Last week, Ubisoft, a company accused of using a draconian and convoluted protection scheme, backed down by announcing that its new game RUSE would use a less restrictive scheme.
The change highlights the tension between gamers and game companies regarding copy protection schemes. And it shows how companies struggle to balance fears over copyright infringement and the demands of their customers.
Legitimate copies of games, like other pieces of software, usually come with a unique code that unlocks it. But game companies are concerned about rampant sharing of pirated games online and the speed with which hackers can break ordinary "digital rights management" (DRM) schemes.
Earlier this year, Ubisoft launched a game called Assassin's Creed 2 with a controversial new "always-on" DRM scheme. The game required a player to be online so that it could check in with the company's servers to verify that the gamer had a genuine copy. Some players grumbled about the scheme before it even launched, and worried that the game would be unplayable if the company's servers went down, or if players didn't have a network connection. There was more trouble once the game went live--Ubisoft's servers couldn't handle the load of players, which meant that many people who had bought the game couldn't play it.