The company made news last year when the PC version of Assassin's Creed II was unplayable> due to a non-functional DRM server and again this year when the PC version of From Dust shipped with "always-on" DRM after Ubisoft representatives had stated that it would not. The DRM was later removed via a patch.
Of course Ubisoft hasn't been the only company to experiment with "always-on" DRM. Capcom dabbled with the idea on two PSN games, Final Fight: Double Impact and Bionic Commando Rearmed 2. Neither title will run unless you have an active connection to PSN. This is an issue that came into crystal-clear focus during the multi-month PSN downtime after the network was hacked. Similar DRM was originally planned to be included in Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition for the PC, but was removed at the last minute due to outcry from fans on Capcom's message boards.
If there's one underlying message behind all of this, it is that gamers want to own whatever game they're playing. Whether you're paying $15 or $50 for a game, you want to be able to play it without worrying about connecting to the Internet or having the game be unusable because the developer's DRM system is down or unreachable.
Now, imagine how you would feel if instead of $50 for a game you spent thousands of dollars for an arcade machine to discover that it to had always-on DRM?
According to a sales page at arcade distributor Highway Entertainment Namco Bandai is doing just that with the upcoming Tekken Tag Tournament 2.
As detailed on the sales page Tekken Tag Tournament 2 will require:
- An Internet connection to function
- Arcade credits purchased from Namco Bandai to function
If the machine is not hooked up to the Internet, it will be useless.
If the machine is not pre-loaded with gameplay credits, it will be useless.
This is a sea-change in the arcade industry as Tekken Tag Tournament 2 not only requires an onerous DRM scheme, but also requires that the arcade operator make an additional payment every single time the game is played. To make an analogy to the home market, this would be like Microsoft selling Gears of War 3 for the Xbox 360 and requiring you to pay an additional dollar every time you fired up the game.
It's an entirely new level of "pay-to-play."