Update: Thanks to the hard work of nose-to-the-ground game journalists – and MASSIVE consumer outcry – Ubisoft is discontinuing the Uplay Passport system in its entirety. Assassin’s Creed IV will be the last title to utilize it, and the company is changing the price for the item to “free” on all applicable marketplaces. Enjoy this one, folks. Cheers, Ubisoft.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag launched yesterday to moderate reviews; this particular gamer won’t get to play it until I actually have an Xbox One and Beth has finished it and possibly all of the extra content. Once it does roll around to me, however, it turns out I’ll have to shell out a little more than expected.
As most of you are aware, online passes are a “thing” now, and Ubisoft’s particular version is the Uplay Passport, which was first introduced to this series with Assassin’s Creed 3. I’m not actually against passes in most situations; I tend to buy games new, and games that have a multiplayer component that my group is interested in require that we all have copies anyway. I’m also on board with “pre-order bonuses;” again, I tend to buy games new, on release day, and Amazon doesn’t charge you for having a game reserved until it actually ships.
Yesterday, however, it came to light that Ubisoft has crossed a line into new territory: Within Black Flag, there is a mechanic that involves you taking over enemy ships and adding them to your fleet. It’s essentially this game’s version of Ezio’s brotherhood and Conner’s homestead; your fleet earns you money and items, and can be sent on missions from a map in your cabin.
If you don’t have an active Uplay Passport, this mechanic is disabled. This single player mechanic.
Ubisoft’s excuse for this is that your can link your fleet with those of your friends, and even send each other assistance across missions. According to their logic, this constitutes a “multiplayer component” and falls under the guidelines for their online pass system. In my opinion, this is a pathetic attempt to spin the truth: They have decided to spearhead the push to block content for solo players who have bought the game used, or are borrowing it from a friend.
Why does bother me? Because, with wholly single-player experiences, Beth and I have begun only purchasing a single copy and splitting the cost. Dishonored, Sleeping Dogs, Remember Me, Assassin’s Creed 3; one copy between us in each instance. I’ve barely played AC 3, but what I have played was not hindered at all by my lack of the Uplay Passport, because I will never play that game online. There are also a few instances where only one of us could get the pre-order items, but again, those don’t tend to be big losses; whoever was more interested in the game took the bonus, and the other one just didn’t worry about it.
When I eventually get to play AC IV, however, I won’t be able to access the fleet meta-game at all unless I pay Ubisoft another $10. Oh, and I’ll probably get to do it again when Watchdogs eventually comes out, because unless we see definitive proof that its multiplayer component is worthwhile, only one copy of that will be purchased as well.
Congratulations, Ubisoft. I have been a die-hard fan of yours since Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. I genuinely liked the first Assassin’s Creed, repetitive missions and all. I know this trend won’t stop with you; hell, Capcom and EA have been charging people for access to content on the disc under the guise of “DLC” for years. I can’t it explain it, but this feels different, and I’m disappointed in you for it.
At what point did the $60+ we pay for games not become enough? I’m not a GameStop kind of guy; I don’t buy into their “Reserve / Trade-In / Used” system, and it bothered me so much when I worked there that they fired me over it. I pre-ordered the collector’s edition of Black Flag the day it went up on Amazon, along with the hardbound strategy guide. Doesn’t matter! $10 more or else!
I guess maybe Ubisoft is just reacting to a changing marketplace, same as the rest of the industry? I’ve got no problem railing against used games, either… But this isn’t a used game! I’m buying it new! It infuriates me that just because my girlfriend and I both want to play it…
I’m rambling now. I apologize. I’m angry, and by damn, I hope you are too.