Ubisoft Throws Gamers A DLC Bone For Botched Assassin's Creed Unity Launch, Patches Coming

In the last few weeks, Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed Unity has become a cautionary tale of how treating a franchise as a perfunctory once-a-year update machine while simultaneously stoking player expectations can catastrophically backfire. Once it realized how unhappy its player base was, Ubisoft snapped into action, stepped up to the plate, and courageously blamed everybody else for its own wretched game.

Now that it's clear that this strategy has failed, Ubisoft is instead handing out genuine apologies, a promise to do better in the future, and free DLC. Yannis Mallat, the CEO of Ubisoft Montreal, sent out the following mea culpa today:

Unfortunately, at launch, the overall quality of the game was diminished by bugs and unexpected technical issues. I want to sincerely apologize on behalf of Ubisoft and the entire Assassin's Creed team. These problems took away from your enjoyment of the game, and kept many of you from experiencing the game at its fullest potential...

To show our appreciation for your continued support, we're making the upcoming Assassin's Creed Unity Dead Kings DLC free for everyone. For Season Pass holders, we will also offer the choice of one additional game from a selection of Ubisoft titles for free. More details on the offer for Season Pass holders can be found here.

In addition to the latest patch and this offer, we are committed to delivering further fixes for other issues you've raised. In the meantime, please keep your feedback coming – it has been both humbling and incredibly helpful as we continue working hard to improve the overall quality of the game.

We will continue striving to make Assassin's Creed one of the most ambitious and innovative franchises on the market, and we thank you for your continued loyalty and support.
TL,DR Version: Everybody gets free DLC!

The Longer Breakdown

First, let's dispense with the idea that Ubisoft didn't know precisely what a steaming pile of dreck it was shoveling out the door. At some point, Ubisoft's brass decided it was more acceptable to ship the game in its launch state than it was to hold it back to fix it.

Does anyone seriously think Ubisoft had no idea this could happen?

Once you realize that Ubisoft knew full well what it was doing, the idea that anyone at the company has been humbled as a result of this is laughable. Either Mallat signed off on the game despite knowing it was in no condition to ship or he was forced to sign off on it due to pressure to hit sales targets or quarterly results. Someone may have gotten humbled when the player reaction was more negative than anticipated, but the actual state of the game was a fully known quantity long before it hit store shelves. That's why Ubisoft stuck reviewers with a 12 hour release embargo.

If I sound a little grouchy at this point it's because this isn't some random one-off event. Ubisoft has a long, long, history of incorporating user-hostile DRM, pulling tactics with games like Watch Dogs that some felt bordered on bait-and-switch, and declaring that all PC users are basically pirates anyway.

I acknowledge that Ubisoft is extending an olive branch to players on both consoles and PCs by handing out free DLC. I applaud it for continuing to fix the "game" it shipped, rather than simply abandoning the project and moving on. Furthermore, it's not the talented artists, programmers, and developers driving these kinds of business decisions or decreeing that Assassin's Creed must ship, Madden-style, every single year -- it's the suits and higher-ups.

But none of that changes the fact that Ubisoft's business model involves blaming everyone else for its mistakes, shipping broken software, and then pretending that its been humbled by the experience.

Want Ubisoft to make a better Assassin's Creed? Plan to skip AC 2015 and tell the company you'll be back in 2016 -- if it can prove it's committed to making games people want to play.