Ubisoft Apologizes for Downtime with Free Stuffs

Did you lose out when you were disconnected from Ubisoft’s DRM servers? Ubisoft has come up with an apology for those affected by the downtime with an offer of free stuff.

According to Kotaku, it seems that PC players of Assassin’s Creed II who were affected will either get the extra map content for AC2 (like the Arsenal Shipyard) or their choice of one of four games: Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X, Heroes Over Europe, Endwar, or Prince of Persia.

It’s not quite clear on who got what offer, but as the article points out, it might depend on whether you have the Special Edition or the normal release.

Personally, I’d go with Prince of Persia.

Ubisoft DRM servers stressed out. Past life synchronizations delayed.

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Having trouble playing the PC version of Assassin’s Creed 2 or Silent Hunter 5 today? You’re not the only one. Joystiq notes that the Assassin’s Creed 2 forum has a thread filled with angry users that suddenly find they can’t get into the game, either. There’s even a post in there about someone who bought the game as a gift over the weekend and now can’t play it. The forum for the WW2 sub-sim, Silent Hunter 5, also has a similar, vitriol filled thread.

An Ubisoft representative in the Assassin’s Creed 2 forum has posted the following:

“Due to exceptional demand, we are currently experiencing difficulties with the Online Service Platform. This does not affect customers who are currently playing, but customers attempting to start a game may experience difficulty in accessing our servers. We are currently working to resolve this issue and apologize for any inconvenience.”

This is actually covered in their FAQ as to what would happen if this occurred. As for when it will be resolved, the same representative had replied to the thread noted above by saying:

“I don’t have any clear information on what the issue is since I’m not in the office, but clearly the extended downtime and lengthy login issues are unacceptable, particularly as I’ve been told these servers are constantly monitored.

I’ll do what I can to get more information on what the issue is here first thing tomorrow and push for a resolution and assurance this won’t happen in the future. I realise that’s not ideal but there’s only so much I can do on a weekend as I’m not directly involved with the server side of this system.”

In the meantime, PC fans will simply have to wait.

UPDATE (3.8.2010): According to Blue’s News, it seems that the problems experienced yesterday were the result of an attack against their servers according to this Tweet from Ubisoft. In this one, they claim that 95% of their players weren’t affected. So it sounds like it’s happy gaming for PC gamers once again. At least for today.

Ubisoft Online

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Tom Francis over at PC Gamer has a blog entry spelling out his experience with Assassin’s Creed 2 on the PC. It’s also one of the first titles to roll off the assembly line equipped with Ubisoft’s new online-only service that I spoke about here and it’s already sparked heated reactions.

Basically, Tom tested whether or not he could keep playing the game without an internet connection so he unplugged his network cable to simulate the effects of actually losing it, presumably in the middle of poisoning a few guards or while leaping across rooftops. He had to do it this way because he wouldn’t have been able to even start the game if the launcher was unable to verify a connection in the first place.

Sure enough, the game reacted….in the worst way imaginable. It kicked him right out with a little message that said it had lost a connection to the server and was attempting to reconnect to restore the last checkpoint. The game uses the saves it has on the server to restore his progress. He notes that the saves are also local with an option to upload them or not, so in essence, the saves aren’t all on the server – but he still needs to be online to even play the game.

So what will happen if their servers, your router, or even your cable service goes down? Exactly what happened to Tom. Assassin’s Creed 2 doesn’t even have multiplayer. The only reason to stay online is to play the game. You’ll lose out on whatever progress you might have been making and be unable to play the game you paid for until the problem is fixed. And it isn’t even a bug, it’s a feature.

They won’t be winning friends among the PC faithful that want to experience titles such as Assassin’s Creed 2 with this approach despite the pleasant language Ubisoft’s FAQ on the service is written in. I didn’t even know that online saves were a feature that PC users desperately needed, but apparently Ubisoft has access to poll numbers that probably say otherwise.

Magic poll numbers that claim everyone’s hard drive is liable to crash in the next 24 hours.

Sims 3 leaked, EA likely very upset

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If you haven’t already heard, EA’s next update to their Sims series, Sims 3, has reportedly appeared on torrent sites two weeks before its official release date. Just as Ars Technica won’t verify whether or not the torrent is actually the real deal for obvious reasons, neither can I, only to say that cruising through the other news sites and forums that are out there, there are quite a few comments that it is actually the real thing. This isn’t the first time that this has happened to a huge release like this as Spore had also been leaked before its official release date, although not as far in advance as this one was.

This is undoubtedly not making EA happy, especially after they had conceded that their DRM methodology has only served to aggravate users moreso than in making them feel like valued customers and had extended an olive branch of sorts to make up for it. Sims 3 was going back to the old, reliable CD code check instead as a result.

EA hasn’t officially replied to these reports as of yet, but it will be interesting to see just how they will approach this. Ars had recently pointed out how the indie developer of Zeno Clash had approached the pirates by commenting on their own torrent stream in explaining their position as indie developers, urging would-be pirates to buy it and asking them to be patient as a demo is on its way, and nothing more without preaching the ills of why they shouldn’t be doing this. It seems to have worked in their case, even if only a few had decided to put in the dollars for the game.