My computer downtime caused me to miss most of the excitement and fury over Ubisoft's announcement that their upcoming PC titles - starting with Assassin's Creed II and Settlers 7, but theoretically extending to all future PC releases - will have a heretofore unheard of level of DRM for a single-player game: they require a constant internet connection, active at all times while playing. No 'net, no game. Should your internet connection drop, you'll be more or less immediately (after around 10 seconds) booted from the game, and won't be allowed to play again until the connection is restored. Of course, logically this will also happen if there should be a connection failure on Ubisoft's side, but naturally they've assured us that such a thing will never happen. Mmm-hm.
Anyhow, I don't want to waste too many words going into the details of the implementation, why I think it's a horrible idea, or why I believe it will fail (quick prediction: low sales for Assassin's Creed II on the PC will still be blamed on piracy, the thing this is theoretically being implemented to prevent). The rest of the internet covered that last week while I couldn't post.
But I do have to take a moment to express regret, because in my view this ends badly for everyone. I've liked Ubisoft as a company for years. A lot of their titles - the Splinter Cell games, the Prince of Persia games (Warrior Within notwithstanding), the Far Cry series, Beyond Good & Evil, the Rayman Rabbids games on the Wii, and most recently the Assassin's Creed games all come to mind - have been really high quality games, and it seemed to me like in most cases they'd been rewarded for those with both critical and sales success. I played Assassin's Creed I on the PC and loved it. It looked better, it came with exclusive content, and it had the typical $10-less-than-console price. My plan had been to re-sell my 360 copy of Assassin's Creed II, and pick up the PC version instead when it came out, so that I could enjoy the game again on my platform of choice.
As it turns out, in addition to the laughable connectivity requirement, the PC version of Assassin's Creed II is releasing at a $60 price point. Never mind the fact that almost all PC games (Modern Warfare 2 notwithstanding - another game I didn't buy) cost $50 or less; ACII in particular can be had right now, brand new, for under $40 on the 360 or the PS3. So this time around, the PC gets a product with no new content, an unprecedented level of restriction, and we're asked to pay almost $25 more than the game's current value on its other platforms. As far as I can see there is no goddamned reason to even consider the PC version if you have access to either of the console ones. You'll get a worse experience, and pay more for it.
To see Ubisoft acting this way towards an entire platform baffles and upsets me. I want to give them my money to play great games. Again, my plan was to purchase ACII twice just for the pleasure of playing it again on the PC, and I was excited about it. But they are actively coming up with reason after reason for me not to do that.
So I won't. And I recommend you don't, either. ...nice job, Ubi.