How bad have things gotten that everyone knows exactly what I mean by the topic title? EA has such a bad reputation in the gaming community that comparing another company to them is a grave insult to that other company. Anyway, this question is one that has been passed around the internet recently due to the incredibly rough version of Assassin’s Creed Unity that Ubisoft seemed happy to ship to people. But what this question really means is that Ubisoft has seriously dropped the ball. People are clearly dissatisfied with them, and, I have to admit, there is good reason to be.
Let’s start by looking at a time not long ago where Ubisoft was seen as one of the good guys. This was back at the 2012 E3. Ubisoft announced Watch Dogs in the middle of one of the most boring E3’s in recent memory. The Watch Dogs that they showed was incredible, graphically, and the promises made there really let Ubisoft stand out. That year, many declared Ubisoft the winner of E3, which was special since most of the time it’s one of the big console makers that ‘win’ E3. Put that together with their later work on Child of Light, and Rayman Legends, and we had a company that people were willing to trust for the quality of their work.
Then there was the beginnings of the unraveling: cancelling Wii U exclusivity of Rayman Legends because Ubisoft didn’t think they could make enough money and stating outright that they would never develop a game that could not be a series. This seemed to bother a few people, but not many. It was the release of Watch Dogs that was the true turning point. Suddenly, gamers were confronted with an ugly, badly running game with none of the great ideas or charm that was promised to them. Watch Dogs may not have been Destiny in terms of how much of an utter and total lie it was, but it still stung very, very hard, especially after multiple delays. Of course, this was worse for Wii U users, who had a worse version of Watch Dogs, a scarcity of the easily ported DLC, and a promise from Ubisoft that they’d never develop for the machine again.
This brings us to the most recent controversy with Ubisoft. Assassin’s Creed, as a series, has been the target of criticism for its yearly release schedule and copy-and-paste sequels. However, Black Flag was well-received, so there was hope. This hope was snuffed out by Assassin’s Creed Unity, a game that brings very little new to the table, other than its incredible lack of polish. These are glitches that would make Fallout New Vegas seem like a game with decades of bug testing under its belt. Faces aren’t present, the protagonist falls through the ground regularly, and the framerate exists at a most abysmal level.
Gamers were noticeably upset, and they deserve to be even more upset than they are. Ubisoft is not an indie developer, nor are they small scale. They are one of the world’s biggest video game publishers, and Assassin’s Creed is one of their big money-makers. There is no excuse for a company as big as Ubisoft to not churn out a quality product. What they’re doing is abuse, abuse of gamers, and abuse of their IPs – just like EA. You see, by cutting corners, Ubisoft is trying to save development money. This is a great short-term idea, but death in the mid or long term. By refusing to actually put money on the table to ensure the quality of their games, Ubisoft risks losing everything. People won’t buy the Assassin’s Creed series because it will be known as a shoddy wreck, and people won’t trust Ubisoft published games because everyone will know that all Ubisoft cares about is money.
And caring about money isn’t a bad thing. Ubisoft is a business, so they have to care about money. The problem is that good companies have passion behind the scenes that drive them towards their financial goals. Disney is a company most assuredly motivated by money. However, they pursue this goal by putting out extremely high quality works that inspire and encourage people to pay them to continue. The top publishers in the video game industry are rotten to the core. Instead of providing quality products, they lie about the quality of their products to induce gamers to waste their money. Instead of innovating, they let their games stagnate until nobody likes them anymore. There is real passion in game development, but Ubisoft, EA, and Activision seem to exist for the sole reason of stamping that passion out.
I want to be very careful with my words. I’m blaming Ubisoft, EA, and Activision as publishers. The developers that work on their games are not the ones I hold at fault. Corporate mandates, and unreasonable deadlines can create some of the worst product from well-meaning and passionate people. Bioware is full of talented people who care about the quality of their games, and it shows. It isn’t their fault that EA put only Mass Effect 3 on the Wii U around the same time that they were putting the Mass Effect Collection, which contained all the games, for the same price on everything else. That’s EA’s fault, not Bioware’s.
When publishers cut corners, everyone suffers, even the publisher, though they may be too short-sighted to realize it. Ubisoft is in trouble; they just don’t know it yet. From a PR perspective, it doesn’t matter that Far Cry 4 is turning out good. People will focus on your worst side, and Ubisoft has shown a very ugly side.
– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer