Ubi to gamers: Drop dead

Ubisoft’s new DRM scheme is bad.

A good DRM scheme needs to do three things 1) convert pirates into paying customers 2) convert more pirates than it chases away people who buy the software* without the DRM and 3) convert so many more pirates that it pays for the cost of implementing the DRM.

I know why software developers hate piracy. Developers, artists, marketers, et cetera are pouring their energy and time into creating something and it’s being taken from them without recompense. That must be infuriating. I’m vaguely surprised no one has taken a shotgun to pirate bay’s servers out of pure rage.**

Nonetheless, Ubisoft doesn’t answer to it’s artists. It answers to its shareholders. Seeing this DRM, I’m a bit surprised ubi’s owners*** aren’t up in (metaphorical) arms, demanding the (metaphorical) heads of their employees at UbiManagement.

Most pirates can’t be converted. They are parasites at best, saprophytes at worst. And because the pirates will be offered a work-anywhere, limits-free version of Ubi’s software, it will actually be a superior version. This will have the perverse effect of incentivizing piracy, possibly converting paying customers into non-paying thieves.

Add to that the shear cost of running servers 24/7. Ubi will be paying for it’s DRM until it goes out of business. They’ve actually decided to pay for every minute of frustration that they’re inflicting on their customers. That’s a novel sort of “share the pain” approach, but I see above: I think this move will cost them more customers than it will gain them.

So ultimately, I can only see this is a move born of pique, rather than business sense. Which is fine for artists, but bad for a company.

*Software here refers to the entire class of artifact that are infinitely reproducible without diminishing value of the artifact. This would include PC software, as well as books, movies and music.

**Thus proving that video games don’t cause violence.

***For US$10.65, you, too, can own about 1/1,00,000th of ubisoft


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