DRM Strikes Again: Ubisoft Makes Its Own Game Unplayable By Shutting Down DRM Server

DRM Strikes Again: Ubisoft Makes Its Own Game Unplayable By Shutting Down DRM Server

It’s not exactly a secret that we’ve been very anti-DRM here at Techdirt for some time. It’s honestly perplexing how anyone can be otherwise. DRM has shown time after time to be of almost no hindrance whatsoever for those seeking to pirate video games, but has done an excellent job of hindering those who actually bought the game in playing what they’ve bought. Ubisoft, in particular, has had issues with this over the years, with DRM servers failing and preventing customers from playing games that can no longer ping the DRM server.

And while those instances involved unforeseen downtime or migrations impacting customers’ ability to play their games, this time it turns out that Ubisoft simply stopped supporting the DRM server for Might and Magic X-Legacy. And now basically everyone is screwed.

Last month, Ubisoft decided to end online support for a bunch of older games, but in doing so also brought down the DRM servers for Might and Magic X – Legacy, meaning players couldn’t access the game’s single-player content or DLC.

As Eurogamer reports, fans were not happy, having to cobble together an unofficial workaround to be able to continue playing past a certain point in the single-player. But instead of Ubisoft taking the intervening weeks to release something official to fix this, or reversing their original move to shut down the game’s DRM servers, they’ve decided to do something else.

They have simply removed the game for sale on Steam.

This, of course, does nothing for the people who already bought the game and now suddenly cannot progress through it completely, as all the DLC is non-functional. They can play the game up until a point, but then it just doesn’t work.

There are multiple bad actions on Ubisoft’s part here. First, using DRM like this is a terrible idea with almost no good consequences. But once it’s in use, you would think it would be the obligation of the company to ensure any changes it makes on its end don’t suddenly render purchases made by its customers unplayable. In other words, rather than ending support for a DRM server that nixes parts of a paid-for game, the company could have rolled out patches to remove the DRM completely so that none of this happened. After all, with the game no longer even available as a new purchase, what would be the harm in removing the DRM? And, of course, there’s the total lack of communication to Ubisoft customers about basically all of this.

Which is what has people so understandably pissed.

Players are now understandably pissed, taking to the game’s Steam reviews to leave messages like:

“Doesn’t work anymore. Ubisoft refuses to fix the game. Pathetic.”

“Ubisoft took my money then shut it down.”

“This is theft, and if Steam and the relevant governments are fine about it, it’s legal theft. I will never purchase anything from Ubisoft anymore on principle, even if they decide to try and do something about this mess.”

All because Ubisoft just cannot imagine a world where the DRM its using could just go away, leading to happier paying customers.

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team