Ubisoft's Heroes 6 Unplayable if Bought Through Steam

In case you thought the Might and Magic Heroes 6 sale looked great, I am sorry to be like you in being unable to play the game.

You always hate to hear about stories like this, but with the current debate about always-online games (and consoles) and problematic DRM it somehow keeps happening.  Recently Might and Magic Heroes 6 went on sale on Steam.  Having been a long-time fan of the series, albeit on a budget, I decided to pick it up.  After installing the ten-gigabyte game, I started it up and went through the mildly annoying process of installing Uplay.  For those not aware, Uplay is Ubisoft's version of Steam or Origin.  So now I was running Uplay through Steam in order to run Heroes 6 through Uplay.  I went through the gorgeous opening cutscene and went to play the campaign mode.

Which then prompted me to purchase and unlock the campaign mode.  I considered this a rather silly annoyance.  I was running the game through Ubisoft's own online service, in my experience that tends to be sufficient proof that I actually am legitimate.  Still, I decided to oblige them by re-entering my CD Key as provided by Steam (again) with the further mild annoyance of being unable to copy and paste it.

The game told me the key was invalid because it was already in use.  The activation key that was in use by me, right at that moment, was unable to allow me to access the single-player campaign.  I decided to file a support ticket, then went to try out a custom game since such games tend to be where I spend the meat of my time in Heroes games anyway.

The game informed me I needed to unlock the base game to play custom matches.

I systematically confirmed the game listed absolutely nothing unlocked.  For all intents and purchases, I gave Steam (and Ubisoft by proxy) my money so I could download a ten gigabyte nothing.

I still was not convinced this was an insurmountable problem.  I went to Ubisoft's forums, certain I would find someone with a solution to this problem.  Errors and bugs which make games unplayable are surely the type of problem a company would jump to correct before they could cause a problem.  Surely.

What I found on the forums was downright shocking.  Thread after thread after thread of people having the exact same issue I was.  Over a dozen separate threads by separate people who were completely unable to access the game they had paid for.  In a cruel twist, the DLC for the game apparently works just fine, it is only the base game itself which refuses to acknowledge it is paid for.

The only help offered on the forums is repeated linking to a post about their latest patch, a patch confirmed by multiple users to have no effect on the problem.  A patch Steam automatically applies, for that matter.

I am waiting to see what the response is to my support ticket.  According to the automated response email for it, I should allow 2-3 business days for a formal response.  I am waiting, but given there are already people who have been waiting that many business days to be able to play at all, I am finding myself lacking in serious hope.

This sort of problem is exactly the sort of thing the gaming industry needs to recognize as the reason people are so against these DRM practices.  There are pirated versions of Might and Magic Heroes 6.  Those pirated versions are working just fine right now.  I actually paid for my copy.  Hundreds of other people paid the same way I did.

Why bother with DRM that causes issues like this when it obviously hasn't prevented piracy?  What defense is there for security measures that only hinder the people legitimately paying for their products?  Is this really the reward I get for doing the right thing and paying for the product fair and square, not even getting a real response on Ubisoft's own public forums for such a major problem?

Featured Columnist

Writer, gamer, and generally hopeful beneath a veneer of cynicism.

Published May. 6th 2013
  • Ghost_5701
    I heard a rumor that the latest patch no longer required Uplay. . . I was wrong. I haven't torrented a game since college -- I promised myself that once I got out of college and got a good job I would never do this again. Thankfully the pirate community is still better at patching fixes and supporting gamers in their quest for better content and player experiences. . . Oh well. . . F_me_right? I just want to play the game I paid $65.00 to download.
  • dr_nick_94
    I was having trouble playing any game I had attached to uplay while at my uni, because Uplay is blocked on the internet service we receive. OK, so my uni is pretty lame for doing that, but although uplay insisted that once games have been activated, they would be playable offline, I found this was not the case and I was unable to play games I had paid for and previously activated. I even headed to an internet cafe to try and activate them again, but when I returned to uni they were still unplayable. Not acceptable.
  • Joker_7083
    Sey double post
  • Joker_2464
    I've got the same problem a few months ago, and i tried to play one month ago, i thought they have fix this bug, but when i tried, Uplay say :
    The CD key is invalid.... And Ubisoft support said that my CD was activated with a account which´s like mine but with double letters on the player name and in the email adress... Îve check the email address on mailtester and this address does not exist... (Sry for the errors, i'm not english-speaking
  • Zoomg_7136
    Simple solution:
    1: buy game
    2: download game from piratebay or your pirate website of choice
    3: ???
    4: play game

    IF they actually do something(0.00001% chance), just prove you paid for the game, and that you got no support
  • Rothalack
    Master O' Bugs
    Wow. This just blows my mind. How can they get away with it?!?!
  • Wokendreamer
    Featured Columnist
    It's a grey area. All terms of use agreements include clauses about reasonable downtimes, both regular (maintenance) and unexpected (bugs). Such issues generally have to get excessive before it even becomes plausible to seek serious recompense.

    In my own experience, a few days is never considered a problem, though it looks bad. A week or more is where there starts being a problem. Considering people were buying this game as early as last Thursday, we're not too far off from the week.

    The fact that this is hardly the first game Ubisoft's dual-overlay DRM requirements have caused major issues with is definitely something worth noting.

    One positive side of things: It's funny as hell watching people talk about how great Origin is after using Uplay. The REALLY sad part is they're only half-joking when they say it. You're doing something very wrong when EA's Origin service is considered a positive alternative.
  • Max Graham
    Featured Contributor
    I have not bought games because they were only available through Uplay, so I know what you mean.

    It still bothers me to no end when I have to run the damn thing inside of Steam. It feels... not clean.
  • Wokendreamer
    Featured Columnist
    I pointedly refuse to buy a game requiring me to install Origin, as much because I have limited HD space as any other reason, but I never expected to be required to install Ubisoft's version to play a game I bought through Steam.

    For extra hilarity, note the game has its OWN online monitoring service, called Conflux. That means if you buy the game through Steam you have not one, not even two, but three separate DRM services running at the same time.
  • LocTheToker
    Yeah steam authentication, uplay authentication, and a tertiary authentication called conflux. It's not like I'm going to sue for $12.00, but the damage this is going to do their reputation... Trust is much easier to maintain then regain. No DRM has every really had much success stopping pirating outside of multiplayer games. I for one do not pirate any games, but with this current climate of ever increasing DRM, and release day DLC it's looking better all the time.
  • LocTheToker
    I honestly just spent my time making an account for this site instead of wasting my time filling a support ticket with Ubisoft. Excellent article, I had an almost exact experience to the one you describe. DRM only punishes honest purchasers. I have intentionally avoided the Assassins Creed franchise because of Ubisoft's know DRM boondoggles. Now I'm stuck with an unplayable game I could have easily pirated like most of the people I know who play games...
  • Wokendreamer
    Featured Columnist
    There's a petition on Steam's forums right now asking them to stop carrying Ubisoft's games while Ubisoft insists on shoving their own Uplay system down people's throats EVEN when they're playing through Steam.

    It's really bizarre and probably technically absurd to have two separate possible overlays active at once, all the DRM stupidity aside. I suspect having Steam temporarily remove their games from sale would get results a LOT faster than just having everyone complaining on their forums.

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