem in some form, the problem itself is a huge, gelatinous entity that really needs fixing. On many, many, many different levels.

            1. Segev says:

              I have heard – and it’s from somebody who does research this stuff, rather than just being “a net rumor” – that Gamestop has a semi-official policy of opening up new games and finding even the smallest possible defects, then informing the publisher that the games are “unsellable” and demanding fresh replacement copies. They then sell the “unsellable” copies as “used, but practically new,” effectively getting to sell a game they bought once (from the publisher), twice.

              If this is true, would this have something to do with the metric that claims they don’t make all that much from “new sales?” Their bulk of profits comes from the used sales, especially the ones they “manufacture” in this way, so the “new sales” would seem a pittance by comparison. Especially since they’d only count the cost of buying from the publisher against the profit margin on the “new sale.”

              Really, the whole video game industry is currently full of big players trying to screw each other over to maximize their profit. Normally, this sort of thing is good for the customer, as it means they’re trying to appeal to us for our business against their rivals. But this is all background stuff that is playing games with ownership of ideas and data. Fortunately, as the “old guard” of these industries are replaced by newer generations who have a firmer grasp of how these things work, we’re getting better solutions that serve all sides. It just takes time, because the bad ideas need to not merely be less profitable than they could be, but they need to be exposed to the good, profitable ones in order to crash and burn as the good ones steal all their sunlight.

          2. Steve C says:

            Shamus will publish his book, and those printed copies will go to bookstores and be sold. Later they will end up in used bookstores. There will be people reading his book and Shamus won’t get a dime!

            So let’s burn all the used bookstores. Those damn places don’t give anything to book publishers. And punch a librarian in the face too.

            There is nothing -at all- wrong with a used game purchase (or sale) where the publisher and/or author gets $0. It is =completely totally fine= and how the world works for all 2nd hand things. I get exceedingly angry when someone claims that the first sale doctrine is somehow “wrong”.

          3. Simulated Knave says:

            If used games weren’t available, people would just wait until they hit budget prices. Or not play them. Indeed, used games help prop up the ridiculous sixty dollar prices of new games by making them have some resale value.

          4. Jay says:

            If used games disappeared tomorrow, publishers’ situation would improve very little. All the major consoles have a huge back catalog of cheap games that are just as good as the new $60 hotness. Software lasts forever, so once performance starts to plateau (it has), you’re left competing against an ever-expanding catalog of ever-cheaper games.

          5. Zak McKracken says:

            In that line of reasoning, used car sales should be banned, too? And ebay?
            I think the resale value of a used item is the only proper “market value” indicator left if the original item is only available from a single maker/publisher.

            Also, giving the initial customer the option to just sell a game if they don’t like it is significantly reducing the entrance barrier. You’d no longer have to bet 40$ on the game. If you don’t like it, just sell it for 30. If you do like it, keep it and play it, until you grow tired, then sell it for 10$, at a time when the original has been reduced to 15$ anyway. I don’t see the problem, really.
            Actually, I think it’s the maker of a product trying to sell the product without giving it away. They have no right to disallow this, and I see the attempt only as another try to eliminate competition with dirty tricks.

          6. Tse says:

            Why can you apply this logic to games and not to anything else? Or are you implying that people should never buy anything used? Because most of the people I know wouldn’t be able to afford a new car, not even a Great Wall (it’s an ugly cheap under-powered unreliable Chinese gas-guzzler that is assembled in my country in order to export them to the rest of the EU duty-free).

        2. Hitch says:

          I salute you for your “not even pirating it” stance. One of the pro-piracy arguments is that publishers shouldn’t worry about it as much as they do because piracy gets the game out there so people are exposed to it and if they like it, it may lead to sales down the line. But you’re drawing the line. As long as they inconvenience and treat paying customers like potential criminals, don’t even give their games a chance to get you hooked.

    3. Heron says:

      Agreed! It’s nice to be reminded that my boycott of Ubisoft titles is not pointless. It’s also very sad.

  2. zob says:

    Some people say that this DRM isn’t really there to stop piracy, but used game sales. That’s possible, but also pointless.

    You know that it’s pointless and I know that it’s pointless. Problem is companies are not run by tech savvy people. They have this ridiculous notion that these DRM features are killing used game sales. While in reality it’s platforms like Steam and GOG and such, that are responsible.

    1. Shamus says:

      Yes. The central problem here is that we have technology companies being run by people who aren’t tech-savvy.

      1. ehlijen says:

        But when you say that the used games market for PCs is dead, isn’t that in part because such DRM killed it?

        I don’t really want to devils advocate for the likes of Ubisoft, but I think they’d use the used pc games market being dead as a sign that such DRM is doing what they want from it.

        1. zob says:

          There are a lot of people asking the same thing you are on the top so I answer you.

          When you remove such DRM, it may seem to pave way for second hand sales by letting you be able to sell your game to a third party. Problem is not the selling part, problem is buying part.

          Second hand sales have it’s disadvantages, scratched dvds, missing boxes/manuals. We used to overlook them because they were cheap. Nowadays we have more than one digital provider that is also cheap and usually comes with customer service. Any pc gamer with a budget is on the look out for steam campaigns nowadays. There won’t be customers to buy second hand pc games when we have steam. That’s what killed second hand sales. Steam is more accessible and cheaper than a brick store selling scratched dvds.

          1. Abnaxis says:

            I might sound like a broken record, but I am going to say it again. Used PC software sales died before activation limits. They died before registration requirements. They died before Steam. They died before the first publisher decided to have their DRM scan computers for hardware changes.

            I was working for Wal-Mart when they decided their “anyone can return anything with a receipt” policy didn’t apply to computer software, and the reason was because CD burners were becoming common. Distributors got antsy about people buying a disk and returning it after they copied it. It had absolutely nothing to do with whether the software had DRM or not, because for the most part the only DRM present was a CD check.

            Used console games with day 1 DLC and online passes still sell used. Why? Because stores could care less if the product has less value, if people ignorant of the additional price they’ll have to pay for the content are still willing to pay for inferior used products. But they’ll be damned if they’ll give a product away for free (i.e. take a return from customer who copied the disk).

      2. Mephane says:

        I think that is the underlying cause of many of mankind’s issues – in all areas we are often getting people running stuff they are mostly clueless about.

      3. Tse says:

        I have a feeling that the problem isn’t the people running the company, it’s the stock holders. DRM may just be a lie meant to appease them. In the silly world of finance the price of the stock is sometimes more important than revenue.

        1. Shamus says:

          But if stock holders are this stupid, then they would be easily appeased with minor DRM. If they’re too stupid to tell the difference, then why use the most self-destructive DRM on the market?

          I’d sell it to the shareholders like: We’ve decided to go with Steam, the world-standard in digital distribution. Their DRM is SO GOOD, they even turned Russia into a viable market! (And even if there are non-Steam versions of the game. If you’re ignorant enough to not understand why Ubi DRM is insane, then you’re too clueless to figure out how Steam / retail stuff works.)

          No, that’s not true. I’d try to educate Shareholders and do what I thought was best. People called Steve Jobs crazy for years, but they shut the hell up when the guy starting bringing home the cash prizes for the company.

          1. Peter H. Coffin says:

            Shareholders (most of which are funds) have tend to have no opinion about what the policies of a company are. Mostly, they never get more detailed than the proxy vote held at the annual meeting, which puts them pretty close to just selecting board members and making really big changes, such as voting whether or not to change the retirement plans offered. Operational issues like how to market products really only get addressed by whether or not one sells one’s shares.

      4. TheMerricat says:

        The problem with that line of thinking is that almost every single game company that was founded by ‘tech savy people’ typically goes under or has to be saved by ‘non-tech savy people’ when the lack of ‘business savy’ led them to making just as horrible decisions as the ones we are deriding here.

        The pure fact of the matter is, as stupid as their decisions come across to us, they are still successful. So perhaps we should stop trying to paint them as incompetent boobs who just need to wake up and join the modern world and simply toss our hands in the air, and start approaching the matter as we would a problematic piece of code and start asking ourselves, WHY are they still making money and WHY are the making the decisions that they are.

        Beyond being less arrogant, it also has a better chance of arriving at an understanding of why the world is the way it is.

        1. zob says:

          Let me answer that with an example.
          Activision practically destroyed their brand identity, drove at least two franchises to their death(guitar hero, call of duty), lost talent to their biggest competitor(Infinity Ward and Brutal Legend teams).

          If you put a headless monkey at the head of activision right now it would still earn millions because they are sitting on world of warcraft.

          They are making money because they know how to exploit a successful product to death. That’s where their talent ends.

          1. TheMerricat says:

            And yet, they are the third largest third party publisher in the world. And you don’t think some of that might be attributed to knowing what they are doing in the business world?

            Publishers churn developers and titles, they’ve been doing so since the start of the industry. Partially because they are in the business of making money, not shrines to appease the mighty but fickle fans.

            The fans will always find a new true love, and if they don’t, there’s always a new fan being born every minute.

            1. zob says:

              Yes they all churned their developers and titles. And do you remember what happened next? Apogee was an industry leader and died, 3d Realms was an industry leader and died, Interplay was an industry leader and died. It should be obvious why that is a stupid move.

              On the other hand Tim Schafer collected a million dollar with his kickstart project in mere days this week.

              1. TheMerricat says:

                Apogee WAS 3D Realms and Apogee, were only leaders in the sense that Apogee was the company that made shareware popular for the brief period of time when that model was actually feasible. They died because they were NOT a publisher, they were a developer, a developer that had Valve level issues with getting products out the door and Duke Nukem Forever level issues with the quality of their games.

                Interplay was a publisher that had the bad luck of being acquired by a company that was more interested in using it’s name to hide it’s own bad reputation and just had the poor fortune of not dying with it.

                How does that tie back to what we are discussing? None of those companies dies because they ran out of titles to make or developers willing to work for them.

                Do you really need someone to list for you the number of dev houses EA, Activision, and Ubisoft have purchased and dismantled over the past decade?

                This is what they do.

                Do you honestly think that there is a ‘peak creativity’ out there they’ll hit where we’ll suddenly stop having bright eyed new developers to come up with the next ‘it’ game, make a few million selling their business and the idea to one of the mega-publishers?

                At best, we’ll have things like Minecraft and “Tim Schafer’s next big project” out there, but those will never replace the AAA titles any more than Youtube has replaced the movie & TV industry. And frankly, the market for Minecraft and Kickstarter projects is a lot more prone to hitting ‘peak funding’ than the AAA market is.

        2. Shamus says:

          Obviously you need business-sense as well as tech-sense. I would think, given the incredible money being given to executives, that it’s not too much to ask for both. I say these thing in public not to be arrogant, but because they need to be said. Ubisoft is wasting potential.

          “The pure fact of the matter is, as stupid as their decisions come across to us, they are still successful.”

          By what metric? If your only standard of success is “hasn’t yet gone out of business”, then yeah. But that’s setting the bar very, very low.

          Steam was founded by tech-savvy people, and it has ascended to publisher status and is experiencing exponential growth. THAT’S what happens when you know what you’re doing.

          1. TheMerricat says:

            And yet, as successful as Valve is, it employs less than a twentieth of the staff of Ubisoft and I am quite certain isn’t raking in the ~1,000,000,000 Euros each year that Ubisoft is.

            It is arrogant to look at someone who is doing something you dislike and assuming it’s because they are stupid rather than accepting that they may have actual reasons (regardless of whether those reasons match your priorities).

            Are they oblivious to the potential they are passing up, or are they doing it because they see the potential and are passing it up for a specific reason.

            Assume someone who managed to make it to the top of a company such as Ubisoft, even if they are not capable of checking their own email without their executive assistant printing it off and reading it to them, has enough intelligence to surround themselves with people who CAN use computers and DO know what’s going on.

            1. Shamus says:

              I gave my take on it in the article – they would do better with less DRM, their server administration is a joke, and their PR is inept. You’re saying that because their company is big, they aren’t stupid, despite all the evidence to the contrary. You can believe that if you like, but I don’t find it a compelling argument.

              Following your reasoning, no company is ever stupid as long as it’s making money. (Even if it looks like it could be making a lot more.)

              1. TheMerricat says:

                No, that’s not what my reasoning is leading to or what I am saying.

                I’m saying that the fact that they are a company that is pulling in a billion euros a year sorta flies in the face of the idea that they don’t know shit about what they are doing unless you want to argue that they’ve suddenly changed who they are in the past couple of years.

                Which you can’t, they’ve been using aggressive copy protection since that was a ‘thing’. Remember Starforce? Remember the lawsuit?

                That doesn’t mean they haven’t made mis-steps or that they couldn’t do better. It does mean, however, branding them as incompetent when they are the third largest game publisher in the US and Europe because they have chosen a path you don’t agree with and have stumbled along it is arrogant.

                Especially when you don’t know the reasons behind those mis-steps.

                Yes, it’s perfectly simple to handle the server migration the way you planned it from your armchair. Till you have to deal with the fact that the company isn’t willing to pay for two sets of equipment, and that there is a tight deadline on the migration due to the facility issues, security issues, your department not allowed overtime because it’s already over budget….

                The issues other than the main one of the DRM existing in the first place are not issues of incompetence or of ignorance of the company’s leadership, they are simply the normal, sadly difficult to control pratfalls of having a company of over two thousand employees, most of whom only know a small portion of the company’s business that overlaps what they do day to day.

                1. Captainbooshi says:

                  TheMerricat, your argument would be a lot stronger if not for the fact that Ubisoft has had a net loss for the last two years, and already announced a net loss for the first half of the 2011-2012. They may be pulling in a billion Euros a year, but they’re making less than they’re spending, by about $100 million last year. No doubt much of that decline is due to the poor economy, but how much of it is also due to stupid and expensive DRM, bad publicity, and other factors like that? I can’t tell, but I doubt that it hasn’t had an effect.

                  Unfortunately, just because a company is a market leader, and is making a lot of money, doesn’t mean the business leaders inside aren’t incompetent and making decisions that will ultimately bring everything crashing down. Just look at Borders recently, or, for that matter, any of the Wall Street firms that helped create this recession and would have gone under if we hadn’t bailed them out.

                  1. Kdansky says:

                    How about: Ubisoft is really big now. But during growth, they didn’t use DRM, because DRM wasn’t on the table a decade ago. None of their success has anything to do with DRM, but astonishingly, the company is doing really badly right now. It doesn’t have to be correlated, but “they are doing great, therefore they know what they do” is utterly wrong.

                    1. Bubble181 says:

                      True, and while I don’t agree completely with what the MerryCat is saying, s/he does have a point somewhere.
                      For some reason, everybody likes to think that management is easy and anyone could do it. Similarly, a lot of people find it A-OK that Rafaà«l Nadal pulls in hundreds of millions, but bonusses for CEOs are considered antisocial, too high, inccredible, abnormal and what have you.
                      If “anyone” could be CEO of a big company and do it as good or better than the people in charge, “anyone” would be – for 1% of the wages. It may not be as obvious as a footballter, tennisplayer or F1-racer, but being a top-level CEO does take some sort of talent. It’s not just household budgetting blown up too a thousand times the same size.

                      Now, I disagree that it is “arrogant” to make assumptions about their job and/or to point out how it could be done better. Shamus is allowed to say “this CEO doesn’t know what he’s doing”, just as much as he has the right to say “this programmer doesn’t know what he’s doing” when he encounters something in a game or program that’s coded in the most longwinded and retard way possible, with 55,000 loopholes, a memory leak and abuse potential up the wazoo.
                      On the other hand, Shamus is a programmer. If *I* take a look at a game, I may say “why is this done this way? It’d be much easier/cheaper/more practical/… to do it another way!” and I may even be right – but the programmer may have had a whole list of good reasons to do it that way and not any other way. Some of those I can’t recognise because I’m not a programmer and Shamus would see. Some of those may be completely out of their hands (budget constraints, having to work based on older code that’s completely wrong for what you want,…), and some of it may be for good, programmy reasons that even Shamus doesn’t see because he hasn’t gone through all five billion lines of code of this particular version of Pac Man.

                      It’s not necessarily “arrogant” to critic someone’s work as long as it’s meant positively and you’re open to the idea that they may have reasons you can’t see and/or may look at things from a completely different perspective.

                      That said, DRM is stupid and needs to die – but I do think Ubisoft and their ilk have better reasons to continue to include it than “oohhh, shiny! my Preciousssss!” or to impress share holders.

                    2. Abnaxis says:

                      If “anyone” could be CEO of a big company and do it as good or better than the people in charge, “anyone” would be ““ for 1% of the wages. It may not be as obvious as a footballter, tennisplayer or F1-racer, but being a top-level CEO does take some sort of talent. It's not just household budgetting blown up too a thousand times the same size.

                      I desperately, desperately wish this was true. The problem is, with a large portion of CEOS, they got their position because they knew the right butt to kiss, not because they are talented. You can’t do that if you are a sports player–it doesn’t matter if your wife is the coach’s daughter, if you can’t throw you can’t be a quarterback.

                      While I wouldn’t say every CEO is just a trumped-up boot-licker, it is the nature of corporations for the competent people to stay farther down the ladder. The competent ones are the ones that enjoy their jobs, after all, so why would they move? This phenomenon is prevalent enough that I plainly cannot trust that a CEO knows what he is doing until I see evidence that they can actually be competent.

                      And wages most certainly are not based on how many people can do the job (at least, not as much as you suggest). It doesn’t matter if there is a labor shortage or not, cashiers still make minimum wage. Conversely, it doesn’t matter if there is an over-abundance medical specialists, surgeons still get six figures. Wages are based on “how much can the person make doing the same job next-door?” more than “how hard do I have to work to fill this position?” That’s why CEO wages are so ridiculously high–companies keep paying them more, which makes other companies pay their CEOs more because they worry about the CEO defecting, so the original company has to pay their CEO even more,and so on, and so on…

                      This has created a bloated feedback wage-loop that has grown out of control. It removes accountability from leaders (golden parachutes: because CEOs don’t want to work for a company that holds them accountable for mistakes), attracts all the wrong kind of leaders (the kind that could care less about their product as long as they are making money/advancing their career), and costs exorbitant amounts of money for not all that much benefit (I would be giddy if I had a $3 million a year budget–Koticks’s paycheck–for developing software. Granted, that’s not a lot of money in business, but enough for a side project).

          2. Sumanai says:

            Back in 2006 I went into a university (I don’t know if it was a university proper, but that’s what it was called) for a bachelor’s degree in… I don’t remember what it was in English. Anyway, the intent of it was to train people into middle-management in technology companies. In the curriculum during the first year there was a marketing course and a programming course.

            The idea was that because we were supposed to manage both marketers and engineers so we needed to have a rough understanding on their field of work and their lingo. Since there are very few engineers that understand marketers and vice versa, we’d be able to work as translators between the two groups.

            Of course we were told in no uncertain terms that we would always be worse at both than either marketers or engineers and therefore we should always be ready to listen to complaints and suggestions from both groups.

            Incidentally, one of the few courses I passed before quitting was basic marketing. I think that what Ubisoft is doing was under the heading “Bloody Stupid Things To Do”.

            1. Sumanai says:

              Addendum: there were two courses on law as well, since you need to have some kind of clue on how laws work and what’s legal if you want to be able to talk with lawyers and not end up in a situation where the one you’re talking to is holding back laughter or resenting you. Probably both at the same time.

    2. Sydney says:

      That said…are they wrong?

      If games didn’t have that DRM and I could buy PC games used without worrying about activation limits, you bet your ass I’d start. How long between the end of DRM and GameStop re-opening the doors on PC disks?

      1. Sagretti says:

        Here’s the thing, though. Requiring a simple account activation, like a Steam account or anything similar, tied to a CD key does the same job of making re-sale of the game impossible. Some people still find that excessive, but at least a decent platform like Steam provides benefits in trade-off. The more draconian measures Ubisoft employs only makes things worse for the consumer.

    3. Sagretti says:

      Not to mention that Gamestop doesn’t even sell PC games in most of its stores, used or new. I’ve stopped visiting them after the 4th time an employee pointed to a single shelf of World of Warcraft boxes as their “Computer Games Section.”

      I keep seeing the conspiracy theory that Ubisoft’s double-secret evil plan is to intentionally sabotage their PC games, steadily making things more malicious until sales drop low enough that they can abandon the PC as a platform. It makes no sense whatsoever, but it says a lot that some people find that more believable than the actual level of idiocy Ubisoft is exhibiting.

    4. kikito says:

      Maybe it’s just a matter of using the right language.

      Let try my Business Etruscan:

      Hey, Ubi. Me customer. Me want good games. Me money.

      You make good games, you money.

      Me no want DRM.

      Other guy make good games.

      You DRM, other guy money. You DRM, you no money!

    5. How can it be pointless if it worked?

    6. MatthewH says:

      It’s worse than that. If they’re worried about used games sales they are bad at both technology and business/economics.

      I suppose, alternately, they could be working on an ideosyncratic economic model.

      But if we believe our microeconomic textbooks, the net present value of all future sales is priced into the initial sale price. This is why your car loses so much value when it leaves the new car lot -you spent a huge sum of many to get the ability to resell the vehicle at a later date (among other reasons).

      If the game can be resold, then it can also command a higher price at the point of first sale, because people will pay for the right to resell later. If it cannot be resold and is priced the same, those who only paid that price for the resale option will not buy it -and fewer units move. Eventually the price comes down and then more people buy it -but at the lower price the company is still not making “as much” money as it should.

      In fact, even if we believe in efficient markets, no market is frictionless or spill-proof, so companies are making even less money because they will lose sales over the time it takes the price to drop further (people won’t impulse buy, they lose interest, of some other reason causes them to not make a purchase they otherwise would have at that price).

      And there still exists a very small used PC game market on the internet. Mostly for older games that used the CD Key approach.

      1. MatthewH says:


        It is, admittedly, not a perfect evidence, but you can see the effect in the first entry:
        Console Versions: Easilly Resellable: $59.99
        Computer DVD Versions: Resale possible, but difficult: $49.99
        Computer download, no media: Resale impossible: $29.99

        1. Ian says:

          Just to muddy the water some more. The PC copy of that game requires activation on steam no matter where you download it or buy the disk from.

        2. rofltehcat says:

          This is exactly how pricing should be for all games.

          You give me DRM that may decrease the value of the product for me, I pay less money than if I could resell it.
          It is a pretty simple concept and I think it is horrible that publishers try to get 60€ per game off digital-only games on their own platform (*cough*origin*cough*).

      2. zob says:

        While that sounds sane, it’s also load of crap. Because it’s completely one sided way to look at the issue. Economics works both ways. Yes, publishers have a right to be greedy and it’s perfectly normal to want to earn more money from their product. Thing is I as a customer have also that right to be greedy and want the same product as cheap as possible.

        Problem is right now publishers greed is left uncontrolled. I can’t give my game as a gift to my brother. I can’t sell my game. I can’t play my game on two different computers. I can’t play my game without permission of the publisher. They got too greedy and that promotes piracy. Same thing happened with movie industry now we have cheap DVDs. Same thing happened with music industry now we have cheap alternatives. Same thing will eventually happen with the game industry.

        Piracy is illegal, I don’t do piracy. I don’t condone piracy. I am just trying to point out that their way of doing is wrong and eventually hurt themselves more.

  3. Blackbird71 says:

    The idea of trying to lock a copy of software to a particular computer always makes me think of trying to lock a book to a specific desk lamp. Sure, I can read my book at that lamp, but what if the bulb burns out, or I get a new lamp, or I just want to go and read in another room? It’s my book, shouldn’t I be able to do that? What makes software any different?

    1. swenson says:

      This is why I’m so glad about Steam’s usual policy, which is “install it wherever you like, just log in first”. And the whole logging in thing is really just to make sure that only one person’s playing it at once. (and, to be honest, even that part’s easily circumventable) That’s reasonable, in my view.

      1. decius says:

        Steam manages to utterly remove the ‘used games’ angle, makes piracy inconvenient for the pirate (which is all that Ubisoft does), and makes playing easy for the typical customer.

        If Ubisoft titles had a ‘Steam-only DRM’ option, I would buy Revelations for a 50% premium ($90 USD). With their current DRM, I will not get it at any price, including free. I have a similar policy with EA, ever since I had to crack my copy of Dragon Age in order to run it. (Actually, ever since customer support deleted -all- of my posts to their tech support forum after I proved that it was an issue with the DRM by running the cracked version This thread);
        tldr; the person who responded to the post said “I’d like to remind you that this is not my primary job function” and “This is the proper forum/channel for technical support.” No EA employee ever claimed to be the person who did technical support for the issue, despite several different users coming forth with identical symptoms.

        Until a group of people break off from EA and reform it in its original image with a new name, I’m not going to buy or pirate anything of theirs.

        1. Sumanai says:

          So, in order to sell my games to you at a higher price I should first start selling them with an annoying DRM at a regular price and then start releasing those alongside a higher priced Steamworks version?

          Sounds like you’re setting a bad precedence.

  4. Jeff R. says:

    I don’t think you can dismiss the anti-used-game-sales argument that easily. This kind of DRM is what killed that market, and the companies at least feel like they have to keep a few chainguns unloading ammunition at it at all times to make sure that it stays dead…

    1. Abnaxis says:

      It alwaysis annoys me whenwhat people say this. Used PC software went the way of the dinosaur long, long, LONG before there was DRM to combat it. When CD burners became common (making it easy to buy a game, copy it, and return it, bypassing the the CD check that was the only DRM of the day), stores stopped accepting returns. Saying PC DRM is in placethe to combat used sales is seeing conspiracy where there is none.

      DRM on consoles is another story, of course, but used PC software was dead and buried long before the ugly DRM of today reared its head

      1. Timelady says:

        I…what? What does returning a CD to the store you bought it from have to do with selling a used game? Copying a CD and returning the original really is piracy. Selling the original disc after you’re done with the game entirely is another matter, and perfectly legal.

        1. Abnaxis says:

          Except as far as distributors are concerned, they don’t know if you are done with the disk because you played the game or if you are done with the disk because you ripped the data off of it and don’t need the original to run the game anymore. Regardless of DRM, stores are not in the business of giving their product away, and no store will ever trust a customer to sell/return a piece of software without having copied it first. Even if they did, publishers would probably stop using them as a distributor, because publishers see everyone as a criminal.

          No used software market can exist if no distributor is willing to carry the product. Well, other than E-Bay, I suppose, but you aren’t going to get the quality guarantees on E-Bay like you get at Gamestop.

          1. Atarlost says:

            Hello. I’m Ludodesist. I have this game, Call of Warmadden for sale for 20$ used. I buy used copies of Call of Warmadden for 10$ each. I don’t accept returns.

            If you buy Call of Warmadden used for 20$ and keep it I make 10$ profit. You have Call of Warmadden on your computer.

            If you buy Call of Warmadden used for 20$, copy it, and return it I still make 10$ profit and you still have Call of Warmadden on your computer and I have a copy of Call of Warmadden in stock I will sell to someone else.

            Every time the same copy of Call of Warmadden passes through my store I make 10$. The less time you keep it for the more times I can sell it before it goes out of style. Please, please, please rip the blasted thing. I also rent CD burners. Wink wink nudge nudge.

            1. Abnaxis says:

              That may be the way history could have gone, but it isn’t. I was there. I saw the memo. “No returns, people are buying it, then copying it an returning it.” Add to that the publishers who threatened to blacklist any distributor who accepted returns, and used PC games died before there was any DRM to stop them.

              This isn’t speculation, it’s history. That’s how it happened

            2. Zukhramm says:

              Every time I’ve bought a used game the guys at the stores have always stressed that I can return it if it’s not working.

          2. Stranger says:


            I’m sorry, I’m still tickled into laughing at “quality guarantee” and “Gamestop used games”.

            Do you know how they check used games to see if it’s too damaged to play, by policy? Pop it in one of their active consoles to test it. If it boots, it’s good to go. You may on occasion get someone who actually looks at the scratches and goes “this is too screwed up, like you skateboarded it on gravel”, but they’re far from the norm of people they have running the counters these days.

            Especially when they’ll only give you maybe 10% of what you paid for it when you trade it in. Why bother checking it any deeper than “okay it runs”? Their return policy supercedes their guarantee; if it’s used and you pop the lil sticker they put over the case? No return, no exchange unless they’re feeling charitable. (Yes, been down that road with a manager once over a copy of Xenosaga which would not play past the first menu.)

            There’s a reason I tend to buy either new games anymore, OR the odd few that are the “put trade-in credit during a special offer, get the game, trade it back in for 2-4 times the credit you would normally have gotten from the other trades, apply it for a preorder on a game you really want”. but then, I’ve only bought two games new in the last year . . . physically. Pokemon Black (shut up) and Ys I & II Chronicles.

            1. Abnaxis says:

              That’s still better than E-Baying it though…

          3. Timelady says:

            Okay, I think one of the problems is that I’m seeing used-game resellers as separate from the original retailers. As in, Barnes and Noble isn’t interested in your heavily-photocopied CSS for Dummies book, but Ol’ Yeller’s Used Books down the street doesn’t really care what you’ve done with it as long as you’ve cleaned off the worst of the embarrassing stains. At that point, it doesn’t really matter what the publisher/distributor thinks, because the publisher/distributor isn’t directly supplying the retailer with their product. If it wasn’t for the fact that DRM such as limited installs or whatever means that you literally cannot pass that game on to someone else, I don’t see why that model of business is any more far-out than any other brick-and-mortar version of an increasingly digital product.

            And besides, who says that used-game resellers have to deal exclusively in games? I’ve found used games at used bookshops, secondhand stores, junk sales, yard sales, comic book stores, and that’s not even looking at online stores. (And guarantees? Just bring it up to the counter and ask the clerk to open it up so you can make sure the discs are in one piece and look playable. If they refuse, you probably don’t want to buy it in the first place.) But you’re starting to see what’s basically a cut-off date in that sort of thing: most of what you see is from the 90’s or early 2000’s, before that sort of restricting DRM started to become popular.

            1. Abnaxis says:

              I see what you’re saying, but used games don’t work that way. If a publisher is worried about used games sales, they’re worried about stores like Gamstop of Play-N-Trade: places where a used version of new releases selling for $50 sit right next to a brand-new version that’s retailing for $60. Publishers don’t see the first cent of royalties if the $50 version sells (and seem keen to ignore and publicity benefits they get). Furthermore, there’s no appreciable difference between the two disks as long as the used disk works–owing to the fact that the only thing included with a game is the disk, with guides and user instructions on the internet. Publishers don’t like competing with themselves.

              All distributors that sell used games like this, which included the likes of Wal-Mart and Target at one point (I actually traded a couple PS1 games at Target back when it was possible) , STOPPED accepting PC software because publishers threatened to blacklist them (which would definitely hurt Gamestop, though I think they were still Electronics Boutique at that point) and because they thought people were buying the games and copying them with burners (I know from personal experience this irked Wal-Mart). Note that this was back when the most inconvenience DRM ever inflicted was a CD check, maaaaaaybe some slight hurdles if you wanted to play online right as the market was giving its last gasp (Diablo II used to check to see if any duplicated CD keys were on B.Net and disconnect them. Didn’t stop you from using a fake key or playing single player or LAN, though).

              Gamestop and their ilk serve an entirely different market than used bookshops, yard sales, flea markets, etc, etc. Usually, when I go rummaging, I’m looking for a game or a piece of hardware I can’t find anywhere else, because publishers have deserted it. These are competitors with new games in the same sense that a used book store selling out-of-print books competes with a big book publisher–they’re two separate products competing for your entertainment dollars. This is different from a store making money off of selling a publisher’s active IP for a lower price point.

  5. SKD says:

    I don’t understand the argument about used game sales when it comes to PC titles. In the last several years I have found that it is easier and less painful to give an alleycat a bath than to return or trade in a PC game. Gamestop, the used game industry leader, won’t even look at PC games for trade. I don’t even know of any places to buy secondhand PC games locally.

    1. Tse says:

      You can do so online. You can buy mostly older games, though, the newer ones are usually linked to an account. But why would you, buying used is just as bad as pirating and if the game is not in stores anymore you shouldn’t waste your time with it, you should buy a new game, in order to give the publi….the developers money. /sarcasm

    2. Ian says:

      There is a company over here called CEX. They will trade almost anything in. It’s going to bite them because I’ve seen on their used game shelf for PC copies of Steam only games.

      At some point someone not knowing any better is going to buy it and bring it back for a refund.

      There are also bigger chains, HMV springs to mind, where I recently saw The Matrix Online boxed copy for sale. I’d have bought it for the novelty if they weren’t asking £30 for it.

  6. Gamer says:

    You know, I feel bad for you PC Gamers when companies are as stupid as Ubisoft. We can debate over whether consoles or PCs are better (hint: It’s doesn’t really matter), but at the end of the day, a paying customer should have the right to play their game with as little inconvenience as possible. I know that I personally wouldn’t do business with a company who’d do that shit with a PS3 game.

    1. Tse says:

      The good thing about PCs is that usually there is no region locking, more often than not you can buy a Russian or British CD key and use it in the EU, especially if you live in the EU country with the lowest standard of living and you still have to pay one of the highest game prices in the world. (not as high as some other countries, but a much bigger % of the average income)

    2. MintSkittle says:

      DRM on a console? It’s already happened.


      Plus, there’s been unsubstantiated rumors that the next Microsoft console may have a system to prevent the playing of used games.


      If this comes to fruition, then consoles will lose one of the few (in my opinion) advantages they have over PCs.

  7. decius says:

    Here’s an odd idea- crowdsource everything. Literally everything- put “We will make a game with this money. It will have NO DRM and will be available on participating digital download services for $5 or at retailers for $10. Two years after release, we will release it to the public domain. If we get more money, we will spend more of it on the game, hopefully making a better game.” on Kickstarter.

  8. zootie says:

    “(remember the days when you could install something just by dumping the files onto your hard drive?)”

    Happy days are here again, and turning into a regular industry – http://www.portableapps.com. Originally intended for USB drives, it turns out (surprise!) that the programs run even better from your much faster hard drive.
    I personally keep my portable Firefox, other portable apps, and my personal files in an encrypted file, have the (portable) encryption program automatically prompt me for my password to mount it when I log on, and voila! I can keep every web login and password in my browser for convenience, have complete security at the cost of 1 extra login when I start the computer, and copy the lone encrypted file off the machine as my backup.

  9. The dilemma of “is this computer still the same computer” is actually a paradox, as the answer is both yes and no.

    Example 1:
    Components are replaced over time (typical for most fiddlers like most that frequent this blog I’m sure)
    Eventually there are no old components left, maybe even the OS get changed. And in a box in the closet is enough parts to maybe build up a “secondary/server/NAS/something” box should need to. Or as backup parts in case something fails in your current system.

    Example 2:
    A new computer, but a few months later the OS is changed. This happens a lot when folks bought a computer with XP on it and got a good upgrade deal for Vista. The same happen with Vista to Win7. And the same will happen with Win7 to Win8, and so on.

    Example 3:
    A new OS version, no hardware change otherwise.

    Example 4:
    Same as #2 but new OS as well. One might think this must surely be a different computer. But no it’s not, as the “old” one was either thrown out, put in the closet, given as a hand me down to a family member, or used as spare parts or upgrade parts for some other computer.

    In all the examples, the computer is the same computer (to the user), namely it’s the “Primary Computer” of the user.
    Tying something to a computer makes no sense for the consumer market.
    If it was certain business markets (special corporate setups or net cafes or school or government machines etc) then it might make sense.

    In the consumer market it only makes sense to tie a software to the USER. The easiest way to do that that I can think of (from the top of my head) is a user account of sorts, and that’s it.

    Allow any number of installs the user want, on as many machines as the user want. But instead limit to how many machines the software can run on at the same time.
    The definition of “at the same time” can vary from the very restrictive
    requirement of always needing to be online and log in, to the very lenient requirement of only needing to be online a few times a week/month.

    And if any discrepancy or red flags are lit, inform the user that their software was detected as being used on more than the allowed x machines at once limit, and require them to re-log back in with their account.
    And provide a way for the user to contact support if it turns out that they did not use the software from other machines. (stolen account/login etc.)

    But avoid the big mistake of locking the software if the “check in” is missed.
    A non legit user will never check in, in the first place.
    But a legit user will, during install/registration (tying the software to their account), fetching updates, etc.
    I believe Steam actually is fully capable of being used properly this way, but very few games do this at all. On general software it’s a little better, but the same DRM mistakes happen again and again there as well.

    Anyway, this post is getting a tad long so I’ll end it here.
    But if I can “figure this out” in the matter of minutes it took to write this post, it makes you wonder what the hell the payed “pro’s” are doing at these big multimillion companies are actually doing.

    It’s not that hard if you just apply some logic and common sense.

  10. Elzair says:

    Why did you not just store the password in a separate file? For better security, you could have named it “Password – CONFIDENTIAL”. Only a real tool would have sent someone a file like that.

    1. Shamus says:

      Accessing another file would have meant building a different interface. (The existing ini interface was built around using the one file.) It would also have left that file open to theft in other ways. Maybe through trojans. Maybe the tricketer would say “zip up all the files in X and send them”, which would include the password file.

      1. Khizan says:

        Not only that, but look at how many people fall for the email from B1izzard that says “There has been activity on your account consistent with gold selling, and it has come under investigation. Please click the following link and input your account information for verification. Link: http:\\batt1e.net\hackin-your-game”.

        If a crucial step in your security setup is “rely on the customer not to be an idiot”, you’ve already failed.

  11. I would say rather than so-and-so being too SMART to send a .ini to a stranger, they’re too SAVVY. It’s not native intelligence, it’s *familiarity* with the matter at hand, namely the idea that security is necessary and what that might or might not entail. People are either security-savvy or not, regardless of native intelligence.

    The people I’d deem “security-smart” on the other hand, are the ones who can determine for themselves on a situation-by-situation basis whether a given security measure is required. THAT requires an enormous amount of both knowledge and ability to analyze situations and apply that knowledge (I guess you could call this total package wisdom). Even in narrow, delineated fields wisdom is a rare and valuable trait. As the field enlarges and ramifies, most people find themselves reduced to following rules-of-thumb because they just don’t have the knowledge or analytical power (intelligence?) to function case-by-case.

    If the field is large and complex enough, nobody has or can have the ability to work case-by-case. In order to function in any useful way at all, we MUST develop general principles and utilize those principles.

    1. Segev says:

      Interestingly, my own desired research and development in my field of interest – Computational Intelligence – is meant to lead to making every user able to emulate that kind of savvy. Specifically, giving a user a set of tools that are his own personal “OS-like” software that he can have follow him around to all computers he uses, probably stored on a mobile device of his preference, which “knows” him and is able to intuit what he intends, is able to develop expert awareness of state-of-the-art savvy, and is able to provide recommendations and even security checks and guards to make sure the user is made fully aware of the ramifications of his actions.

  12. RCN says:

    Ah… the days files were just files. Laying around your Hard Drive to be looked up and dealt with. And clogging everything because they didn’t care to organize themselves into something convenient or even manageable to read.

    Then again, last migration I could pretty much just dump every game from Impulse and then tell Impulse to re-activate them. I was marveled at this. Steam wasn’t so kind.

  13. Zak McKracken says:

    not directly related to this post, but I didn’t know where else to put it, and it is about DRM, just not for games:
    just came across this via boinboing, and I find myself hoping that this person’s opinion catches on… we just got a shiny new E-reader, and it did not take long to find it is not one of the “major platforms”, thus probably not able to deal with kindle, let alone apple books… My personal consequence is to not buy from those stores. If I went and broke their DRM I’d just be helping them make their E-books more valuable, cement their monopoly _and_ they could still sue me for it.

  14. Belarm says:

    1996, plaintext passwords…you didn’t happen to be working on an FTP program for GlobalSCAPE, did you? ;-)

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