Rumours indicate that Ubisoft's brand new anti-piracy DRM system has been compromised on the same day the first game to use it went on sale.
Submarine simulator Silent Hunter 5: Battle of the Atlantic, and indeed the day one patch that fixes many fundamental bugs, have both been hacked, with the most up-to-date version of the game currently circulating torrent sites and Usenet.
While the effectiveness of the crack has yet to be confirmed, if the DRM has been circumvented, it represents a massive failure on Ubisoft's part for its products to be protected from unauthorised copying.
The DRM system itself is based on the idea that the player's PC is always connected to the internet. While you're online and authenticated with Ubi's servers, the game operates proceeds as normal. However, no connection means no gameplay: should you lose your connection, you're unceremoniously booted from the game. What happens when you reconnect may differ depending on the game you are playing.
In Settlers 7, the action resumes from the exact point where you lost your connection. In Assassin's Creed 2, the game had sent you back to the last checkpoint. However, Ubisoft has just issued an update which ensures the same rules as for Settlers apply.
Critics have lambasted the system owing to instabilities in home connections, the unstable nature of the internet itself, along with the possibility that Ubisoft's own servers will experience downtime at some point. Supporters of the system like the fact that there are no limitations on activations or the amount of PCs that the game can be installed on, and the disc does not need to be kept within your drive.
The ease with which the system has been disabled is sure to worry Ubisoft. Silent Hunter 5's protection is apparently circumvented by replacing an executable file with a patched replacement, similar to just about every other PC "crack" out there. The piracy group responsible for the hack says that in addition, turning off your internet connection or else not using Ubisoft's specific game loader is enough to get the game running DRM-free.
While the hacking groups can rightly claim victory in the first battle, we can be sure that Ubisoft will be studying the nature of the assault on its new system with a view to improving it for future products.