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Driver: San Francisco on PC Marks Return of Always-On DRM

Ubisoft is reviving one of its much maligned DRM policies.

Ubisoft has gone back and forth on its PC DRM policies. With Driver, it's back to always-on.
Ubisoft has gone back and forth on its PC DRM policies. With Driver, it's back to always-on.

Ubisoft's relationship with PC users has been a rocky one, thanks to the company's erratic DRM policies. Sometimes its games require a constant online connection to play, sometimes not.

Assassin's Creed II required an Internet connection at first, even if you were playing single-player. So did Splinter Cell: Conviction. Ubisoft eventually patched out that requirement, instead asking players to verify the game's authenticity through a login screen. After that, the game didn't check for an Internet connection. Ubisoft relied on a similar login method for Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Not perfect, but it worked.

Ubisoft is returning to the always-on requirement for the PC version of Driver: San Francisco.

"I can confirm that the PC version of Driver San Francisco will require an online connection to play in both single player and multiplayer modes," said Ubisoft public relations representative Dominic DiSanti to me this afternoon.

The change in DRM policy was noticed on the game's official Twitter account.

On the console versions of Driver, players will have to activate Uplay in order to access the game's multiplayer, as Ubisoft adopts the now regular "online pass" feature designed to combat used games.

"When we first introduced the connection requirement last year, we stated that our decision to implement it into our PC titles would be considered on a case by case basis and this remains true," said DiSanti. "We will assess each future PC title and strive to offer the best gameplay experience possible while also ensuring that we are protecting the amazing work and effort of our talented creative teams."

Part of the reason people react strongly to Ubisoft's DRM policy is out of principle. They own the content, why can't they play it, with or without Internet? The other reason is practical, as hackers brought down Ubisoft's DRM authentication servers, which prevented some users from being able to play Assassin's Creed II and Silent Hunter 5, two games with always-on DRM.

It's possible Ubisoft will change its stance, depending on user feedback; the company has done so in the past. As it stands, however, when Driver ships in September, it'll mark a return in DRM policy.

Patrick Klepek on Google+