Ubisoft Doesn’t ‘Get’ PC Gaming, So Don’t ‘Get’ Ubisoft’s PC Games


(This is the very first </RANT>.exe, a weekly PC-gaming focused opinion column on GameFront. Check back every week for more. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect those of GameFront.)

Lately, the computer gaming space has become incredibly exciting, as consoles begin to show their age and a resurgence of independent development provides unique experiences that you couldn’t get anywhere else. Just try selling E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy to the Xbox 360 crowd! As far as I’m concerned, PC gaming is where it’s at right now, and it’s hardly surprising that companies like EA are falling over themselves trying to carve off a slice of the market. However, while all but the most blinkered of console defenders would agree that PC gaming has never been better, one company proves time and time again that it just doesn’t “get” it. I am, of course, talking about Ubisoft, a company that apparently can’t go a week without pissing off PC gamers in some way, shape or form.

While other developers have learned that DRM-free content is a selling point, and that DRM itself doesn’t even work, Ubisoft stubbornly persists in using it. Not only that, it uses some of the worst DRM imaginable, forcing users to stay online at all times, even while playing single-player games. We recently had a situation where paying customers were unable to play a number of solo Ubisoft games because the publisher was migrating its servers. Meanwhile, those who illegally downloaded the games could happily play them for free. To any consumer with a brain, that looks just a little bit f**ked up.

To add insult to injury, a number of Ubisoft’s thralls have continued to criticize piracy on PC, despite the European company’s claims that its DRM is successful. A while back, I Am Alive creative director Stanislas Mettra stated that he didn’t want to put his game on PC because it would get stolen.

“We’ve heard loud and clear that PC gamers are bitching about there being no version for them,” he told IncGamers.com. “But are these people just making noise just because there’s no version or because it’s a game they actually want to play? Would they buy it if we made it?

“It’s hard because there’s so much piracy and so few people are paying for PC games that we have to precisely weigh it up against the cost of making it. Perhaps it will only take 12 guys three months to port the game to PC, it’s not a massive cost but it’s still a cost. If only 50,000 people buy the game then it’s not worth it.”

So few people are paying for PC games, he says. Try telling that to the folk who paid for Alan Wake and helped Remedy recoup its porting costs within 48 hours. Try telling that to Tim Schafer, whose studio has made over two million dollars from customers contributing to its next game. Try telling that to Amnesia: The Dark Descent, E.Y.E, or any other game that’s become a damn fine success on PC, simply by appealing to what PC gamers are looking for. This kind of bullshit attitude just proves how little Ubisoft and its developers understand PC gaming. And while Mettra would later go on to pull a U-turn on his statements, there’s no escaping the fact that his perspective on how many paying customers exist on the platform is utterly skewed.

It’s not Mettra’s fault though. He works for a company that just doesn’t get it. No publisher that understands PC gaming would use the kind of DRM that’s in Anno 2070, which recognizes updated graphics cards as whole new computers and will demand a reinstallation  – for a game with a three-installation limit. When called out on this kind of bullsh*t, Ubisoft callously brushes it off, stating that its DRM works and it doesn’t need to change a thing. Well, Ubisoft, if it works, why the f**k are your developers complaining about piracy? It f**king works, right? It just f**king works! So nobody’s stealing your games. They can’t be, if your precious DRM has been such a rollercoaster ride of rousing success. Either your developers are lying, or you are.

I lost my temper there, and that’s because I am part of the problem. We all are part of the problem, because you can almost set your watch by Ubisoft’s regular f**k-ups, yet we get furious at the company every single time, as if this is the first we’ve ever heard of  it. There comes a time when we need to stop acting so surprised by Ubisoft’s behavior. There comes a time when we must accept the simple truth — Ubisoft is not a PC publisher.

Once you accept that, the chances of you getting mad decrease dramatically. After all, no PC gamer is particularly mad at Nintendo, because Nintendo doesn’t make PC games. At this point, Ubisoft’s impact on the PC realm needs to be treated with as much respect as Nintendo’s — in other words, we need to see it as a complete non-entity. Just ignore Ubisoft’s games, get them on console or not at all, and Ubisoft will either be forced to change its business model entirely, or f**k off. At this rate, we all have very little to lose, and plenty of rage dollars saved so we can spend them being mad at something else.

I think it would be better if we all agreed, right now, that Ubisoft isn’t a publisher of PC games. You’ll feel so much better when you accept that. After all, we’re not mad at a child for not understanding calculus, so why should we be mad at a console publisher failing to understand PC gaming? I’m not saying this to get Ubisoft off the hook, I’m just trying to save YOU, the PC gamer, a whole bunch of heartache. It’s a practical solution to a problem we can’t do much else about. If Ubisoft wants to be taken seriously as a computer publisher, it should be forced to make some actual effort and to get into the mindset of the customers it hopes to appeal to. Blindly f**king about and then later insisting you did everything right is not behavior we should reward with purchases or intellectual validation.

So stop it. You’ll make PC gaming better if you do.

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16 Comments on Ubisoft Doesn’t ‘Get’ PC Gaming, So Don’t ‘Get’ Ubisoft’s PC Games

Tanveer

On February 23, 2012 at 7:26 am

couldn’t agree more, if you’re going to make games for all 3 systems, ps3, xbox and pc atleast make them all equal and not half assed pc ports

VoltySquirrel

On February 23, 2012 at 7:27 am

You hit the nail on the ing head. I don’t think any level-headed non-Ubisoft-employed could disagree with you on that point. Good as always.

Jeremy

On February 23, 2012 at 8:13 am

DRM is pointless, let alone mentioning Ubisoft’s style of it. The only problem with modern PC gaming is what plagues the entire industry – they don’t make many great games any more

Luther

On February 23, 2012 at 8:48 am

I Endorse this

Caleb

On February 23, 2012 at 9:07 am

I think this is Ubi’s strategy to steer us into playing their games on consoles. That way they can reduce piracy and not pay for porting or developing for the pc.

Zipa

On February 23, 2012 at 9:08 am

Bang on as always Jim, Ubi complain about no one buying their games on PC, well if they didn’t treat all PC gamers like criminals then people wouldn’t be pissed at them and might buy their games.

M1LK

On February 23, 2012 at 9:20 am

I bought Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood when it first came out and was blown away by the gameplay and storyline. I then got a hold of my brother in-laws copy of AC2 and played through that. Again, I was enamored with the story.

My PS3 ended up croaking and I was sad.

Then I saw that Steam had a sale on Ubisoft games.

I ended up repurchasing the AC2 and ACB for about 25-50% off.

I ended up logging another 20 hours on each copy where as on the PS3 I logged more than 80 hours on each and ended up destroying my PS3, through overheating, because I was playing so much ACB.

Answering the question whether PC gamers would still end up purchasing the game or about the fact there isn’t a copy for them? The answer is the former.

There’s nothing you can do about piracy, hell a bunch of games gets pirated for the XBOX 360 and you can see a load of them on Pirate Bay. The perfect example was Skyrim, amongst other games, and yet the game still sold in droves.

Piracy will always be there, the fact that it may cost the company a bit of total projected revenue stings, but at the end of the day if you make a good game, people will buy it. Why? Because it’s a damn good game that makes you keep coming back for more.

Adam

On February 23, 2012 at 10:19 am

Ubisoft has made it clear that they’re not going to listen to the PC market, but I doubt that means they’re going to stop selling PC games. To that end, I’m going to continue doing what I’ve always done with DRM-heavy games: I pirate the games I’ve bought. That way, I’ve paid for the product, and don’t have to put up with the whole “the consumer is the enemy” crap. Everyone wins.

Leopagne

On February 23, 2012 at 10:28 am

“Piracy will always be there, the fact that it may cost the company a bit of total projected revenue stings …”

Projected Revenue. I’ve never got this as a marker for playing the victim; we now live in a world where theft and financial loss can extend beyond real money. I understand that companies operate on these numbers to stay competitive in the eyes of shareholders, but lashing out at the consumer because the public didn’t put real money where the company wrote “what we want to make from this product” on their whiteboard seems absurd. Yet still it’s commonly used as the crutch and thrown in the public’s face as an excuse for poor business decisions.

Luther

On February 23, 2012 at 10:55 am

Piracy is a big issue, look at the damage it did to the guys that made the witcher 2! It was projected that for every 1 copy of that game sold 5 or more copy’s where pirated threw torrents, and that game was amazing!

In today’s age it doesn’t require a genius or a computer nerd to pirate a video game, people that have never used a computer for enjoyment are able to sit down and install a torrent program in seconds only to go to a pirates bay and take what they want.

DRM is not a solution but piracy is still a vary real threat to the gaming industry as much as we might want to deny it.

Hopefully the United States can come up with and agree on some sort of plan to remove pirating sites so company’s like ubisoft can’t hide behind that excuse called DRM.

Anthony S

On February 23, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Amazing article. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Props! I hope Ubisoft goes the way of the dodo.

JC

On February 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I don’t see the problem with piracy. It happens because noone wants to spend full price on a game $100 dollars is way to much. So most poeple pirate it, and then wait for a steam sale and then buy it there for a reasonable price

Robin

On February 23, 2012 at 9:40 pm

I seriously doubt many people buy a game after they pirate it. I don’t know of any games that cost 100 bucks. Please name one. Pirates are thieves and stealing stuff is wrong. Being self-righteous about it is worse.

Why don’t you just wait for a sale before you get a game if that’s your problem. Why do you think you deserve to play it as soon as people who pay full price?

MrFlibble

On February 24, 2012 at 5:53 pm

The real sad part is when gamers pay for a new game and then end up downloading a pirated version just so that they can actually play the game they paid for.

DRM doesn’t work. Nobody will ever be able to create something that people won’t be able to crack and work around just as quickly. DRM doesn’t affect the people pirating your games at all; their pirated versions work just fine. We are the only ones who are affected by the DRM; your paying customers.

I’ll say that again, because it bears repeating. No DRM will hold. People will pirate your game. The only people not circumventing the DRM will be the people who paid for the game. So, all those hoops you’re making people jump through to avoid piracy will only be jumped through by those who chose to purchase the game and support your livelihood. The only people you are not punishing are those who chose to steal the game from you.

Rewarding people who steal from you + punishing those who pay your bills = f**king idiotic.

galtea_downs

On February 25, 2012 at 5:25 am

I think that in the end it comes to 2 types of gamers, those that pay for their games and those that don’t. That doesn’t mean that theyre both immune to piracy.

I’ve learnt that my experience with a certain game often dictates how, when or if i even buy it. Take Deus Ex and Dead Island for example. These were both big games last year. Both different shooters with rpg elements.
The difference between both of them, I pre-ordered Deus ex as soon as i could and was more than happy to pay whatever i needed to play it ASAP coz i was a huge fan of the first.

I ended up playing dead island through a friend that bought it off steam. I really enjoyed it but why would i spend more cash on a glorified Zombie basher (with a lan mode that needed constant connection to the net to work, wtf..) when i hadn’t even finished Deus Ex yet.

The result is I’ll get dead island one day for a good reduced price AND i loved deus ex so much that i ended up buying all three versions (honest)!

Just coz were gamers does NOT mean we dont have priorities, top of most gamers priorities list last year was call of duty mw3….

So Ubisoft the solution is simple, how bout u quit ing and create a uber retarded non-game shooter, with anual full-game price map packs and MAYBE you’ll be ranked a little higher on the most gamers priority lists.

Ryan

On February 25, 2012 at 9:48 am

This has always been my policy on piracy: make better games, and I’ll buy them! I frequently use torrents as a way to “demo” a game, especially because game demos are few and far between nowadays. 90% of the time I end up simply deleting it because the game isn’t good. However, there have been some exceptional games that I’ve downloaded and later decided to buy. The most recent example of this is Cobalt. I pirated the alpha, played it for a day or two, and fell in love with it. After that, I pre-purchased the game.

It really is that simple. Make better games, and people will pay for them!