It had to happen. The manufacturer of software I use was breached and had data stolen. Such is a day in the life of a computer nerd. What ticks me off is that this is for a game I’ve played since 1986 and, up until now, I never had to risk my personal data to do so.
The company is Ubisoft, maker of fine games like Assassin’s Creed. But I’m talking about Might & Magic Heroes 6, a fantasy role-playing game. I have played this game since the very first Might & Magic in 1986, back on my trusty Apple IIe with extended 80-column graphics card and DuoDisk, because THAT’S HOW I ROLL.
Related article: PCMag: Ubisoft Database Hack Exposes Email Addresses, Passwords
Thirty Years Of Gameplay
I have played every iteration of this game to the present day. Every version of Might & Magic, every version of its sibling Heroes of Might & Magic. I’ve played it on the Apple II, on the Mac, on PCs under both DOS and Windows. I have played it off 5.25″ floppies. I’ve played it off CD. I’ve bought the expansion packs. I’ve bought the gold editions with the sexy maps. I have played the hell out of this game, and I have spent a lot of money doing so. Take a look at the picture above. That’s just some of the stuff I’ve collected over the decades of being a loyal Might & Magic customer.
In nearly 30 years of gameplay I never needed to give whatever company owned Might & Magic – New World Computing, in the beginning, then later 3DO and now Ubisoft – any kind of personally identifying information (PII). I bought the disk or CD in the store, installed it, played the game. That was it.
Now I’m A Marketing Drone
But now, my playing the game must be a data point in the vastness that is the modern-day marketing engine. My information must be scrupulously tallied, even if the company hanging onto it doesn’t take care of it. And now, because of their inability to safeguard my data, I have to take all the usual precautions: change passwords, check my computer, monitor my online accounts and my bank accounts for hacktivity. All to play a video game.
— Triona Guidry (@trionaguidry) July 2, 2013
Except I Knew The Risks Going In
I knew, before I bought Might & Magic Heroes 6, that it would require me to install uPlay, Ubisoft’s “helper” app which, like other gaming companies’ apps, is basically a required DRM wrapper. So I researched uPlay to find out the scoop about their security (like you do).
I found out they’d had some incidents of bugs and whatnot, no more so than any other company, but nothing on the order of a Sony or a Blizzard. Again, being an infosec nerd, I knew this meant exactly nothing as far as whether Ubisoft might suffer a breach in the future. Of course they might. Anybody might.
But… I really wanna play Might & Magic…
So I Took Precautions To Secure My Gaming Environment
So I decided to buy Heroes 6 and put up with uPlay – with caveats. NOT on my main computer. NOT using a credit card or, heaven forbid, a debit card. Virtual computing and prepaid gift cards. The computer is scrupulously patched, operating system and applications, its antivirus updated before every gameplay, and firewalled to a fare-the-well.
I also use strong passwords that are Unique. On. EVERY. Site. That means the password I was using for uPlay was never used anywhere else and never will be again. Here’s the latest version of my super-duper password article if you want to learn how.
And None Of That Matters Because We’ll All Get Hacked Eventually
And I knew, as you should know, that all of this means exactly nothing as to whether I personally could suffer financial loss or identity theft due to a data breach, from this site or any other. I probably already have. So have you. All this does is mitigate my chances.
So when the word came out – yeah, the company that makes one of my favorite games got breached – I sighed and followed Ubisoft’s instructions for password change, and grumbled about having to divulge my PII just to play a game. But I wasn’t worried about my credit card, or my computer, and that’s peace of mind you can’t get from companies that siphon your data.
Needless to say I have no intention of purchasing the Xbox One – requires an always-on connection, plus camera and voice control which Microsoft pinky-swears you can turn off? Thanks, I’ll pass. And I’m starting to take a much closer look at independent games, where the developers are more interested in your patronage than your marketing data.
Will I play the next version of Might & Magic? I haven’t decided. I suppose it will depend on how DRM-y and data-mine-y it is.
(Also, Ubisoft – can you add back the Sylvan town type? Sanctuary’s fun and all, but I miss my treants and elves. That’d be great, thanks.)
On a related topic, as a geek woman who’s pretty damn done with all the harassment and shenanigans we’ve had to put up with lately, I have another bone to pick with Ubisoft over Might & Magic Heroes 6. But that is a topic for a future post, so stay tuned…