'Uncrackable' DRM lasts 24 hours

'Uncrackable' DRM lasts 24 hours

Summary: Ubisoft's recently announced that a new DRM scheme for PC games that many claimed would be uncrackable. It appears that this DRM has been busted in 24 hours.


Ubisoft's recently announced that a new DRM scheme for PC games that many claimed would be uncrackable. It appears that this DRM has been busted in 24 hours.

The DRM mechanism in question, rolled out initially in Silent Hunter 5 and Assassin’s Creed 2, took a new approach in that it relied on having a constant internet connection in order that the game files could be checked continuously for modifications or tampering. If modified files were detected or the internet connection dropped (or for that matter if Ubisoft's servers went down), the game would shut down.

Now, I don't condone software piracy in any shape, way or form, and I'm a firm believer in the idea that you should pay your way in this world. That said, this DRM scheme comes across as awfully heavy-handed and annoying. This DRM sounded so annoying that it was unlikely to stand for long.

And it didn't.

A team of crackers going by the name of Skid-Row have managed to circumvent the DRM mechanism on Silent Hunter 5 in under 24 hours, releasing a crack for the game.

Finally, it's worth pointing out that I don't condone game cracks either. Not so much on ethical grounds (you know if you're using them responsibly or not), but because searching for them can lead you into some of the darker alleys of the internet, putting your PC at risk.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Security

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Sorry, Charlie

    Yeah, sure, sign me up for this: "a constant internet connection in order that the game files...be checked continuously." NOT. These guys own a lot of Time Warner and Comcast?
    • Even worse than..

      ..Windows, which only needs a connection every time you reinstall it, every time you upgrade a piece of hardware in it, and every time malware messes with a system file, not [i]constantly[/i].

      Ubisoft has truly risen the bar.. of failure.
  • I own Assassin's Creed

    Because of this stupid DRM scheme I will not be buying
    Assassin's Creed 2, EVER!

    Congratulations! Ubisoft you have lost a PAYING customer.
    • Agreed.

      I was even *thinking* of this game for a bonus for a new build. (A serious upgrade compared to this computer I'm no now.)

      It's bad enough steam requires it when you bought the disks (and then downloads and installs the game despite it being multi-CD or DVD based, or so it feels like) for the game(s). But fortunately, an Internet connection is only needed for updates after that.

      I won't put up with one that mandates this. There will be no PC version of this game in my future, and I doubt a console version either.

      If I find any other game the same way, I'll avoid it too.
  • DRM never works

    DRM only ever inconveniences the paying customer. I think DRM is more about creating artificial scarcity in a digital world where supply is infinite. Piracy? that's just a scapegoat, a straw man to hold up their geriatric business model.

    I know I am not buying any of their games and I am an avid PC Gamer, I bought dozens of PC games last year. This whole thing is a disaster that hurts us all, if they had released it with non-invasive DRM it would have sold well and made an argument for more games on the PC platform, but now, no one is going to buy this junk and the piracy numbers will be held up for all to see why we need more DRM, Ubisoft screwed us all with this one.
    User 13
    • A convenient DRM - Steam

      The Steam system allows me (a dial-up home user) to; (1) purchase/ download/ update games online at work (high-speed). (2) backup and restore (while dialed-in) onto my home pc. (3) go into Steam's offline mode and play the game.

      I assume Assassin?s Creed 2 on Steam would also require an always active Internet connection. Too bad, another lost sale.
      Bruce Lang
      • Don't forget

        Using Steam, if you install/reinstall your OS, you don't have to reinstall your games or restore a backup image, you just create a new shortcut, point it at the Steam executable and you're done.

        I've even moved the Steam folder to a different drive in my system, and all I had to do was edit the shortcut to point to the new location of the Steam folder and I was good to go.
        Hallowed are the Ori
      • Ah, but what about when Steam goes out of business

        Which it will at some point in the future? Or when Steam stops offering the game that you bought?

        Need I keep going on?

        NO DRM IS ACCEPTABLE FOR LEGITIMATE BUYERS! It's time for the game companies to realize that they are pissing off their best customers big time with this DRM bullhockey, and simply focus on taking out the commercial pirates.
      • Never pay full price on Steam

        In a nutshell, this is what you agreed to when you purchased your game through steam (and this is based off of their 'agreement' you're forced to accept):

        1.) You're not buying a game, you're simply subscribing to content. You never own anything you pay for on Steam.

        2.) Your compliance required, but they are not required to do anything even if the product is buggy or defective.

        3.) You cannot sell or gift your account, because they said so.

        4.) Your legally paid for games can be taken away from you at any time, for any reason. You do not own what you paid for.

        5.) You must pay up front and there are no refunds, of any kind, for any reason. Once they have your money, it's gone.

        6.) You don't own your (steam-enabled) store purchased games, either.

        7.) You are always at fault, not Valve/Steam.

        8.) Your purchased software on Steam is sold "as is", they may never fix your buggy or defective software.

        9.) You get no guarantee of continuous, error-free access to Steam or any of the games you buy on it.

        10.) You got a problem? Cancel your account.

        11.) You can cancel your account at any time, for any reason... so can Valve/Steam.

        ...sound fair?
        • agree with that.

          was 'gifted' a couple of steam games. they were enjoyable, but after I purchased one game and -then- looked into the agreement, I determined that it was pretty much a rip-off.

          You're stuck with the game, can't sell or trade it when you're done so it's useless afterwards.

          'Normal' games I can trade off or sell outright if I finish them, or decide I don't like them after all.

          Needless to say I haven't bought anything from steam since.

        • Same as any other DD

          I'm guessing you don't buy DLC on XBL or PSN?

          [i]8.) Your purchased software on Steam is sold "as is", they may never fix your buggy or defective software.[/i]
          Can I go back to Gamestop complaining of an XB360 game being buggy? I don't think so...

          RE: other items,
          1. Read the EULA on other games not purchased through Steam? Yea, same deal. Use that Serial Number online to register, then try to sell that game...Good luck!
          2. Same deal with other games not purchased through Steam.
          3. That's true, try to sell your already used Serial Coded game to someone else.
          4. While true, very rare this happens.
          5. Open a PC game you bought at a store, then try to get your money back.

          9. No need, you only need access to Steam to purchase, download and run the first time. I've played many of my games without incident offline.

          While Steam isn't perfect by any means. I'd rather use it than any other type of DRM.

          And don't think this won't be happening to console gaming as well. I can't count the number of times I've commented on this fact: the use of DLC on XBL and PSN shows that this type of DRM (content tied to an account, constant online access) WILL be coming to console gaming in the near future. This isn't just a PC gaming issue.

          [i]Edit: spelling[/i]
          WoW > Work
          • Console game issues

            Didn't something like that just happen with the PS3, in fact--because a chip thought that March 1, 2010 was February 29, 2010*, people were unable to access certain content, up to and including some of their games?

            *I believe it was the same problem that befell the original Zune at the end of 2008. For some reason, some chip that was apparently in both the pre-Slim PS3s and the first model of Zunes believes that 2008 was not a leap year, but that 2010 was.
            Third of Five
    • I agree

      I've been using computers since the very early 80's and every single form of copy protection from then to now has failed. There is a saying "Wherever there is a lock, there is a key"
      I remember having the ability to add a custom chip set to disk drives and low a behold it was able to copy just about anything. Electronic Arts was the toughest back then, but it was eventually cracked as well.

      • Remember the "Owner's Manual" challenge?

        I think it was in use in the early 90's.

        I remember one combat flight sim game that as copy protection showed you the image of an aircraft, and you had to identify it by looking its name up in the owner's manual. Get it wrong, and the game shut down.

        Of course, this was before stores began to deny returns of opened software, so people would Xerox the owner's manual, dupe the install floppies, and then take the game back to wherever they bought it for a refund.
        Hallowed are the Ori
        • James T. Kirk

          Yep, I remember those and the ones where they would print the images on red paper so that if you tried to copy it, it would come out all black. However since I worked in the offset printing industry, I learned a neat trick to copy red paper out of necessity. Simply place the red piece of paper in a shallow pan of bleach and watch it as it turns near white in a few minutes.
          • Dune and X-Wing...

            bad memories of making copies of the manuals just so I could play.
            Luckily for me though, my parents bought a flat-bed scanner and some
            photo editing program for their 486, so it made my job of making copies
            so much easier (hurray for the magic outline tool!)
          • @nix_hed

            I remember Railroad tycoon, and I think it was called M1 Abrams. Which was really funny because I spent some time in the Army and we had to memorize silhouettes of various types of military vehicles from US to Russian. So didn't even need to look to play! I already knew all of them.
            And for railroad tycoon, I was an avid N-scale collector for years before and knew most of the trains! Although the European ones threw me off for a while. :)
          • And, the "color blind" dots

            Remember the ones that were a mish mash of color dots. The game came with a colored gel sheet. You looked through the sheet, then could read the pattern to get the code you needed. One game had three gels. Looking at the same page, you could read three different codes through the three different lenses, all from the same page.
            Dr. John
          • @Dr. John

            Never saw that one.
        • Or, the other "Owner's Manual" challenge

          There were several Sierra games that you had to look up a specific word on a specific page of the manual to install and config the game. Like, "What is the 19th word on page 17 of the manual?".
          Dr. John