What you need to know
- Ubisoft is a major video game publisher based in France, known for Assassin's Creed and Watch Dogs.
- Recently, a video being shared on X (Twitter) purports to show a sneaky little feature Ubisoft has injected into one of its older games.
- Assassin's Creed Odyssey appears to be showing huge pop-up ads in the middle of gameplay now, despite previously being a fully-priced premium title.
- Update: In comments to press, Ubisoft says that it was a "technical error" and has now been disabled.
Update (Nov 24, 2023): Ubisoft claims that this was due to a "technical error," and has now been disabled. Read their full comments below.
We have been made aware that some players encountered a pop-up message in-game while playing certain Assassin’s Creed titles yesterday. This was the result of a technical error that has now been fixed.Our intention was to display a promotion for Assassin's Creed Mirage as part…November 24, 2023
Oddly specific technical error, I would say, but hey. It seems they have received the backlash loud and clear. Other publishers, please take note.
The original article continues below.
Whether it's arbitrary cuts, $75 horse armor, shrinkflation, pay-to-win, or premium early access, game publishers the world over are desperately trying to squeeze every last bit of profit possible for their shareholders. But one publisher may have just tipped things a little bit too far with this latest goof.
Il semble qu'Ubisoft expérimente la publicité en jeu chez certains utilisateurs (Xbox et PS).Vous êtes au milieu de votre jeu, accédez à la pause ou à la Map et vous avez pendant 3sec. une pub pour un autre jeu qui s'affiche. Suffisant pour désinstaller ? 😅 pic.twitter.com/m5S4rEXas5November 23, 2023
The video shows the player opening up the menu screen, only to be greeted with a gigantic Black Friday ad for Assassin's Creed Mirage, 20% off. I wouldn't mind hearing about such deals if I was actually searching for them (like our own Black Friday 2023 gaming deals live blog!) but, when I'm just trying to chill on the sofa and assassinate some dudes? Maybe not.
We're downloading Assassin's Creed Odyssey to see if we can replicate the ad at our end right now, but the clip shows no obvious signs of fakery or forgery. Plus, it's also not the first time Ubisoft has attempted to inject "ads" into its menus, with deals for in-game accelerators appearing alongside gameplay elements across some of its titles. However, a full-screen pop-up for one of its titles in the middle of your game really does take it to the next level.
Ads are commonplace in the middle of gameplay on mobile devices, typically in free-to-play games, as part of their business models. Similarly, we put ads on our web articles too, since we're not charging for access. By contrast, Assassin's Creed Odyssey was a fully-priced title and to patch these in post-launch feels aggressive and greedy.
I, for one, desperately do not want this to become the norm, and I suspect many others will not want it to become the norm either. Premium video games are supposed to be an escape from marketing bombardments, and it's hardly as if Assassin's Creed Odyssey is a multiplayer service game with expensive servers and matchmaking systems that need to be maintained.
If this video is indeed real (and there's no reason right now to think it isn't), all it represents is bare-faced greed. Even if it is fake, I suspect publishers would salivate at the concept of normalizing this type of system. Let's not allow them to do so.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!