Posts Tagged Ubisoft

Super Podcast Action Committee – Episode 76

Super Podcast Action CommitteeA day late and a dollar short would be the best way to describe Episode 76. It was recorded a few days after Extra Life (which admittedly messed with our scheduling and mental stability in the early part of the week). Add to that some technical difficulties with editing the show and you have an episode that is a week late. Nevertheless the topics we talk about on the show are timeless enough that you’ll still enjoy it. Hosts Andrew Eisen and E. Zachary Knight talk about the latest GamePolitics poll, Extra life marathons, Ubisoft’s unfortunate handling of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, and some predictions on the next-generation consoles coming out at the end of this week and next week. Download Episode 76 now: SuperPAC Episode 76 (1 hour, 14 minutes) 68.5 MB.

As always, you can subscribe to the show on iTunes and use our RSS Feed to add the show to your favorite news reader. You can also find us on Facebook, on Twitter@SuperPACPodcast and Google +. You can send us feedback on the show by dropping a note to superpacpodcast@gmail.com.

Credits: The Super Podcast Action Committee is hosted by E. Zachary Knight and Andrew Eisen, and produced by James Fudge. The show is edited by Jose Betancourt. Music in the show includes “Albino” by Brian Boyko and “Barroom Ballet” by Kevin MacLeod. Both are in the public domain and free to use. ECA bumper created by Andrew Eisen.

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Super Podcast Action Committee – Episode 19

Super Podcast Action CommitteeIn Episode 19 of the Super Podcast Action Committee host Andrew Eisen and E. Zachary Knight discuss his birthday, his near-death experience last week, Steam Greenlight’s early hurdles, the latest GamePolitics poll, and Ubisoft’s new DRM policy. Download it here: SuperPAC Episode 19 (57 Minutes).

As always, you can subscribe to the show on iTunes and use our RSS Feed to add the show to your favorite news reader. You can also find us onFacebook (where there’s an app that will let you listen to the show), and on Twitter @SuperPACPodcast. You can send us feedback on the show by dropping a note to superpacpodcast@gmail.com.

Credits: The Super Podcast Action Committee is hosted by E. Zachary Knight and Andrew Eisen, and produced by James Fudge. Music in the show includes “Albino” by Brian Boyko and “Barroom Ballet” by Kevin MacLeod. Both are in the public domain and free to use.

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Ubisoft Learns Hitting Customers Over The Head And Calling Them Thieves Is Not Good Policy

Originally Published on Techdirt.

For many years, Ubisoft has been the go-to company for stories about DRM gone horribly wrong. They really seemed to believe that always-on DRM actually does something to stop piracy. That was followed with story after story after story of Ubisoft doing things that harm only paying customers and generally shoot themselves in the foot. You can go back over our posts about the company to see just how badly they have handled piracy for years. It really looked like the company was never going to learn the simple fact that it is more important to maximize sales than to fight piracy. So imagine our surprise when the following story came to light.

Ubisoft began making the rounds early this week, contacting a number of video game sites including Gamasutra and Rock, Paper, Shotgun and providing interviews. The purpose of these interviews? To tell the world that Ubisoft has changed its DRM ways. Much like the end of Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ in which Scrooge takes to the streets to spread peace and goodwill, Ubisoft wants the world to know that it believes that providing its customers with the best gaming experience is the most important part of its new strategy.

In the interview with Gamasutra, Ubisoft’s VP of digital publishing Chris Early speaks about its past use of always-on DRM.

If you look back to early 2011 and before, we did at one point in time go with an always-on activation, for any game. We realized that while it was probably one of the strictest forms of DRM, it wasn’t the most convenient for our customers. We listened to the feedback, and have removed that requirement from those games, and stopped doing that going forward.

This is interesting because we had been complaining about always-online DRM since at least 2010 and other forms of Ubisoft DRM since 2006. However, the fact that they are actually listening to the feedback of consumers is a huge plus for them. This is a bold move for the company that decided that paying customers wouldn’t miss playing their games at all for a few days while it moved its servers.

What we’re trying to do is make [playing a game] easy for players who have legitimately bought our software, and at the same time put a registration requirement, or one-time activation requirement in, that includes some element of [software] protection.

The reality is, given enough time and effort, any game can be pirated, and many are. But what we’re looking to do is validate the customer, then provide value to that customer for registering their software.

This is exactly what many customers have been asking for and many other successful companies have been giving. This idea that providing value to paying customers is a better way for success has been one that companies like Valve, Stardock and CD Projekt Red have known for years. But this lesson on DRM is not the only one that Ubisoft has learned.

Ubisoft also seems to have learned some very important lessons about piracy in general. Specifically, that not all people pirating a game are doing so just to get free stuff and that not all pirated copies are a lost sale.

I don’t believe that every single pirated copy is a lost sale. In some cases I’m sure it’s just someone trying out a game. At some level, you can almost look at it as a demo program. So as far as many of those could’ve been sales? I’m not sure.

In general, when people talk about piracy, there are all kinds of reasons cited, whether it’s because of an economic imbalance, where people can’t afford to buy a game in that particular [geographical territory], or it’s a challenge, or it’s someone who doesn’t believe in supporting publishers by giving them money. There’s a whole variety of reasons. That’s why we want to focus on the rewards and benefits of owning the software.

This is another idea that other companies have known for a while, that piracy is the result of under-served customers. By focusing efforts on making the paid option more attractive than the free options, you can capture more sales than if you spent your time trying to stop piracy.

Over at RPS, They didn’t go quite so easy on Ubisoft’s representatives. RPS asked many times for a statement on just how bad its DRM was for paying customers and whether Ubisoft had any regrets, but all RPS ever got were whitewashed PR statements.

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.

This attitude of not wanting to admit to any mistakes while still making this sweeping change in policy has the potential to leave a lot of people with a bad taste in their mouths. While the company is no longer hitting their customers over the proverbial head, they have not yet apologized for those actions, at least not out right. A good apology could go a long way in smoothing things over with their past and future customers — though perhaps just the act of changing and admitting to the change is a form of an apology for many.

Over all, this is a great move by one of the last hold outs in regards to video game DRM. While many other companies still require some form of DRM, none were quite so bad as Ubisoft in that regard. Hopefully, this change of heart will echo throughout the gaming industry and all developers will abandon efforts in the futile fight against piracy and instead focus on maximizing sales through added value for their customers. Ubisoft has a bright future ahead of itself on this path and I wish them all the best of luck.

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Super Podcast Action Committee – Episode 16

Super Podcast Action CommitteeNote: I was not available for this episode as my wife was having a baby and James basically told me he wasn’t going to let me join in so that I can tend to the new one.

In Episode 16 of the Super Podcast Action Committee, Andrew Eisen and James Fudge (filling in for E. Zachary Knight, who had to take a well-deserved time-out to fawn over a new addition to his family this week) talk about Mugen Souls, Resident Evil 5, the chaos of OnLive, the irony of Ubisoft turning Uplay into a digital distribution platform, and the controversy over “girlfriends” and Borderlands 2. Download Episode 16 here: SuperPAC Episode 16 (1 Hour, 12 Minutes).

As always, you can subscribe to the show on iTunes and use our RSS Feed to add the show to your favorite news reader. You can also find us on Facebook (where there’s an app that will let you listen to the show), and on Twitter @SuperPACPodcast. You can send us feedback on the show by dropping a note to superpacpodcast@gmail.com.

Credits: The Super Podcast Action Committee is hosted by E. Zachary Knight and Andrew Eisen, and produced by James Fudge. Music in the show includes “Albino” by Brian Boyko and “Barroom Ballet” by Kevin MacLeod. Both are in the public domain and free to use.

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Ubisoft Director Backtracks On Piracy Complaints After Public Lashing

This article was originally published on Techdirt.com.

Thanksgiving week was not a good week for Ubisoft Shanghai creative director Stanislas Mettra. When asked if a PC version of the game I Am Alive would be coming, he responded that it wouldn’t because of piracy.

It’s hard because there’s so much piracy and so few people are paying for PC games that we have to precisely weigh it up against the cost of making it. Perhaps it will only take 12 guys three months to port the game to PC, it’s not a massive cost but it’s still a cost. If only 50,000 people buy the game then it’s not worth it.

This statement and one about PC gamers “bitching” got the gaming press and PC gamers all riled up. Very soon the news was everywhere that Ubisoft, the company pushing always on DRM and complaining about piracy on the PC at every turn, was at it again. This bad publicity led to Mettra backtracking on his comments.

What I meant is that the pc version did not happen yet [sic]. But we are still working to see the feasibility of it, which is not necessarily simple. I gave some examples to illustrate the problematic [sic], but obviously it is not in my hands and not my part to talk about this.

Although he attempts to avoid the topic of piracy specifically in his retraction, he still leaves the reader with the same message, PC gaming is a losing venture. Is this in the Ubisoft training material or something? Are they trained to believe that the PC is rife with piracy and that it should be treated with the utmost contempt and caution? It wasn’t that long ago that other Ubisoft developers were complaining about the same thing.

I would be happy to leave this discussion at that if it weren’t for the comments from a few other developers that same week on the very same topic. While Mettra believes the problem lies with piracy and the lack of paying customers on the PC, these other developers came to a very different conclusion. First we have Devolver CFO Fork Parker speaking about the PC version of Serious Sam 3:

Piracy is a problem and there is no denying that but the success of games like Skyrim and our own Serious Sam 3 on PC illustrates that there is clearly a market willing to pay for PC games, It’s on the developers and publishers to put something out on the market that’s worth paying for in the first place. Those that place the blame on the consumer need to rethink the quality of their products and the frequency in which they shovel out derivative titles each year.

The other side of the equation is the distribution model. In games, we have amazing PC digital download services like Steam, Get Games and Direct2Drive doing the same thing for games that iTunes did for music. Offer the consumer a variety of great digital content at a reasonable price and the majority will happily pay for the games that suit their tastes.

Here is a developer who recognizes that the market for PC games is ripe for the taking. Gamers are willing to buy quality product. If the game fails to turn a profit it is not the fault of the gamer or the pirates, it is the fault of the developer and publisher. If they take advantage of the services that PC gamers use to distribute their games, they will see a return on that investment.

Next we have Valve’s CEO, Gabe Newell, speaking on the subject once again.

We think there is a fundamental misconception about piracy. Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem. For example, if a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24/7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country three months after the U.S. release and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate’s service is more valuable.

Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customer’s use or by creating uncertainty.

I know we quote Newell a lot when the topic of game piracy comes up, but his comments are always relevant. He is a man who gets it. He has learned that the battle with piracy cannot be won through the use of DRM, region restrictions or any other restriction that you can throw at the customer. This is something that Ubisoft has continually failed to learn. If you want to succeed in PC gaming, you need to bring the games to where the customers are, make them available and restrict them as little as possible. When you do that, honest customers will support you.

Really Ubisoft, this is getting old. I feel like a parent scolding his child for the 20th time about hitting his sister. You think the child gets it after the first time and that the second time is an honest mistake. But, when the child continues to hit his sister, you need to take drastic disciplinary action. What will it take to get the message through to those in charge at Ubisoft? Gamers want your games and will buy them, but you have to provide the service they want. That is the only way you will succeed.

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