Matthew had something he was going to write about tonight, as he had previously posted on Twitter. But it’s time to move past that, and get into a heated little critique. More after the break.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I was going to write about Ubisoft vs Blizzard regarding their handling of the AC: Unity fiasco and the DdoS attacks respectively. I don’t want to do that, and you’ve seen me write about them before. It’s boring, it’s immaterial. Blizzard did it better, and Ubisoft is still stuck up its own butt. You know it. I know it. I don’t care about it at this point because I’m angry.
Why am I angry? Because Ubisoft is getting away with it, and they are doing it in spades.
I went to school for journalism, after I graduated, I returned for a post-graduate run at Public Relations. My alma mater is Loyalist College of Applied Arts and Technology if you want to know or apply. I recommend the program if for no other reason than the program director insists on the telling of the truth and the disregarding of spin.
What is spin, and why is it bad?
Spin is the deliberate rearranging of facts and the telling of half-truths to get popular opinion and the press to side with you. It’s exactly what Obi-Wan Kenobi did when he said that Darth Vader had betrayed and murdered Luke’s father. It was true. From a certain point of view. This is spin.
Why is spin bad? Because it’s lying. Twisting the truth to focus attention away from yourself or away from the mistakes you made is wrong. It is unbecoming and it is unworthy of a company that is asking millions of gamers to spend $69.99 CAD (please convert to your currency) of our hard-earned money on something that doesn’t work.
And, to be fair, Unity not working is neither here or there. My issue is Ubisoft trying to play the blame game.
Earlier this week, when the reports of problems started coming out (hours after launch), Ubisoft did the unthinkable. They stood up, got everyone’s attention and then shamelessly pointed at AMD and said “It’s not our software, it’s their hardware that is causing the issue.”
I raised an eyebrow. Every leading game critic raised two, especially those with Nvidia/Intel products that were suffering the same low frame rates, and the numerous hilarious glitches that were occurring. Only later did Ubisoft come forward and say that mistakes were made and they would have a fix as soon as humanly possible.
They then entered into a holding pattern on Twitter, responding to tweets by saying that their team was aware of the issue, and that a fix would be available soon. My favourite addendum to a tweet was “Stay tuned!” as if this patch was something to be excited about and not pissed off with.
Holding patterns are terrible. I understand that they are going to happen, but this exact circumstance is why I advise releasing information in a slow, controlled and EXTREMELY informative dribble. You explain every nuance, and answer every question pertaining to the release. You do NOT issue the same statement to angry customer after angry customer.
I also am at a loss as to how you are comfortable publishing a fix for PC and PS4 but not for Xbox One, though I suppose this is neither here nor there. Though I will point out if the fix was so quick, it’s fairly obvious (I think) that the fault was on the software side and not the fault of AMD.
There are myriad consequences that can stem from this sort of fiasco, not the least of which is the bedding of the Assassin’s Creed series for a while, and I’m not sure this is a bad thing. After this, it might be time to give it a rest, and let the world forget about this problem for a while. Come back in three years, and come out of the gate swinging, and blowing everyone away.
One interesting thing to note here, however, was the stock-drop that the company suffered both in the American and European markets. To the tune of nearly 13%. This is not insignificant. It represents millions of dollars lost as investors lost confidence in the company’s ability to deliver a completed product and, in this case, a quick fix.
To those investors, if there are majority shareholders or serious shareholders among you I say the following: This is as much on you as it is on the developers. You see a street date, and pre-orders pouring in. You and the board both. You then demand that the developers reach that date, regardless of the consequences. I’ve read the accounts. I know that the QA department of most developers is more akin to a sweatshop than a job.
You did this. You and whomever on the dev team that said “Yeah, sure this is good to go.” You’re the reason you lost money, not the artists. Not the programmers. It was whoever gave the game the green light. Whoever at the company did that should be sacked. And whoever demanded they do it should, likewise, be forced to resign.
I understand that there is company and investor money at play. This is a serious issue, and companies only remain open if they are profitable. My point is simply this: between forcing an unfinished game out the doors, and then stalling on your communication…what makes you think that your company is going to remain profitable if these are your business practices?
Day one patches are thing. I understand that. They should, however, be for fixing small, nagging bugs. Not making the game playable. It should be playable when you stick the disc in the drive, or download the digital copy. Always connected consoles and PC platforms are allowing developers to use the concept of a patch as a crutch and we should demand better from the companies we are paying.
You screwed up, Ubisoft. Remember this, and learn from it. We’re begging you.
p.s. My buddy Mike over at Slandering Others Anonymously film blog is going to start appearing here from time to time. He is, specifically, going to be handling the reviews for PC games, as I play consoles exclusively these days.
Look for his review of Farcry 4 in the next few weeks. Hopefully this one goes off without a hitch for Ubisoft.