It’s been a busy few months for Ubisoft. They’ve managed to offend a majority of the gaming population, they’ve been releasing broken games left, right and centre and when those games proved to be broken, they even managed to make matters worse when they tried to fix them. Crikey, I hope Ubisoft have had time for a nap.
But, when the pitchforks have been blunted and our arms have grown tired from banging on their office doors and windows, Ubisoft will try and make amends. To make matters easier for them and to air out our grievances, we’ve put together a list of just a few things Ubisoft can do to make us hate them just that little bit less.
1. Give Assassin’s Creed a Break
Let it be said that I love the Assassin’s Creed games. I own most of games in the series (I even have AC1 and AC3 twice) and I have multiple AC t-shirts, just to drive home the point that I really flippin’ love this stealth stab-em-up series.
Yet for all of my super-fanning, I’m bored. Tremendously so.
Assassin’s Creed has become a staple on the holiday gaming schedule and we expect it every single year, but as the fatigue of so much familiarity sets in and the market saturation of the genre (not just from AC but of similar games like it) challenges our interest, the series is suffering. New iterations of the franchise no longer seem like such big jumps forward – not in the way that Assassin’s Creed to Assassin’s Creed 2 was – and although sea battles have recently tried to switch things up, we’ve now had three years (and three games) of that.
I don’t want to see Assassin’s Creed go the way of Guitar Hero and the dodo before it because the franchise has massive cultural relevance and importance. This is especially the case when you look at games like Assassin’s Creed 3, Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation and Assassin’s Creed: Freedom Cry which, despite the gamification of the subjects, did bring to light so very important (and awful) moments of history.
But what I do want is for the series to take a break.
2. Longer Quality Assurance, Even If It Means Game Delays
We gamers, we’re an easy lot to satisfy. If you tell us your game is broken and needs some more time in the oven (as have the teams behind Dragon Age: Inquisition, Battlefield: Hardline and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt) we’ll eat up that statement and sit tight until release day.
Sadly though, Ubisoft has yet to grasp this. Although they delayed MMO racer The Crew for a matter of weeks, they managed to bungle the launch of that game too. It also doesn’t take a genius to see that Assassin’s Creed Unity suffered from Ubi’s need to release an AC game (at least) once a year and now they’ve even cocked everything up with gaming classic Tetris.
We gamers also understand the need for a cash cow but trying to get your hands on our money should never be at the negligence of quality. Ubisoft needs to work on their games for longer and test the heck out of them. Heck, delay them by an entire year if it will the game less broken! It’s not like they haven’t done that before.
The point is, if quality assurance is what saves games from launching in buggy states then obviously, more of it needs to be done.
3. Beta To The Max
However, it’s also understandable when quality assurance can’t solve every problem prior to launch.
This is one of Ubisoft’s excuse for embargoing The Crew and preventing reviews until launch day. They explained that as The Crew is an MMO, it needs a hell of a lot of players online to be able to get the full experience out of it.
Now, I played The Crew‘s beta just a few weeks before launch and found it problematic for a variety of reasons (chiefly that the handling is terrible) and I don’t really think extra beta time could have saved it, but, when betas have worked for just about every other game, obviously there’s a good reason for them.
Just look at Battlefield: Hardline which allowed developer Visceral Games to take on poor feedback and work on those fixes. Destiny also had a well-sized beta and despite also being a persistently online MMO (like The Crew) developer Bungie used the information to avoid launch day catastrophes – this is especially impressive given just how many people played Destiny at launch.
I suppose one good reason for not having a beta is that you know that the game is broken from the off (as could have been the case with Unity) but even so, letting us know your game is awful beforehand will at least let us save our time and money.
4. Release More Original IPs
Child of Light was hands down one of the best games of the year – not just published by Ubisoft but in general. A platforming RPG about a girl who has to save her kingdom, Child of Light made fantastic use of the UbiArt Framework engine. Despite some sometimes rather dodgy rhyming couplets (all of its dialogue is told in poem), the game was a fantastic example of what can happen when Ubi’s developers are allowed to shun sequels and just work on their own thing.
And it was profitable too so even if a Child of Light sequel is uncertain, it was a risk (as new IPs always are) that most definitely paid off.
It also provides me with good reason to ask for more original games from Ubisoft. At present, the company’s culture is so sequel-centred that they went live with Assassin’s Creed: Victory before Assassin’s Creed Unity had even been fixed which is no way to go about your business when gamers are embracing new ideas more than ever.
What would be nice to see is for more of those smaller team projects to come to fruition. We already know that off the back of Child of Light one Ubisoft exec is working on his own project but we’ll need more of those to keep our consoles warm between now and next Christmas.
5. More Deals
I’m most definitely looking out for my own wallet here but I don’t think deals and freebies would go amiss.
The Ubisoft Winter sale kicked off just yesterday and was rightfully considered as a way to gloss over the problems that the publisher is having but more of that could at least make us feel less angry towards them. People nearly calmed down completely when Ubisoft offered free games and DLC to those Unity season pass holders – at least until they broke Unity again with the recent 6GB patch that forced everyone to redownload the entire game.
Furthermore, we’ve already seen that discounting everything and coughing up free things solves problems. EA was once the Worst Company in America (for two years on the trot, no less) but they’ve avoided getting the title again in part by chucking free stuff at us once a month. Square Enix regularly tries to hawk its wares at low prices (sometimes with Ubisoft’s help, funnily enough) which also keeps them in favour despite incredibly divisive business deals.
And, even if Ubisoft didn’t knock down prices and dole out freebies out of the good will of their heart, from a business perspective it makes perfect sense. We’ll play through their back catalogue and will buy the many sequels; a strategy Ubisoft will probably need to employ given how sequel obsessed the company appears to be.
6. Do Anything Better Than 2014
My final ‘thing’ that the games publisher can do is do anything better than 2014.
2014 was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year for Ubisoft from the disappointment of Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed Unity, The Crew, Tetris and even Far Cry 4 (the problems were less prevalent here but still) to the many embarrassments and scandals and the sliding of their share prices.
I do not think that they could possibly replicate this level of awful again unless they actively tried. At least I hope not because as demonstrated in previous years, when Ubi get it right they get it really right.
Here’s to hoping they turn it around in 2015.
What do you think Ubisoft can do to make us hate them less? Leave a comment and let us know!