Ubisoft has recently revealed that a few new titles in their biggest franchises are in production, particularly Far Cry 5, The Crew 2 and a new Assassin’s Creed title.
From all accounts, this information has seemed to have divided the gaming community somewhat. Some gamers were very happy to hear that new installments in some of Ubisoft’s biggest franchises are in development, whereas others gamers were quite simply very angry about the news.
This is not exactly a new phenomenon with regards to any news related to Ubisoft or their games. Over the past few years, a news article or video about a Ubisoft title is kind of expected to bring some level of hate from gamers in the comment section.
This notion led me to think of two questions. Firstly, why do some gamers seemingly hate Ubisoft? Secondly, what can Ubisoft do to change this perceived negative public perception.
Why Do Gamers Seemingly Hate Ubisoft?
In attempting to answer this question, I found five commonly stated reasons that most gamers often provide when discussing why Ubisoft seems to be shunned within the gaming community.
1. They Oversaturate The Market With Their Checklist Games
I don’t think that a lot of people will argue against the point that the first time you play a Ubisoft title, you generally tend to really enjoy the game – it’s when one returns for the title’s innumerable sequels that the problem of a seemingly low level of innovation or improvement between titles becomes apparent.
Probably, the best examples of this fact can be seen in Ubisoft’s arguably two most popular series, Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry.
Both of these series employ identical and repetitive gameplay mechanics. In each of these titles, you have to climb a certain number of towers, find a large number of collectibles and clear a certain number of enemy outposts.
While this can be very fun when experienced for the first time, it does become boring after a while. I saw this while playing Far Cry 4, which I quickly grew bored with because it felt so similar to the fun and well-praised Far Cry 3. It really felt as if I had played the game before.
The reason for this is that a lot gamers (including myself to some extent) believe that Ubisoft’s open-world titles have seem to largely become checklist games that need to employ certain features, including those previously mentioned.
Some other developers have seemingly also begun to adopt this trait, much to the dismay of many gamers, by including repetitive game content for the sake of extending the play time in a title.
Ubisoft floods the market with these less innovative titles by maintaining annual or bi-annual release schedules, which many believe harms the potential for smaller developers to release successful games within similar genres.
It cannot be denied that it will be very hard for most titles from a smaller, non-AAA developer to go head-to-head with an Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry game and still be commercially successful.
2. Ubisoft’s DRM Policies And U-Play
In 2009, in an attempt to combat piracy, Ubisoft began making use of an always-online authentication system for many of their most popular titles. For PC gamers, this meant needing to install an application called U-Play, which authenticated a game’s license.
U-Play as well as other aspects of Ubisoft’s always-online authentication system has often been criticised for creating a substandard gaming experience for many gamers.
Sometimes, just the time it takes to get U-Play working so you can play you game is ridiculous enough for you to not even want to play said title. Personally, the only Ubisoft game that I have played on PC is Assassin’s Creed 3 and I can’t remember having all that much trouble with U-Play authenticating its license, but I have had a few friends state that they spent a few hours trying to get U-Play to authenticate a game so they could play it.
Although Ubisoft did state that they were moving away from this always-online system in 2012, there have been a few games that have since used this system; the most recent being For Honor, which was released in 2017.
One of the most notable failures of this system was when Ubisoft released The Crew in 2014 and servers were down. Despite the fact that the game had a single-player mode, gamers were still able to play the game because of the title’s always-online DRM features.
It really isn’t a surprise that gamers get angry when they can’t play games they own because of publisher server issues and that it’s even more infuriating when they can’t play game modes that should be available offline because of DRM features.
3. Ubisoft’s Bad PC Ports
As previously stated, I’m not a massive PC gamer, but it seems that quite a few previously released Ubisoft titles, such as Assassin’s Creed Unity and WatchDogs, have come under harsh criticism for having bad PC ports.
To be honest, I don’t think that this is a problem that is only limited to Ubisoft as over the past few years quite a few publishers have come under fire for releasing substandard PC ports. Probably, the most popular example is WB Games and the PC port that they released for Batman: Arkham Knight, which was so bad that they even needed to refund gamers.
I think the reason that people tend to call Ubisoft out on this fact is that Ubisoft’s CEO, Yves Guillemot, once stated that most gamers are pirates and a lot of gamers took this as an excuse as to why Ubisoft sometimes releases questionable PC ports of their games.
4. Review Embargoes
A lot of gamers credit Ubisoft with weaponizing the review system for having put review embargoes on some of their biggest titles, such as Assassin’s Creed Unity,Watch Dogs and For Honor. Some of these titles were released in a less than desirable state and so a lot of gamers believe that placing these embargoes was an effort with the aim of driving up early sales by limiting early review availability.
While this is definitely an anti-consumerist action, Ubisoft isn’t alone in placing embargoes, in fact, they weren’t even the first company to use it in such an offensive manner.
Quite recently, Bethesda has also been called out for their stance on review copies. A lot of gaming media outlets have even suggested that may be the explanation for the poor first-sales week of Prey; gamers didn’t want to buy the game blindly and waited for reviews.
So, while I won’t say it’s not fair to fault Ubisoft on this practice, a lot of gamer do need to bear in mind that Ubisoft is not the only publisher that does this.
It’s difficult to find any sort of multiplayer game without microtransactions, nowadays. While some developers have focused on making these transactions non-essential, such as cosmetic DLC for weapons (weapons skins, etc.), Ubisoft has come under some harsh criticism for creating microtransactions systems that create pay to win experiences.
In these instances, you don’t have to buy weapon upgrades if you don’t want to, but if you don’t you’ll probably never win a multiplayer match.
In most games that use microtransactions, there is also a chance that you may unlock all purchasable content within a reasonable time-frame provided that you play the game often enough, whereas in dome Ubisoft titles there are so many items you have to unlock that the system is actually forcing you to purchase content.
For Honor was recently singled out for having an in-game currency drop rate that would ensure that players take at least two and half years to unlock all available upgrades naturally. Firstly, it’s debatable as to whether most gamers will actually play the game for that long, and then secondly, how are the gamers who don’t purchase combat upgrades meant to compete against those who do?
Such systems definitely push gamers away from playing such games as most people want to engage in competitive experiences that do not expect you to spend extra cash in order to ensure that you actually have a fair chance against an opponent.
What Can Ubisoft Do To Change The Negative Image Created By These Factors?
Ubisoft is a bit of a weird company as for as many shoddy, carbon copy titles they release, they do at times also release games that provide a very fun and worthwhile experience.
They release so many new games each year that regardless of what some may feel, they are bound to get it right sometimes. The problem, however, is just the filler surrounding the good releases and the negative aspects surrounding good games.
For example, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege provides a very fun and worthwhile gameplay experience, but may feel it uses a pay-to-win model, with regards to microtransactions.
Then, For Honor really is a fun game to play provided that it doesn’t take you about 20 minutes to find a match on the peer-to-peer servers and that the host of the match isn’t a sore loser.
The Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry series could both return to the insane sales numbers Ubisoft once saw from the two franchises if they show gamers significant growth and improvement in terms of gameplay in future installments.
The only thing it seems that Ubisoft needs to do in order to combat the negative image surrounding their name is listen to the consumer at specific points. While I understand that sometimes what the consumer wants isn’t always right, something definitely does need to change if slow server connection speeds are resulting in people abandoning playing one of your games, for instance.
Ubisoft has previously shown that they are willing to listen to gamers. With regards to Watch Dogs, they took the criticism received from the first title and made Watch Dogs 2and more fun and fulfilling experience. Unfortunately, the title didn’t do as well as expected due to the negative cloud surrounding the first title.
These instance, however, seem to be too few and far between from each other.
Hopefully in future Ubisoft will take consumer complaints into consideration more often, but only time will tell whether this will happen or not. Here’s to hoping that Far Cry 5 is an amazing game…
Do you dislike Ubisoft? If so, why? Is there anything you think Ubisoft can do to change their perceived negative public image? Please share in the comments down below.
Watch the Far Cry 5 Reveal Trailer here: