Ubi Trying Really Hard To Not Delay Assassin’s Creed On PC

By Nathan Grayson on June 23rd, 2014 at 10:00 am.

Assassin’s Creed’s history with PC tardiness is about as well-documented as the Templars’ involvement in history isn’t. Almost annually, the story is the same: Ubisoft is non-committal about a PC date, release gets close or close-ish, and then the publisher suddenly announces a delay of a few weeks. It’s nearly as much of a tradition as annual Assassin’s Creed releases themselves. But will it happen again this time, or has Ubisoft finally kicked its inexplicable (or at least thus far not well-explained) delay habit to the curb? Well, if nothing else everything’s going according to plan so far. Ubisoft told me that it’s trying really hard for a simultaneous release of Assassin’s Creed Unity.

“We’re always aiming to ship all our games on all platforms at the same time,” producer Lesley Phord-Toy told RPS. “I don’t have any specific news on the PC version of Assassin’s Creed Unity, but I do know we’re planning on shipping on all three [platforms]: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. I haven’t heard any news differently than that.”

I asked why PC delays are so prevalent for the series, and Phord-Toy gave her perspective from being producer on Assassin’s Creed IV’s PC version, specifically.

“It can be challenging,” she said. “PC has a variety of different hardware configurations that you can’t necessarily predict. On a console you know what’s in the box. Every customer has the same configuration for the most part, and first-parties push firmware updates so everyone has what you’re expecting to have. PCs are nowhere near as consistent. So it can be extremely challenging to try and support as many of those permutations as possible.”

Granted, those issues don’t often drive other publishers to last-second delays (anymore), so it’s kind of a puzzling response. That said, Phord-Toy also spoke of Ubisoft’s new commitment to bolstering its PC support teams so that any early issues can be squashed quickly. Can’t knock Ubisoft for that. She then concluded hopefully:

“Like I said, Ubi has been very successful at achieving same-ship in the recent past, so we’re very confident that we’ll be able to do the same for Assassin’s Creed Unity.”

Granted, that doesn’t mean a whole lot until something actually happens to wash the bitter taste of Ubidelays and Uplay outages out of our mouths, but it’s not like being upset at Ubisoft is fun. I very much hope they get the issues in order so we can properly enjoy their games. They make some cool stuff from time-to-time. I just wish they’d make it, you know, better. And maybe also get their priorities in order, but that’s another (series of) stories.

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52 Comments »

  1. kevinspell says:

    What, they need some more time to downgrade the graphics so the peasants don’t feel like they are missing out too much?

    • Bull0 says:

      You know that isn’t what happened, right?

      • toxic avenger says:

        What is it, 1996 again? PCs are harder to program for because of configuration issues? Of course, but someone correct me if I’m wrong: over the years both hardware manufacturers and software developers have taken great strides to come to an agreement on many standards since the beginning of the 90s.

        • Bull0 says:

          It’s specifically the motivation I’m questioning. They didn’t do it to make console gamers feel better; that’s stupid.

          This response applies to Koinzellgaming and Drake Sigar, too. How easy it is to ascribe some kind of insane apologist/fantasist viewpoint to me so that you can have your cool moan about how shit Ubisoft are. I mean, it’s prosaic, and you’re arguing with a straw man, but hey! You can tell the difference between the E3 trailer and the final product! You’re AMAZING!

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            Yes, it’s stupid, but they’re still doing it.

            The new consoles are really all about hype, even more than the previous gen. They saved a lot of money this time, compromised a lot to start profiting from day one, which means that this generation will age even faster than the previous.

            It’s all damage control, really, they don’t want to show the truth because it’s horrible.

            They can’t keep boasting about RAM for years, sooner or later the 1.8 ghz CPU and the laughable GPU won’t be able to pretend they’re actually any good any longer.

      • Koinzellgaming says:

        What do you mean “It isn’t like that”? You mean that “it’s not like ubisoft is going to downgrade AC” on PC or that “Watchdogs wasn’t downgraded”? From which the second point is actually a fact.
        After finding out where the E3 graphics are, they issued statements saying “It wasn’t optimized, doesn’t actually look that good, only looks good from a subjective standpoint” and from those statements none of them are actually true. People have reported BETTER performance after implementing the graphics, and considering that they try to make the graphics as real as possible, then the new graphics are OBJECTIVELY better, because they’ve more and better effects, and they make the game more real. The light effects, the rain effects, the way characters look, and the god damn WATER, is much more real. It’s objectively better.
        Ubisoft has been lying like a mofo for no good reason. I’m pretty sure they downscaled the version to look more similar to the consoles, because there’s no OTHER reason for it to be downscaled .

      • Drake Sigar says:

        The performance issues excuse? Perfectly plausible, but then so is claiming it’s a lie. After all, they’ve lied before.

        “Watch Dogs is being developed using the PC as the lead platform.” – Ubisoft CEO.

        And who can forget this little nugget: “90% of PC gamers are pirates.” – Ubisoft CEO.

        When you believe the piracy rate on PC is so high that it stopped everyone in the world from buying your game twice, then obviously you’d make the PC version rubbish, or at least delay it.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          What a surprise.

        • Bull0 says:

          Yeah, in that article it clearly says “We downgraded Watch_Dogs’ visuals on PC to achieve parity with the consoles, to appease console gamers”. So I’m a fucking idiot.

          No, wait. The other thing. You assumed I was adopting some kind of absurd position which didn’t believe any wrongdoing happened re: Watch_Dogs, so that you could call me an idiot. It’s the bit about doing it to make console gamers feel better I don’t agree with. I don’t feel like an idiot.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            They’re doing it for The Division, why not Watch_Dogs?

            The reasoning is clear and it applies to anything they’ll release from Watch_Dogs and onwards. Well, unless they change their mind off course. ( lol )

          • Bull0 says:

            Holy shit, for the last time, where did I say they didn’t downgrade the graphics on Watch_Dogs? I’m saying the reasons for doing that aren’t the insane tinfoil-hat ones you think they are, eg “making console gamers feel better”. I know it’s cool to pretend to be all persecuted but seriously, come on

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            We’re not persecuted.

            I feel sorry for the console players being lied to, but don’t worry, they’ll soon realize this new gen has even less longevity than the previous.

    • WiggumEsquilax says:

      Ubi, just strop trying to make it, or anything else for that matter, uPlay compatible. Problem solved.

  2. lazlazlaz1 says:

    Please please delay it and make sure it’s well tested, I’d much rather wait 4 months for a game that works brilliantly than get it on the same day and not be able to play it.

    • toxic avenger says:

      Awww, that’s so cute! A time traveler from 1996!

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      I agree. People that get an inferiority complex because “wah wah wah they got it first” are idiots. Yeah it would be ideal if they released on PC at the same time AND the game was ported well. This is unrealistic, they are going to focus on the console versions first, we know this. I would rather they release the console version THEN make sure the PC port was good rather than hashing out a crap broken port that runs like arse.

      The people who are rushing to preorder and buy these games day one regardless of port quality are like impatient 5 year olds, they must play it now and cannot wait. They are also the reason why companies are happy to rush out crappy, unoptimised PC versions because they now know they do not need to put in extra work, there will be enough idiots throwing money at the game before it’s even out or on day one for it to be worth their while. When the rest of us avoid the game because the port is dross and we’d rather play better optimised games they simply blame piracy for lower sales and the cycle continues.

      Anybody with any brains waits for 2/3 months to buy games anyway and picks up the game for cheaper and with any major problems ironed out, if you do this then you don’t care exactly when the release date was or whether it was the same as the console version anyway.

  3. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    Does anyone care anymore AC4 looked ok but gameplay was terrible. Ubisoft only release on PC as a safety net its not like they target the platform with PC exclusive games nowadays.

    • noodlecake says:

      Oh yeah. Of all the 3rd person parkour games with amazingly fluid animation, the Assassin’s Creed games have the WORST gameplay…

      • The First Door says:

        To be honest, I think calling AC a parkour game is a bit of a stretch. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time or Mirror’s Edge were parkour games, but AC really never has been. You only really have to press forwards and hold the ‘do platforming’ button.

        Not to say they are bad (although admittedly they aren’t my cup of tea), but they aren’t focused on the parkour elements, it’s more of a mixed bag of many different gameplay mechanics.

        • Lord of the Fungi says:

          That only means AC is not particularly challenging parkour game, but at least in the first instalment the parkour element was quite pronounced. Later on they diluted the idea, and made rooftops less interesting and streets bigger, so it became faster and easier to just run around and kill everybody. Shame.

          • WiggumEsquilax says:

            Parkour light? Like a monkey bars and a slide, but with stabbing?

      • PopeRatzo says:

        Regardless of whether or not it’s a parkour game, I thought Black Flag was one of the very best games of the past few years. it had the smoothest gameplay of all the AC titles and a wonderful pace and story. I didn’t need any of the modern-day stuff, tho.

        I hope Unity doesn’t make too much of the “coop” stuff. I hate co-op games.

  4. Raztaman says:

    For crying out loud Ubi, take as much time as you need. Honestly, no one playing on PC gives a monkey’s about AssCreed delays.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      This! Let me know when you make another Pirate game (except this time please leave out the future bullcrap, what a chore that was). Till then, I’ve had enough Asscred.

    • captain nemo says:

      Yawn. Ubisoft ? Oh yeah. Those people who I don’t buy games from

    • Frank says:

      Precisely. I want nothing more or less from Ubi than good news about Beyond Good & Evil. They could go a decade without bringing their other franchises to the PC and I wouldn’t even notice.

  5. TheVGamer says:

    “It can be challenging,” she said. “PC has a variety of different hardware configurations that you can’t necessarily predict. On a console you know what’s in the box. Every customer has the same configuration for the most part, and first-parties push firmware updates so everyone has what you’re expecting to have. PCs are nowhere near as consistent. So it can be extremely challenging to try and support as many of those permutations as possible.”

    Yeah, that excuse might work for indie devs (and even they don’t do it), but not when you have a thousand people working on a said game. Just cut the PR talk, it’s because your investors are really scared of piracy, the big ol’ boogyman of PC gaming.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Aye, they stopped saying it out loud, but only because of all the outrage they created.

      They still act like they believe it though, which is what matters.

    • SIDD says:

      This!
      It has been the rule of the game from day f’ing one of developing games for PCs … it can hardly come as a surprise for a seasoned developer like Ubi – or do they STILL realise 75% through their SDLC that “HOLD ON! PCs have DIFFERENT HARDWARE CONFIGURATIONS? Shit now we need to delay the release”?!

      Listening to people like Lesley Phord-Toy you’d definitely get that impression!

    • derbefrier says:

      You know its really funny how some of you guys just ignore reality for a chance to get all preachy. I mean how many AAA games have been released to a chorus of people yelling at them on the internet for bad optimization, yet you can really sit here with a straight face and tell us its all bullshit. Well when it releases and you are only getting 20 fps on your awesome system just remeber what you said here and promptly stick your foot in your mouth.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Point is it’s hard to believe all of this is done for optimization reasons, it can be done during development. Sure, a last hour issue like mis-organization with Nvidia or AMD might make them pull a delay, that would be understandable, but not if it’s an always recurrent trope and something only them do.

        Which makes us think the real point of the delay is to coerce not-so-patient players in a console purchase, to prevent piracy from polluting their first two hot weeks of sales ( as if piracy is only on PC ).

        The point is that they got publicy ridiculed each time they mentioned their insane PC piracy figures, so now they learned to shut up about it. The issue is that they still act in the very same way, they’re just silent ( now ) about it.

      • SIDD says:

        @derbefrier:
        How is this being preachy?

        If you COMMIT to a delivery date and deliver an inferior, unfinished product then you haven’t delivered! PERIOD!
        By stating that “we’re aiming for the same release date across all platforms”, Ubisoft is telling us we will get a fully optimized FINISHED product by that date for ALL PLATFORMS INCLUDING PC, despite the well-known fact that more hardware configurations very likely will make it more complicated and cause delays.

        Instead of being frank with their customer base, they then have some clueless plonker write a bullshit PR statement rather than them just coming out and telling us how it is:
        “We make more money from consoles than we do from PC and since it’s less resource-intensive to optimize a game for console, we will simply go for the lowest hanging fruit first. Once we’ve secured a shit-ton of money from consoles, then we’ll release the PC version”

        At least this way they come off as looking like it was a planned move, rather than looking like either outright liars or rank amateurs who still can’t figure out the most basic resource planning in the specification phase.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          Exactly this. I have no problems waiting a month or two for a PC version if it’s done well. If the game is released concurrently I’ll end up waiting anyway because the port is most likely a pile of arse and needs a bunch of patching. This is the reality. Firstly I don’t understand why PC gamers get all bent out of shape when they have to wait a short while for a PC version, in the end if they do it properly you end up with the better running, better looking version.

          It’s absolutely not nonsense that they have to do more testing on the PC. Also please understand that it’s a more time sensitive process releasing a console version of a game, you have to be cleared by Sony or Microsoft to release the game then are allotted a time slot where your game is produced, i.e. where the discs and packaging are made and then distributed, a separate company makes the physical copies of console games, if you miss your time slot then you have to a) wait until they have a new slot for you and b) you lost money on the reserved timeslot. This is why once they have the date for their production run they HAVE to get the game approved in time for that. They can’t “just wait” until the PC version is done. They can be much more flexible with the PC version due to no approval process, they just literally open the game for download, remove the “pre-purchase” tag from the Steam entry and it’s officially released.

          As you said though, I don’t understand the need for all this corporate bullshit that goes on constantly. If they said “we will release the console version then have a month period where we test and optimise the PC version” most people wouldn’t have a problem with it except the crying 12 year olds with no patience.

    • PopeRatzo says:

      Absolutely true. The notion that it’s just so gosh darn hard to figure out all that PC configuration stuff is such a crock for an outfit like Ubisoft. It’s just code for the the fear that makes AAA game dev outfits wake up sweaty in the middle of the night: that somewhere, somehow, there is a nickel that’s not going into their pocket.

      Why do you think AC: Unity is a co-op game? Because 18th century assassins always worked in teams of four? Nah.

  6. BooleanBob says:

    Funny, Portentous Manbacks was the name of my band in college

  7. Seafort says:

    Do what you want Ubisoft you normally do when it comes to PC releases.

    I actually look forward to the backlash you get when you do announce the PC delay 2 days from release as it happens every fking year :)

  8. Blackcompany says:

    Is there anyone left who is really eager for 20 more Eavesdropping and 15 more tailing missions through a series of repetitive city maps? Honestly, I think every AC game after ACIV will probably be known collectively as “the AC Game without pirates” and not even pirates and sailing were good enough to completely save ACIV.

    Here’s an idea, Ubi. How about you try something new with just one of those dozen studios you have spread around the world instead.

    • basilisk says:

      No more tailing missions, according to the dev blog (see section 5).

      Of course the proof of the pudding is in the eating, but let’s not knock them before we’ve had at least a taste.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        After this link my mind is set: i’ll trust this new one. It’ll be the last one if it’s crap, but if they pull half of that stuff i’m game.

        AC is a guilty pleasure of mine, a next gen one would be welcome, that’s for sure, even if my incredibly high tolerance might falter sooner or later.

    • toxic avenger says:

      Ubi would gain back miles of lost ground with me if the tutorial wasn’t 23 hours long,which rehashes, in an almost condescending way, the simplest things slower than paint dries.

  9. fdisk says:

    It’s going to be a long time before I believe anything Ubisoft says.

  10. P-Dizzle says:

    I don’t suppose Lesley Phord-Toy (as the producer of Assassins Creed Unity) was showing furious anger about having to put 4 (FOUR?!?!?!?) male characters into a game about assassins, was she?
    No, thought not :)

  11. Dawngreeter says:

    In other news, UbiSoft is producing a TV sitcom that will be delayed in Europe because, as theor spokesperson explained: “[in Europe] people have, like, a crapload of different TVs. Here in the Center of the World, there are only two different TV sets, so we only had to record each episode twice. For the place where people used to live before the Great Deluge came and Gandalf led us all to this promised land of strict electronic appliance regulation, we’ll probably have to record every episode at least a hundred and fifty more times.”

  12. soulblur says:

    I think the most exciting thing about this article (no offense to Nathan, who’s doing what he can with what he’s given – but essentially this can be summarised as “Ubisoft usually delays PC releases, claims they won’t this time; just like they did last time) is the producer’s name: Phord-Toy.

    Phord-Toy! Now that’s a name.

  13. Metalhead9806 says:

    I assumed the next AC game would be 4-6 weeks late on PC. I mean i would rather that than another Watch_dogs…

    • Seafort says:

      You say that but they did delay Watch Dogs for 4-6 months. It didn’t really help much :P

      • Metalhead9806 says:

        Well Ubi needed that time to get the PS4 version running perfect while taking out all the bells and whistles of the PC version so all the games looked the same so Sony wouldnt take back their fat check..

  14. HisDivineOrder says:

    Watch Dogs came out simultaneously across all their platforms.

    Look how well that went. Not that AC games have been bugfree when they were delayed on PC, but damn… maybe a month’s delay could have helped them reduce some of the stutter?

    More likely, it would have meant they’d have taken longer to fix it.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Thing is, this is not an excuse and it should not be an expected problem.

      Aside from the fact that they delayed it half a year, development time actually serves to make stuff work. I’m aware WD came out broken for no surprise at all, but this is just because we’re used to something that we shouldn’t be in the first place.