"Most upcoming Ubisoft PC games" to use new system requiring permanent internet connection, even for single-player

DRM involving online product activation is certainly not new to the PC gaming world, and has been met with what can best be described as "universal disdain" from most ardent tech buffs upon discovery of its presence. Some forms have proven more palatable than others over time -- Valve's STEAM software has become accepted by most as unobtrusive, Sony's five-system limit has spawned networks of strangers trading their account details, and Microsoft's license-transfer kit cues up an extra ounce of annoyance for anyone unfortunate enough to experience a console breakdown -- but Ubisoft's newly introduced online service platform seems to be destined for a rough reception.

Ubisoft is quick to boast the added value of tying games and the account together, such as unlimited installations, saved games being backed up online as well as locally, and the removal of the once-ubiquitous CD check (this time through legitimate means, as opposed to Rainbow Six Vegas 2) but these new freedoms come at a high cost -- the requirement for a permanent Internet connection, even for single-player. Many gamers have faced the annoyance of a downed internet connection cutting off their multiplayer titles; with the new system, any titles tied in to their account will be unplayable in single player as well.

According to Ubisoft's FAQ page, "most upcoming Ubisoft PC games" will make use of this new system. It is currently being trialed with the beta of Settlers 7. What makes this different from the activation systems common in other PC games is that it requires a constant connection to the Ubisoft servers -- a heartbeat signal telling the game to keep working. And unlike STEAM, which can run in an offline mode for single-player games, and even keep multiplayer games like Team Fortress 2 going, losing your internet connection in the middle of an Ubisoft game equipped with this new "feature" will pause the game while it attempts to reconnect. The FAQ provides a rather ambiguous answer to what happens if you can't get back online, in that "you can continue the game from where you left off or from the last saved game." Hopefully that "last saved game" wasn't too long ago.

But for those of you loyal Ubisoft customers worried about being forced to sign up for an online account and provide private data, don't worry. Ubisoft's FAQ has an "answer" for that question as well:

Why is Ubisoft forcing their loyal customers to sign up for a Ubisoft account when they don't want to give their private data and only play single player games?
We hope that customers will feel as we do, that signing up for an account will offer them exceptional gameplay and services that are not available otherwise.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA
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