Always-on DRM

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Always-on DRM or always-online DRM is a form of DRM that requires a consumer to remain connected to a server, especially through an internet connection, to use a particular product. The practice is also referred to as persistent online authentication. The technique is meant to prevent copyright infringement of software. Like other DRM methods, always-on DRM has proven controversial.


Popular video games such as Diablo III and Starcraft 2 employ always-on DRM by requiring players to connect to the internet to play, even in single-player mode. Reviews of Diablo III criticized its use of always-on DRM.[1][2] As with Diablo III, SimCity (2013) experienced bugs at its launch due to always-on DRM.[3] Its developer, Maxis, initially defended the practice as being a result of the game's reliance on cloud computing for in-game processing, but it was later confirmed that cloud computing was only necessary to support the inter-city and social media mechanisms.[4][5][6] Tim Willits at id Software has also defended the use of always-on DRM, arguing that it would make updates easier.[7]

Reviewers have expressed issues such as early review experiences with products that have always-on requirement is in no way representative of the final product, since reviewers did not play under the same circumstances as normal consumers.[8]

A major disadvantage of always-on DRM is that whenever the DRM authentication server goes down, or a region experiences an Internet outage, it effectively locks out people from playing the game.[9]

Ubisoft's first title requiring an always-on connection was Silent Hunter 5: Battle of the Atlantic, which had reportedly been cracked as of the first day of the game's release.[10] Ubisoft also used always-on DRM in Driver: San Francisco.[11] However, the company announced in September 2012 that it would not employ always-on DRM in its future games.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kain, Erik (17 May 2012). "'Diablo III' Fans Should Stay Angry About Always-Online DRM". Forbes. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  2. ^ Jary, Simon (16 May 2012). "Diablo III players angry as Hell at launch chaos". PC Advisor. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Usher, William (5 March 2013). "SimCity Now Available; Always-On DRM Causes Major Launch Day Issues". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  4. ^ Makuch, Eddie (21 December 2012). "Maxis: SimCity's always-on DRM for gamers' benefit". Gamespot. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  5. ^ "SimCity Boss's "Straight Answers" Seem Pretty Wiggly". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved March 16, 2013. 
  6. ^ Thier, Dave (March 18, 2013). "One Simple Change Allows SimCity Offline Play". Forbes. Retrieved March 18, 2013. 
  7. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (10 August 2011). "Id Software on always-on internet debate". Eurogamer. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Ubisoft DRM Authentication Servers Go Down". Escape Magazine. 7 March 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  10. ^ Ubisoft’s always-connected games DRM already cracked. Accessed 2013-03-12.
  11. ^ a b Karmali, Luke (5 September 2012). "Ubisoft Officially Ditches Always-On PC DRM". IGN. Retrieved 5 March 2013.