UbiSoft has done something I though impossible. They’ve made a bigger mess of launching Assassin’s Creed Unity than Sony did launching Star Wars. I can’t play the game at all, because it blows up playing the opening cut scene. It takes real talent to build a game that can’t even run a MPEG without blowing up. Other bugs have been well documented, including embarrassing graphics glitches, the main character falling through the scenery, sluggish loads, and frame rates that make the game unplayable for many who get past that first cut scene.
Gamers may yell a lot, but we’re actually pretty forgiving. We’re even willing to pre-order games when we love a particular franchise, because we want to make sure the game gets delivered. UbiSoft may put a stop to that practice single-handedly. I know I will never pre-play for a game again after this, especially since I discovered that Steam has a no refund policy. I spent $90 on a bunch of digital crap. But even I would have shut up pretty quickly if UbiSoft had acknowledged that they screwed up, got their priorities wrong and were working hard to fix the problems. Instead, the second patch, the one they released after the release day patch didn’t seem to fix anything, was a patch to fix the micropayment system. They were more worried about being able to tell the stock market that they had micro payments than delivering a functioning game.
Now we’re told there are more patches coming, but as far as I can tell, the first cut scene fatality isn’t even on the list.
How come none of us heard anything about these problems from the press? Because Ubisoft made everyone sign non-disclosures that kept them from publishing reviews until 12 hours after the game was released. That alone should have set of the alarm bells of our so-called game press. But apparently the various sites that should have been telling us about these problems were more worried about losing ad revenue by pissing off Ubisoft than in keeping their readers informed.
I think Ubisoft knew they were delivering a clunker and came up with this strategy in order to rip off the gaming public. After all, the click through agreements always say that we can’t expect the software to be fit for any particular purpose.
So, what should we do?
* Stop pre-paying for games. All that will do is encourage this kind of behavior. Distribution is pretty much all digital, so you should never have to worry about not being able to get your copy.
* Refuse to buy a game where the press has agreed to delay reviews. Complain bitterly to the game sites you read about the part they played in this mess.
* Stop buying any Ubisoft title until they have fixed all the bugs in ACU. I doubt I’ll even buy another AC title after this mess.
* If your copy won’t run, Call your State Attorney Generals office and complain. As far as I’m concerned, Ubisoft and other companies that deliver non-functional software are committing fraud. They should be taken to court. Maybe the fear of large jury awards might give the CEOs pause.
It’s clear that laws and law enforcement are lagging badly behind technology and what it enables. That means we have to watch out for ourselves and push our institutions, kicking and screaming, into the digital age.