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Ubisoft 'always on' DRM cracked for good?

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 23 Apr 2010 11:53 User comments (12)

Ubisoft 'always on' DRM cracked for good? A group of hackers with the group name "SkidRow" have announced today that they have found a way to completely circumvent Ubisoft's "always on" DRM, DRM that forces gamers to remain connected to the Internet at all times or lose the ability to play their legitimately purchased game.
The controversial DRM was implemented first in Assassin's Creed II and Silent Hunter 5 but Ubisoft said recently they would keep the DRM on for all upcoming games.

The new hack (a modified .exe) by SkidRow disables the DRM entirely and allows for users to play their game without worrying about losing their progress if their Internet cuts out for a second.

As an extra poke at Ubisoft, the .NFO file attached to the hack says: "Thank you Ubisoft, this was quite a challenge for us, but nothing stops the leading force from doing what we do. Next time focus on the game and not on the DRM. It was probably horrible for all legit users. We just make their lives easier."

Maybe Ubisoft will get the hint.

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12 user comments

123.4.2010 12:28

Nope the graysuits have to close any and all loopholes that do not make the money even if it loses them money.....

223.4.2010 13:00

Thank something holy on this one. It was a rediculus requirment especially for a single player game sold at full price. If ubisoft wants me to play a game solo and be connected to the internet than they better pay my ISP themselves. Otherwise sell the game at 50% because my connection is not cheap.

Remember when you could download the multiplayer for FEAR and play for free? Because of that the 'box' edition of FEAR for PC was the first game I had actually paid for in about 2 years. Give a little and you can get back a lot, especially if you want me to buy a game that follows the slip that was the first assassins creed.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 23 Apr 2010 @ 13:01

323.4.2010 13:04

Skidrow... well said, well done. that stupid type of DRM is lousy.

423.4.2010 13:30

trouble is, when the ubisoft manager gets a phonecall from the salesman that sold him this drm soloution telling him that the next iteration of their software is even better, even harder to crack, and will piss off even more of their paying customers, said ubisoft manager will say "yes please here's squillions of pounds"

they never learn

523.4.2010 14:30

Well I feel happy and at the same time sad reading this...

I'm happy because this proves that Ubisoft cannot stop users from playing a single player game the way it means to be played - Hassle free way... Now they know that their stupid DRM can be cracked... I Feel sorry for them... Hope they spent years and lots of $$$ developing this DRM

I'm sad because this crack will actually lead some users to buy the game... Some people were avoiding the game just because they need to be always connected to the internet to play...

Myself I never enjoyed AC1 a lot... First it was fun running, ridding, jumping in the roof tops, picking pockets, fighting, killing etc... But once you play for some time you notice that the game play is insanely repetitive... Same old stuff... You get bored with it... Haven't tried AC2 yet... Hope they have done something regarding the issue :)

Ah... and the crack is not a modified EXE... It is a DLL ( Dynamic Link Library ) which you have to replace for the original one. This goes to the Ubisoft Launcher directory.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 23 Apr 2010 @ 14:35

624.4.2010 1:36

"I'm sad because this crack will actually lead some users to buy the game... Some people were avoiding the game just because they need to be always connected to the internet to play."

Well, I think a lot of them are just going to pirate it, and in the process, learn to pirate games in general. It is sad because other publishers will now loose sales as legit customers have been forced to be pirates, and why bother buying any game at that point?

If ubisoft is this concerned about piracy, they should only release PS3 games; all other forms are going to get pirated; it is unavoidable...and DRM only makes piracy more common (remember the piracy figures before DRM started showing up?)

724.4.2010 5:09

Originally posted by KillerBug:
"I'm sad because this crack will actually lead some users to buy the game... Some people were avoiding the game just because they need to be always connected to the internet to play."

Well, I think a lot of them are just going to pirate it, and in the process, learn to pirate games in general. It is sad because other publishers will now loose sales as legit customers have been forced to be pirates, and why bother buying any game at that point?
Apparently they missed notion, much as you did, that average people are generally honest unless forced to be otherwise.

Your average gamer isn't going to pirate things just because they can, and the ones who do, aren't the ones who would have bought the game anyway. The whole figure of "lost sales" used to promote DRM is completely fabricated, much like how the music industry pulls made-up statistics out their arse every time they want to sue someone.

We buy games we want to own, and the availability of an alternative isn't going to drive us to piracy any more than a lack of inventory control system at a local store is going to drive us to shoplifting.

The ONLY thing ANY game publisher will ever have to blame for ACTUAL lost sales, is the DRM that they, themselves, put in the product. Ubisoft lost their sale of AC2 to me over piracy, and I haven't even pirated it yet. I, like many others, refused to buy a game that I would be restricted from playing simply due to a flaky ISP. Will I pirate it when the crack is available? maybe, maybe not... but either way, their sale is already lost. If, one day, they update the game and completely remove all the DRM, I will probably buy it, regardless of whether I pirated it first or not. Of course, by then, it will probably be a sale only worth half as much, or less--once I've waited a year or two for the DRM to come out, another 3 months for it to go on sale isn't going to kill me.

824.4.2010 6:17

No, you miss the point. When someone buys a game like this, and then cannot play it, they try to return it to the store, and the store refuses to take it back because it is opened. So, the person goes home and finds the crack. While they are at it, they find Demonoid.com, and they realize that there is no reason to buy games from the media cartels, especialy when you have to crack legal games...and illegal games come with the crack pre-installed. On top of that, they may very well end up downloading the entire pirated version, and never using the DVD they bought other than the inital, useless install.

Why would one pay $50 for a game, only to go and crack it (thus making it an illegal game). You could just pirate it, and rather than commiting 2 crimes (the cracking and the downloading of illegal software), you only commit one crime (the downloading of illegal software).

I won't say I'm a software pirate (the 5th amendment says I don't have to admit to anything), but I will say that the DRM built into the Orange Box was enough to convince me not to BUY pc games anymore...and that DRM was nothing compaired to always-on DRM.

927.4.2010 2:44

Originally posted by KillerBug:
No, you miss the point. When someone buys a game like this, and then cannot play it, they try to return it to the store, and the store refuses to take it back because it is opened. So, the person goes home and finds the crack. While they are at it, they find Demonoid.com, and they realize that there is no reason to buy games from the media cartels, especialy when you have to crack legal games...and illegal games come with the crack pre-installed. On top of that, they may very well end up downloading the entire pirated version, and never using the DVD they bought other than the inital, useless install.

Why would one pay $50 for a game, only to go and crack it (thus making it an illegal game). You could just pirate it, and rather than commiting 2 crimes (the cracking and the downloading of illegal software), you only commit one crime (the downloading of illegal software).

I won't say I'm a software pirate (the 5th amendment says I don't have to admit to anything), but I will say that the DRM built into the Orange Box was enough to convince me not to BUY pc games anymore...and that DRM was nothing compaired to always-on DRM.
I thought about this happening eventually too.

1030.4.2010 21:40

While I could care less as I will likely never play the game anyway, I find the idea of having to have an always-on internet connection just to run software that you have legally purchased to be quite abhorrent.

I can understand having to register something and activating online (once) or maybe even having to have a disc in now and then but Ubisoft took it too far.

I'd imagine though that some future patch will kill the hack and they'll have to patch that too. Eventually almost anything can be cracked/hacked. Chances are that if it can't be, it will also be virtually unusable.

111.5.2010 0:10

Originally posted by Zanfer:
Well I feel happy and at the same time sad reading this...

I'm happy because this proves that Ubisoft cannot stop users from playing a single player game the way it means to be played - Hassle free way... Now they know that their stupid DRM can be cracked... I Feel sorry for them... Hope they spent years and lots of $$$ developing this DRM

I'm sad because this crack will actually lead some users to buy the game... Some people were avoiding the game just because they need to be always connected to the internet to play...

Myself I never enjoyed AC1 a lot... First it was fun running, ridding, jumping in the roof tops, picking pockets, fighting, killing etc... But once you play for some time you notice that the game play is insanely repetitive... Same old stuff... You get bored with it... Haven't tried AC2 yet... Hope they have done something regarding the issue :)

Ah... and the crack is not a modified EXE... It is a DLL ( Dynamic Link Library ) which you have to replace for the original one. This goes to the Ubisoft Launcher directory.
@Zanfer you are completely right about AC1. However, AC2 is a vast improvement imho. Mostly much more enjoyable and worth a go. Some missions I repeated just because there was that many different ways to pull them off.

And hats off to Skidrow. It just convinces me that whatever DRM crap is pulled somebody(s) will bypass it. So I'm not put off PC gaming at all. As far as I know AC2 for PC is already cracked (but in this case I played a legit copy on X360).

BTW, ask yourself, who is doing the DOS attack on Demonoid currently???
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 01 May 2010 @ 0:20

121.5.2010 12:44

Originally posted by KillerBug:
No, you miss the point. When someone buys a game like this, and then cannot play it, they try to return it to the store, and the store refuses to take it back because it is opened. So, the person goes home and finds the crack. While they are at it, they find Demonoid.com, and they realize that there is no reason to buy games, especialy when you have to crack legal games...and illegal games come with the crack pre-installed.

Why would one pay $50 for a game, only to go and crack it (thus making it an illegal game). You could just pirate it, and rather than commiting 2 crimes (the cracking and the downloading of illegal software), you only commit one crime (the downloading of illegal software).

The DRM built into the Orange Box was enough to convince me not to BUY pc games anymore...and that DRM was nothing compaired to always-on DRM.
If I were to play AC2, I would pirate it. The only reason would be because of the crappy DRM. Other than DRM issues (which have ruined at least two games I've purchased), I buy all my games. Saying that knowledge to pirate will increase piracy is a load of bull.

Also, you really don't know much about how these things work. I could buy the game and then crack the DRM, which would be a breach of EULA, which could technically be called a crime, but almost never enforced and near impossible to track down.

Or you could download the game and crack it or get a pre-cracked version. Both of those include downloading illegal software that you never purchased, and that download is easily traced by your ISP.

Orange Box DRM pissed you off? The way I'm looking at things, you just want any excuse possible to pirate. Steam allows you to install on as many PCs as you want, downloading the game for free for forever. The downside is that you can't sell it as a used game, but the service Steam provides to gamers is incredible. I'm almost to the point where I will not get a game at all unless it's on Steam. Yes, the DRM on steam games can be easily cracked and you can get them all for free, but free or not the gaming experience and ease of use are the same.

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