So I stepped into this crapstorm and wrote an article which got quite a bit of attention. In it, I said that, entirely apart from the practical considerations of this DRM (which I think is a terrible idea), it would work. Which is to say that it could stay unbroken for the first 1-2 months of the game's release, when the title will get most of its sales. The Internet responded by calling me a moron, as it is an issue of religious faith that DRM can be broken instantly.
So let's look back in and see what's been going on. I think it is interesting in several ways.
The DRM has, apparently, 6 weeks after release, been released in a cracked form that is easy for the average laymen to install. Six weeks. In other words, long enough. I've read two articles to this effect.
(Some people on forums have claimed that a tricky-to-install crack was kicked out 4 weeks after release, but who trusts random people on forums? I have seen nothing in the Gaming Press on the topic. Which says a lot about the Gaming Press. But more on that in a second.)
So, and this point is very significant, I was right and everyone who criticized me was wrong! It's official! I win teh Internet!
Also, while crackers will get better at beating this DRM in its current form, it will only get better. I and others have suggested ways to make it stronger. It's only a matter of time. And that means that this DRM, loathsome as it is, is here to stay. If the game company executives were crazed enough by piracy to implement it, they're crazy enough to keep using it. Insert dire predictions about the future of PC gaming here.
But I want to chip in one more comment here, about the lamentable state of the gaming press. I honestly think that this new DRM is one of the biggest stories on PC Gaming in years. How Ubisoft's system works will determine if PC Gaming has a future, and how much that future will suck. It's an interesting story. So why hasn't anyone at the gaming sites actually investigated, like actual reporters, whether the DRM was cracked or not?
Look at the articles I linked to. One by the Escapist, long one of the best and most thoughtful sites writing on gaming, and one by cnet, a company with actual reporters and resources. They say that crackers have claimed they've broken this DRM (something others have claimed, only to be proven wrong). Why don't they check? If it's worth reporting on the claim, isn't it worth reporting on what reality actually is? I think this quote from the Escapist article (whose sole source is the cnet article) is very interesting.
I don't know if the claim is legit and I have neither Assassin's Creed 2 nor the patience necessary to dick around with warez sites and cracks in order to find out.
Now, I'm an Indie gaming developer, so calling out members of the gaming press is a very stupid thing to do. So I'm simply going to say to Andy Chalk, the author of the Escapist piece, that this is a great opportunity to do some investigative reporting and scoop everyone else in the world on a story of some interest. Go get 'em! I'd link to you!
But anyway. Since this sort of DRM seems to work well enough, the people who can make the decisions about whether to use it will feel that their decision was justified. Remember, they see piracy as an existential threat. This is important. They believe that unless they reduce piracy, the PC gaming biz is not worth it. When someone sees something as a life or death decision, they won't care how angry people get on the forums.
So I suspect you'll be seeing a lot more of it in the future. And, when enough of the titles people really want come out with it, most PC gamers will either grit their teeth and put up with it or abandon the platform.
And, as for me? I blame the pirates. Ubisoft's system is obnoxious, but it is legal, and they are in their right to do it. In a democracy, we all get what the worst of us deserve.
God, if I try to write about this again, please strike me down with holy, peace-bringing fire.