By John Walker on August 31st, 2013 at 12:00 pm.
Nearly two weeks ago we received a press release from Ubisoft boasting about a new deal with NVIDIA, mysteriously described as a “gaming alliance”. This deal, they said, was designed to “offer PC gamers the best gaming experience possible for Ubisoft’s biggest upcoming titles.” The piece goes on to explain how the PC is the world’s most popular format, that gamers “demand a truly elite experience”, and how much they value their PC gamers. Or, 51% of them, at least. We got in touch with Ubi straight away to find out how this deal would affect the third of gamers who use AMD/ATI cards, and indeed the 14% who use Intel’s on-board graphics. (Source.) Reply came there none.
Deals like this tend to be more about two big companies doing each other a favour, promoting each other’s products, than actually directly benefiting gamers. That’s fairly obvious for anyone who’s bought a game in such a deal. If the gibberish in the press release about “we’re committed to offering PC players the best possible experience with our games” were true, then they’d not deliberately make a deal that only benefits precisely half of their audience. But the side-effects have led to real issues for those not lucky enough to have picked the “right” card. Games launch with serious problems for the less optimised version, or don’t contain promised features such as the recent nonsense with Lara Croft’s hair. In the end, the result of such deals is making half of your audience feel alienated or unsupported, which doesn’t really resonate with the bottom-kissing released statements.
So it’s only more concerning that when we ask a simple and obvious question – how will this deal affect the other half of their customers? – we are simply ignored. That seems a pretty odd thing to do – make grand statements about how important PC gamers are to you, and then go out of your way to ignore half of them and not offer them reassurances that their games will still be worth buying. Promises of attempts to get statements reach us, but then nothing. We chase, and nothing.
Which provides quite the feeling of déjà vu after June’s attempts to get a statement on a developer’s slip-up in revealing plans to delay the PC release of Assassin’s Creed IV, after last year’s promises to move away from such practices. Especially the practice of waiting until a week or two before release to then announce the PC delay as if it were a surprise to them as well as us – something they surely can’t be planning to do this time out as well?
There’s nothing especially unusual about getting ignored this way. It’s common practice amongst games publishers, and has been for years. If they don’t like a question, or feel they can’t spin the answer in their favour, they just ignore it. And by doing so gaming news outlets then don’t have a story to report, and the story disappears. So it’s now RPS’s practice to report the silences, in the hope that other gaming sites will do the same, and we can end this stupid culture.
We look forward to Ubisoft’s responses to both the question over how their boasted NVIDIA deal will affect the other half of gamers, and indeed an official comment on whether Assassin’s Creed IV will indeed be delayed on PC.