Well, it's official as it's ever going to get with them.
Assassin's Creed II will have Ubisofts fancy new DRM. Now not all DRM is bad, Steam works quite well in terms of DRM, but I don't think this one will.
Well, it seems that you need an active internet connection for a single player game. It's not single player as in MMORPGs like WoW, but single player as in say, solitare. You don't need an active internet connection to play solitare, neither do you need one for single player games like Tropico 3, Supreme Commander, or even any Steam game with a single player mode.
Now I wasn't happy with Ubisoft to begin with. They were announcing a simultaneous release of the game on PS3, XBox 360 and PC, but they decided to delay it. And what kind of notice did they give PC gamers? Well, a twitter message. That was all the warning that we got.
So, hopefully this "best quality game" will be fucking amazing, or their definition of "better quality game" is one that doesn't try to take advantage of the latest Direct X (opting to use 9 instead, because it's essentially a port of the 360 game, incidentally Assassin's Creed used Direct X 10), and completely retarded DRM.
Clearly they did this because that's what PC gamers want, a reason to pirate the game.
Now, I'm going to state for, the record as it were, that I'm not going to pirate it. I was given a pre-order as a late Christmas present/early birthday present (back when it was slated for a January release) so my copy will be a proper copy so Ubisoft will get their money.
They are essentially punishing honest PC gamers with this DRM. Even some developers agree.
Why don't I like it? Well because I have a crappy connection and there is no offline play.
Right now my connction is probably as fast as a dial up one. I don't know why, the ISP doesn't know why, I suspect that Telstra (who run the exchange, but aren't my ISP) knows why but won't tell anyone, but it's really slow. It also hangs on pages.
Now ACII will have cloud saving, like Modern Warfare 2, except not on Steam. Now both games save locally, so the cloud is only really there as a backup or the off chance you'll go somewhere else to play.
What do I do if the internet is slow with MW2? I go into Steam, click 'File', click 'Go offline' and then wait for it to restart in offline mode. I can now play my game, which I bought legally in a store. Same applies with Empire: Total War.
In fact the only game where this doesn't apply is Audiosurf, and that's because while I can play it offline, I like being able to submit my scores to the server and see how good I am compared to other people. (It's been a while since I last played it, properly working internet or not.)
I suspect that ACII might sell pretty well on PC, but it will also be one of the most downloaded, because people will want to play online, and the pirates will take advantage of this. I think that it will be like Spore. People bought the game, but didn't install the proper copy because of fears of SecuROM. EA still got their money, but they also lost money because of it.
Treating honest gamers like this is only going to end badly. I my opinion Ubisofts decision is just punishing us for not having, or wanting, a console. People are already speculating on their official forum that this is the very plan. Make more people pirates so they can claim "piracy is too bad on PC, we're not making games for them".
But it's not just DRM that's annoying me. Ever since the twitter "announcement" (note: twitter is not a proper way to announce something if you are a company) Ubisoft have been virtually silent on the PC version. No real reason why they delayed the PC version, no reason why they initially promised a simultaneous release several months beforehand, not even release dates. People are still wondering about ambiguous statements regarding the Black edition, apparently Asia doesn't have an official release date yet.
They tell us essentially nothing, and yet they still expect us to buy their product.
I honestly don't think this is a sound business model that they are adopting.