Just Release Assassin’s Creed, Not Six Different Versions

By John Walker on July 18th, 2012 at 1:00 pm.

Freedom from having a clue what to buy.

There is certainly a long list of things we grumble about when it comes to game releases these days, from day one DLC to whichever mad choice of DRM accompanies, but they can all pretty much be summed up in one statement: Just release the game. It would make every gamer so much happier. And on that list is when games release themselves in different versions, with different in-game content. So that makes the six different versions of Assassin’s Creed III (the game itself) not only confusing, but pretty annoying. Especially when it’s a game that’s looking so great.

I want to stress, I’m not talking about a game also offering a special edition with a few physical bonuses. I think those can be great. If you’re excited enough to fork out £80 for a game that usually costs £35, because you want some limited edition figurines, art books and maybe a soundtrack, then fantastic. Collector’s Editions, as they used to only ever be called, fitted exactly that premise – they were something for those who love to collect, an especially nice presentation box filled with goodies. But the line is drawn where that version contains a different game.

A trailer released today shows what appears in a special edition version of the game, for PC, 360 and PS3, exclusively sold in GameStop: the Freedom Edition. It comes with some lovely silly bonuses, like George Washington’s notebook, a figurine of Connor, and a lithograph, all in a collector’s box designed by Alex Ross. Stupid to limit it to one store, obviously, especially one without a strong international presence. But the issue lies in its also containing an exclusive in-game single-player mission, Lost Mayan Ruins. You can catch a glimpse of it here:

Except, um, it’s not exclusive to GameStop really. Sort of. That extra mission, Lost Mayan Ruins? Despite the claims it’s also listed as being available with the Limited Edition, only on consoles. Freedom also has another bonus single-player level, Ghost Of War, that’s also in the Join Or Die Edition, and the PC’s Digital Deluxe collection. There’s also the Sharpshooter multiplayer pack, which gives you an exclusive MP character, along with baubles to go with him. But you’ll also get that with Join Or Die and Digi Deluxe too. But, er, pre-order either of the two cross-platform specials at GameStop and you’ll also get the Red Coat Multiplayer Pack, which adds a new MP character (the Red Coat), an extra relic, emblem, picture and title.

The statue of Connor can also be picked up by console players in what’s known simply as the Limited Edition. Georgie’s notebook? Well, you could also look out for the Digi Deluxe, and that Join Or Die Edition, on all three platforms, which also has Ghost Of War, but not Lost Mayan Ruins. And in Join Or Die you also get Connor’s medallion, which isn’t available anywhere else.

But you want the Second Edition Encyclopedia? Well then you’ll have to buy the UbiWorkshop Edition instead, whatever that is. With that you’ll also get a graphic novel called Assassin’s Creed: Subject 4, available with nothing else. Oh, I missed one. There’s also The Special Edition. It also has a single-player mission, A Dangerous Secret, which results in a unique weapon, the Flintlock Musket. Oh, and I’ve just discovered that the Digital Deluxe version also has A Dangerous Secret, despite the claims of its exclusivity elsewhere. And, er, yet another level, Cozumel Island, giving you Captain Kidd’s Sawtooth Cutlass. I’ve not spotted that listed with any other bundles, but God knows.

And if you were to just buy the vanilla Assassin’s Creed III, what would you get? The game minus all three extra levels, the multiplayer extras, and the accompanying weapons and specials.

Oh come on.

With a release date of 31st October, I find it hard to believe we won’t hear of some more little exclusives along the way – a special glint on your sword if you pre-order it from Steam, but then cancel and actually buy it from Gamestation. Or seventeen different endings if you catch someone pirating it.

It’s worth noting that the PC versions of the various packages are FAR better value than the consoles. Where the console’s Freedom Edition will cost a whopping £80, the PC’s is set considerably lower at £60. And the Join Or Die is currently set at massive £65 for consoles, but for PC is RRPd at, er, the regular price of a game – £35. (Although GameStop are pushing their luck and charging £40 for the honour, while the UbiShop sticks to the recommended price.) And that Digital Deluxe edition, that comes with three of the four extra levels, two other “single player packs” that offer skins and weapons, and both mentioned MP packs, but obviously none of the physical content, comes in at a slightly more daunting £50. The notebook is in PDF form with this one.

The vanilla version isn’t even available to pre-order via UbiShop, while elsewhere you’ll end up paying the same as the Join Or Die edition, and indeed the Special Edition, also at £35. It is just BEWILDERING.

Ubisoft – we love that you’re creating all these fun physical extras, but this has gone crazy. Why build levels that only a subsection of players will get to see? Why do I have to choose between a Special Edition with the level A Dangerous Secret, or a Join Or Die Edition with Ghost Of War and a toy medallion, both the same price? How am I supposed to know which level I’ll want more? Are either important to the game’s overall story? Am I expected to buy both? And what about Lost Mayan Ruins? That’s not available in any of the PC packs. Do I need to play it? Am I supposed to get the console version then? But then I wouldn’t get the PC-only Digi Deluxe’s Cozumel Island. OH JUST SELL ME YOUR GAME!

This is damned silly. Especially with the inevitability that all of them will appear as pay-for DLC within weeks of release, making the whole thing an utter farce. It isn’t helping anyone, and I flat-out refuse to believe it’s helping sales. It only serves to confuse people who actually want to buy the game, leaving them wondering what they’re missing out on, rather than what bonuses they’re receiving. And surely that’s the opposite of the intended goal?

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122 Comments »

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  1. iGark says:

    The really bewildering thing is: WHY IS THERE NO VERSION WITH EVERYTHING INCLUDED

    • db1331 says:

      Because someone out there will BUY ALL THE VERSIONS!

      • Gunrun says:

        Because someone at Ubisoft realised “Hey we can get the shops to pay us to make this content exclusive to us, and we can do it at multiple shops! Ahahahahah!”

    • BobbyDylan says:

      You mean the whole game in one purchase? What a quaint idea…..

      • Screamer says:

        Now that will be a Revelation!

        • TsunamiWombat says:

          Perhaps even a Revolution. But Ubisoft is a French company, they don’t like Revolutions as much as the rest of us. Something about Guillotines.

          • Mad Hamish says:

            French don’t like revolutions? What like the one they celebrated a few days ago and is one of the biggest celebration they have in their country every year. Jesus some people need to read up on their history. Google Bastille Day and see how much the French don’t like their revolution. They like revolution so much they made the American one possible. Again, jesus christ. I mean fuckin hell.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Gotta catch ‘em all.

    • kataras says:

      You can wait for the SKIDROW special edition which will surely include all of them. I m so fed up with the stupid marketing scams, I don’t even wanna play their games anymore.

      • hilllbilllyjoe says:

        Yeah, I’ve spent $300 on Ubisoft games for pc, and they fucked me over for 3 days while their login servers were down and I couldn’t play my games. They can die in a hole, im pirating the shit out of this.

        • Premium User Badge

          Smashbox says:

          I have marketing fatigue. The result is me ignoring whateverthefuck they want me to know about “editions”. I just want THE GAME.

          The THE GAME Edition™, without even one message about things I’m missing for not buying the game 3 months ahead of time at that retailer at the mall where that surly fucking asshole manager works.

    • Erim says:

      Nothing is true, everything is DLC.

    • Kismet says:

      At first, I considered buying the game at release. The Join or Die Edition wasn’t much more expensive than the normal one, so I was kinda tempted.

      Then I discovered there was a Freedom Edition. It started to get a bit too expensive for my interest in the series, but I didn’t dismiss the idea right away.

      Finally I found out what you’ve said – not even the 99.99€ edition contains every additional in game content – and decided to just wait for the GOTY / Complete / Independence / Whatever edition, or the game to be cheap enough not to care about missing content.

    • obie191970 says:

      Because like previous AC’s, those mission will be sold to the masses as DLC. Games are no longer $60, they’re $80-$100 if you want everything.

      • Ragnar says:

        And, like previous AC’s (and most DLC in general), the extra missions will be sub-par, and you won’t be missing out on much by not owning them.

    • rgm says:

      They will gladly sell you the extras you didn’t get as DLC about a month after release, you can count on that.

    • Ragnar says:

      I think they took a queue from Microsoft’s Windows 7 launch, because that wasn’t confusing at all.

      Just avoid the Assassin’s Creed 3 Aids version.

  2. Wodge says:

    I’m rather fed up of the entire “Pre-Order DLC” nonsense, I get that publishers want to maximise day 1 sales, but it’s rather annoying to say the least not getting all the content simply because you bought it from another shop/digital distributor.

    • HothMonster says:

      It really pushes me away from purchasing the game anywhere around release. I can pay full price and get 90% of the content or I can wait 6 months until they have a digital gold edition and get all the dlc and what not for a third of the price. I just bought revelations for 16$ with all the assorted once-exclusive dlcs.

      Now I like this series and would probably buy this early but it’s hard to knowingly pay more for less.

  3. D3xter says:

    RAAAAAAAAGGEEEEE

    You know which version will have all of this? :/

  4. doma says:

    Pirates get everything! yeeeee!

    • MadTinkerer says:

      What!? AC4 will be Pirate-themed!?!

      Oh boy, can’t wait to have spring-loaded cutlasses and black powder pistols as the new weapons! :D

      Just hope the Templars don’t send a Ninja team to counter the Assassin Pirates. Because that would be silly.

    • Llamageddon says:

      It does sound a bit like they are trying to get people to actually pirate the game, probably the only way to guarantee all the extras on release. Though as John said, it will probably be released as DLC a month later. I’ll just wait for a sale I reckon.

  5. Belsameth says:

    This is rather Ubisoft, no? This and silly DRM…

    • Ringwraith says:

      They’ve been pulling away from the nonsense DRM recently, so it’s probably safe from always-online or constant requirements to be online at any startup, especially as they haven’t done that to the series since number two.

    • Premium User Badge

      Morlock says:

      The music industry does the same thing. There were six versions of 2007’s “Zeitgeist” by the Smashing Pumpkins (mediocre album). The amazing thing was that while Best Buy and others could sell the album with bonus tracks, the official “deluxe version” with nice artwork etc. had no bonus tracks at all. And yes, pirates get everything.

      • noom says:

        Oh God, Zeitgeist… I got so emotional when the Pumpkins reformed. I literally cried listening to a bootleg of one of their first shows post-reformation.

        Nowadays I just use good old denial to pretend none of this is happening. Zeitgeist? What’s that? Oceania? Never heard of it…

        • Premium User Badge

          Morlock says:

          The biggest problems with Zeitgeist are the mix and some of the vocal performances. Most of the songs are actually decent, and some quite good. Oceania is just sad, and Billy Corgan’s behaviour has become even more of an embarassment.

          • Beelzebud says:

            I realized how far gone Corgan was when I saw a clip of him on youtube, on the Alex Jones show… Talking about the new world order, etc. Total conspiracy theory nonsense.

      • Premium User Badge

        Smashbox says:

        Boy, that’s pretty Rock ‘n Roll, alright.

  6. Trithne says:

    “It only serves to confuse people who actually want to buy the game, leaving them wondering what they’re missing out on, rather than what bonuses they’re receiving. And surely that’s the opposite of the intended goal?”

    “… inevitability that all of them will appear as pay-for DLC within weeks of release…”

    Answering your own question.

    • Hyetal says:

      “And surely that’s the opposite of the intended goal?””

      The intended goal is money.

  7. ElvisMZ says:

    This practise is very annoying indeed. You always have the feeling that you’re missing out on content. In this case, you will always miss out on content which is quite stupid.

  8. CameO73 says:

    If publishers keep this trend up, they’ll eventually end up with the “Please will you play our game?”-edition. I think I’m going for the inevitable AC3 GOTY edition. I really love AC, but I can wait a while longer (as I had to do in the past, being a PC gamer).

    • SanguineAngel says:

      If they keep this up all that will actually happen is that they will realise that the vast majority of consumers will stomach pretty much anything. They will then probably just give up pretending and sell their games piecemeal at extortionate prices

  9. Premium User Badge

    AmateurScience says:

    The game is set somewhere in the 13 colonies yes? Those Mayan ruins are *very* lost then. Someone give them a pat on the head and point them in the right direction please!

    • bhagan says:

      That’s what I was thinking, then again, it’s 2012, we can’t pass that one up! ugh

      • Premium User Badge

        Smashbox says:

        The fact that they set the series in 2012 initially makes me think they were planning on wrapping it up this year in the original plan. Of course, now that it’s annualized, we can forget about “coherence” in the writing.

  10. Creeping Death says:

    My head is spinning after all this…

    Still, no matter. With Revelations they showed they aren’t against releasing a complete edition a few months down the line for half the price. I’ll wait for that.

  11. Bimble says:

    Assasin’s Creed? Assassin’s Greed more like.
    *Holds hand in air for incoming fives*

    • RogB says:

      /Bare chested top gun highfive into reverse lowfive

      • westyfield says:

        /bare-chested chestbump

      • belgand says:

        I’ve heard this move referred to as a “windmill high-five” which, until shown otherwise, seems like the best name for it. We need this sort of terminology to be standardized. Personally I refer to the standard “high five” as an “elevated hand-slap”.

  12. downgrade says:

    I usually buy the standard edition of any game and never felt like I missed something. If I buy a double-deluxe (I did for AC2) the bonus levels usually feel tacked on and make me think I’ve been ripped off.

    So, standard for the cheaps it is. Plastic figurines and map-posters are also stuff I don’t want.

    • udat says:

      Indeed. I bought one of the fancy shmancy folding boxes with extra gubbins in it for Revelations and all it did ws put me off ever purchasing any such tosh ever again.

      What I want is the “Complete Edition” of the game, and if I can’t get that I will buy the basic version and try to ignore DLC deluge.

      All this rubbish from publishers is making it more likely that I will buy no edition of the game.

    • Edawan says:

      Yeah, while this is reaching new heights of ridiculousness, it’s really nothing new.

  13. Premium User Badge

    The Sombrero Kid says:

    fuck ubisoft & their shit heavily milked ‘frenchises’.

    • Premium User Badge

      c-Row says:

      I see what you did there.

      • Premium User Badge

        The Sombrero Kid says:

        I’m not too proud to admit it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done. I’d just like to say though, cause it might come across xenophobic, that i love France & french people and i don’t hold them responsible for ubisoft, but i also couldn’t resist such a great pun.

        • Premium User Badge

          Morlock says:

          You forgot to add that some of your best friends are French.

  14. djbriandamage says:

    Holding out for the Box Full of Turkey Gravy Edition with day-one Downloadable Condiments.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Anthile says:

    If it’s anything like the Vlad Tepes thing for AssCreed Revelations then you’re not missing out much. It was literally 5 minutes of gameplay and as a reward you merely got a silly looking sword with sub-par stats.

    • Vegard Pompey says:

      The DLC missions for Assassin’s Greed 2 were also shit. I suspect they aren’t putting too much effort into the things that aren’t gonna be immediately available in vanilla versions of the game.

  16. JohnH says:

    Duely noted as another reason why anything from Ubisoft is on my permanent do-not-buy list.

  17. marbled says:

    “Join or Die edition”.

    Wow, their DRM’s really not messing around.

    • Screamer says:

      Yeah, either that or that version’s story will be rather linear and/or end abruptly.

  18. MistyMike says:

    Would it make sense then to wait for the Goatee, which will perhaps include all the abovementioned stuff?

  19. goatmonkey says:

    And that’s why I am just starting the complete edition of Revelations a year later that I bought for a fraction of the price.

    Which is exactly what I will be doing with Far Cry 3 and Ass 3 should they turn out to be worth it.

  20. riadsala says:

    Luckily, day 1 dlc, exlcusion missions etc, are usually not very good. So as long as you can ignore that “I must have it all” craving, then you’re fine with just the bog standard version in black.

    • Premium User Badge

      Morlock says:

      Don’t they also screw up the balancing? Does Ubisoft consider the effect on the actual game mechanisms when they offer all this stuff?

      • Agnol117 says:

        If Revelations is any indication, they don’t need to worry about messing with the balance. About an hour and a half in, you were in a position where you could do all the missions required to get the best weapon and small blade in the game, as well as one of the best armors — no DLC needed.

  21. Mosh says:

    I don’t like the way these things are often packaged with these items as a download code. I buy a lot of my games second hand and, of course, if that download code has been used by the initial purchaser then it won’t work any more.

    Given the recent push/change in legislation that states that downloaded games should be capable of being sold second hand, shouldn’t I therefore expect to get this additional DLC when I pick up ACIII in 12 months time?

    • Post-Internet Syndrome says:

      lol

      That is the exact reason there is a code.

  22. DiamondDog says:

    And the moral of the story? Wait a year or so and get all the extra in-game crap all bundled together with the game, for half the price, in a Steam sale. Huzzah!

  23. mr.ioes says:

    Assassin’s Creed 37 will be cut in pieces and sold individually. Want Knife Combat? 7,75$ please. Want dialogue? 13,75$ (down from 20,00$!). Exploring the world? Buy the Jump ‘n Stuff-DLC for only 25,00$!

    • Vorphalack says:

      Reminds me of the indie game DLC Quest. Sadly the parody is edging closer to the reality : |

  24. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    I’m just gonna go and shit on the Queen and salute the NASDAQ, it’s much less effort.

  25. mariusmora says:

    And then you have The Witcher 2 with all the goodies of the world for free and one damn edition. That’s the most stupid thing i’ve seen in a while. It’s like saying “hey, we have all the content ready for our game, but we are not going to sell it to you all together, you are going to have to pay extras for everything!” and then laugh at a confused costumer holding 6 different boxes in his hands.

    Can you sell me one COMPLETE game, please!!!

    • Premium User Badge

      Llewyn says:

      They did the same thing with Revelations. I was that customer, staring in confusion at the (metaphorical) boxes, until I eventually thought, “Sod it, I’ll skip this one.” By the time the Revelations GOTY came out I’d lost interest completely.

      AC3 is sounding pretty good, but I suspect I’ll end up waiting for the GOTY at least.

    • Kdansky says:

      You know the difference? I bought The Witcher 2. I didn’t buy AssGreed.

  26. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    With Revelations being sub-par and shaking my faith in a series I’d previously thoroughly enjoyed, the past weekend’s traumatic DRM experiences, this new game’s odd sense of jingoism and now this utterly warped and cynical marketing exercise, I think I’ll be giving this one a miss.

    • Yar says:

      I think Revelations was farmed out to some of the lesser Ubi offices, right? Not that this makes it ok, but I get the sense that Revelations was just squeezing some more money out of Ezio whlie they work on an actual AssCreed title.

  27. longbeast says:

    I skipped Deux Ex:HR because of nonsense like this. At first I was all excited about the game, just like everybody else. I loved the original, and this seemed to be Deus Ex done properly, unlike the first sequel. Then, when all the balkanised bonus content turned up, I figured I might as well wait. It was a singleplayer game, so I would get the same experience buying some all-in-one pack later on, right?

    No. I never did, because I stopped caring about it. When I saw it on Steam for less than the price of a sandwich, I got a sandwich instead, and played some other games that I was more excited about.

    The whole community excitement thing is a huge part of marketing! Marketing people really should know that. If all my friends no longer care about the game, I’m less likely to buy it, so don’t make me want to delay the purchase you pillocks!

  28. Drake Sigar says:

    I’m confused.

  29. Milky1985 says:

    I thought there was only Assassins Creed 3 : Kill the British edition, didn’t realise they were doing other things as well!

  30. jealouspirate says:

    The whole series isn’t worth the money or the time it takes to play them.

    • Iskariot says:

      I disagree.
      Although I am critical about the series and was quite disappointed by Revelations, I still think these are great open world games. I had great fun with them.

  31. Shooop says:

    I think I’ll make the “freedom edition”‘s name appropriate and exercise my freedom to not buy any of this hilariously insipid marketing but buy games that bring something interesting to the table in terms of gameplay instead.

    Cue “The Star Spangled Banner.”

  32. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    Grrr.

  33. Masked Dave says:

    I tend to just ignore all this stuff and buy whatever is cheapest/nearest. At the end of the day these things are all extras, not part of the core game.

  34. Premium User Badge

    Skystrider says:

    So… err…

    Do I get fries with that? o.o

  35. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    Warface: Vietnam Visage Edition
    Warface: Conflict Contenance Edition
    Warface: Rowing Reputations Edition
    Warface: Military Mugs Edition

  36. Alexrd says:

    This is why I don’t mind the PC version of a game to be released half a year later. We would get all the DLC in one version.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Hah, you would think that, wouldn’t you? Well, I wouldn’t bet on it, were the game delayed.

  37. Yar says:

    The best is when you buy a store’s exclusive edition, and when you get home you realize that your exclusive content is in the form of a DLC credit code that was supposed to be on your receipt, but isn’t.

  38. Iskariot says:

    I am a huge fan of the series, but enough is enough.
    All this confusing pre-order bullshit only stimulates me to wait for a complete edition for 9 bucks.
    So that is what I will do.

  39. Fuzzball says:

    I’m just going to hope someone gives it a GOTY so that I can get everything, plus cheaper.

  40. Paul says:

    Stupid fuckers.
    Anyway, I am getting the standard normal version for 13 euros on steam, just like I got Revelations yesterday.

    • Shooop says:

      I’m very sorry to hear that. Loosing money in this economy really hurts.

  41. FakeKisser says:

    The first time I encountered this was with Dragon Age: Origins, and it made me the most mad that most of the bonus stuff was never released as DLC. So, it really was exclusive, and the only way to get all of it was to buy multiple copies. However, those were all just in-game trinkets (armor, weapons) not missions.

  42. Premium User Badge

    Carra says:

    And that’s why I love my the Witcher 2 copy.
    I got:
    -One free game at my choice
    -$16 return coupé because I live in Europe

    -A comic
    -The soundtrack
    -A free, enhanced edition
    -Making of documentaries
    -A lot more bonus features

    And that all for the *regular* price of €50.

  43. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Heh. I thought you had segued into parody midway through the article, and were just making up new editions. I expected extras like a life-sized statue of the protagonist, or a “Real Assassin Edition” were a real assassin turns up in your house and tries to murder you.

    But it was all real. :(

  44. vinzBad says:

    sorry but…

    ASSFACE?

  45. Chainsaws says:

    All this serves to do in my case is make me not buy the game, play something else then pick the game up for ~£3 with all DLC included when the Gold/Complete/GOTY edition is in a Steam sale. I’ve even held off on Batman Arkham City for under a tenner because everything else I’ve bought so far will last me to Halloween or Christmas when the whole lot will be under a fiver along with ten other games I’ve been wanting to play.

    If I knew I wasn’t going to get screwed over by buying the game earlier I’d be happy to pay more but in most cases it means buying the vanilla game then buying the full thing again later or paying even more for the extra DLC. It’s complete insanity!

    I can’t imagine that’s exactly helping to pay some poor developer’s mortgage much. :(

  46. Zarunil says:

    Now I have no choice but to buy all of them!

  47. Severn2j says:

    Think I’ll just wait 6 months or so and get the ‘Steam winter sale complete edition’ for around £10-15..

  48. Waltorious says:

    “I flat-out refuse to believe it’s helping sales.”

    Surely you should decide this based on actual statistics, rather than simply assuming that it doesn’t help sales? Sure, it won’t help sell the game to you, specifically (or me, for that matter), but publishers sell their games to a lot of other people too. I would think that publishers would only go through the effort and expense of creating so many different editions of the game if it resulted in some form of monetary gain — if not through direct sales then a longer-term gain from building good relationships with vendors.

    Of course, I’m not basing that on any data either, because the publishers won’t show anyone their data. I bet publishers have some data that shows (or at least implies) a monetary benefit to DRM, for example, but they sure aren’t letting anyone know. How about releasing some of that, publishers? It would benefit everyone, including you.

  49. Xardas Kane says:

    I’m going to buy vanilla, pirate the game with all the missing levels and play the pirated version. Like every year since Assassin’s Creed 2 and its always-on-DRM. And if I ever get regrets for pirating it, I’ll just re-read this article. I mean, I am sorry, but I bought the damn game! I expect it to 1. Play it without any technical difficulties 2. Play the WHOLE DAMN GAME. Ubi haven’t delivered either pretty much since the series’ start. So I have a nice little shelf with unopened AC games. The irony.