How Ubisoft Fell Apart In 2014

There’s an old adage that goes something like this: you’re only as good as your last accomplishment.  In this case, we’ll use video games.  The saying is simple, but true: most of us have short term memory, and we are far too often to criticize failure than celebrate success.  So when Ubisoft released Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag in October 2013 and people raved about it (myself included), it did not give them a free pass for the lackluster Assassin’s Creed: Unity release.  The impressive E3 2013 and E3 2014 conferences announced upcoming titles and projects that appeared to be truly revolutionary.  Unfortunately, they were anything but.  As such, Ubisoft ends what could have been a breakout year of gaming with bad news and broken releases.


WATCH DOGS

Ubisoft knows a thing or two about immersing the player into vivid, living worlds as evidenced by their Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed series.  The idea of traversing through an open sandbox environment, exploring abandoned caves, seeking out random collectibles, or simply creating mayhem has always been a staple of what Ubisoft brings to the table.  When Watch Dogs, a game about open world hacking and environment manipulation (street lights, cameras, bollards), was announced to the public, it brought forth a collection of amazing next generation imagery and gameplay vignettes.  Dynamic weather effects, including wind that tore away at loose jackets and scarves, was proudly displayed.  When the game launched, the graphics were clearly downscaled.  Rumors that the game had been graphically gimped on the PlayStation 4 to match the weaker hardware profile of the Xbox One were all but confirmed as users discovered commented out source code on the PC.  The situation was quickly dubbed “Resolutiongate” and brought forth a slew of accusations across the gaming industry as a whole.  Unfortunately, this name is now synonymous with Ubisoft.  While the game sold well and absolutely warrants a sequel, the negative press will require Ubisoft to fight an unnecessary uphill battle.

Instead of embracing what was an amazing game (in my opinion!), #Resolutiongate took center stage.

Instead of embracing what was an amazing game (in my opinion!), #Resolutiongate took center stage.


ASSASSIN’S CREED UNITY

A brand new gaming engine, built from the ground up exclusively for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, was to be the backbone for the next installment of the coveted Asssassin’s Creed franchise.  In addition to higher graphical fidelity, increased character count and draw distance was to be integrated into core gameplay mechanics, allowing the player to quickly dash in and out of large crowds.  Although this had been done to some degree in previous titles, the sheer power boost between the console generations meant magnitudes of untapped power for such a task.  Unfortunately, the game came out to mediocre reviews, most notably citing increasingly low framerate counts.  In some benchmarks, framerates dropped into the single digit count, which is a very jarring experience for any player to partake in.  A slew of other technical problems, including freezing, pop-ups, missed gaming queues, and the “faceless woman” all made an ugly appearance on all ports of the title (let’s not forget about the microtransactions for the treasure chests).  Ubisoft has gone so far as to grant all season pass holders of the title a free game of their choosing, which just goes to show how much damage has been caused.  This game has just undergone a fourth content patch (totaling over 8 GB worth of data) as developers still struggle with sorting out the technical glitches and solidifying the choppy framerate.  It should be noted that the game had a review embargo in which reviews could not be released until noon eastern on launch day, which is never a good sign.

Nightmare fuel!  This game is so broken and unpolished.  What a shame for such a prestigious franchise.

Nightmare fuel! This game is so broken and unpolished. What a shame for such a prestigious franchise.


THE CREW

The Crew was hyped up to be a next generation team-based arcade racer, in which drivers would get to freely explore the entire United States of America.  The roads were scaled down such that players could drive from Florida to New York in approximately 30 minutes,  but would be given glimpses of key geographical features and landmarks on their journey.  Players would also be able to drop into their friend’s games at any time, promoting a seamless single to multi-player experience.  All of this sounded great until the reviews came out, which were all well below average.  The graphics engine did not graphically represent the vehicles well, and many complaints pointed many to believe the game was developed for previous generation consoles and ported over at the last minute.  In addition, there were a limited number of cars and upgrades.  Most upsetting to many players was the inclusion of microtransactions to buy car parts which would otherwise take extensive grinding if purchased via in-game currency.  It should also be noted that Ubisoft did not send out review copies of the title, which meant reviews were not available prior to the game’s launch.

(I purposefully omitted Far Cry 4 from this list because although not genre-breaking, it managed to keep core fans satisfied.  The game did not push the envelope as far as Far Cry 3 did, but I can’t find any glaring negatives which would actively hurt Ubisoft’s image.  Still, this is not enough to battle against a sloppy year of game releases.)

Even the map looks odd.  The Crew was built on a great premise but failed to deliver on all accounts.

Even the map looks odd. The Crew was built on a great premise but failed to deliver on all accounts.


2014 CAN’T END SOON ENOUGH FOR UBISOFT

Ubisoft had a horrendous year.  Sales will reflect differently, but gamers who were disappointed by their preorders will not be so eager to make the same mistake again.  A major scandal involving resolution, the injection of microtransactions, and unpolished broken games seems to have defined their 2014 launches.  Much like Electronic Arts did in 2012 and 2013 (after being named “Worst Company in America”), it is possible for Ubisoft to rebrand their image and to turn around fresh, quality products in 2015 and beyond.  The important thing is they need to slow down and polish their games prior to launch.  8GB of patch data is unacceptable (espeically when the problems still persist!).

At least Far Cry 4 delivered what was promised.  It was a great game!  Ubisoft needs to slow down and focus on quality over quantity.

At least Far Cry 4 delivered what was promised. It was a great game! Ubisoft needs to slow down and focus on quality over quantity.

Do you think Ubisoft find redemption next year, or are they permanently marked by a failed 2014 campaign?  Sound off below!

When I'm not writing about video games, I'm playing them! Hit me up on Google + for a list of all of my accounts if you're looking for some friendly competition: https://plus.google.com/+JimEfantis.
  • XrosBlader821

    Comnpanies like EA and Ubisoft are the reason why I don’t trust AAA Companies anymore.
    would rather buy a bunch of indies or Ninty games rather than a 70€ AAA unfinished game.

  • James Armstrong

    The difference is that Indie developers have to really work to produce a decent game that will appeal to everyone, and even if it’s a good game – it may not sell due to lack of reputation.

    EA/Ubisoft just make a half arsed game and know it’ll sell like hotcakes, but we’ll see how long that lasts.

  • RG_Dubz

    Ubisoft fell apart years ago, did you not play AC Revelations or Far Cry 3’s co-op? only thing different in 2014 was the “graphic downgrades” which were because of them showing off the PC version instead of the Console version.

    I still find it funny everyone was crying about the Watch_Dog “downgrade”, yet the Dark Souls 2 had an even bigger and legit graphical downgrade at the same time but was almost unheard of like they were givin’ a free pass.. They showed off Dark Souls 2 it was said to be running on the the PS3 so WTF happen there? parity for 360 sake? Looked like a damned PS Vita game after the downgrade.

  • Flatbattery

    I don’t recall Dark Souls 2 getting a free pass. I read plenty of opinions berating it for graphical quality.

  • Roccetarius

    Dark Souls 2 did indeed get flak for downgrading, but at least we could look to community mods for the PC version.

  • Starrman1985

    The thing that concerns me most is they are already planning another AC and Far Cry all ready! AC scheduled for next year and Far Cry is a ? at the moment, they need to put some of their games on hiatus!

  • DarkOcelet

    Even if they fell apart, their games still sold very well and as of now i believe Far Cry will be turning into a yearly franchise. This yearly franchises will keep on selling because people are still buying it.

  • sckipt

    They released unfinished and broken games to the public expecting it to be fine as well as false advertising certain games to make them look better than they actually are.

  • finite

    I have a more truer title “How Ubisoft Fell Apart In 2014 -But Gamers still purchased their games and still will”..

  • Roccetarius

    As much as people complain about Ubisoft, many will still continue to buy their games. The majority doesn’t even read on sites like this, and purchases what catches their fancy as an impulse purchase.

    At least some people on this site knows not to support it, and i don’t intend to either for the future.

  • uth11

    Article gets a few things wrong.
    Resolutiongate was a thing long before Watchdogs, it wasn’t about Watchdogs. The game people claim they gimped on the PS4 was AC Unity, not WD

    The Crew wasn’t a game that everybody was hyped for before the reviews came out. People were very harsh on the game before release, and if the reviews showed anything, it was the game actually wasn’t as bad as people feared.

  • raWfodog

    I just hope they don’t drop the ball with The Division. That game could be a big hit if it’s done right.

  • Scark92

    or Rainbow Six Siege more importantly, I lost the hype for The Division, another third person game by Ubisoft cannot keep my hype!

  • Silly gameAr

    IMO, I just think Ubisoft took on more then then they could handle with how many games they had in development and their quality suffered for it.

  • JASEFAT

    Agreed, and its unfortunate that until consumers speak with their wallets this type of business will continue.

Lost Password

Sign Up