Why Ubisoft has every right to delete your games | Digital Trends

Everyone is mad at Ubisoft and for good reason.

For a moment, it appeared that Ubisoft was not only closing inactive accounts, but also deleting games purchased on Steam. Now, not all of that ended up being true, but the controversy was a not-so-kind reminder that you don’t actually own your games, and technically, Ubisoft has every right to take them down if they want to.

You don’t own your games

If you haven’t heard of the fiasco, an anti-Twitter user DRM (Digital Rights Management) located an email released by Ubisoft which threatened to delete accounts on the Ubisoft PC app if they remained inactive. If you choose not to follow the link and protect your account, Ubisoft will remove your account. Oh, and your games seemed to go with it.

Rather than keep quiet as any good crisis PR manager would suggest, Ubisoft responded to the tweet and confirmed it was real. Break the egg. UbiSoft He went over, stating that closing an inactive account would also revoke access to Ubisoft games purchased on Steam. They require a Ubisoft account and if Ubisoft has marked your account as inactive, you will lose access to them. Egg in the face.

Hey there. We just wanted to point out that you can avoid account termination by logging into your account within 30 days (of receiving the email pictured) and selecting the Cancel Account Termination link contained in the email. We certainly don’t want you to lose access to

— Ubisoft Support (@UbisoftSupport) July 20, 2023

As I mentioned, however, Ubisoft has since confirmed that it won’t delete any accounts with purchases on it. So you can rest assured that your games are safe even if you are not logged into your account. There’s a brutal reminder in the whole debacle that you don’t actually own the digital games you bought on PC. You own a license to play those games, and if a store implodes, they can decide to take that license with them.

It’s not even a distant threat. Games for Windows Live rendered half a dozen titles unplayable, a DRM authentication failure crashed several games in one weekend, and a recent study by the Video Game History Foundation estimated that 87 percent of digital games released before 2010 are in critical jeopardy. This is the amount of preservation we have for pre-WWII silent films and audio recordings, and these are for games that aren’t old enough to drive a car.

It might be a sight to behold, but here’s a larger conversation about what platforms are doing to protect the thousands of dollars gamers spend on digital software. We’ve already seen a wave of enforced DRM on PC die out and take a slew of games with them, forcing players to repurchase them on other platforms. It may seem like we’re on solid footing now, but what happens in a decade or two? Will you still be able to access the games you bought on half a dozen different storefronts?

It’s a fair question to ask, and unique to the PC as a platform. PlayStation and Xbox have their own storefronts and could revoke licenses if they wanted to. However, this would require the failure of an entire platform; Xbox or PlayStation disappear altogether, in other words. With PC, it’s enough for a publisher to decide that a one-of-a-kind launcher is no longer worth it. We’ve seen this happen in the past.

The solutions are subtle

There are ways around this Bethesdas launcher that shut down last year and you’re still able to migrate your licenses to Steam, but they are exceptions. Earlier this year, I wanted to catch upStar Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, which I had purchased on Steam. I was locked out of the game for about six hours because I wasn’t logged into the new EA app (it was logged into my old, defunct Origin account). I was eventually able to play the game, but not before I jumped over hoops to prove I’d bought the game.

The backlash against Ubisoft over a support response showcases the fear PC gamers have when it comes to ownership of their games. Never mind that Ubisoft has now confirmed it won’t be deleting player accounts; even the slightest idea of ​​such a possibility is enough to cause a frenzy. The reason is also clear. PC gamers are acutely aware that these digital distribution platforms could pull their libraries if they wanted to. That’s the problem here.

Aside from a few half-baked blockchain startups, there hasn’t been an effort from publishers like Ubisoft, EA, and Rockstar to let gamers actually own the stuff they buy. We have a solution, though: DRM-free games. Platforms like GOG allow you to actually own a game that you buy. You buy the game, get an installer, and it’s yours. Even if the store you bought it from fails, you can still install and play.

Ubisoft isn’t deleting games from accounts, but it may.

The problem, of course, is piracy. It’s a story as old as digital software: if you don’t want your software to be pirated, you need to protect it with DRM. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that these measures don’t actually prevent piracy, only harming legitimate buyers in the process.

As a 2020 research paper titled DRM for video games: paradigm analysis and solution reads in its conclusion: [We have] discovery [existing DRM] they are easily cracked, and the only method that offers some protection is Always Online DRM. We conclude that Always Online DRM manages to render games unusable first for pirates and then also for legitimate purchasers. The length of time customers can use the product they paid for is entirely up to the company.

That’s the problem here. The length of time legitimate customers can use a product is entirely at the company’s discretion. Ubisoft isn’t deleting games from accounts, but they might, which is why there was such a panic in the first place. The company’s end user license agreement reads in capital letters: This product is licensed to you, not sold.

So, Ubisoft or any other major publisher on PC, go ahead and delete my games. I don’t have much say in that process anyway. For everyone else, direct your outrage at the DRM-ridden PC ecosystem that never lets you fully own the stuff you bought because that’s the world we live in today.

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