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March 2, 2010

Ubisoft and EA Considering “Always ON” Game Authentications

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by Franz Bicar

Piracy has always been one of the most hated opponent of software manufacturers. With the millions in profit lost each year, it is even more hated by game publishers. That is why these companies have devised different ways to counter it. These steps that they have taken aren’t always met with positive responses, even by the legitimate paying customers.

Ubisoft and EA, two of the biggest game publishers today, are considering a new technique in verifying the integrity of their games. They want to apply the “Always On” policy for their PC games, especially for upcoming single-player titles like Assassin’s Creed 2, Silent Hunter 5, and Command & Conquer 4. The company said, this policy will make sure that the games being played are legitimate and not pirated copies.

The only problem with this setup, which will pretty much come under fire if ever these two companies will use it, is that a user must always be connected to the internet. And that’s not just on game startup, but continuous. During gameplay, authentication servers will try and authenticate the game anytime, so losing ones connection will cause the game to stop working. Unplug your Ethernet cable or disable your WLAN radio, will cause the games to stop.

A really nasty way of authentication if you ask me. But the publishers are trying their best to convince customers that this is the right way to go. For example, they are promising customers of several benefits with this setup:

1. Unlimited Installs
2. No Need for CD/DVD to Play
3. Saved games are synchronized online.

For me, these supposed “upsides” are not really that important. I just want to be able to install my game, load it up, and play - with or without an internet connection. You must also take into consideration that not all people live in a country with a strong internet infrastructure. There may be some customers who will experience disrruptions with their connections. What will happen to them then?

The truth is, the internet is really not that dependable. To some areas, maybe, but not to all. Hopefully, these two game publishers will see the flaws of this solution. Either that or risk alienating a lot of their potential customers. As a gamer myself, I would want an end to piracy. But not this way. Not in a way where even the legitimate paying customers have to suffer.

Story link: Ubisoft and EA Considering “Always ON” Game Authentications

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