DRM doesn’t get much worse than "always on" implementations that require an Internet connection to experience a game’s single-player component. That’s the kind of scheme that was supposed to be included with Ubisoft’s upcoming Driver: San Francisco. An outcry ensued, and the publisher has softened its stance in response to the outrage—sort of. Instead of demanding that players maintain Internet connection for the duration of their time within the game, they’ll only be required to sign in to Ubisoft’s servers to launch the game. After that, they’ll apparently be able to switch into offline mode for the rest of the session.
While this small concession might help folks who have flaky Internet connections, it does absolutely nothing to address the concerns of those who want to play the game when they’re not connected at all. It’s not like Driver is being sold exclusively as a download that can only be purchased with an Internet connection, either.
The point of this insidious DRM is to reduce piracy, of course, and Ubisoft claims that it works. The publisher doesn’t offer any hard numbers, though. Quantifying piracy is a difficult thing to do, but it’s easy to confirm BitTorrent sites have no shortage of cracks that render Ubisoft’s DRM useless. Anyone able to obtain a pirated copy of a game will probably find a crack conveniently bundled with the ISO. Even if fewer people are pirating Ubisoft’s games, it seems unlikely DRM is the cause.