Ubisoft says the activation-limiting DRM in Anno 2070 works exactly like it's supposed to, and has also changed it so now it works differently.
Ubisoft's latest DRM fiasco came to light last week when Guru3D discovered that swapping video cards in a PC, which it was doing as part of a video card performance roundup, triggered the Anno 2070 activation limit counter. With only three activations to play with, it meant that a PC upgrade or two could render the game useless without intervention from Ubi's customer support department.
It was a ridiculous misapplication of the system, but Ubisoft told Rock, Paper, Shotgun that the DRM was actually working exactly as it was intended. "While it's correct that copies of Anno include three activations and that changing hardware may trigger the need for reactivation, the vast majority of Anno customers never encounter this scenario," the company said "On the rare occasion when a customer does need additional activations, Ubisoft customer service is available to quickly resolve the situation, and we encourage those customers to contact us directly so that we can ensure they are able to continue to enjoy their game."
As RPS points out, the Anno 2070 DRM, called "Tages," doesn't offer the deactivation option that's common in similar system used by other companies. Instead, uninstalling the game leaves behind a config file that future installs will use to recognize the game as legit, which is fine as long as you don't reformat your PC, suffer a major drive crash or do anything else that results in the loss or corruption of data - or, of course, make any sort of significant upgrades to your rig.
Today, however, the team from Ubisoft Blue Byte, the studio that created the game, dropped a line to Guru3D saying that video cards have been removed from the DRM equation. "Just wanted to let you know that we now remove the graphics hardware from the hash used to identify the PC," it wrote. "That means everyone should now be able to switch the GFX as many times as he/she wants."
That's all very well and good, and props to Blue Byte for quickly correcting a pretty egregious flaw in the machinery, but let's be honest here. This isn't Ubisoft changing its ways, this is Ubisoft doing a little spot cleaning in reaction to another PR debacle. It's good news for Anno fans, but as far as Ubisoft's overall [and still terrible] DRM policies go, it doesn't mean a thing.