Ubisoft’s Uplay Passport, the passcode that enables online access in its games, is the latest victim of the Assassin’s Creed series, with outcry over the handling of online content in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag prompting the publisher to terminate the program once and for all. This applies not just to the pirate-themed open world adventure, but also to “any future Ubisoft games,” according to a new UbiBlog post.
The issue sprang up when new AC4 purchasers discovered that certain content from the single-player game, including access to a minigame accessible from the Black Flag companion app, was included as part of the Uplay Passport. While the game is still new enough that few, if any, are affected by having no passcode – it’s included with all new copies of the game and exists primarily to bring Ubisoft some income from the secondhand market – the gating of on-disc content is a particular sticking point for the more vocal members of the gaming community, and outrage mounted.
So Ubisoft responded. “We listen to our community and understand that there are concerns over some players’ ability to access [the Black Flag companion app features], so we have decided to eliminate the cost of the Uplay Passport for Black Flag,” the post reads. “This ensures that everyone will be able to use the companion app, Edward’s Fleet, online multiplayer, and available bonus content at no additional cost.”
The post then goes on to say that the Uplay Passport won’t factor into future Ubisoft games, and offers an explanation for the more sweeping policy change. “Games today are blurring the line between offline and online, between what is “single player” and what is “multiplayer.” Based on that and on the feedback we received from you, we recognized that Passport is no longer the best approach for ensuring that all our customers have the best possible experience with all facets of our games.”
You know what this means, right? Ubisoft will now have to come up with something even more nefarious and underhanded to discourage you from buying games on the secondhand market. Expect puppy executions. Or two hours of required trailer viewing before you can play any Ubi game. Nothing exciting either. We’re talking trailers for Grey’s Anatomy and CSI games.
Okay, none of that is going to happen. In truth, this whole online pass business continues to be a stumper for big publishers. Gamers rightly don’t want to spend extra money on top of what they’re already spending to buy a secondhand game, just to access additional content. But, to be fair, publishers feel justifiably entitled to get something from used game sales. Perhaps the answer lies in striking a deal on the retail side. Reseller outlets like GameStop seemingly have zero motivation to even discuss such a possibility, but that may change with a new generation of hardware more fully embracing day one downloads for newly released games.
This is all bigger picture stuff. For now, enjoy your moment of victory. That new copy of Assassin’s Creed IV you purchased? The person who buys it after you sell it off will be very happy to not have to spend an extra $10 to access on-disc content.