An odd phenomenon of the last month or so is the disappearance of Ubisoft's end-of-year gaming bonanza from the UK version of Steam. While Assassin's Creed: Unity, Far Cry 4, and The Crew are all available on the US and other international versions of Valve's blue-grey shop, in Her Majesty's The United Kingdom, they are conspicuously absent. The games can be bought, at surprisingly huge prices, through the convoluted bizarreness of Uplay, and through other portals like GamersGate or Greenman Gaming, but the most popular and widely used digital distro has an empty shelf. So what's up?
That's a question we asked of Ubisoft, and received an unattributed official statement on the matter:
“We’ve been in discussions with Valve about ACU, FC4 and The Crew, but for the time being the games are not available via Steam in the UK. In the meantime, UK customers wishing to purchase either of these games digitally can do so by visiting the Uplay store, our retail partners or other digital distributors. ACU, FC4 and The Crew are available on Steam in other regions outside the UK.”
While the line, "We've been in discussions with Valve," raises eyebrows, unfortunately the statement doesn't at all address the question of why. Rather, it repeats what we knew. I pressed to see if we could get some information on the why, and was told,
"Unfortunately we have nothing more to add for the moment."
Bah. Of course, if Ubi are in the midst of negotiating with Valve about something, they're not going to talk about it. But at the same time, it's not particularly useful for customers to just get noped.
It's worth noting that the pricing of Ubisoft's recent games is also rather striking. While PC games have been £30-£40 for the better part of twenty years, it's certainly the case that digital distribution massively reduces overheads, and we've seen no drop in prices to reflect that. Far Cry 4 and The Crew start at a whopping £50 on GMG and GamersGate, and indeed the same on Ubi's own Uplay store, making them amongst the most expensive PC games out there. It brings them in line with the massively over-inflated prices for physical copies of console games, which is absolutely crazy. Even guaranteed sellers like Call Of Duty still limit themselves to £40 on PC.
It's definitely worth noting that the US prices on Steam are the standard $60, which works out at £38. Perhaps this massive discrepancy in pricing could have something to do with the issues of a UK presence? It doesn't look like we're going to find out.