I never planned it, but I guess I’ve become an Ubisoft fan, just based on the games I wind up playing a lot of. In 2017 I played to completion every major Assassin’s Creed game aside from the original. I also played through Far Cry 4 and quite a bit of The Division and Ghost Recon Wildlands. And this year I’ve finished up Far Cry Primal (to the point of getting the Platinum trophy on PS4) and I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed Origins since launch. Last time I checked I’ve put 40 hours into that game without touching any of the DLC. I’m still really enjoying my time in Egypt with Bayek.
For a long time Ubisoft was up there on the “hated publishers” list with EA, but I don’t seem to hear as much vile directed at them lately. I wonder if they’ve managed to get off the list somehow? Or maybe I’m just not visiting the right (wrong?) sub-reddits/social media spaces.
I think that a lot of their problems originally stemmed from buggy releases, and they’ve definitely improved there. I think perhaps Assassin’s Creed Unity was their low spot (though to their credit, by the time I got around to playing, it ran fine). What’s weird, though, is most of their games have micro-transactions but they don’t draw a lot of ire for them. I’ll never understand why the mob will fault one game for some issue and give another game a pass for the same issue.
Now I’m not saying everyone suddenly loves Ubi games. They tend to be huge sprawling open world games (most of them, anyway) with more to do than is feasible for most gamers. These are games that tend to drive completionists crazy. I learned, during my AC sprint, that the games are designed to offer more than anyone needs to do. The idea (I mean, I haven’t talked to the designers, I’m assuming here) is to give the gamer a buffet of choices and let them pick and choose the activities they enjoy and ignore the ones they don’t. There’s enough content to earn/unlock/levelup everything multiple times in most Ubi games…they don’t intend for you to do everything.
Once I understood and embraced that, I started to really love these games.
Ubi seems to be doing a good job in the “games as service” space, too. They’re willing to stick with games over the long haul, improving and expanding on them. This seems to have started with Rainbow Six Siege, which didn’t make much of a splash when it launched at the end of 2015, but here we are in 2018 and it is still getting regular updates and has quite a loyal following. The Division is another example of a game that Ubi has continued to refine and improve upon. For Honor is an example of a game that is still a work-in-progress; it didn’t do well at launch last year, and while they’ve continued to work on it, it still hasn’t gotten to where it’s drawing people back large numbers of players yet. SThey haven’t abandoned it but it remains to be seen if they can turn that one around.
“Games as service” is not a term most gamers seem to embrace, but somehow Ubi seems to be making it work. It probably helps that a lot of the improvements are free. I’m not sure if Ubi is making revenue on the microtransactions I mentioned or if it’s just long-tail sales as word of mouth brings new players to the games (they still sell DLC for newer games but I think for the older titles all the upgrades are free). Or maybe they’re just taking short-term loses as a trade-off for improving their reputation.
Whatever the case, I’m digging Ubi games lately. I’m looking forward to Far Cry 5 next month and I hope they keep releasing DLC for Assassin’s Creed Origins.