Far Cry 2:
Good News on DRM

By Shamus Posted Friday Oct 17, 2008

Filed under: Video Games 54 comments

I’m weary of hearing about greatly anticipated games which are ruined by online activation. So, I’m really happy to report that the DRM-infected game du jour is Far Cry 2, a game I wouldn’t play if you paid me money.

This is good news for publisher Ubisoft as well, since this means they didn’t lose a sale. I was never going to buy the thing anyway. (If you were looking forward to buying Far Cry 2, then sorry. You can’t. You can only rent it.)

The bad news is, this means the lemmings at Ubisoft are following the idiots at EA, and sooner or later they’ll come out with a game I do care about.


From The Archives:

54 thoughts on “Far Cry 2:
Good News on DRM

  1. MintSkittle says:

    From the Escapist article:

    “Unlike previous games incorporating SecuROM, however, uninstalling Far Cry 2 will automatically revoke an activation, meaning that as long as owners properly uninstall the game when they’re finished with it, they’ll be able to install it an unlimited number of times on three systems.”

    Weren’t the other SecuROM “protected” games supposed to do that anyways?

  2. Nathon says:

    That’s useful. I can’t remember any times that I’ve had to reinstall an OS because it ate my hard drive, or because my hard drive just crashed. Good thing I’ll be able to just uninstall things. /sarcasm

    Even better, I usually pick the “oh, my hard drive’s dead” time to install new hardware, since I have the box off and lying open on the floor anyway.

  3. Deoxy says:

    “supposed to” being the operative phrase. Just like on this game, actually.

  4. Eric says:

    I was surprised to even hear that far cry was going to receive a sequel. When will they learn?!!

  5. McNutcase says:

    MintSkittle: not initially, unless I’m mistaken.

    Not that it matters, because unless and until Windows can refrain from dying inconveniently, it’s still going to hose you.

  6. elias says:

    Hey, I never had any interest in Far Cry or Crysis or anything, but the story stuff they’re doing in Far Cry 2 sounds awesome. I will probably get it eventually… on the 360.

  7. hardware minded says:

    Console version for me…

    …if I wanted to actually PLAY this…

  8. Rival Wombat says:

    Ubisoft has always been a big fan of game braking bad DRM. Heck, a lot of there stuff comes with StarForce.

    Parody of the Ubisoft drone quoted on the Escapist. “But really I wouldn’t worry about it, someone will crack it and put it on the torrent sites within days of it’s release, if not before off a leaked review copy. The only way it would drive you crazy if you acutely try to pay us for our product or follow the crazy EULA your supposed to agree to, and our “studies” show that 99.99% of the people playing our game are dirty pirates anyway. We aren’t going to change our game because .01% of our player base are inconvenienced.”

  9. Factoid says:

    @McNutcase: Actually that was the original scheme. Bioshock started that way so that uninstalls wouldn’t count against your limit as long as you were online and everything went exactly right.

    Then EA came along and used the same DRM system, but they left that part out, but after the Spore backlash they’re putting it in again. Ubisoft is following suit.

    Something is gonna have to give eventually. My fear is that it will be the publishers declaring they will no longer distribute titles on PC.

    In the long run this will be for the better, though, as it will create a vacuum and allow new players (hopefully less stupid) to enter the market.

    I expect to see at least one of the major publishers stop all PC platform distribution in 2009.

  10. Ben Orchard says:

    Well, that’s unfortunate, because now I can’t play this sequel to a game I never played in the first place. CURSE YOU UBISOFT! CURSE YOU TO HECK!

    I actually am happy with Unreal Tournament’s method of copy-protection–disk inserted+install key. I can live with that. It’s a minor nuisance, but doesn’t require the internet. Then if you wait for a patch for a bit, they release a no-cd patch. Eventually. Will they do this with Unreal 3? Who cares? That game was so terrible that it doesnt matter.

    The real dilemma for me is going to be when Blizzard releases Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3. Argh!

    That and Street Fighter 4 are the only games I’ve been really excited about since civ 4 (at least for the PC). I’m just not that easily excited.

  11. Radio Babylon says:

    god DAMNIT. thats ANOTHER game i was planning on buying that now i wont get to play. even the steam version is going to have this crap… it boggles the mind.

    i dont pirate, but i tell you what, im about this >< far from starting.

  12. J says:

    I will merely point out that EA seems determined not to have my money. As I have since taken up another hobby, I am only too happy to oblige.

  13. Vacca says:

    UbiSoft don’t really care if you don’t buy the PC version, as long as you buy a version. In fact, they probably hope you do buy the console version as those produce more profit, are harder to pirate and cheaper to produce, not to mention produce fewer support issues. If they can push enough people to consoles, they can drop PC production all together and get rid of the perceived nightmare of lost profit due to piracy…….and stop paying a lot of money to SecureROM.

  14. McNutcase says:

    @Factoid: Fair enough, I was mistaken.

    But that still doesn’t account for the “Underlying OS goes down like a cheap hooker, taking one of your rental slots with it” problem.

    Not that I’d want to play Far Cry 2 anyway. Far Cry was about the least fun thing I ever wasted money on, and the engine was no fun at all to mess about with. I could make it burst into tears without even trying, which is no fun at all. I like engines where I have to do utterly unreasonable things to make them beg for mercy, like making hypercubes, or having a spot where four players can occupy precisely the same physical space and be unable to interact (both of which I have done in game engines; there are some great features out there)

  15. Russ says:

    It is consoles or upgrade costs that are going to kill PC gaming it is going to be DRM and absurd copy protection schemes.

    I am a consumer that won’t buy these games as a result of it.

  16. Vacca says:

    Actually, I rather enjoyed Far Cry, although I absolutely hated Crysis. Thank the stars that I played Crysis on a friends PC and didn’t waste money on it. I’ve been doing that a lot over the past two years, since I wont waste money on game rentals. Haven’t found a game I really wanted in those two years, to be honest. Actually wait, I did buy the Orange Box. Portal was rather short but a lot of fun.

  17. Illiterate says:

    Will Stardock get added to the “do not buy” list?

  18. Illiterate says:

    apparently I fail at HTML tag:


    The CEO further revealed that Stardock will soon add “IP protection services” to its digital distribution platform Impulse

  19. Gunner says:

    Why the Far Cry 2 hate going in to this Shamus? I’ve been thinking about this game for a while and determined that I don’t have enough information yet to make a good decision. What are you basing yours off of? I always value your thoughts for things like this.

  20. Eric says:

    The Most important thing right now is the bs about delaying Little Big Planet, because of a song that has a quote from the Qur’an. I was really looking forward to getting this game on the 21st.

  21. lebkin says:

    Not that it is a major point in this thread, but judging Far Cry 2 by Far Cry 1 or Crysis isn’t fair. Far Cry 2 is developed by Ubisoft Montreal, not Crytek. So it is a completely different developer, with a different story, in a different setting. They are keeping the name because of the marketing power behind, rather than start a new brand. It should be more closely judged relative to Ubisoft Montreal’s games, which I have generally been quite happy with on my Xbox, though their PC ports are a mixed bag (see here:http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1728).

  22. Eric says:

    That doesn’t mean both games don’t suck.

  23. John SMith says:

    Damn it! i was really looking forward to this game. I only allowed myself to to look forward to it because it was not being made/published by EA, Steam, Take Two or Stardock. There I was stupidly thiniking it would have a sensible DRM scheme that I could use at home where I don’t have an internet connection.

    I sure hope Fallout 3 is good because at this rate I will NOT be buying or playing any big name games this year.

    Mind you I’ve just bought Starcraft. Curently on my first playthrough on single player and loving it. It may be 11 years old but its still supported by Blizzard, is completely DRM free and I don’t have to activate the game or the patches. Brillient.

  24. John SMith says:

    Somebody else in another topic on this site (At least I think it was this site) has already pointed out the fact that Far Cry 2 has already been pirated ……….. yes its the 360 version thats been pirated first and NOT the PC one. Yet.

    Does this mean that the 360 versions of games are going to have as bad DRM as PC’s in future and publishers next tactic will be to push everyone to PS3 and Wii???

  25. Daemian Lucifer says:


    “Hey, I never had any interest in Far Cry or Crysis or anything, but the story stuff they're doing in Far Cry 2 sounds awesome.”

    The what of the far cry now?


    Yeah,I remember another franchise bought by ubisoft that kept nothing but the name.The might and magic franchise.Thanks to ubisoft,I stopped looking forward to any of the products for this one.Still,if they made marvelous into crappy,maybe they can do the opposite?After all,they did make beyond good and evil…

  26. Vacca says:

    #24 blows #13 out of the wter.

  27. Eric says:


    That was Fallout 3, and their not sure if it’s the beta or gold version.

  28. Matt K says:

    @ Eric, actually Far Cry 2 and Fables 2 are both available on pirate sites but only the X-Box versions.

  29. Huckleberry says:

    In case you haven’t seen it yet:

    A newish xkcd on DRM

    @ Illiterate: me too.

    EDIT 2:
    @ Illiterate: took me about 7 tries and a peek in this sites course code, but evenutally, I prevailed. Now if I knew how to put an example here without it getting mangled…

  30. Fenix says:

    Man and I was going to BUY this game (emphasis on “buy” because I’m a filthy stinking pirate with the exception of indie games and games I really want to own). Guess I need to fire up Azureus, I got some pirating to do!

  31. Terrible says:

    Whatever happened to Lemmings anyway?

  32. K says:

    Let me think. A game without gameplay but great graphics, a boring shooter without innovation but great graphics, and a horrible story but great graphics, and ludicrous AI but great graphics! Plus DRM.

    I think I’ll pass on a techdemo with DRM.

  33. PhoenixUltima says:

    You know, I hate this new wave of DRM as much as anyone else, but it’s occured to me that I probably hate it for different reasons. To wit: the limited activations thing actually doesn’t bug me so much. As long as uninstalling “revokes” an activation (and does so properly), I can live with that. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, hell no. I’m just saying I’d be willing to tolerate that.

    No, what pisses me off about the new batch of DRM is that it’s a giant security hole waiting to happen. It dials home whenever you start the game up (and you know some genius is going to make a version that dials home automatically every so often). It prevents you deleting 16-bit executables. It’s a total bear to uninstall. And on top of all this, because it’s at least a cursory obstacle to piracy (though not a serious one, by any means), it’s got groups of misanthropes dedicated to stealing things going back and forth over every single aspect of it. One of them is bound to think “hmmm, instead of defeating this thing, maybe I can make it so it gives me a back door into people’s computers!” And they probably can, too. EDIT: Oh yes, and let’s not forget that you’re not even told the damn thing is being installed. A lot of people probably won’t even know they have this thing on their computers, making it that much sweeter a target.

    And that is why I hate SecuROM and similar. It’s a huge security hole and it’s just a matter of time until someone figures out how to drive a viral truck straight through it. Hell, someone may already have. And that is why you’ll never see me allowing this shit on my computer.

  34. yoshi927 says:


    I love the “illegitimate” complaints.

    # Keeps people from easily having LAN parties with their game. We allow this but demonizing publishers who frown on this seems unreasonable.

    – Thanks for setting me right. I expected to be able to play my newly purchased game with my friends at LAN latency. But clearly that’s like stealing from the publisher!

    Only someone who’s tried to do July-style Mutalisk micro in Starcraft in a game with someone in a different country could understand how absolutely vital LAN can be to getting the full experience of the game.

    # DRM is just wrong in principle, you buy something, you own it and should be able to do whatever you want. This is a view held by some but the person who makes the thing has the right to distribute it how they want. If I spend $5 million making a game, someone paying $50 doesn’t “own” it. There has to be some middle ground on serving customers and protecting IP holders.

    – To a point, I agree- the maker of something has a right to do anything up to making the message self-destruct in ten seconds. But that doesn’t make it an illegitimate complaint that I gave them my money and their product just blew up in my face. Basically, you can include the self-destruct function, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll consider it a reasonable security measure.

    Certainly the authors can do whatever they want with it, but that’s no reason not to be angry about DRM.

    -ON TOPIC-

    As long as Starcraft 2 doesn’t have DRM, I’ll live. If it does… well, crap.

  35. Jim says:

    Poor Hawaiian shirt guy…

    @Gunner #19

    Why the Far Cry 2 hate going in to this Shamus?

    Shamus can obviously speak for himself, but he has written about why he dislikes Far Cry a couple of times in the past:
    The Tough Guy
    Crysis Review

    Personally I liked Far Cry a lot. It was the Video Game equivalent of a Stupid Action Movie (I’m looking at you Steven Seagal). And at the time I was playing on an extremely underpowered PC, yet the game looked absolutely gorgeous even on my machine.

  36. FireNova says:

    You know, you’re never really actually buying a game. You’re purchasing the right to run software in certain ways, under certain conditions. If you actually owned the software, then you could edit it, use the code, and share it however you wanted. That’s why there’s an End User License Agreement.

    So the only difference here is amount of freedom of when you can run the software.

  37. onosson says:

    I really enjoyed Far Cry, actually, and I don’t play fps games in general. For what it was, it did it really well, I thought.

  38. echelon says:


    I’m a long time reader, but this is getting ridiculous.
    I’ve played the majority of the games that you’ve complained about having intrusive DRM. I agree with your assessment of the games which have a limited number of installs before you need to call the distributor to get another activation code. That is an unnecessary frustration.

    Mass Effect is a good example of pain free DRM. The method that they implemented was very transparent. It connects to the internet once when you start a new game to confirm its validity, then you may play it. This is fine for people who have the internet, but for the small number of gamers who do not have access, it would be unforgivable.

    From what I’ve read, the DRM scheme that is employed for Far Cry 2 would be almost unnoticeable. Not only are you allowed to install the game on a number of machines with a single key, but whenever you uninstall it you are given back one of your available installs.
    I would assume that this, again, requires an internet connection but that isn’t a big hurdle in my opinion. It would not be an exaggeration to say that every person that I’ve met that plays games has an internet connection.

    I can only assume, considering the medium that you choose to deliver content to your readers, that you have an internet connection. Why does this frustrate you so much?
    Is it a principal thing?
    As FireNova mentions above, you are not buying the game, you are buying a licence to play it. This licence has rules which you as a licencee are required to follow.
    I realise that it is possible for people to get around these rules, but if the DRM that is employed does not cause any hassle to the legitimate user, why complain?

    I guess my point is (as laboured as it is), that if you are going to make an inflammatory comment as you have above, it would be helpful if you could actually go into some detail as to why you feel as you do. I’ve read your previous posts on the topic so apart from my questions above, the point I’d like you to expound on is why you wouldn’t play Far Cry 2 even you were paid to.

    Are you sick again? Why so cranky?

  39. Daemian Lucifer says:


    “You know, you're never really actually buying a game. You're purchasing the right to run software in certain ways, under certain conditions. If you actually owned the software, then you could edit it, use the code, and share it however you wanted. That's why there's an End User License Agreement.”

    Not true.Simply not true.Everywhere they advertise,they say “buy the game”,not “buy the liscence” or “rent the game”.So,you are buying the game,period.Whatever says in the eula is worth nothing,since you read it after the transaction is over.You bought the game,not the right to play it.Only mmos are selling you the rights to play since there you dont pay for the game,but for server maintenance.


    Now,tell me if you see whats wrong with this part:

    “Mass Effect is a good example of pain free DRM. The method that they implemented was very transparent. It connects to the internet once when you start a new game to confirm its validity, then you may play it. This is fine for people who have the internet, but for the small number of gamers who do not have access, it would be unforgivable.”

    How is it transparent then?

  40. MuonDecay says:

    It’s sad, really.

    I was an accomplished pirate when I was younger. I’m not proud of it and I didn’t delude myself into thinking it was anything less than a crime, but I digress…

    This stuff doesn’t affect pirates. It really doesn’t, not at the least. We don’t even get pissed off about DRM, because we can just nuke it with some patch someone else hands out for free, then uninstall whatever was installed if there was anything.

    It’s so bizarre that they don’t get this. Every day a man walks into the store to buy a bagel, and every day the cashier bitch slaps the customer and cusses about shoplifters. Every day, he ignores the shady fellow who loiters in the corner for 5 minutes and leaves without buying anything. Every day, game publishers do one of the stupidest things I have seen in my life.

    …and somehow they’re still rich.

    One wonders how badly the PC gaming market can be really hurting when people who are dubiously worthy of a GED can still land such cushy jobs.

    I’d like to see them handle this more intelligently. They do deserve to find a reasonable, honest way to protect their stuff… I’d even -help- if I had the technical wherewithal. But they just turn up their noses and scoff, “no sir, I am content to continue screwing this pooch, thank you.”

  41. Shamus says:

    echelon I have a more detailed answer coming next week, but a more general one can be found here:


  42. Cineris says:

    “You know, you're never really actually buying a game. You're purchasing the right to run software in certain ways, under certain conditions. If you actually owned the software, then you could edit it, use the code, and share it however you wanted. ”

    @FireNova: Dear Sir/Madam,

    I am fine today and how are you? I hope this letter will find you in the best of health. I am Prince John Ricitiello, the Chairman of the “Copyright Award Committee”, of the “Sudan Data Development Commission (SDDC)”, a subsidiary of the Licensed Interactivity Examiners of Sudan (LIES). The Licensed Interactivity Examiners of Sudan (LIES) was set up by the late Head of State, General Moni Alotcha who died on 18th June 2008, to manage the excess revenue accruing from the licensing of data and its allied products as a domestic increase in the licensing of data products to develop the communities in the Sudanese data producing areas. The estimated annual revenue for 2008 was $45 Billion US Dollars Ref. FMF A26 Unit 3B Paragraph “D” of the Auditor General of the Federal Republic of Sudan Report of Nov. 2008 on estimated revenue. We have agree that, the data experience be shared thus, after funds has been transferred from your nominated account:

    (1) 30% of the data experience will go to you for acting as the beneficiary of the license agreement.
    (2.) 5% of your funds will be set aside for reimbursement to both parties for any incidental expenses that may be incurred in the cause of the transfer.
    (3). 100% of agreed upon funds to us the originator of the license agreement and owner of data experience.

    If this proposal is acceptable by you, do not make undue advantage of the trust we have bestowed on you and your Company, kindly get to me immediately on my E-mail Address as stated bellow. Please furnish me with your most confidential Telephone and Fax Number(s), Company Name to use, Banking information including the A/C Number, Swift Code (if any).

    My best regards,

  43. Markus says:

    Somehow I was mentally substituting Fallout 3 for Far Cry 2 and wondering if Shamus had finally lost it or I just couldn’t parse the sarcasm.

  44. Briatx says:

    Huh. I actually was looking forward to buying Far Cry 2. But I guess I won’t. I don’t always have a problem with DRM, but it does lower the value of what I’m buying, and in this case it lowers it far below the retail threshold. I won’t pirate, so I guess I just won’t play it.

    Anyway, I wanted to comment on the “you can’t buy it” thing.

    It’s true that when you buy computer software you aren’t buying a copy, just a license, but in some ways that isn’t bad. If you buy a copy of something, say a book, you actually have very few rights. For instance, you can’t make a copy of it at all. “Owning a copy” of computer software just gives you the right to “make a copy” in RAM.* It doesn’t give you the right to make copies on multiple hard drives. In contrast, even the most restrictive software licenses usually allows multiple installs (copies to hard-drive).

    When the terms of a license are draconian the problem isn’t that you’re getting a license instead of a copy, the problem is that you’re getting a bad license.

    *Bizarrely, courts originally held that owning a copy of software didn’t even give you that right. Congress had to step in and say that owning a copy of software gave you the right to run(!) it.

  45. Briatx says:

    And to clarify, my problem with Far Cry 2 isn’t the terms (unlimited installs, internet connection required, cd key) which seem fine to me. I just have the impression that SecuROM is bad software that might mess up my computer. I don’t trust it.

  46. Heph says:

    – EULAs hold very, very little legal power, since you can only see them after having bought a game and opened the box, making it unreturnable. They are, in essence, hidden defects but with another name. If I slip a paper in a coat’s pocket saying “he whoever wears this coat will give me the keys and ownership of his car”, and I sell you that coat, this doesn’t suddenly mean you gave me your car – that bit of paper I slipped in isn’t valid.

    – Needing any type of internet connection of any kind, at any time, ever, for a single player game is a horrible idea. I play my games on a pc not hooked up to the internet – I cart my laptop around all the time. Plenty of students don’t have internet at dorm rooms (admittedly, that’s changing fast, but still) and play games there. Poor people still aren’t legally obliged to have an internet connection at home, but they might want to play games. This is also why game-breaking bugs ought to be eliminated before release…Some people *can’t* get that patch you need.

    – Secondary reason why any kind of activation check is a bad idea is the future. A lot of gamers replay games of ages past (be it the eighties or the nineties). Plenty of companies from those days no longer exist. Good luck trying to get your game to run when it requires contact with a non-existant server. Even if the company does keep existing, they hardly ever guarantee eternal support….Nor would I be surprised if they give it. Blizzard still running free servers all over the world for Diablo II 8 years after release is the exception, not the rule. (same for them releasing no-cd patches for their games. Good example, but most don’t follow.)

    – On a completely unrelated note, Shamus: the newspost for Penny Arcade mentions Dead Space, and how it isn’t a survival horror game to them, because of…well, all the things you mislike. To quote:
    “They could have made it Survival Horror very easily, or slid the toggle closer to our conceptions of it, by placing dolorous restrictions on saving, ammunition, and every other resource. ”
    Which seems to be a very different view of the whoel playing-against-the-game feel you have about survival horror…So I was curious about your thoughts? Just pointing it out.

  47. Briatx says:


    It might be true that they “shouldn’t” have a lot of legal force, but they certainly are enforced by the courts. And as I said above, the default rights you would have in the absence of a EULA would be pretty awful anyway.

  48. Yonder says:

    For me, any DRM that limits the number of machines that it can be installed on is unacceptable, as this destroys the retail value of the game.

    Personally it’s hard to imagine ever giving away or selling a used game, as I am a packrat and revisit many games frequently (and over a 30 year period I am guessing that I will have at least 7 different machines). However I believe very strongly that that privilege should be available to anyone that wants it.

    Note that I said privilege. I understand that the idea they are trying to instill is that we are renting the game legally, even though they try to trick us into thinking we are buying the game, but I am unsure as to how much of that behavior would stand in court. It seems like under the first sale doctrine, being allowed to resell anything I buy, would also stand to licenses. I don’t get why people would think there was a difference between buying a game and buying a license to play a game except where source code comes in. I buy the license, I sell the license. If it said explicitly that it was a 5, or ten year license that would be a different matter entirely, though I would still expect to be able to sell the remaining 3 years of the license 2 years into a 5 year license.

    But regardless, I don’t CARE if these restrictions they put me on are legal. I won’t stand for them because I personally, want to buy a game. Or buy the license to play the game. What we are doing right now is renting the license to play the game.

  49. m2 says:

    Well, I wasn’t going to buy the game anyways because my pathetic 8500 GT and 2 Gig ram isn’t good enough. But if this is the trend, then I am truly worried for the fate of my quickly approaching college years. I shouldn’t have to wade through piles of possibly virus-infected cracks just to be able to run the game I bought.

  50. FireNova says:

    My point wasn’t that you weren’t buying something, my point is that you weren’t actually buying the entirety of the software for however you want to use it.

    I’m not denying that you own something. I’m just saying that restrictions aren’t completely new. Yes, they’re incredibly annoying, intrusive, etc.. but saying “Oh, remember when we used to actually just had the game without any irritating restrictions?” isn’t quite accurate.

  51. Jansolo says:

    You would play a cracked version if you want to. Sooner or later, in spite of DRM.

    It happened with SPORE, Bioshock, and the rest.

    I guess who are blaming on this time.

  52. MuonDecay says:

    It might be true that they “shouldn't” have a lot of legal force, but they certainly are enforced by the courts. And as I said above, the default rights you would have in the absence of a EULA would be pretty awful anyway.


    As far as I am aware the subject of software EULAs has very little precedent in court cases to date, so the jury is still out, to use a bad pun, on whether or not their onerous language has any body, to use yet another pun.

  53. teamdest says:

    Just like to point out, the release date for the game was Oct 22, it’s already been cracked. good job stopping the pirates, EA.

  54. Zen says:

    @echelon (38)

    Here’s a story from a legit user. Note what the tech support guy at the end of his story says will constitute an ‘install.’ This may or may not be a worst case scenario, but do you really want to pay possible fees and time on EA tech support to play a game you bought?


    In all fairness, this was 2-3 weeks ago, so maybe EA has cleaned up its act by now. ::rolleyes::

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