EDIT: Ubisoft would like to clarify it in fact stopped using Starforce’s anti-piracy software long before this new measure, and that its Online Service Platform is not connected in any way to Starforce.
Ubisoft will cease using the StarForce digital rights management application in favour of new measures designed to combat PC piracy.
Consumers of the company’s PC titles will be required to connect to Ubi.com accounts to authenticate games online each time they play them, meaning players will always need to be connected to the internet.
Users will be able to run games without a disc in the drive for authentication, and Ubisoft will allow unlimited installations. Save games will also be stored remotely on Ubisoft servers, enabling players to access them from any PC.
Brent Wilkinson, director of customer service and production planning at Ubisoft, told GameSpy that Ubisoft isn’t expecting a backlash from consumers over the new anti-piracy measures, which debuted with the recently launched Settlers 7 beta.
“We think most people are going to be fine with it. Most people are always connected to an internet connection,” he said.
Last July Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot spoke of the extent to which piracy was harming the publisher’s business, adding that the company was working to create solutions to combat the threat on handheld platforms and PC.
“On the PC the piracy is quite a lot. We are working on a tool that would allow us to decrease that on the PC starting next year and probably one game this year,” he said, without elaborating.
In 2008 Ubisoft launched a $20 million lawsuit against Optical Experts Manufacturing, the company that it contracted to reproduce copies of Assassin’s Creed for PC, after one of the firm’s employees allegedly posted a pirated copy of the game on the internet six weeks before its release. Ubisoft said that the leaked edition of the game was downloaded more than 700,000 times, costing the publisher millions of dollars, and that the pirated version of the title contained a bug, a factor that caused “irreparable harm” to its reputation.
The PC version of Assassin’s Creed 2 will launch in the UK on March 5 and in North America on March 16, Ubisoft confirmed today.