Shambolic dismantling of Ubisoft (opens in new tab)” and more than a dozen old games took an unexpected turn today with a surprise announcement that the process — well, most of it — has been delayed to give people one final chance to snag content that’s goes away
It all started in early July when Ubisoft announced that the online features of several older games — including big one-offs like Far Cry 3, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, and a bunch of Assassin’s Creeds — were shutting down, so Ubisoft can “focus [its] resources to deliver great experiences to players playing newer or more popular titles.”
I suppose that’s reasonable enough, except that the shutdown meant losing access to DLC for the affected games. There was also the implication that at least two of the games on the chopping block – Assassin’s Creed: Liberation HD and Silent Hunter 5 – would also become unplayable for current owners, though Ubisoft quickly clarified (opens in new tab) that it would not be so.
Adding fuel to the fire of confusion, Ubisoft Mainz basically said “no” and started working on improving the infrastructure of Anno 2070’s online services (opens in new tab) so people could keep playing even after Ubisoft pulled the plug.
It wasn’t the smoothest shutdown road ever, in other words, and today Ubisoft acknowledged the mistake by saying it’s putting planned shutdowns on hold for a month (opens in new tab).
“Disabling online services for older games is something we don’t take lightly, but it’s also a necessity as the technology that powered those services becomes obsolete,” Ubisoft said. “We want our players to enjoy optimal gaming experiences without breaking things, subjecting players to crashes and security breaches. At the same time, we want to make this process as smooth as possible for our players. Over the last month , our teams have been hard at work exploring what is possible to reduce disruption.”
So here’s what’s happening now: Dismantling has been moved from September 1st to October 1st, and until that date every single-player DLC for Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood (opens in new tab). The single-player DLC on the console versions of these games will not be affected and will continue to be available to use and play after the October 1st deadline.
Ubisoft also confirmed that Anno 2070 will receive an update that will enable the game to run, in single or multiplayer mode, beyond the shutdown date.
“In fact, your experience should be even slightly smoother now than before,” the Anno 2070 team said in a separate post. (opens in new tab). “We ported the game to 64-bit, which allows the game to address all of your computer’s memory. In addition, new online services should create a better matchmaking experience. And you can use still in-game friend list to set up matches.”
The only game that will end on September 1st as originally planned is the multiplayer-only Space Junkies, which will shut down on schedule and no longer be accessible at all.
Allowing players to retain access to DLC is a smart move by Ubisoft, but frankly it’s surprising that it had to get this far wrong before it got to this point. Did no one foresee the backlash to the initial “we’re taking your stuff away” announcement? And given that Ubisoft was able to change course in such a relatively short amount of time, why didn’t it go straight to how much it annoyed (and confused) everyone to begin with? Better late than never, but even better is to avoid hitting your feet in the first place.
An up-to-date breakdown of all games affected by the shutdown, and what exactly they’ll lose, is at ubisoft.com (opens in new tab).