Always-on DRM or always-online DRM is a form of DRM that requires a consumer to remain connected to a server, especially through an internet connection, to use a particular product.
The practice is also referred to as persistent online authentication.
The technique is meant to prevent copyright infringement of software.
Like other DRM methods, always-on DRM has proven controversial, mainly because it has failed to stop pirates from illegally using the product, while causing severe inconvenience to people who bought the product legally.
Popular video games such as Diablo III and Starcraft 2 employ always-on DRM by requiring players to connect to the internet to play, even in single-player mode.
Reviews of Diablo III criticized its use of always-on DRM.
Its developer, Maxis, initially defended the practice as being a result of the game's reliance on cloud computing for in-game processing, but it was later confirmed that cloud computing was only necessary to support the inter-city and social media mechanisms.
Tim Willits at id Software has also defended the use of always-on DRM, arguing that it would make updates easier.
This later received even more criticism, with users stating that these updates could potentially render the game unable to be played.
A major disadvantage of always-on DRM is that whenever the DRM authentication server goes down or a region experiences an Internet outage, it effectively locks out people from playing the game, hence the criticism.
Ubisoft's first titles requiring an always-on connection were Silent Hunter 5: Battle of the Atlantic and Assassin's Creed II, of which the former had reportedly been cracked as of the first day of the game's release.
Although they decided to re-implement the DRM again for The Crew (despite having a story mode), The Division (although it should be noted that it was never meant for single-player gameplay) and For Honor.