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There are few companies easier to bash than Ubisoft when it comes to copy protection. The company has long used an activation scheme on most of its games that ties activation to your computer’s hardware configuration. This means that when you change your hardware, you have to re-activate your Ubisoft games before they’ll run.
Such a process isn’t entirely unheard of in software. Registration keys for Microsoft Windows work in a similar way. But Microsoft’s product registration usually only kicks in after a major system change, such as a motherboard upgrade. Ubisoft’s DRM is apparently a bit more sensitive.
This was discovered by Guru3D when they attempted to use the new game Anno 2070 for graphics benchmarking. Though aware of the game’s DRM, the site figured that swapping out video cards would be OK. They were wrong. Swapping cards required that the software be activated all over again. That would be fine if Ubisoft offered unlimited activations, but they don’t. Many of the company’s titles only come with three activations. If you use them up, you could be out of luck.
Ubisoft’s support does state that further activations can be provided if you use them up, but Guru3D’s initial attempts to obtain them were refused. The site has since been contacted by Bluebyte, the developer of Anno 2070, and activation for the site’s copy has been unlocked. But this action is almost certainly a unique response to Guru3D’s complaint.
If you’re going to buy an Ubisoft game, you’d better be careful about your hardware upgrades.