In a move that hopes to thwart piracy but will most likely end up irritating legit customers only, Ubisoft revealed today that most of its upcoming games will require constant internet connection while playing.
Ubisoft has been vocal in the past about PC games piracy. Last July, the company pledged to defeat piracy with a then unannounced tool.
In addition to authenticating the game legitimacy with Ubidoft's servers, the new system will also store the player's configuration and savegames online and allow him to play the game from several PCs that are able to share the same data.
The first game to utilize the new system will be The Settlers 7: Paths to a Kingdom. Ubisoft didn't say whether Assassin's Creed II or Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction would follow suit.
"Ubisoft's number one goal is to provide added value that will facilitate and enrich the gaming experience of our PC customers. The Settlers 7 beta version is enabling players to discover that this platform empowers them to install the game on as many PCs as they wish, to synchronize saved games online so that gameplay can be continued from where they left off (from any computer with an installed version of the game) and frees them from needing a CD/DVD in order to play," the company said in an official statement to the press.
The system requires internet connection to be active while playing single player games as well. If the connection becomes disrupted during a single player session, the game pauses until the connection is available again.
"The platform requires a permanent Internet connection. We know this choice is controversial but we feel is justified by the gameplay advantages offered by the system and because most PCs are already connected to the Internet. This platform also offers protection against piracy, an important business element for Ubisoft and for the PC market in general as piracy has an important impact on this market. Any initiative that allows us to lower the impact of piracy on our PC games will also allow us to concentrate further effort on the creation and expansion of our intellectual properties for the PC - our goal is to deliver the best gaming experience to our customers."
We expect pirates to hack the new system in few days and after its launch and offer hassle-free versions of the games on p2p networks. In other words, legitimate Ubisoft customers won't be able to play their money-bought games on their laptops while travelling nor on their home PC if their internet connection is off for some reason or another. Needless to say, all those restrictions will be removed from pirated copies.