That an entire console worth of gamers haven't experienced Eric Chahi's glorious strategy game From Dust weighs is a shame, but a shame that will be rectified come September 27 when the game hits the PlayStation Network for $14.99.
With peculiar timing, Valve seem to finally be offering refunds on From Dust. Customers who bought the game under the belief its DRM required a one-time only activation angrily responded to the revelations (as brought to the world by the fine eyebrows of RPS) that the game required a connection for every launch. Demands for refunds were being met with stony silences in every direction, with Ubisoft pointing customers to the retailers. And while there were rumours of Steam giving some money back, most were being met by their questionable stance that they don’t offer refunds for anything. Well, despite the recent announcement that the DRM would soon be patched out, that seems to be changing, as it appears (from the text of Valve’s emails) Ubisoft have specifically asked Valve to return the cash. (Let’s put in a disclaimer here – this is based on reports from a couple of readers, and Valve are notoriously fickle in these regards.)
Ubisoft will occupy four booths, all of which will be different from the last, showcasing eleven unreleased video games. The line-up consists of Assassin's Creed Revelations, From Dust, Just Dance 3, Might & Magic: Heroes VI, Might & Magic Heroes Kingdoms, Rayman Origins, Rocksmith, Shoot Many Robots, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Online, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier, and TrackMania 2 Canyon.
Fans who preorder games at Ubisofts booths will receive special gifts for certain games. Preorder incentives include both in-game and peripheral gifts. You can get an exclusive PAX gun skin for Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Future Soldier, an Altair avatar, a neon watch for Just Dance 3, a Rayman t-shirt, and an exclusive guitar strap for Rocksmith. Even if you don't preorder, there will be prizes and giveaways at Ubisofts's booths throughout the weekend.
In addition to a huge line-up of games, Ubisoft will be hosting an exclusive panel about Assassin's Creed at the convention center. The panel will take place on Friday, August 26, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Main Theatre (The Paramount, 911 Pine St.). The panel will include a live demo of the game, as well as YouTuber Tobuscus, performing the literal Assassin's Creed Revelations trailer.
As Kotaku posted last week, Ubisoft originally said that reports of a mandatory always-on connection were erroneous. Yet after From Dust's release, Ubisoft evidently deleted and then restored the post in its official forums making that claim. For the record, Ubisoft now confirms that, yes, you'll need to be connected to the Internet to launch the game, no matter what.
Steam even offered refunds to gamers who purchased the game based on misrepresentations of DRM.
A future patch will apparently eliminate the need for internet authentication to play the game. From a Ubi Forum Manager: "Our tech teams are working on a patch that should release in approximately two weeks that will eliminate the need for any online authentication. This development time is required as we are working to ensure that those who have already started the game, and who's progress is currently saved on our servers, will receive and save their game information locally. Once the patch is ready, players who already have the game will automatically receive the update on their next login and subsequent game sessions will be 100% offline."
Smart move on Ubisoft's part that will hopefully make amends for a very stupid one. But will this be true of all future Ubisoft PC games or is this a one off deal?
Well blimey, here’s a thing. After Ubi’s frankly dreadful performance over From Dust, there appears to be a degree of capitulation afoot. On the From Dust forums (which now appear to be the only way to learn such news from the publisher) it has been revealed that the team are working on a patch that will remove online authentication DRM entirely. Which would be, well, brilliant!
Update: Lo-Ping are claiming that Steam is offering discounts to those who apply. Edit: A claim which is increasingly proven to be false.>
Astonishing. Ubisoft have yet to respond to our questions today, when we asked why From Dust was requiring an internet connection to launch despite their making it very clear it would not. They also have yet to respond to our queries as to why it hasn’t been properly ported, despite the weeks of last-minute delay for the PC version. And now, incredibly, rather than apologising to the huge numbers of people who had been deceived by the previous untrue claims about the game’s DRM, they’ve instead just deleted the post, and put up a new one. From Dust requires an internet connection to launch, and tough shit if you bought it when they were saying otherwise. (Edit: They’ve now somewhat confusingly edited in the original post to the new post.)
Ubisoft's release of From Dust on the PC has been, in every sense of the word, a disaster. Just the fact that the game requires an always-on Internet connection—putting the lie to earlier claims that it wouldn't—is a throat-slash to its credibility. The additional fact it's a glitch-strewn port of a console game is the cherry atop a shit sundae for a raving mad PC gaming community.
A locked 30 fps framerate that frequently skips, jaggy graphics and no way to improve them, bugs and glitches by themselves would be enough to alienate PC gamers who resent getting console leftovers. But the DRM is its own Godzilla-sized PR disaster, especially as Ubisoft originally said that reports of a mandatory always-on connection were erroneous. Yet after From Dust's release, Ubisoft evidently deleted and then restored the post in its official forums making that claim. For the record, Ubisoft now confirms that, yes, you'll need to be connected to the Internet to launch the game, no matter what.
Now Steam is said to be offering refunds to those who purchased From Dust, based on the misrepresentations of its DRM.
The real force multiplier to this is Ubisoft's institutionally tone-deaf, often Orwellian posture on DRM, which says it's a good thing for gamers despite slapstick calamities like hackers taking down its Big Brother servers in the week Assassin's Creed II launched, and the mumbling apologies and half-assed make-goods that followed.
This time, it didn't even take motivated, indignant hacktivists to embarrass Ubi. A terrible port would have been more than enough.
From Dust DOES Need Online, Badly Ported [Rock, Paper Shotgun]
Update: Ubisoft have deleted the forum post which was saying the DRM would not require an internet connection! Just removed it from history. Fortunately, we took a screenshot.>
Update again!: Now the post is mysteriously back, with a disclaimer saying the details are being checked, and a statement should be coming shortly.>
It’s hard to know what to say. After their insisting that From Dust, the delayed PC version from Ubisoft, would not require an internet connection to launch after the first time, of course it does. It’s impossible to launch From Dust, even from Steam in offline mode, without being online. Launching the game fires up their new Ubisoft Game Launcher, which refuses to work unless it can find a connection. And that’s ignoring the fact that the game is in no way properly ported.