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Tag: splinter cell: conviction

Pirates defeat Ubisoft DRM. Are ninjas next?

by on Apr.26, 2010, under games


I hope you like angry verbage.

This week will see the release of Splinter Cell for the PC. On the surface, this seems like an excellent idea. A gaming machine will render Mr. Fisher and his victims beautifully. I heartily welcome rich, cooperative experiences on PC. That’s partly why WoW kept me coming back for two and a half years. And all that moody sneaking being lovingly rendered by your expensive rig will immediately halt if you lose connection to Ubisoft’s servers.

This isn’t the first volley of incendiary equine excrement Ubi has lobbed, they’ve promised it won’t be the last, and I’m certainly not the first to vent my ire in regards to it. The concept of having to ask permission to use something I purchased on a moment to moment basis is enough to incite apoplexy. It is truly horrible to know this is a real thing. And they’re not the only ones doing it.

Enough anti-DRM hate speech for now.

An obvious retort is that most PC gamers have a constant broadband connection. Certainly this is necessary to support the torrents we’re constanly downloading. Folks who live in the sticks who can’t get fancy big city internet are stuck. Even an always on connection might not be good enough: a glitch in your LAN, ISP, or Ubisoft’s servers will interupt your game with prejudice. This means Ubi can literally turn your game off at a whim.

Another rejoinder offered is to blame software pirates, not Ubisoft for this move. Ubi has every right and a fiscal responsibility to prevent the wholesale theft of their goods, and the problem wouldn’t exist if there were no software pirates. They probably know that not every instance of a pirated game represents a lost sale. Many people who torrent games simply don’t have the money to spend or wouldn’t have bothered with a game if they had to pay for it. In rare cases it can result in purchases by gamers who feel guilty or who treat it like an extended demo. Interestingly enough there isn’t a PC demo of Splinter Cell: Conviction.

My objection here isn’t that Ubi is trying to protect its intellectual property, but how they’ve gone about it. Stealing a page from government playbooks everywhere, Ubisoft has implemented an innefectual solution with a high profile for the sake of being seen to be doing something. Predictably, there are already multiple ways to circumvent the system, methods available to legitimate and illegitimate users alike.

My fervent hope from all this is that other companies see how useless this approach is and try to combat piracy by working with gamers, by treating us with respect rather than contempt.

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My Lack of Conviction, or Why I Won’t Play Splinter Cell

by on Apr.20, 2010, under games

Some of the fondest game moments of my adult life come from the Splinter Cell series. But I will not play Conviction.

Crouched in a corner, breath bated, I trained my suppressed pistol on the guard. His every step brought his unsuspecting forehead closer to the bullet.

I loved the abject terror of skulking past a group of machine gun wielding soldiers when detection meant death. I employed stealth not because it facilitated brutal kill animations or because I felt like it, but because to fail to dictate the terms of an engagement, to squander the element of surprise was to suffer the fate of anyone foolish enough to charge into an enfilade. ┬áLining up that perfect shot or surviving after being exposed was an Accomplishment. This is my objection to mark and execute, that the world’s foremost infiltrator is relieved of the burden of aiming his gun.

Is this reticence enough to warrant a boycott on the title entirely? Playing through the demo affirmed my misgivings over this much-paraded mechanic. It felt like a cheat mode, far from authentic. It was easy enough, however, to not press ‘Y’.

Better sites than this have extolled the cooperative play in Chaos Theory for good reason. The return of this mode made me realize there was a co-op shaped hole in my heart, from which poured a torrent of memory: recollections of creeping into position, of coordinating the sudden death of our foes, of whispering into our headsets lest our voices betray, while a length of crossover CAT5 snaked through the heat duct into my brother’s room like so much optic cable.

Now we come to it. I will not play Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction yet because my brother is deployed to a sandy place where email is a luxury and more immediate concerns eclipse such frivolity as games. And he typed to me the modest proposal, “I’ll wait on splinter cell if you do. . . “

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