Ubisoft Hates The World (Apart From One Bit)

By John Walker on April 1st, 2008 at 8:38 pm.

Good news Americans and Canadians! The next publisher to leap upon the Steam train is Ubisoft, with over forty of their games onto Valve’s download platform. This includes classics like Far Cry, various Clancy titles, the Heroes of Might & Magic series, and IL-2 Sturmovik. And it also means future Ubi releases will be downloadable too, with pre-loading Assassin’s Creed already an option. You know, if you’re from North America.

Choo choo!

This is the second company in a row to sign up with Steam and prevent the majority of the world from being able to take advantage. Atari’s motives last month are clear: they are currently so very overwhelmed with money that the last thing they want is vast numbers of people buying their games. But Ubisoft too? I asked Valve’s Doug Lombardi why this was the case, who put his hands up and said,

“It’s their call. We offer worldwide coverage, and we’re happy to offer the products to as many customers as the publisher/developer desires.”

We’ll be asking Atari and Ubi what their reasons are, and you can be sure we’ll get back to you as soon as we know. Meanwhile, have fun North Americans.

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69 Comments »

  1. Vollgassen says:

    Oh we will.

  2. Chris Evans says:

    Bah humbug!

  3. Cigol says:

    What? No fair! Got all excited for nothing in the end – I hope this doesn’t become a trend and I’d like to know why very much. It’s bad enough that some publishers are selling their games at inflated prices (for no good reason than to make it less attractive than buying retail). Damn those suits.

  4. Benjamin Barker says:

    So far all that’s actually on there are Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, Splinter Cell, and Far Cry. I can only get as excited as these being cheap allow… okay, probably just my taste, as I can’t handle too many shooters a year.

    I hope that IL-2 actually gets on there, and maybe Heroes of M&M. I don’t see them under Ubisoft, not yet anyway.

  5. Jae Armstrong says:

    But… but… Ubisoft are French.

    I is confuzzled.

  6. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    God damn. That IL-2 article earlier had me well in the mood. Time to emigrate! To Canada, obv. The economist says 20% of US americans would be “angry” if they had an atheist president. ;)

  7. Rob Merritt says:

    You know what this means? North America is now a back waters test market. Still I will be enjoying me some Assassin’s Creed.

  8. Stromko says:

    I suppose this decision makes sense to the bean counters, and they’re the ones that call the shots. I imagine the dev -to- suit relationship as a one-act play with a spousal abuse theme(“Bitch, you’re no good with money, I’m going to alienate Europe because I know what’s best. Now get back in the kitchen!” “Okay.” *downtrodden musical sequence*).

    Anywho, their offerings really have no hook. Splinter Cell and Far Cry for cheap, that’s it for titles available now, and if they’re your type of game you probably still have the CDs around. Assassin’s Creed isn’t what I’d call hypeworthy at this point so I’m certainly not putting down for a preorder.

    The best case scenario is they’re just waiting until they have actually compelling offerings, perhaps dipping into a more diverse section of their catalog, at which point they’ll make them available globally. I’m a cynic so I’m calling that very unlikely.

  9. Andrew says:

    They probably just sold the distribution rights outside of NA to somebody else.

  10. timbo1138 says:

    I’m frankly furious about this, and resisting launching into my pre-prepared rant about it, which encompases the completely arbitrary country-based restrictions placed upon such things as TV shows on iTunes, audio books on Audible and music from Amazon’s MP3 store. It drives me bonkers, because it’s a completely arbitrary decision in a modern, networked world. There is NO reson for something like this other than some suit decided, for whatever arcane reason, to flip a switch and make it be so. Well to hell with them. They’ve lost more than one sale from me because of this nonsense.

  11. deABREU says:

    since you guys are alredy asking, why not try to get some reasons also on why 2K games are unavaluable in brazil (and maybe all south america)?

  12. Nick says:

    I believe I have discovered the problem: Ubisoft suck balls.

  13. Stromko says:

    Er, I said in my earlier post they only had Far Cry and Splinter Cell, I searched through the Steam catalog as best I could but those are the only UbiSoft games I could find. It took some additional searching to find the others, but I should’ve read more closely in the first place.

  14. BTW says:

    Far Cry is already downloadable for (ad-supported) free.

  15. Chris R says:

    I keep waiting for an APRIL FOOLS post…

    Like this post for instance… is this for real? I guess I’ll know in 2 hours when I get back home and log into Steam.

  16. Kieron Gillen says:

    We won’t be doing an April Fool. We will print BASELESS RIDICULOUS LIES any day of the year, not just when tradition dictates.

    KG

  17. Benjamin Barker says:

    I needn’t have worried and perhaps the non-North Americans may have reason to be jealous: The “local” Steam news says “The Ubisoft line-up on Steam will be the largest library of titles available from any single publisher or developer.” Their website’s roster also includes, to mention ones I’d pay $20-30 to check out: Silent Hunter, Beyond Good & Evil, XIII, Rainbow Six. No irresistible hook but not bad.

  18. Doug F says:

    Timbo:

    As far as TV Shows/Music download services go, the restrictions are because distrubutors need to negotiate with each country’s equivalent of the RIAA/MPAA individually for licensing rights. I have no idea if the same is true for games.

    That’s why Canada got cut off from Pandora.com, and why deezer.com’s free-to-everyone (legitimate) music streaming is so unheard of.

  19. Phil H says:

    FarCry for $9? Absolutlely. I’ve been, ahem, enjoying it for some time now, even starting it up again recently on my new monster of a PC, so the timing of this couldn’t be better. Hell, I’m tempted to grab Beyond Good & Evil if/when they do throw it up there, even though I’ve already got it for the PS2. Maybe that Assassin’s Creed thing too…

    EDIT: RPS site mechanics, things are all sorts of borked with the site’s layout in Safari, presumably due to bad ad code in the topmost banner.

  20. MeestaNob! says:

    Thanks RPS for someone finally highlighting this ridiculous issue. I reckon there is about 5 games I’d buy if they a) offered them here, b) at the original USD price (so no more Call of Duty 4 BULLSHIT of charging one price for the US and more than double for Aussies and others).

    Valve really need to sort this out and speak with these publishers, it is having a VERY destructive effect on their reputation and and public opinion.

    We have money and we’d very much like to give them, why don’t they want it?

  21. Högni Þór says:

    Get this for region crap.

    On steam last I checked you can buy MTW2 Kingdoms, but not the original game (if you live where I live – I just came out of hibernation). Might have changed by now (again – hibernation), but when I tried a while ago this held true, and when I inquired of steam CS, the answer was “meh” or words to that effect. And yes, you had to have the steam version of MTW2 to play the Steam edition of Kingdoms.

    This shit is getting out of hand in my opinion. It’s getting so that in the northernmost capital of the world, we can’t benefit from being the most networked country in the world as far as downloadable content goes. An example is iTunes, on whose list we don’t even register. As far as they’re concerned, I live in Surrey…

  22. wcaypahwat says:

    Bad Move. Since a of Ubi’s games mentioned so far retail for AU$20(+/-$10) down south here. Just doesn’t make sense, from a fiscal point of view, to me.

    As for Atari, how many of these NASDAQ de-listing warnings are they allowed to have?

    I’m starting to think that what I read the other day is somewhere was true…. Australia, to these people, actually does not exist.

    Besides, I thought the french hated america?

  23. Mr.Brand says:

    Assassin’s Creed released on Steam in North America, and on torrents in Europe :/

  24. BTW says:

    @Phil H
    No, really, Far Cry, full game, legally, for free:

    http://www.fileshack.com/file.x/11073/Far+Cry+-+Full+Game

  25. Phil H says:

    Bleh on ad-supported :| Besides, coming clean with a few bucks straight to Ubi/Valve is a far sight better than roundabout ad-supported revenue so far as I’m concerned.

  26. much2much says:

    @Phil H good point

  27. timbo1138 says:

    That ad-supported version of Far Cry is also only available in the States. There’s something of a theme developing here.

    @ Doug F:

    Yeah, I know, I’m aware of the legal wranglings of it all, but my point is that that sort of BS shouldn’t be necessary in this modern age. Media distribution companies (and Valve is now one too) need to be making more of an effort to push forward into this new world. If they’re not going to make something available to the globe, they shouldn’t put it on a global network. My money’s just as good as American money (better, possibly, given the way their economy might be going), but they’re denying me the opportunity to *give* my money to them.

    Give me access to these games and I’ll buy ‘em. Prince of Persia, Splinter Cell, Assassin’s Creed… I’m a big Steam fan, I love it. But between THQ, Atari and now Ubisoft, I’m starting to get scared of a trend developing. Yeah, it’s their loss, and yeah, I can go find boxed copies instead, but having them on Steam makes me far more likely to buy them. Activision lost a CoD4 sale by jacking up the local Steam price to be *more* expensive than an Australian retail copy, and despite the fact that I am going to go buy Assassin’s Creed regardless, Ubi have lost a bunch of sales of older games with this move. I’m just a drop in the ocean, sure, but I’m far from the only one.

  28. RiptoR says:

    The ad-supported Far Cry promo is over, don’t think it still works. (see also the download on gamershell)

    And the reason the released the ad-supported version only for the US will probably be because the ads in it are relevant to US citizens only. Could be wrong about this though…

  29. Caiman says:

    The correlation between region capping and piracy is pretty obvious, but these suits just never seem to learn. Really, I have no sympathy anymore.

  30. Winterborn says:

    So sick of this shit. It’s bad enough at traditional retail here in Australia without digital following suit. I want to give you money to play your games, please let me.

  31. Thomas Lawrence says:

    See, I can’t believe that if companies were easily and legally able to sell the product in other countries that they would not do so. Why turn down money?

    I suspect this comes down to a minefiled of localisation and legal issues, which, while probably not insurmountable, at the very least delay this sort of a release worldwide.

    Indeed, given that there might well be expensive legal work involved, a sort-of “pilot scheme” in North America to see whether putting said work in would actually be profitable seems eminently sensible.

  32. Thomas Lawrence says:

    In fact, here’s an idea for the RPS quadrumivarate: why not do a full article on this topic? Try and get those interviews from people from Ubisoft and Atari, shed some light on why it is that games often take so long to cross the pond, and how it all fits in with digital distribution? I’d read it.

  33. Seniath says:

    Who next? The only remaining big names are (to my mind) EA, MS and Actard. And each have their own vested reason for not joining Steam.

    Which also makes me think, would a publishers willingness to put games on Steam influence who a given developer would chose to publish their game?

  34. Naryoril says:

    I can guess what’s the reason for that. Take Assassins Creed as an example:
    The game costs 45$ at amazon.com and 45€ at amazon.de
    which is 70$. They would just get less money. They would die if we european people wouldn’t pay 50% more for our games than the americians…

  35. tjeu says:

    On the European mainland, 2K games and Rockstar are also blocked from Steam distribution.

    I think the rapidly falling dollar has the bean counters worried.

  36. Larington says:

    Its kind of funny and sad in a way, the reason the $ is falling is because certain groups of bean counters screwed up in the states… Now we have a completely different group of bean counter who, by the sounds of it, are inadvertantly encouraging this problem.

    Whats worst, as someone rightly pointed out, “Assassin’s Creed released on Steam in North America, and on torrents in Europe ” – Congratulations gentlemen, you’ve just given the petty little children another justification for not paying for your game. Its a little thing called creed, err, I meant greed.

  37. Rook says:

    It’s just a punishment for the retail market still being fairly healthy in Europe.

  38. AbyssUK says:

    Steam is wrong it always will be, simple. Again another strong +1 to piracy..
    IDIOTS!! jesus christ why won’t people learn !!! argh!! it hurts my head that marketing people can be so bloody clueless.

    “Lets release games on the internet!”

    “Great idea… the internet is only america right ??”

    “Oh yes we own it and we invented it”

    IDIOTS!!

  39. Willem says:

    What? This is the worst kind of discrimination: The kind against me!

    *Dons pirate-hat*

    To the ships!

  40. Jonathan says:

    Well I just got a Steam update that says “Updated game overlay to support Assassin’s Creed” but can’t find any mention of Ubisoft anywhere. I’m speechless at the bureaucracy. I honestly don’t understand the reasoning.

  41. The Dread Pirate Roberts says:

    Every time a company discriminates against Europe, they get added to my “torrent only” list. I was frothing at the mouth to get my hands on Soulstorm, but after all the arsing around that happened (not to mention the vastly inflated price) I decided to “source it from an alternative digital distribution platform”

    Meh, stuff em.

  42. Tim says:

    I get annoyed that steam notifies me of these new games then hides them from me when I log in. They should let me see their pages and have a big note saying “sorry this title isn’t available outside the united states”. At least then I’d know why. Plus if the companies are going to be so stupid about it they deserve the bad rep. I was so angry when 2k released the GTA’s, but excluded Australia.

    That COD4 thing is the worst though. I’ve now a policy of boycotting all games that have inflated download prices in my region. It’s not going to make me buy it retail, I just wont buy it at all.

    All this does is convince people to jump through the torrent hoops.

  43. Cigol says:

    I’m guessing from STEAM’s perspective it’s important to get other publishers with their foot in the door, it doesn’t necessarily matter whether they come inside to sit on the sofa and have a cup of tea – not yet anyway.

    …but they need to start thinking about putting pressure on those profiting from it. Getting a wide ranging catalogue of products to sell is great, but it’s time to start setting sensible rules that benefit customers, not punish them.

  44. Thomas Lawrence says:

    Oh, honestly.

    Do people here really believe that incompetence and “discrimination” are the only imaginable factors keeping companies, entities structured entirely around the concept of maximising profit, from doing something profitable?

    There are surely hidden factors here, whether legal or otherwise, which we’re not seeing (and I eagerly wait a description of exactly what those are). But this OMG DISCRIMINATION stuff is just embarrassing.

  45. Kieron Gillen says:

    I’m with Thomas. If the price for Assassin’s Creed on Steam is less than sixty dollars, the reason why they’d prefer English people to buy it in the shops is somewhat obvious.

    KG

  46. Nick says:

    Instead they’ll buy it from online retailers for £5 less than most shops in the UK. (at least, imagining those that buy through steam are usually savvy/fear the outside enough to internet shop in general)

    (edit)

    Actually there has to be something wrong when it’s fairly consistent that the cheapest places I have seen to buy games offline are Woolworths and Asda and not a specialist shop like GAME which frequently has £4 or £5 higher on a pricetag, if not just £1 or £2.

  47. UncleLou says:

    The price can’t be the reason. Check Call of Duty 4 on Steam – it’s 70US$ for us Europeans. I doubt this is the price US Steam users see

    edit:

    Oh wait,I am several hours behind, this has already been discussed, sorry. :)

  48. wcaypahwat says:

    Just quietly…. am I the only one who likes my boxes? I like the way they stack. I like how buying a new game is like getting a nice present you get to open and play around with. An expensive present. That I bought myself. Anyways.

    Oh well. The guys at my local EB are all pretty cool. I get enough favours there that even if I’m paying a few dollars more, I’m getting something extra for it :/

  49. Optimaximal says:

    Actually there has to be something wrong when it’s fairly consistent that the cheapest places I have seen to buy games offline are Woolworths and Asda and not a specialist shop like GAME which frequently has £4 or £5 higher on a pricetag, if not just £1 or £2.

    Think of it like buying a car… You can buy it direct from the dealer (the ‘recognised’ car sellers) but you’ll get it cheaper if you go to Motorpoint or one of those other car supermarkets OR buy used from a garage.

    Brands such as GAME leverage their position as a recognised highstreet brand to sell above the average selling price because joe public always used to think that it was the only place to shop. This has changed with the internet and supermarkets eating into profits and companies have had to move with the times – some slower than others.

    Take HMV as an example – they’ve finally started bringing their store prices inline with their web prices (albeit there are still discrepancies, such as my local HMV selling 3-4 year old games for £30, but that’s a per-store thing).

  50. Kapitein Iglo says:

    I’m not sure if it’s allowed here, but we kind of created a steam group to band together and show our displeasure at the present localizations of some of the publishers: http://steamcommunity.com/groups/restofworld

    It’s a long shot, but who knows. if there’s enough support we might get somewhere.