Jul 11, 2022 - Technology

Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed decommissioning notice confuses players

Video game screenshot of a woman walking down a street in 18th century New Orleans
Assassin's Creed Liberation HD. Screenshot: Ubisoft

Worries that Ubisoft would soon block people who bought one of its older Assassin’s Creed games from playing it have been allayed, thanks to a statement from the game’s publisher.

Why it matters: Over the last 24 hours, we got a new scene in the ongoing drama about whether players should worry about losing access to games they download instead of buy on disc.

Details: The focus this time was on the 2014 release of Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD for PC, a game about an assassin in 18th century New Orleans.

  • It recently got pulled from sale and stamped with an alarming warning on its Steam page: “Please note this title will not be accessible following September 1st, 2022.”
  • Not selling an older digital game isn’t new, but making it inaccessible to people who already bought it would be unusual. Baffled news articles and snarky tweets followed.
  • But a Ubisoft rep told Axios that Liberation HD won’t suddenly be blocked from current owners who, in fact, “will still be able to access, play or redownload” the game.

The big picture: Older video games regularly lose some features as publishers drop support for infrequently played games.

  • The companies cite the expense of maintaining servers for games that don’t get much use.
  • Electronic Arts turns off online multiplayer for old sports titles, for example.
  • In this case, Ubisoft is pulling the plug on Sept. 1 for online services for PC and console versions of several once-popular games, such as 2012’s Far Cry 3 and Assassin’s Creed III.

Yes, but then there’s the problem of downloadable content, or DLC, which some of these older Ubisoft games will indeed lose access to on PC.

  • Downloadable expansions have been a staple of big-publisher offerings for over a decade.
  • Many can be played solo and arguably shouldn't have the shelf life of long-abandoned multiplayer modes.
  • Nevertheless, some look to be at risk of becoming unplayable after Ubisoft’s Sept 1 deadline. That includes DLC for 2012’s ACIII, which included a lengthy alternate reality solo adventure featuring a Native American assassin in conflict with a power-mad George Washington who has declared himself king. (That expansion and Liberation are also available in a remastered version of ACIII, which remains on sale.)
  • On the potential loss of such DLC, Ubisoft says: “We’re assessing all available options for players who will be impacted when these games’ online services are decommissioned.”

The bottom line: This is confusing.

  • Your best bet: Play what you buy as soon as you can and cross your fingers that it’ll still run a decade later.

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