You’ve read this article before, and you’ve probably experienced some level of frustration at the hands of copy protection at some point, be it music, movies, or games. I don’t know what you’ve been up to either, if you haven’t.

This subject is fresh in my mind, and I chose to revisit it because Ubisoft ruined my afternoon. I only get a small window to game with children sometimes, and that window was just wasted in an attempt to play what is among the worst games ever made.

I didn’t want to think too hard and it seemed perfectly suited for how I was feeling. Already in a sour mood, I fired up Steam, and launched Call of Juarez: The Cartel. It launched the Ubisoft front end, which patched itself and launched the “new and improved” uPlay! It had my username prefilled and wanted my password. I put in in… at least I thought that was my password. Cycle through the list – nope, none of them. I conceded, clicked the forgot password link and entered my email address and the 2 rather difficult captchkas. After several attempts at the captchkas I finally got it right and was greeted with an error message: invalid username. I wasn’t asked for a username, how can it be wrong? Several more attempts, various email addresses with many captchka fails inbetween. None of them correct. That can’t be right. I searched my main email addresses for anything Ubisoft or uPlay… nada. I conceded once more and clicked the “create new user” screen. I entered my basic information – the information I most likely used for signing up for the service in the first place. “This process can not be completed because the server is unavailable: [link for Ubisoft support]”. I clicked the link for support, white screen. No text, no information, no nothing just… white. I went to – same thing. Ugh.

I went back to the launcher and clicked the settings, choosing “offline mode” and was greeted with “you must login successfully at least once from a new machine before using offline mode”. You sunnavabitch! I spent a long time doing this, it felt like hours, but was about 30 minutes. Realistically I could have chosen something else to play. i could have chosen not to patch. I could have done a lot of things but it’s the damn principle! What other good can be rendered useless if the manufacturer has a temporary defect in their operation? It should not be a requirement, I will go so far as to say that it should be a law that nothing should require access to the internet as a prerequisite for its operation.

This particular case was made even more special by the fact that I HAD logged in successfully with the game before, and it was activated until THEY updated THEIR launcher software. They actually broke it, allowed the patch to go out when the servers at the other end were unavailable, and left users with a blank webpage. I just wanted to play a little bit of a bad game, and later once I can try again, if it is still occurring, I will submit a ticket with their support, if I can get to the damn website.

I also ran into this issue earlier today when I was attempting to show off the 3D glory of Arkham City to our friends who came to visit. I had it installed, but it would no longer launch, and any support links just looped back and said it couldn’t find the necessary components, but the disc was in the drive – if you see the disc, just run. It’s ok, I own it.

Just stop with the launchers, activations, and services (I’m talking to you Origin) required to play the games. If it’s digital I expect a little bit of rigamarole to get it working but a physical disc feels different to me, maybe I’m old fashioned. I suppose it is the same software either way. Someone’s going to crack it, you just make it that much more of a pain for the legitimate users.

** update 19:45 2012 07 15 **

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