Why Ubisoft Doesn't Want To Be The New EA

November 25, 2014

You’d think that being compared to one of the more successful game companies would be a good thing.

Not only has EA remained afloat in one of the most competitive entertainment industries, but it also owns several franchises that you probably love – such as Madden NFL, Mass Effect, Dead Space, Battlefield, FIFA, and Dragon Age.

Despite providing great games for nearly three decades, EA has nonetheless been the unfortunate winner of “Worst Company In America” twice now.

Granted it was mostly anti-fans that did all the voting, but it still goes to show just how bad EA’s reputation has become. Day-one DLC, massive layoffs, terrible game launches, and the habit of acquiring small developers to prevent them from serving as competitors are few of the many reasons on the list.

Like any company that is considered worse than the much-hated Walmart corporation, EA has recently tried working on their reputation with some success. Hiding sales data of Titanfall aside, EA has stayed out of the negative spotlight for most of 2014 and even pleased fans with the new and acclaimed Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Now there’s a new company serving as the target of ireful gaming fans, and it too has plenty of popular game franchises.

Ubisoft is behind some of today’s most successful game series, including Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, Just Dance, and Splinter Cell. Of course, it seems like the French game developer/publisher has finally pushed most gamers over the edge by releasing two mediocre games at the same time – although it didn’t start there.

A Dual Release and E3 Deception

Both Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Assassin’s Creed: Rogue released in November of 2014, and both have been the victims of public outrage due to low-scoring reviews and glitches.

For many, AC: Rogue serves as a huge step backwards for the series – enough that gamers feel it was just a quick cash-in title for those that still haven’t upgraded to PS4 and Xbox One consoles. Even worse is AC: Unity, a next-gen title, is plagued with ridiculous glitches and game breaking bugs.

Releasing two arguably mediocre games at the same time wouldn’t be such a big deal if last year’s Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag wasn’t so amazing. Ubisoft focused on one title for two console generations and provided one of the most memorable titles in the entire series.

The fact is, Ubisoft has been earning itself the nickname of “The New EA” since the E3 when they overdressed Watch Dogs footage to make it look much better than the final product would. Most developers do this, yes, but Ubisoft’s attempt was slightly more exaggerated.

They also gave a silly excuse for not featuring playable female characters and locking AC: Unity at 30 FPS, which didn’t go well with the public.

Worse still is Ubisoft’s stipulations for providing review copies with AC: Unity’s release. Basically, game critics that received a review copy could not release their review to the public until 12 hours after the game’s midnight launch.

In other words, Ubisoft knew their games weren’t quite polished (or good) and wanted to avoid losing potential buyers – before they could think twice about buying a $60 game that just isn’t worth its price tag.

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$60 For Part Of A Game

Just like with EA, Ubisoft has begun to heavily introduce microtransactions into their games.

One of EA’s most recent blunders was with Dead Space 3, which gave players the choice of either tediously grinding for parts to make specific weapons or buying them instead. Fans have been left to wonder how much better the third entry in the Dead Space series could have been if EA didn’t add these ‘downloadable content’ features.

Ubisoft has started using this largely-disliked idea by offering $99 microtransaction bundles with AC: Unity. Suffice to say, people aren’t too happy with their attempt to squeeze more cash out of gamers that probably paid full price for the game.

Even if no one is forcing us to buy the $99 bundles, it’s still quite annoying to see a successful developer start implementing these ideas just to make some easy cash.

Of course, those that defend microtransactions will bring up the fact that developing games is pretty expensive. So why shouldn’t developers try to make more money this way?

The problem is that instead of simply releasing better games to make more money, they are giving us unpolished games with microtransactions. After all, the Assassin’s Creed franchise has given us amazing experiences in the past without the need for paid downloadable content.

The Same Hole

Just like EA did the past few years, Ubisoft is quickly losing consumer interest and is already the butt of many gamer jokes. From deceptive E3 footage to shifty review embargos, gamers are starting to distrust the French developer/publisher, which is never a good thing.

Ubisoft unfortunately shows no signs of trying to turn things around. For example, the Wii U version of Watch Dogs will release in November of 2014 for $59.99. Do they really expect people to pay that kind of money for a game that released half a year ago on other consoles? If they wanted to gain the favor of their small-but-important Wii U fans, you’d think they’d drop the price to something more reasonable.

Instead, Ubisoft will blame everyone but themselves when Watch Dogs for Wii U barely sells even though everyone saw it coming. In an industry where a little honesty and loyalty can go a long way, Ubisoft is instead digging themselves into the same hole that EA is still struggling to crawl out of.