Game maker Ubisoft has dropped its notorious DRM requirement that all games must be played on computers that are continuously connected to the Internet, even for single-player modes. This comes after many years of categorical statements to the effect that this sort of DRM is an absolute necessity, that it stops piracy cold, and so forth. Rock, Paper, Shotgun interviews Ubisoft spokespeople on the issue, and they just dodge and twist and refuse to give any substantive answers. It's a fascinating read -- a perfect example of corporate doublespeak. Kidos to RPS for sticking to the subject.
RPS: Do you acknowledge that always-on DRM has been extremely damaging to Ubisoft’s reputation?
Burk: I think that, as Stephanie said, I think this is where that feedback comes in. We’ve obviously heard from PC customers that they were unhappy with some of the policies that we had in place, and that’s why we’re looking to make these changes – why we have been implementing these changes, as Stephanie says.
RPS: Would you be willing to say that it was a mistake?
Burk: No, I wouldn’t say that. I’ll let Stephanie say what she thinks, but I wouldn’t use those words. This is a process, and we listened to feedback.
Perotti: I would say the same.
RPS: So you say you’re not talking about data. I find that quite interesting bearing in mind data is the one thing that’s lacking in this entire discussion, across all publishers, the whole spectrum. The one thing no one’s ever shown is any data whatsoever to show DRM’s efficacy. Why do you think that is?
Perotti: I think they are complex topics, and as a company we do not disclose this kind of data for confidentiality reasons. As I said earlier, the situation can be very different, from different games, from different territories.
RPS: Whose confidentiality is being broken by publishing piracy rates?
Burk: It’s internally confidential meaning competitive, not necessarily that we’re breaking anyone’s confidentiality. It’s competitive information and therefore confidential.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.