A lot has been said about Ubisoft lately, none of it flattering in any sense of the word. A public relations nightmare has broken out from the launch of their lower budget game From Dust, a unique god style puzzle game. It was revealed before launch that the game would be exclusively sold as a digital download, this is when concerns arouse. Ubisoft is a well known fan of intricate and complicated DRM which is why it was such a surprise when they released this public statement. “To prevent any on-going confusion we would like to clarify From Dust PC will release with DRM requiring a one-time only online activation.” Fans rejoiced, with their fears assuaged and the promise of a fancy mask for Team Fortress 2 they rushed to pre-order the game. Just days later the game was delayed 3 weeks without explanation on PC. Worried fans took to the Internet, only to find the very same article claiming “one-time only online activation” has been modified to state “From Dust’ requires an internet connection when you start the game”. With no statement or explanation, even weeks later, fans are furious. Demands of refunds by nearly everyone who pre-ordered, with Steam caught in the crossfire. Steam, specifically, must be very unhappy about this situation. “Always-On DRM” being explicitly against Steam’s TOS in addition to Steam customer support being bombarded with angry customers. This whole situation just leaves customers with a very bad taste in their mouth and makes PC gaming as a whole look very bad.
I personally have been following From Dust since it’s announcement over a year ago. Being a fan of Spore and The Sims, I was very excited for the release of this game. Being that I don’t play Team Fortress and preordering a digital item just seems silly, I abstained. Not soon after this DRM mess began. I took note that while many were complaining that From Dust had Always-On DRM, no one had actually complained that it was problematic for them. I decided that any time I was to be playing I would be connected to the internet so I purchased the game. After a grand total of 18 minutes gameplay, the game would no longer let me play the game, despite my active 24mbit internet connection. With no explicit reason (as per Ubisoft’s style), I took to their support site. Unfortunately this glorified FAQ offered no help or understanding to why I use unable to play the game I had just legally purchased.
From Dust was the first PC game I have purchased in almost 2 years, I can’t say that I will be rushing back for more. Ironically enough a cracked version of the game had hit the torrents a day before the game was released. The DRM didn’t prevent any piracy. It prevented sales. I believe the best way to sum up my new stance on tough DRM; If I need to worry about my network connection to play a singleplayer game, I will not be buying that game.