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Stop it with centralized logins for PC gaming!

For several years, my nephew and a friend in North Carolina have been hooking up for multiplayer PC gaming every Friday (or when necessary Saturday) night. It's just us as a team against "The Bots" [TM]. We've been playing Ghost Recon for years, but we've recently gone to Rainbow Six: Vegas. Ubi, unfortunately, has decided that even though the game is only two or three years old they apparently do not need to maintain their login servers -- or else they completely underestimated the crush of their infrastructure when R6V2 was released.

Here is what we've been experiencing with Rainbow Six: Vegas, thanks to the stupidity of Ubisoft...

Servers down - 9:43 PM EDT.
Servers down - 10:32 PM EDT.
Servers down - 11:03 PM EDT.
Servers down - 12:05 AM EDT.

...and that's just tonight.

The main problem? Ubi has decided to implement a centralized login. They are forcing us to do multiplayer through their servers. (The Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six series allowed direct connection to any server just by specifying the IP address.)

What's worse, they don't use a once-and-done authentication. You have to maintain a connection with the login server. So, even if you have a clean connection to the PC on which the game is hosted, everyone gets kicked off the game if the connection with the login server is lost!

By having such pathetic servers (or network infrastructure) that can't handle the crush of Friday night gaming, Ubi is effectively denying us the services for which we paid when we bought the game. When I last checked, not rendering services after a payment has been made is by definition fraud. Lots of software companies have gotten into trouble for this kind of crap in the past. Apparently, Ubi is trying to get on that list.

Sure, one might argue that the servers are up most of the time and that it's only during peak times that the problems are there. That's fine, but as someone who has been working in the high-end IT/networking industry for almost 15 years (nothing to do with Windows or PCs, thank God) I will tell you that the whole idea is to have enough capacity for peak network and server usage while balancing those resources during non-peak times. Apparently, Ubi has no clue (or does not care) about proper network and server infrastructures. Did no one learn from Microsoft's XBox Live debacle in December?

I understand that Ubi is most likely putting most of its resources to newer games; however, R6V is only - what? - two, maybe three, years old? It is well within a normal development lifecycle for the average computer program and is still sold both on-line and in stores. People are still buying it. So, this is not "unsupportable" software.

I also understand the need to connect to a central server if you want to communicate with whatever servers just happen to be out there. Having a central location where public servers can be indexed is a good thing. But when you know exactly where you want to connect to, forcing a centralized connection is completely useless and creates an unnecessary point of failure. In this case, it has been a point of failure time and time and time and time again.

And I can appreciate why it would be a way to try to hold off piracy. But if that's the case, validate the damned CD key, then let the players alone. What the hell is the use of maintaining a connection? Can CD keys suddenly change during gameplay? That would be a first for me.

To add salt to the open wound, they've designed the game so that VPN solutions like OpenVPN or GIT won't work! So, we can't use a VPN to simulate a LAN connection, which does not require a centralized login.

There is no excuse why I have not been able to maintain a connection to Ubi's login servers every Friday night for the past two months. When you know that you want to connect directly to the game server at IP address, forcing a centralized login is totally unnecessary.

Enough is enough. Stop the forced, centralized logins for PC gaming!
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About John Bone of us since 1:15 AM on 11.26.2006

As one of the oldest members of Dtoid, (I'm already over the big 4-0) I've been gaming since the Atari 2600 was a brand new item, and thousands of my teenage hours were dedicated to gaming on the Commodore 64 and messing around with the new 300-baud modems. (That's .00003 of a megabit per second, for those of you who only know broadband.)

I'm proud to say that I'm a member of the first-generation of gamers, and I still use my PC and each of the three current-gen consoles regularly -- and not for "casual" games. Bring on the hard-core FPS and 3PS! I want to shoot something!

So, I give a big PHUCK YOU!!! to anyone who thinks that video games are for kids! As far as I'm concerned, they haven't been for kids for over 20 years.

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