Ubisoft's decision to axe their exquisitely controversial always-on DRM policy came as good news this morning, but the publisher refuses to admit that their draconian piracy measures were a "mistake" on their part. What's more, they've also slightly elaborated on their recent "93-95%" piracy rate claim... which seemingly conflicted with the assertion that their DRM is actually working in the first place.
When asked whether always-on DRM represented a mistake on their part by Rock Paper Shotgun, Ubisoft worldwide director for online games Stephanie Perotti and corporate communications manager Michael Burk defended the practice as a leaning and feedback process.
"No, I wouldn’t say that," said Burk. "I’ll let Stephanie say what she thinks, but I wouldn’t use those words. This is a process, and we listened to feedback."
"I would say the same," added Perotti.
Perotti also defended Yves Guillemot's assertion of a 93-95% PC piracy rate, suggesting that the figures can't be released because they represent "competitive information." Apparently they're based on "internal and external research"... but only apply to "some specific or popular PC games," not Ubisoft's entire catalogue.
"With regard to the numbers, the numbers are coming from both internal and external research. Research showed that it can reach that rate for some specific or popular PC games, and that number often varies depending on the territory. So we are not saying that it applies to all PC games for all territories, and we’re not saying that the same situation would apply for any game."
These shockingly (some would say unfeasibly) high figures seemed to be completely at odds with a statement made in 2011, wherein a Ubisoft representative told PC Gamer that their DRM was creating "a clear reduction in piracy." Perotti dismissed it as an "unfortunate comment," but admits that keeping a tight lid on the figures has effectively neutered their previous arguments in the public eye.
"I’m not going to comment on data. That was an unfortunate comment. We have listened to feedback, and since June last year our policy for all of PC games is that we only require a one-time online activation when you first install the game, and from then you are free to play the game offline."
More details are available in the RPS Interview - it's well worth a read.
I daresay that this isn't the apology that many PC gamers have been looking for, but in fairness, it's great to see a publisher finally listen to reason. We're willing to take the win, though whether the DRM will be vicariously removed from existing titles remains to be seen.