Ubisoft Still Hates Most Of The World

By John Walker on May 14th, 2008 at 5:00 pm.

Ubisoft Steam Train rides again.

You lucky North Americans – you’ve got a bunch more Ubisoft games on Steam, including the ever-lovely Beyond Good & Evil.

Due to The Reason – a secret no publisher can divulge – the games are only appearing for US users of Valve’s online distro. They are: Heroes of Might & Magic V, Pacific Fighters, Blazing Angels: Squadrons of World War II, Blazing Angels II: Secret Missions of World War II, Cold Fear, Brothers In Arms: The Road To Hill 30, Beyond Good & Evil, Rainbow Six: Rogue Spear, Rainbow Six: Lockdown, and Chessmaster: Grandmaster Edition.

Last time Ubi and Atari did this, we emailed around to try and find out why. Here are our world exclusive responses:

Ubisoft told us on the 2nd of April.

“Currently waiting on a response on this from our corporate division, so I’ll let you know as soon as I hear anything.”

Atari meanwhile explained,

“It’s difficult as there’s just nothing to discuss at this point. As soon as I have some more information I will let you know”

With this information under our arms, we approached Valve’s Doug Lombardi to hear what Valve has to say.

“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.”

So there you go. The next time someone asks you why publishers limit their sales to a fraction of the population of the world, on games you can’t buy in shops any more, just point them this way.

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40 Comments »

  1. sana says:

    It’s a good thing that none of those games sound like I want to play them. You know, except Chessmaster.

  2. Zonderic says:

    Ubisoft should stop favoring America and start releasing the web-browser Heroes of Might and Magic. Seriously.

  3. Paul Montesanti says:

    Maybe Ubisoft is worried about a possible invasion unless they give up their sweet, viscous, ten-year-old videogames.

  4. The Shed says:

    Uh, yeah. Why are they doing that? Wierd, and quite honestly, naiive move. Unless there is a rational reason for it. Loving the world exclusive ‘one vague sentence per publisher’ coverage btw, more sites should follow in your ‘steps.

    Mmmm, viscous videogames.

  5. Cigol says:

    I think this was answered by a European division of Ubisoft. The reason given was something to do with them not seeing a market outside of America due to the financial cost of selling over STEAM in the first place.

    It’s possible this is Internet rumour masquerading as fact, and it’s also possible my memory assisted paraphrasing has made a mistake or two. I’ll try and remember where I read this…

    EDIT: And here it is; http://steamcommunity.com/groups/restofworld check the announcements.

  6. Nick says:

    hmm..

    “Currently waiting on a response on this from our corporate division, so I’ll let you know as soon as I hear anything.”

    Sounds a lot like every Ubisoft response to questions about patches.

  7. Optimaximal says:

    Tbh, the american dollar is so hopelessly pathetic, they can’t really win over STEAM at the moment. They either release it at a loss in the EU (w00!) or do like Activision do and release it for horribly inflated prices, ala CoD4 @ $69.99.

    After all, who in their right mind would pay that amount plus VAT (which works out as just over £42) in the UK for CoD4 when you can go into a shop and buy it for £24?

  8. Naurgul says:

    I think you need a follow-up question to Mr. Lombardi: “But does that worldwide coverage cost more?” Because this may be why this is happening.

  9. The_B says:

    It’s a good thing that none of those games sound like I want to play them. You know, except Chessmaster.

    By not including BG&E in that you Sir, are a cad and scoundrel.

    (Although for anyone in the UK wanting to play it, it can be had for just 2 of your English pounds and 99 pennies from here.)

  10. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    Grr, Argh. I’d really like to play BG&E too. Boo.

  11. Robin says:

    I’d speculate a couple of reasons, based on Ubisoft Netherlands comments that putting games on Steam isn’t free. This could be referring to the cost of getting your game placed prominently in the Steam client (with one of those News announcements, placement on the front page carousel, etc.). Or it could be that publishers are asking for a guarantee up front, a popular tactic for beefing up the balance sheet with minimal effort. Actually physically (virtually?) putting a game on Steam doesn’t become drastically more expensive if more territories are enabled.

    I think Valve’s decision to allow different prices in different territories is being badly exploited. There is a justification for it to allow games to be sold cheaply outside of Europe and North America, but they should ban publishers from setting a price for a game in any territory to be higher than their US price. It’s indefensible.

  12. Chris Evans says:

    I can understand Valve not wanting to interfere too much in how companies operate on Steam. If they did then companies are liable to avoid joining them.

    Rest of World!

  13. Faust says:

    I bought BG&E on XBox long after I got my 360, as it was up for cheap in my local trade in shoppy thingy… pity they don’t plan on making it backwards compatible any time soon…. but that’s drawing it a little off track.

    I would buy it were it on steam though, in a shot.

  14. liquidindian says:

    Steam – or something similar to Steam – has to be the way forward for games distribution, and I can’t believe they’re being as short-sighted as this. It’s both the solution to the abandonware issue, and the piracy issue: something that’s easier than dealing with torrent sites.

  15. Robert Seddon says:

    The Reason… is The Reason.

    (That was a Starship Titanic reference, right?)

  16. deABREU says:

    and what to say of south america? I can’t buy ANY games from both 2K and Ubi down here =(

  17. marxeil says:

    Its a well known fact that only Americans buy games. Us dirty foreigners are all pirates.

  18. Dan Forever says:

    Isn’t Ubisoft a French company? Does this mean a French publisher is not allowing it’s games to be published in France?

  19. Rob Merritt says:

    Did Ubisoft ever fix Beyond Good & Evil? It was unplayable on the pc with the game pad and had a game stoping bug.

  20. Frymaster says:

    “After all, who in their right mind would pay that amount plus VAT (which works out as just over £42) in the UK for CoD4 when you can go into a shop and buy it for £24?”

    I would. I am the most hapless person in the world for losing the discs, or the serial keys, or whatever. And the RRP for it is 35 quid so it’s not LUDICROUSLY more really.

  21. Alex says:

    “Hey Alex, do you by any chance know why publishers limit their sales to a fraction of the population of the world, on games you can’t buy in shops anymore?”

    “You really want to know?”

    “Um. Yes?”

    “Well, it’s difficult. There’s nothing to discuss.”

    “… um, there isn’t? How do you mean?”

    “LOOK, THERE’S JUST NOTHING TO DISCUSS AT THIS POINT, OKAY!?”

    “But I.. I just-”

    “HEY! AS SOON AS I HAVE SOME MORE INFORMATION I’LL LET YOU KNOW!! NOW LEAVE IT AND STOP CRYING!!”

  22. grumpy says:

    Isn’t it interesting?
    Seems most publishers are constantly bleeding money, and yet, they don’t feel it makes sense to actually make their products *available* to potential buyers.

    Either, they’re pretty goddamn incompetent, or the business model for this entire industry is fundamentally broken. Or both

  23. Max says:

    That train looks remarkably like a stick of memory. See the bottom-left corner? Looks like gold contacts that you find on DIMMs, no?

    Maybe I need more hobbies.

  24. nin.ja says:

    What I find strange is that I can buy one of the civ4 expansions but not anyother game by the same publisher, not even civ4.
    I live in South America btw.

  25. luminosity says:

    I was just thinking of asking about a follow up on your old article yesterday. Ahh, apathy.

    I find the concept of a publisher not wanting to earn more money to be simply bizarre. It’s like walking into an empty restaurant and having them turn you out. Surely there has to be some increased cost from Valve to justify this?

  26. Rob says:

    I find the concept of a publisher not wanting to earn more money to be simply bizarre. It’s like walking into an empty restaurant and having them turn you out.

    Actually it’s possible that this might be an apposite example; if a restaurant turns out a single customer they can close down for the night and save money overall. Similarly if Ubisoft have low expectations for European sales they can save money by not offering the games in the first place.

    On edit: What Cigol cited above.

  27. renloz says:

    These games are available for purchase here in Mexico but not the previous ones (AC, RSV, FC, SC). I can’t understand their reasons to not sell the other games here, it can’t be because of losing revenue, the games aren’t available in retail here (pc versions) so in fact they are losing sales or making their customers go to the states or buy online (or even worse buy it for consoles.)

  28. James T says:

    According to the Force Unleashed thread, you’re all showing an enormous sense of entitlement! Shame on you!

  29. bildo says:

    and we care that Heros of Might and magic is not coming to Europe? The game is subpar…but I can understand the principles of the whole thing.

  30. bildo says:

    and we care that Heroes of Might and magic is not coming to Europe? The game is sub par…but I can understand the principles of the whole thing.

    Maybe it is a supply and demand issue. Since, at the moment, they only have a fixed amount of capital with which to produce the game they choose not to release it in Europe as it may be too costly since they could make more money here based on a higher demand for the game, thus a higher price. This is how they choose to distribute goods with their scarce resources and the opportunity cost of diverting games to Europe may be very high….just a theory.

  31. Narvi says:

    Damn it, give me my Beyond Good & Evil! I don’t have my copy anymore!

  32. Joe Martin says:

    Beyond Good and Evil – sheer, tearjerking classic.

  33. Kismet says:

    I have a retail copy of Beyond Good and Evil, but I’d love to add it to my Steam digital vault anyway.

    As for the rest of the Ubisoft catalogue, there’s not much I’d be interested in, nor there are many titles I’m looking ahead among future Ubisoft PC releases to be honest, but the more (on Steam), the merrier.

    Regarding possible reasons for Ubisoft not to make their games accessible everywhere, if it was only Europe left out, my conspiracy theory sixth sense would consider a possible special agreement with Metaboli (could work for Atari too), but that wouldn’t be a good reason for the exclusion of the rest of the world…

  34. J says:

    I hate the whole gamer entitlement thing but to me at least it doesn’t make financial sense for ubi / atari not to do this.

    Unless its like the whole activision price gouging thing where Australians get charge US$88.50 because the American govt doesn’t know how to run an economy. at least from the state of their dollar anyhow.

  35. Rob says:

    I hate the whole gamer entitlement thing

    I really don’t understand this suggestion that complaints are stemming from a sense of entitlement; I think generally it’s sheer bewilderment, from the admittedly limited information I have on the situation, the money is just there to be made.

  36. Nick says:

    eh.. HOMM has a much bigger european fanbase than US so that makes no sense either.

  37. Homunculus says:

    Beyond Good and Evil. Now notavailable on Steam in the EU, just in time for its sequel.

  38. Kadayi says:

    I have a retail copy of Beyond Good and Evil, but I’d love to add it to my Steam digital vault anyway.

    Likewise. I can’t be doing with swapping discs etc these days. Plus BG&E is such a good game I’d be gifting it to quite a few people. I guess our lucks out because the dollars down the shitter and past experience will have shown publishers that region fixed pricing on Steam tends to be poorly received. I’d of bought CoD4 quite happily via Steam if it wasn’t for the blatant markup, and Take 2 really need to get with the program if they think I’m ever going to buy Bioshock for $54 now.

  39. Crispy says:

    Join the Steam group people!!! U-N-I-T-E!

    http://steamcommunity.com/groups/restofworld

  40. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    Now they’ve got pissing IL-2 Sturmovik as well :(

    Argh!