Assassin’s Greed

By Alec Meer on August 7th, 2008 at 4:42 pm.

I know I’ve used that headline before, but hell, it works. I really do need to find a way to recharge my pun batteries, however.

Assassin’s Creed was one of the most Angry Internet Men-angering games last year, and, like Bioshock, it refuses to go away. This time, there’s a piracy problem. Aaargh. I’m terrified that Assassin’s Creed + Piracy is the secret formula that will cause RPS readers to rise up and destroy the entire planet, but here we go….

1) Ubisoft is suing a disc replication company for leaking AssCreed PC code to the internet six weeks before release. To the tune of $20m. Ouchy.

2) Apparently only 40,000 copies of the PC version sold in the US through June, compared to 700,000 pirated copies. Americans: does “through June” mean “during June” or “up to and including June?”

3) Eyebrow-raisingly, Ubisoft claims it stuck a crash-bug in the leaked code as a security measure. And that the leaked, buggy version thus created word that the port was in poor shape, further harming sales and causing ‘irreparable damage’ to Ubi’s reputation.

Which all adds up to quite the tale, and one I almost dare not comment upon. I’m sure you lot will.

Full story and more details at Gamespot.

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101 Comments »

  1. RiptoR says:

    Ubi should make up their mind. First they use a “stolen” nocd from a known warezgroup, then they claim they don’t like warez… :p

  2. Aldaris says:

    So, yeah, big company pissed off, they sould look at how smaller people like introversion do this stuff.

  3. LoTekK says:

    While suing the company makes perfect sense to me, shouldn’t the Titan Quest debacle have provided some forewarning that sticking crash code into a game leads to poor publicity?

  4. Springy says:

    How do companies find reliable figures pertaining to the amount of pirated copies downloaded?

  5. RichPowers says:

    I figured AssCreed’s sales were doomed once it was revealed that at least two CPU cores are needed to play it. The Steam hardware survey reveals that 59% of respondents still have single-core CPUs.

  6. Skjef says:

    Screwing over potential customers is a great idea, especially when there’s no demo available.

  7. windlab says:

    Here’s a relatively happy internet man, not an angry one.
    As has been pointed out by bit-tech’s commentators, it’s infinitely better for the consumers that the source/seeder is sued, than Ubisoft suing torrent sites, ISPs, and downloaders.

  8. iainl says:

    Surely everyone who wanted to play it had already picked up the 360 or PS3 version back when the game first came out?

    This is just like the DMC4 debacle all over again; company releases PC version months late, then is shocked when all the multi-platform people won’t pay twice.

  9. Shadowmancer says:

    Ubisoft are idiots, they sell their games on steam only to the usa dont they realise they could make more money by selling their games to the world, i would happily buy assassins creed on steam and some of their other games such as beyond good and evil.

  10. James says:

    The other Assassin’s Greed article – stumbled across it while searching for something else.

  11. NikRichards says:

    I’d say the lack of gameplay might of had something to do with it.

    I bought this turkey and haven’t finshed it, allowing it to join a very small and poo list of games.

  12. brandonnn says:

    Up to and including!

  13. Optimaximal says:

    As I quipped on Blues News, they must try and sneak buggy code out to catch the disc stampers out all the time. How else could Double Agent have been released for the PC in such a shambles?

  14. heliocentric says:

    ac sounded okay, but once i got warning of the rinse lather repeat flow of the game my attention was back to splinter cell conviction. I’d have taken full price map packs for chaos theorys coop why did they have to bloody ‘innovate’?

  15. Andrew Wills says:

    So… Let me get this straight:

    - Prevented European Customers from buying Ubisoft Games on Steam.
    - No demo to sample the game.
    - Almost impossible to find in shops.
    - Released on Consoles first with a delay for PCs.
    - Half baked concept, hard to relate to.
    - Basically Hitman: The Jerusalum Years.
    - Not great reviews.
    - Not a great console port.

    Yep, can’t see annny reason why bad sales would be down to anything other than piracy there.

    My personal experience with Assassins Greed was like this… Got excited about the game, found the idea to be interesting at first, but started to wonder if they could carry the whole concept all the way through… Liked the screenshots and videos, decided to buy it on Steam. Saved up cash. Wasn’t allowed to buy it on Steam, have to live in North America. Not willling to relocate. Waited for retail release. Went looking… Searched all local shops, not a single copy. Gave up, went and played it round a friends house. Found it fiddly, frustrating and worse than Tomb Raider… with a more boring story to boot. No intention to purchase now. Wouldn’t even waste my bandwidth pirating it.

    If you’re going to blame piracy, you HAVE to make the game available to as many people as possible first, before anyone will give a rats arse.

  16. Cooper says:

    I find it difficult to care. At all. Surely the replication company have insurance for this kind of misconduct, if they can’t trace the individual. Corporations have a habit of throwing tantrums when things don’t go their way, under the misunderstanding that endless, targeted, lawsuits change the actions of a mass. Assassin’s Creed was shit, piracy or no.

    Also:

    3) Eyebrow-raisingly, Ubisoft claims it stuck a crash-bug in the leaked code as a security measure. And that the leaked, buggy version thus created word that the port was in poor shape, further harming sales and causing ‘irreparable damage’ to Ubi’s reputation.

    Hah. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Hah.
    That’s lightened up my afternoon.

  17. Kareem says:

    Oh cool, it didn’t take long in the comments thread to trash the quality of the game simply because Ubi delayed the PC version and said the P word.

  18. Frosty840 says:

    Yeah.
    That thing that marketers love, the day-one-sales thing?
    That doesn’t happen if “day one” is several months after the release of the game.

    I’d go through the list, but Andrew Willis did it for me.

  19. ascagnel says:

    @Kareem: I played this, and it did run like crap. Also, it was a blatant port, with almost no concession made to PC gamers. Look on YouTube for “Quitting Assassin’s Creed” to see what I mean.

  20. Tikey says:

    I’m amazed at how easily companies throw numbers away.
    I’m going to “recycle” one of my comments from Kotaku regarding the subject:

    “I’m not trying to justify piracy but when you have no local support, no translations to regional language (for god’s sake, Spain’s accent isn’t neutral and almost every other Spanish speaking country can’t stand it), no economical conversions (having a game cost three times PLUS shipping while earning less money than the countries for which the games are targeted isn’t logical, different prices for different economies is the norm) and I’m not forgetting about companies actually making harder for people to buy games here (for example I wanted to buy a retail copy of the Witcher through Atari’s site, but I just can’t because they don’t ship to my country. I know that games aren’t made with these countries in mind because most companies doesn’t profit from there, but you shouldn’t be surprised when people in those countries pirate games.”

    I’m in no way trying to justify piracy but Companies are as much responsible for that number as the pirates.

  21. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    “Surely everyone who wanted to play it had already picked up the 360 or PS3 version back when the game first came out? ”

    It’s worth pointing out that a lot of pc gamers don’t own a 360 or ps3! I certainly don’t, and I only know one of my immediate circle of friends who does. Okay, pretty anecdotal, but I refuse to believe “everyone” has a console these days. CONSOLOL LOL etc. :) Anyway, I have nothing of any interest to add. Bye.

  22. DSX says:

    I wanted to play this game, but it’s the first title this year, and probably next year too, that I can’t run on my PC. Dual core wtf? Even Crysis could be dumbed down for the mass market. Ubisoft can stick it.

    Requires:
    Processor: Dual core processor 2.6 GHz Intel Pentium D or AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800
    RAM: 2 GB
    Video Card: 256 MB DirectX 10.0–compliant video card or DirectX 9.0–compliant card with Shader Model 3.0 or higher

  23. Kareem says:

    @ascagnel: I’ve played the game too, and know of the ridiculous quitting system (it helps if you just alt+F4 since the game saves everything) but the fact that they didn’t make specific improvements to the PC version (they did with draw distances I think) doesn’t make the game itself bad.

  24. UncleLou says:

    Basically Hitman: The Jerusalum Years.

    If it would have been anything like this, I would have noticed. I really can’t imagine a game being much less than Hitman than AC, unfortunately.

  25. 02sheslop says:

    Piracy may be a real problem, but nobody is going to take it seriously if companies keep doing daft shit like this.

  26. Buemba says:

    When companies like Ubisoft and 2K Games start letting me buy their games on Steam I’ll stop pirating them.

  27. ascagnel says:

    @Kareem: My point was trying to extrapolate on their shoddy UI. Redesigning a game’s UI is easier than rewriting or optimizing rendering code. If they can’t be bothered to add a “Quit” button into the pause menu, then my brain says they probably haven’t bothered to update the renderer either.

    Also, UBI ports to PC have been shoddy for quite some time. I had to give up on Rainbow Six: Vegas a while back when the game simply refused to run at more than 5fps in some of the casinos, even with everything bumped to its lowest on a system that should be able to handle it. Rainbow Six: Lockdown’s demo refused to connect to the UBI.COM service for online play, and it’s 1280×800 resolution wouldn’t run on my widescreen monitor (which specifically supports 1280×800), and downgrade to 1024×768 automatically. Also, it ran with a barely acceptable (~20fps) framerate at 1024×768 with everything at low on a pretty high end system.

    Minor note for those in the US: I was shopping in a Staples last night and came accross some older UBI titles, some of which were pretty good. Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (not GRAW 2), Rainbow Six: Lockdown, and the first two Splinter Cells (SC & SC:PT) bundled together, each for $10. I might go back tonight and get GRAW or the SC pack for that rediculously low price.

  28. MA6200 says:

    I have to agree with UncleLou. If it was closer to that I would have loved the game, and Cooper pretty much nailed what I was thinking – if Ubisoft wants to make more money they should go back to making good games.

  29. Coleman says:

    I think the lesson here is “if you don’t want your game pirated, first make a good game worth the price.”

    AC is complete poop. I played it on my 360 for about an hour and was immensely disappointed. Ubi would have been better off ripping off Hitman, putting 47 in a tunic and throwing him into medieval Jerusalem.

    I agree with @Andrew Wills. If you want to claim it’s piracy, you have to give your customers the ability to even pay for it in the first place.

    And finally, no one should play it anyways. The End.

  30. Springy says:

    @Tikey:
    You find localisation unacceptable because Spanish-speaking countries have to put up with Raúl from Madrid doing the voice-acting? It’s the same in any language: English-speaking countries all get Jason from Venice Beach. As for your efforts to find The Witcher, looking on Atari’s official site hardly counts for an extensive search.

    @Buemba:
    That is not a good reason to pirate games.

    People, you need to stop justifying piracy and just accept it as an illegal activity that is not beneficial to anything but your slightly thicker wallet.

  31. Larington says:

    What would be really really nice is if there was a way to find out what the share of torrent downloads is based on geographical location.

    I’m beginning to suspect that the real cause of piracy is that countries which don’t have a strong pound/dollar/euro/one-or-two-others feel forced to download because they have no choice. Not everyone can afford a £30-£40 game, for certain I know that I’m debating cutting my release day purchases down to 3 a year and buying the rest when the price is down a bit.

    Quite a few gamers are students, do you think they can afford all these games?

    Then there are the countries, such as Australia and certain middle eastern nations where games that garner higher age ratings may not be released or be released with content absent from the release, in which case even I’d be tempted to start torrenting games.

    So, again I fall back on my previous comments – We need research into piracy before we can understand it and respond to it in a mature way that has a chance of actually succeeding.

  32. United States of Generica says:

    I’m still open to buying this game on my PC, albeit once I’ve go through the pile I am currently playing.

    The single caveat is that I want to be able to buy it through Steam, as our American friends can.

  33. cyrenic says:

    They just didn’t put much effort into the port. The high system requirements and the “Quitting Assassin’s Creed” video were examples of this. It shouldn’t surprise them that it came back to bite them in the ass.

  34. Taxman says:

    700,000 I assume in the USA alone downloaded it so claims that it was a poor port or crap game are irrelevant as there was indeed demand for the game it’s just those PC gamers decided to not buy it.

    Are some suggesting that because they thought it was a poor port that it deserved to be pirated ??

    The simple course of action for Ubisoft it to stop releasing PC games, problem solved which I imagine is what they are contemplating at this very moment.

  35. Buemba says:

    @Springy:
    I never claimed it’s a good reason, I just said it’s my reason.
    Sure I could import the game and pay an outrageous price for the international shipping plus taxes that are equal to 60% of the total price of the product and then wait 3 to 6 weeks for it to arrive, but I won’t.
    Does that mean piracy is suddenly legal in my case? Of course not.
    But would I pirate games if I could purchase them digitally? No, and I doubt I’m alone here.

  36. Radiant says:

    Attention people about to admit that they pirate games.
    DON’T DO IT.
    IT’S NOT WORTH MENTIONING.
    Think of the children
    Also this:
    “Hitman: The Jerusalum Years.”
    Isn’t getting the love it deserves.

  37. RichPowers says:

    @Taxman: Numerous legitimate complaints with the game and Ubi’s marketing and distribution were brought up and you’re ignoring them all. If Ubi eliminates PC releases, I’ll just have to say: “and nothing of value was lost.”

    @Larington: As a student with a shoestring budget, I buy one new game per year; everything else is used or bargain bin. This year’s must-have new game is Left4Dead. Steam’s weekend sales are slowly sapping my budget, though :)

  38. Erlam says:

    Another game that bombed, and piracy instantly blamed.

    Maybe making a poor game had something to do with it.

  39. Citizen Parker says:

    Aaargh. I’m terrified that Assassin’s Creed + Piracy is the secret formula that will cause RPS readers to rise up and destroy the entire planet

    I think that’s the truest thing in the history of true. Also, hilarious.

  40. Domicius says:

    Good games get pirated. Bad games get pirated. Good games make money. Bad games don’t make money.

    Four completely unrelated sentences.

  41. rocketman71 says:

    Typical Ubi then, releasing games with crippling bugs and refusing to support afterwards. The only difference is this time they are admitting it.

    Totally agree with Domicius, BTW (except for BG&E and Doom 3).

  42. UncleLou says:

    You forgot a few:

    Some good games don’t make money. Some bad games make a lot of money. Some games, good or bad, would make more money without piracy.

  43. Fede says:

    I believe the low sales are also caused by the absurd requirements… but maybe I think so only because most of my pc’s specs are half of what’s required. :D

    This also means that likely a little percentage of the people who torrented it wanted just to see if it actually run decently on their systems.

  44. Nero says:

    Don’t know what more to say than has already been said. I know when I saw the first trailer for this game I was pumped, but as reviews came out I wasn’t that excited anymore. I might have bought it earlier if there was a demo out so I could see how it would run on my computer (release demos ffs Ubisoft!). Like most Ubi games I will most likely pick it up when it’s dirt cheap.

  45. Tikey says:

    @Springy: It’s not localization. For Latin America you have the neutral spanish which is often translated in mexico, to which most of us are used to.
    Spain’s translations are localized for Spain only. It’s understandable being that most of LA have poor economies.
    Also, The Witcher and Atari’s store was an example of the complications that one has to go through here just to buy a game. If you have to go through half the internet just to buy one game (because there is no local distribution, so you can’t buy it in a store) you might get dissuaded (also remember that a lot of people here doesn’t have credit cards). And don’t forget the economical difficulties and the almost complete lack of local support. It’s obvious that most of LA and a lot of other third world countries aren’t simply a market for game companies, they just don’t care, and that’s a simple truth.
    I’m in no way justifying piracy, I’m just giving it context.

  46. Deuteronomy says:

    In my mind I know for a fact that the ease of pirating PC games decreases sales. I’ve asked several friends who make quite a bit more money then me why they pirate PC games. It’s because they can. Why do they buy the console games? Because it’s a bitch to pirate them. Would they buy console games if it was easy to pirate them? No.

    Anecdotal true. I no longer pirate games, as I have a decent job, and it feels wrong to not pay when you can, but back in high school and university well . . . it was a different story.

    As far as the tripwires go, it’s probably the only effective way to delay the pirates for a week or two. I’ve heard Mass Effect *still* isn’t completely cracked, and sales for that good were pretty good. It might just be a necessary evil.

    Really what they should be doing to stamp out piracy is aggressively shutting down torrent sites. Or at least seeding copies of the game that make the system unbootable a random amount of time after being installed.

  47. Dr_demento says:

    I quite liked Assassin’s Creed… but then, I played it on the XB360, which had zero slowdown, an “off” button you could use instead of needing to quit, and no hardware issues. I also paid full retail price for it.

    I also think that Valve are the only people who know (or care?) what PC gamers like at the minute: games with low system requirements, thoroughly playtested to remove all possible bugs and straighten out any gameplay kinks, with an interesting plot and fun puzzles rather than just straight combat, and sold via digital distribution for a lower price. AC fails every single one of those points.

  48. Ragnar says:

    @UncleLou

    And you forgot: Some games, good or bad, make more money *because* of piracy.

  49. Bhlaab says:

    “Hitman: The Jerusalum Years” is what i was hoping the game would be. Instead it was “Find 25 flags in 3 minutes: The Jerusalem Years”.

    And even once you get past the filler bits, the assassinations themselves leave no room for creativity or STEALTH. Run up to the guy and hit him with a sword THANKS I HAVEN’T DONE THAT 800 EFFING TIMES ALREADY DURING THE “HIT 25 GUYS WITH A SWORD IN 3 MINUTES MISSION”

  50. UncleLou says:

    “I quite liked Assassin’s Creed… but then, I played it on the XB360, which had zero slowdown, an “off” button you could use instead of needing to quit, and no hardware issues. I also paid full retail price for it.”

    Well, I also paid the full retail price, had absolutely no slowdown issues, and used ALT-F4 to instaquit. I still thought it was a really terrible game, unfortunately. ;-)

    No excuse to pirate it, of course.