Ubisoft announced in January that all their games would be using a copy protection method that requires players to be online all the time they're playing. It would even reset you to your last checkpoint in Assassin's Creed 2, we discovered last month. Ubi have since issued a patch to change that: you can now resume from where you left off. But last night, illegal versions of their new game Silent Hunter V started cropping up on the torrent sites. Had the system been cracked already? Would Ubisoft continue to insist paying customers stay online if pirates can play how they please? We asked them; here's what they said.
PC Gamer: Silent Hunter 5 is cropping up on a lot of torrent sites, with instructions saying that you can run a crack to play the game without needing to be online. Is Ubisoft aware of this?
Ubisoft: We are aware of the many varied attempts to crack Silent Hunter 5 and Assassin's Creed II, yes. At this point, we have not seen or validated any crack that actually allows a gamer with a pirated version to play the entire game. Certain cracked versions do allow for the player to start up the game but are only playable for a very short time.
PCG: Once pirates have bypassed this DRM for one game, can they use the same method to crack other Ubisoft games?
Ubisoft: Without giving away the technology secrets.... no the same method cannot be used.
PCG: If a widely available working cracked version of an Ubisoft game is out, will you patch the option of an offline mode for paying customers? Is that even possible?
Ubisoft: It is possible, yes. And it's a valid part of a varied set of options that we would consider.
So it's nothing concrete, yet, but it seems like the sane move. It could be seen as inviting a sort of hacker heroism: as if one brave pirate could crack this system and make it better for the rest of us. But that's not likely to lead to it being bypassed any quicker: the scene that does this stuff is clearly already working on it.
Usually we'd want to check the facts of a story, but for obvious reasons we haven't tried the illegal release of Silent Hunter V. There aren't enough reliable reports of either its legitimacy or any issues to judge either way, but we'll let you know if we hear anything definite.
Update: The comments we're seeing on torrent sites seem consistent with Ubisoft's claim that the release is incomplete. Eg.
"When i play a campaign in the game and finish the tutorial, i dock at Kiel and try to select a mission yet none appear."
"crack doesnt work :(
You cannot select a mission when u reach Kiel"
"Well I finished the first mission, went to Kiel, but after I can't start a new mission. Even if I try to start a new campaign, only the first mission is available"
For you personally, if Ubisoft removed the always-online requirement once a full hacked version of a game was out, would this system still be unacceptable?