To me, hardware binding is a legitimate form of DRM. It is (generally) more convenient to the consumer (there is no need to insert optical discs for authentication, have a hardware dongle attached to the computer, have an always-on internet connection [as with some Ubisoft titles]). I, for instance, don’t have a problem with DRM implementations like the one which comes with Spore.
This case is, however, exceptional.
With other activation-based DRM implementation, should the customer, who ran out of activations, phone technical support and state a valid reason as to why they require additional allowance, that customer will be granted additional activations.
This case seems to be different, however. As the Ubisoft representative, who is quoted in that article, saying: “Sorry to disappoint you â€“ the game is indeed restricted to 3 hardware changes and there simply is no way to bypass that.”
Now, that’s bad (and unfair). Consumers should retain their right to use the software they had legitimately purchased, despite hardware changes they might make to their computers (and the frequency of such changes).
Such limitations only serve to magnify customer dissatisfaction and inconvenience, and breed more mistrust. People who buy their software should not be treated in such manner. Preventing piracy is an important necessity which should not be overshadow. There is another necessity, however, with the same grade of importance: consumer convenience and satisfaction.
Each consumer has their red line, one which they will not cross. To me, there are several:
- I don’t buy products which require an always-on internet connection for single player campaigns (e.g. Assassin’s Creed II);
- I don’t buy products which require me to install resident, third-party software (e.g. Steam, PunkBuster and etc.);
- I don’t buy software which, in the future, I might not be able to use due to DRM.
This is why most of my gaming is done on the PS3.