Saturday, January 14th 2012

Anno 2070's Draconian DRM: Guru3D's Graphics Card Review Killed Off

Anno 2070's Draconian DRM: Guru3D's Graphics Card Review Killed Off (UPDATED)

Hilbert Hagedoorn of well-known PC tech review site guru3d.com recently bought a copy of Ubisoft's Anno 2070 and wanted to use it in one of his graphics card reviews. However, he became badly unstuck. This game comes on the Steam platform and the store page states: "3rd-party DRM: Solidshield Tages SAS 3 machine activation limit". Unfortunately for Guru3D, they found out exactly what this means, which resulted in just one performance graph, an aborted review, an unplayable game – and bad publicity for Ubisoft once again. They have published an article about their experience, pledging not to use their titles again because of this DRM.

The DRM in this game works in a similar way to Microsoft's product activation, in that it creates a hash value from certain key hardware components such as the motherboard, CPU, HDD (including mere partition changes!) and graphics cards among others, then uses this information to decide if the hardware has changed sufficiently to require a reactivation. It's that last one which caused the problem: Guru3D ran out of activations when swapping out graphics cards. Ubisoft claim in their FAQ (for Anno 1404, none available for Anno 2070, should be the same) that an email to their support department will grant you a new activation, completely hassle-free. They say this twice, in fact:
Question: How often can I activate my game?
Answer: To start with, you can activate your game on three different PC configurations – if you have used up these activations, simply contact our Support team who will provide you with further activations free of charge and without hassle.
and:
Question: I have already used the activation for three different PC configurations – can I get further activations?
Answer: Yes, if you do require further activations, please contact the Support team. They will provide you with new activations free of charge and without hassle.
However, in practice, this is certainly not what happens. Hagerdoorn sent Ubisoft support an email requesting a reactivation, but still hasn't heard back from them. Then he contacted Ubisoft's marketing department, where he tells us:
When contacting Ubisoft marketing here in the Netherlands, their reply goes like this: 'Sorry to disappoint you - the game is indeed restricted to 3 hardware changes and there simply is no way to bypass that. We also do not have 7 copies of the game for you'.

I'm sorry, but I am not about to purchase the title seven times to make a review that by default benefits Ubisoft sales.

Welcome to PC gaming Anno 2012.

Please find the results of our massive VGA performance review below on the one chart. With one hand in the air I wave to Ubisoft, more puzzled about this then anything.
Given that what it says in the FAQ is at odds with what actually happens, since the customer gets significantly less than what was promised – getting stuck with an unplayable game - then Guru3D have a right to a refund, since the product isn't fit for purpose and we believe that they should pursue it.

Unsurprisingly, Guru3D's wonderful experience has been picked up elsewhere, among them Softpedia, who reported on it here and then an interesting follow-up here. In the second article, they point out four major problems with Ubisoft's super duper DRM that we believe are highly valid. We present a summary of their points here:


1 The reviewing community will be more than frustrated

The games won't be used for reviews, removing free publicity for them. In fact, there will be a notable absence of games employing this DRM, if it spreads. If the reviewer decides to jump through the reactivation hoops or buys extra copies (just sounds wrong, doesn't it?) they will voice their dissatisfaction. Loudly.


2 The new DRM can damage the consumer hardware market if other developers imitate it

The hardware lock-ins that these games impose will get more significant if this DRM is used by others such as EA, id Software etc, making the hardware market suffer. This will happen, because gamers won't want to change their hardware at all if they fear that they will lose their games. However, this doesn't seem that likely to happen in practice for a couple of reasons. The hardware manufacturers such as AMD won't be happy in getting caught in the crossfire and will likely have something to say about this. The other reason is that piracy will likely skyrocket and real sales this time will actually go down significantly.


3 Game piracy will actually gain a measure of justification

This one we feel is worth quoting in full:
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed in the United States back in 1998 in order to impose criminal penalties on those who spread means meant to circumvent content protection technologies.

That was (arguably) all well and good, but game developers quickly found that piracy wasn't going anywhere, so they started inventing more and more ways to fight it.

Always-on DRM (which demands constant Internet connection for permission to play single-player games) was among the most controversial, though, fortunately, it is losing steam.

This new measure that Ubisoft cooked up may actually top it. In fact, this new DRM outright justifies piracy to a greater extent than some may realize.

As we have already mentioned, few people, if any, will actually feel that a game (and, by extension, a game developer) has the right to dictate how many times they are allowed to upgrade their PC.

As such, when they run out of activations, there will be no sort of moral qualms about going online and getting a cracked version, regardless of the supposed possibility to reset the activation limit.

Why bother calling support each time you buy a new hardware component, when you can just overwrite a couple of files and be spared the headache forever?

Yes, as absurd as it sounds, this DRM can actually make people who bought the game decide to get a cracked version even if the original already rests in their desk drawer.

We don't endorse piracy – if you like a game enough to play it, you should like it enough to buy it – but red lights start to blare when game developers practically encourage it themselves, unwittingly or otherwise.

The jump from there to getting the pirated game from the start is very small. Whether Ubisoft likes it or not, it is encouraging people to resort to piracy instead of discouraging this tendency.
Yes, game developers dictating if and when you're allowed to upgrade your PC! Indeed, talk about giving potential customers a strong motive to pirate your product.


4 Game developers would be better off just making their titles worth buying

Piracy will never really go away, so quit worrying about what DRM you want to infect your product with and just make it DRM-free and good, then the customers will come. If DRM must be used, then don't get so draconian over it and put in something creative, such as an invincible enemy to thrash copyists around, as was included in Serious Sam 3.

These are Softpedia's four points and we would like to add that it has been well and truly proven by the DRM-free gog.com site and the various DRM-free music sites such as Amazon, that you can run a successful business without imposing DRM and make it more successful than with it.

The four points above seem quite reasonable to us and we hope, our readers too. Also, when reading that Anno 1404 FAQ, note how many hoops the hapless honest customer has to jump through just to play their game. Quite an off-putting proposition, isn't it? Might as well just buy another game that doesn't impose this garbage on you... Of course, 'pirates' have no such problems and can run the game stripped of all its DRM. Mind you, they might get malware infected games this way, so this isn’t so clever either, regardless of the morality of getting a dodgy copy.

As usual, we recommend to boycott purchasing the game over this issue, but just as importantly, don't download a dodgy copy, either. That way, Ubisoft go down in flames without being able to point the finger at 'pirates' and they'll be forced to remove this ridiculous DRM.

Well then, despite its graphical excellence, along with Guru3D, this looks like one game that certainly won't be used as a review benchmark on TechPowerUp, a significant review site on the PC enthusiast tech scene.

Ubisoft: well done in alienating your best possible promoters, all in the name of fighting 'piracy'. For shame.

UPDATE

Guru3D have now updated their article with the following:
Update monday Jan 16 - 2012:

We have been contacted by bluebyte over the weekend, the company that developed the Anno series. Our key has been pretty much unlocked allowing us to properly work on this article. To be continued ....
It would be nice to know a bit more detail, such as has the three machine limit been removed completely, etc. Still though, it seems unreasonable to have to jump through these bureaucratic hoops along with the wasted time and frustration just to play a game, or benchmark with it as in this case.
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81 Comments on Anno 2070's Draconian DRM: Guru3D's Graphics Card Review Killed Off

#1
DrPepper
The Doctor is in the house
by: vrdublu
The most idiotic statement of this entire post. Ohh and btw, " a lot" is not one word, genius. :slap: I know this and English is my second language.
You mean the most idiotic statement of this thread, since there is only one statement in that post.
Posted on Reply
#2
Solaris17
Creator Solaris Utility DVD
by: ice_v
just use a corrected version like the user above, and all shall be fine :p
nah i like being part of the group that doesnt cause this shit. thanks though. but when i do BUY the game Im going to rename the EXE boats and hoes. or w/e you need to modify for steam to see it as boats and hoes. im going to clock like 70 hours on boats with hoes.
Posted on Reply
#3
TC-man
Now, I remember that it's also Ubisoft who came with an other draconian copy protection many years ago, e.g. StarForce 3. So Ubisoft hasn't still learned from this mistake from the past. Perhaps some big digital distributors like Steam should stop distributing Ubisoft games with these kind of restrictions, because such restrictions indicate that their customers are just potential pirates/thieves who would just steal their games (really hope this gonna happen and let this be a very big lesson for Ubisoft), otherwise there wouldn't be such harsh restrictions on their games.
Posted on Reply
#4
Solaris17
Creator Solaris Utility DVD
by: uber_cookie
It's kind of funny since Steam sort of promotes "play your games anywhere" which DRM prevents you from accessing and playing games from other computers...

Maybe it's time they came up with something different for Steam, something like embed Steam agent code into the executable which would lock it to your account and not to the computer. PCs get replaced/upgraded more frequently, not like console which lasts 10years...
This is true. Maybe Steam should get in on the hate and refuse to offer DRM games. Of course they wont. but it would help alot.
Posted on Reply
#5
scaminatrix
The Ubsioft boycott just got more real...
Posted on Reply
#6
amd/atifiend
well said.....haven't bought an ubi game since supcom2.
Posted on Reply
#7
reverze
love anno series, but not buying it cause of DRM, good luck ubisoft with not going bankrupt cause of no piracy and no sales.
Posted on Reply
#8
NdMk2o1o
by: WaroDaBeast
The gaming industry should learn to understand that the easier it is to buy the game, the more people will buy it. If a game doesn't get released in my country, what do I do? Well, there's Steam and the others now, but what about before?

Besides, for DVD copies, you gotta admit that it's a pain to put the DVD in the drive and remove it afterwards. Whenever I got a game that requires the disc to be played, I use a crack. No need to go spelunking in my shelves anymore.




Of course they are. That explains why England had a whole dynasty of French kings after being invaded by the Normans, and also Charlemagne's empire, and that's without even mentioning the French colonial empire either. Oh, and as pointed out by the link towards tvtropes, they also helped a certain former British colony gain independence. I guess it's too hard remembering who helped your country become one.

Anyway... The whole truth is, the French were stupid. For some reason, they thought they'd be unbeatable by building a huge wall called the Maginot Line, which was easily circumvented by the Germans, what with their Blitzkrieg technique.

Since it would've been very demoralizing for the American troops to hear that such a powerful country got defeated that easily, the higher-ups told the grunts that the French had just surrendered like that.

Of course, as people don't like thinking — it hurts their poor lil' brain too much —, that oversimplification about the French surrendering as if it were the latest trend stuck. No word on French resistance, no word on the non-Jews hiding Jewish kids in the countryside, and pretending that they're their own kids to the Nazis.

Last but not least, a decision taken unilaterally by a president (and a general) doesn't mean the whole population agrees with it. Otherwise, I could say that the French are happy with President Sarkozy's first, which was to raise his salary (along with those of the other politicians') a lot.
First part of the post fine, 2nd part pure and utter tripe, please go and rant over at GN if you really feel the need to give a history lesson. Oh and FYI it's not the first time the french have conceeded to the Germans, they have done it again and are now Germany's hand puppet in the sinking ship that is the EU, oh and didn't their credit rating also just get downgraded?
Posted on Reply
#9
gorg_graggel
are you guys seriously debating ww2 in a thread about drm?

c'mon...
Posted on Reply
#10
Mescalamba
by: Gzero
Both have been pirated... you get wow private servers, and BF3 was in the top10 most downloaded stats.
Yes..

..but! :D

BF3 .. well singleplayer is for one afternoon and plain boring. You can forget private servers, it has quite complex system for that.

WoW .. sure pirated a lot, lots of private servers. But do they match Blizzard servers? :D Not even close. Most private servers are happy if they even manage to stay online for one day. :D

As I said, its worthless downloads.. doesnt make any real damage. Difference is that legal version offers something that pirated cant. Thats why they dont need DRM. Apart of BF3 being pretty good game.
Posted on Reply
#11
ironwolf
I spend more than I probably should on games. When I buy a legit game, some of the first things I do are: see if there are any offline patches to download and look for a no-cd/no-dvd crack. I do not like having to keep the stupid game disc in the drive just to play my damn game and swapping them between games. I have some games installed at home & work and don't care to truck the discs between the two. I have some games that the stupid copy protection is iffy on it working and letting me actually play. I feel like a DRM/copy protection prisoner.

These companies keep this up, I'll be voting with my $$$ and a big F-U + middle finger.
Posted on Reply
#12
amd/atifiend
The Game companies need to wise up and realize 2 key points imo: If they make a desirable product people will buy it and if the product is convenient people will buy it.

I'm sure many of you may or may not agree but for me steam makes it so easy that I'd rather spend a few bucks and get a legit copy. On top of that if you want a few months you can get deep discounts as well.
Posted on Reply
#13
Wiselnvestor
Boycotting Ubi ever since Raven shield.

by: Prima.Vera
Yeah, I still think that the Far Cry 1 was THE BEST game ever made by Ubisoft. And maybe LBA (Little Big Adventure) games.:o
Farcry 1 was made by Crytek, Ubi is only the publisher. They(Ubi) bought the rights to make Farcry2.
Posted on Reply
#14
WaroDaBeast
by: Gzero
Good luck with that, even the almighty Steam can't make games available to everyone, even if it was for short period it is still a huge hit on release day sales which as I'm sure everyone here knows is the most important point for games (usually used to determine what to do with the IP and game).
Well, digital distribution platforms are certainly not the panacea if game makers don't want their games on said platforms. Oh well, more money to the ones who do make their games available on those, huh?



by: NdMk2o1o
First part of the post fine, 2nd part pure and utter tripe, please go and rant over at GN if you really feel the need to give a history lesson. Oh and FYI it's not the first time the french have conceeded to the Germans, they have done it again and are now Germany's hand puppet in the sinking ship that is the EU, oh and didn't their credit rating also just get downgraded?
Oh, so it's not fine to give a history lesson, but a lesson about economy is. I'd appreciate it if you could give me more pointers as to what is fine and what isn't, mister. :)

---

[spoiler]

by: entropy13
Very OT post. :laugh:

Good thing there are spoiler tags.


What? The Duke of Normandy had more in common with the King of Denmark than the King of France in 1066, considering they're both Vikings.

By your reasoning then, considering the Normans also captured Sicily and southern Italy during the Middle Ages...they are now Italians? Simply because Vikings went to Normandy, which just so happens to be in northern France, they are now French...and because they are now French, and they captured England, England is now under the French...?
The Normans were in France since the early 900's. People who go and settle in another country and mingle with the rest of the population become part of that population. This is what has happened in virtually every country in the world, you know... Otherwise, I might argue that no one but Native Americans in good ol' USA are Americans, since everybody else came from other countries.

If you know your history, you'll know why England never became French. Not the whole population was French, just the King. Arguing the opposite would mean the various nations in Europe switched nationalities everytime a foreign sovereign came to power. You know, when all the sovereigns were marrying one another, during Napoleon's time.

by: entropy13
It's still kind of hazy there though, considering the "Franks" are still not that "distinct" so to speak, to the other Germanic tribes around that time. It's only when his sons "went their own ways" when "distinctions" started to arise.
Not sure what you mean. The Franks started invading Roman Gaul during the 5th century, and took over in late 6th century. Those were the Merovingians, which was the dynasty before the Carolingians. So, really... I have no idea what you mean by distinctions.

by: entropy13
Well, the UK "lost" their colonies in the 20th Century relatively peacefully at least, likewise for the Netherlands. France lost Indochina in dramatic fashion however, wasting the only consistently excellent armed force they ever had (FFL) with useless commanders on the upper echelons of command. Then there's Algeria...
I was merely saying that the French have had empires too, so you can't say they're just a bunch of surrenderers. The fact that they didn't know how to let go of their former colonies, however idiotic, is an entirely different story.

by: entropy13
It's more out of "the enemy of my enemy is my (temporary) friend" rather than any benevolent actions by France though. Considering the monarchy's approaching its death throes then. Afterwards there was the "Quasi War" between the two (although admittedly it's the French republic already)...
I guess that's why Lafayette is very popular on the other side of the Atlantic ocean... Right? Nah, I think people just plain don't care about history. I see that everyday with the students at school — they don't care about history, nor can they speak their native tongue that they supposedly care more about than French.

by: entropy13
That didn't happen. You're saying the likes of Eisenhower and Montgomery would lie to their own men when LeClerc and the 2nd Armored Division are with them? You're criticizing "oversimplification" by oversimplifying? :laugh:
You're right. I can't prove this. But you can't prove the opposite, can you?

by: entropy13
Although admittedly, the French are still stupid and did surrender, especially with the establishment of Vichy France. The Netherlands and Belgium and Poland and Denmark and Norway didn't surrender, they got occupied. They still had their government-in-exile (and monarchy-in-exile when applicable). But in the case of the French, they surrendered.
Now, you're arguing semantics. :rolleyes:

by: entropy13
The French Resistance doesn't get really talked much, admittedly. Because France were sharply divided then, the Free French on one side and Vichy France in the other. So much for their "brotherhood" eh? The French can't even decide as one whole nation which side they are on. :laugh:
Hah. Strange that you don't mention Belgium when it comes to division now. Belgian political crisis anyone? Nah, it's probably just France being the only country in the world that's got problems — you keep wearing those blinkers.

by: entropy13
So why the f**k was that midget elected then? By "divine right of kings" and not by elections? :laugh:

Well, I guess he won't be re-elected then though. But then again if the ultranationalists win...woe betide to France, and the EU too.
Yeah, man, judge a person's ability to govern a country by their height; it's the only parameter that counts, after all. :rolleyes: (Not saying he's a good president, just that the way you judge a sovereign isn't exactly the best.) Anyway, it's very simple to understand. The dude won 'cause the left-winged parties in France can't even agree on whether they need to take a piss or not first thing after getting up in the morning. Besides, I don't think you should trust the polls, as they're almost always way off. We all saw that in '02.

So yeah... Basically, the French suck and if they don't, they're not French. Nice try, but not nice enough.

[/spoiler]
Posted on Reply
#17
theoneandonlymrk
by: theoneandonlymrk
Ubisoft's Horrible DRM



sorry but to the point

Here's what Ubisofts DRM is doing these days, they don't just verify the number of PCs you work on, nope .. they monitor hardware changes. So once we inserted that GeForce GTX 590 the hardware id # changed rendering our activation invalid.

extracted from here

http://www.guru3d.com/news.html#14972

this is the worst DRM i have ever seen and i deffinately will not be buying into Any of that shit, what is this company thinking at all i have more original titles then ever before due to, a having a job and, b getting old and scared of the cold but il not be buying ubisoft ,oh no

I was fully offended during the typeing of this as i have bought UBI games hawx1 and 2 and a few others
stale old news days late qubit
Posted on Reply
#18
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: theoneandonlymrk
stale old news days late qubit
Yeah, thanks for your 'constructive' comment. :rolleyes: So you think because you posted about it (your link is broken by the way, maybe get that fixed ;)) a little before in the forum it can't be a news article?

It's not "days old", anyway (well not when I posted the news story).
Posted on Reply
#19
theoneandonlymrk
by: qubit
Yeah, thanks for your 'constructive' comment. So you think because you posted about it (your link is broken by the way, maybe get that fixed ) a little before in the forum it can't be a news article?

It's not "days old", anyway (well not when I posted the news story).
ill try and make it a bit more constructive next time;), im no hater no sweat, but i read that on guru on friday and the links broke cos its old simples

and yeh its fine as news as some might not have seen it yet but 3 days later makes it a repeat for a lot of us hence my point, next day yeh fine that day great , 3 days later bit late imho

OT Ubisoft Are on Crack simples , theyll get none of my money on any format ever again, and they may not be the only ones,

im starting to think EA have done something similar on the sly as crysis 2 seems to want to reactivate with the slightest oc tweek, ive had to go through ea support a few times now to get it back activated . only to start it again last night (after mem oc) and the shit wants activateing again upon which it tells me activations exceeded.

ive had enough of drm, all games on my pc are getting cracked now, just so i can play MY ORIGINALs when i sodding want ,pathetic its easyier by a country mile to get install and play a copy then it is to play my allready installed game that ive owned a while.:wtf:
Posted on Reply
#20
bogie
UBISofts games are on my ban list. Won't ever buy any of them. Crappy software developer anyway! F U UBI. :shadedshu
Posted on Reply
#21
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
Quibit, you might want to update the news post. Guru3D was contacted by support over the weekend and their key was unlocked so he could do the benchmark article.

So there you have it, benchmarkers wanting to use the game need simply contact the proper tech support people and have the key unlocked.

And normal people will need to contact tech support if they update hardware 3 times.

99% of users will never be effected, and those that are are taken care of.
Posted on Reply
#22
qubit
Overclocked quantum bit
by: theoneandonlymrk
ill try and make it a bit more constructive next time;), im no hater no sweat, but i read that on guru on friday and the links broke cos its old simples

and yeh its fine as news as some might not have seen it yet but 3 days later makes it a repeat for a lot of us hence my point, next day yeh fine that day great , 3 days later bit late imho

OT Ubisoft Are on Crack simples , theyll get none of my money on any format ever again, and they may not be the only ones,

im starting to think EA have done something similar on the sly as crysis 2 seems to want to reactivate with the slightest oc tweek, ive had to go through ea support a few times now to get it back activated . only to start it again last night (after mem oc) and the shit wants activateing again upon which it tells me activations exceeded.

ive had enough of drm, all games on my pc are getting cracked now, just so i can play MY ORIGINALs when i sodding want ,pathetic its easyier by a country mile to get install and play a copy then it is to play my allready installed game that ive owned a while.:wtf:
Hey, no problem, we're good. Thankyou, I really appreciate it. :toast:

But I don't understand why you think it's three days old there, buddy? :confused: I wonder if it's a timezone effect? Look, the article on Guru3D is dated the 14th and so is mine, going by the timezone on the TPU server (GMT-6 ie it changes date 6 hours after GMT).

+1, I couldn't agree more with boycotting Ubisoft and I'm not surprised that EA are pulling a similar stunt, too. And hey, you know what, I've got so many games on my Steam account, all with Steam-only DRM, that it's real easy for me to avoid buying the ones with this garbage on. Heck, if the biggest games seller of all, Activision, doesn't infest their Call of Duty games with anything more than Steam DRM, then it's yet another proof that this activation BS is not needed.

Everyone: please do not let this get into a CoD vs whatever bashing thread. I'm just talking DRM here.

by: newtekie1
Quibit, you might want to update the news post. Guru3D was contacted by support over the weekend and their key was unlocked so he could do the benchmark article.

So there you have it, benchmarkers wanting to use the game need simply contact the proper tech support people and have the key unlocked.

And normal people will need to contact tech support if they update hardware 3 times.

99% of users will never be effected, and those that are are taken care of.
Thanks, I saw that, one update coming up in a bit. :) I think that Hilbert could have given a little more detail in his update though, such as has the three machine limit been lifted, is this a one-off "favour" etc. I have a feeling we're gonna see something more from Guru3D on this though...

Well, I see that you're ok with it and it boils down to what you're willing to put up with, so it's not a black and white situation. Personally, I don't think it's reasonable to make people jump through these bureaucratic hoops, waste time and get frustrated just to play their games and is enough to make me boycott the product. This stuff should be should be reserved for the proper context, such as applying for driving licences, government benefits etc, you get the picture. :) It's quite ironic that when trying to relax and de-stress with a game, one gets stressed out over something like this!
Posted on Reply
#23
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: qubit
Well, I see that you're ok with it and it boils down to what you're willing to put up with, so it's not a black and white situation. Personally, I don't think it's reasonable to make people jump through these bureaucratic hoops, waste time and get frustrated just to play their games and is enough to make me boycott the product. This stuff should be should be reserved for the proper context, such as applying for driving licences, government benefits etc, you get the picture. It's quite ironic that when trying to relax and de-stress with a game, one gets stressed out over something like this!
It boils down to how it is handled, and in this case it seems it is handled properly. If there was no support and no way for the user to get a solution when they hit the 3 activation limit, then I would have a problem with it. And as it is, 99% of people playing the game will never be affected by it(especially if it is true that the activations are reset after 30 days). To boycott over DRM like this is making a mountain out of a mole hill.
Posted on Reply
#24
xenocide
I think assuming it only applies if they change hardware 3 times is a bit short sighted. What about someone who has a laptop and wants to install it on that? Or multiple computers that they play on? I know a lot of people that have multiple computers because they play with their wivesgf'sfriends and they like to have Steam on them all with all the games installed so they can play on any of them. Hardware limiting is a poor and cumbersome way to penalize legitimate customers. What do they gain by doing this, really?
Posted on Reply
#25
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
oh hey look, another thread where people bitch and complain.
Posted on Reply
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