In non-Apple, non-Microsoft, non-Google news from CES 2011, a consortium of media providers have announced last night that UltraViolet, a cloud-based digital media management standard, will be coming very soon. Hinted at last summer, the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), which backs UltraViolet, claim it will provide consumers with life-time rights to the media they buy in addition to the flexibility to watch that content on a variety of devices. It works like this:
Ubisoft angered many in the PC gaming world last year when it began to implement a very restrictive form of authentication for its games. If you wanted to play one of their hits like Assassin's Creed and Splinter Cell, regardless of whether the game needed the internet to function (like with online multiplayer, for example), you would have to have a constant connection to Ubisoft's servers so that the software could make frequent checks to see if you were playing a legitimate copy. It now appears, according to gamers on Reddit, that Ubisoft games only require an internet connection when you log on, and will no longer boot you out of your game if, for example, your router goes pear-shaped for no earthly reason.
Amazon has had a rocky history with censorship and apparent censorship. There was the time that they took a great number of books regarding homosexuality out of their sales ranking system, flagging them "Adult content" without regard to their actual sexual content (included were "children's books, self-help books, non-fiction, and non-explicit fiction"). And there was the time that they caved to public pressure and stopped selling a book on pedophilia, while maintaining that despite their actions they did not condone censorship. Now, Amazon.com appears to have pulled a number of self-published fictional erotica titles from its virtual shelves because they are incest-themed. Not only have they pulled them from sale, they have also deleted them from the Kindles of any user who purchased them. This has gone largely unnoticed, except, of course, by the authors and readers of the books. The biggest problem with this, if it is true, is that Amazon just finished a lawsuit last year where it agreed, in legally binding terms, that deletions would only occur because of "failed credit card transactions, judicial orders, malware, or the permission of the user."
Seemingly taking a cue from the video game industry's long-standing practice of selling unlock codes and downloadable content, Intel is experimenting with selling codes for deliberately gimped processors that would unlock their full power one the unlock code is applied.
Ubisoft has angered many in the gaming community with its stance on Digital Rights Management and piracy. The release version of all of its PC games -- one of the biggest of which is Assassin's Creed 2 -- now require a constant internet connection in order to make frequent checks with the company's DRM authentication servers, regardless of whether the game requires internet access for gameplay.
It was predicted by many that this latest effort in the arms race between game makers and software pirates would fall out as it usually does: eventually the DRM would be cracked, and the pirates would play, heaping any and all inconvenience caused by the DRM squarely on honest users.
In March, a cyberattack took down Ubisoft's authentication servers for a number of hours, making it impossible for legitimate users to play two of their most popular games. This week, hacking consortium Skid Row published a cracked version of Assassin's Creed 2, one of Ubisoft's most popular titles, that is making the rounds of torrent sites.
Yesterday, Ubisoft's Digital Rights Management servers for Assassin's Creed II were down for over 10 hours, preventing many players from accessing the game at all.
Ubisoft has told Eurogamer that the downtime actually only affected 5% of their player base and was caused by attacks on their server from an external source.
PlayStation Network, the online hub that connects millions of PlayStation 3 gaming consoles worldwide, is down for many users. Receiving error messages like "Registration of the trophy information could not be completed. The game will quit. (8001050F)" and "8001050F - Hardware failure. Cannot update Firmware or connect to Internet," many users are being blocked not only from games that require online connection, but from offline gaming as well.
Owners of the original "fat" PS3 seem to be the only ones afflicted, whereas owners of the newer "skinny" PS3 seem to be spared, Sony confirms via Twitter.
Though it's not yet clear what's caused the PSN outage, early signs point to a mix of a calendar issue and faulty DRM: