Ubisoft about to take away games you bought

Hacker News - Sat Aug 6 14:12

Ezio - Assassin's Creed
(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Ubisoft has announced that, effective September 1, it will be decommissioning the online features (opens in new tab) of a selection of older games. I've compiled a list of the PC games affected, their release dates, and what features will be removed below:

  • Anno 2070 (2011): multiplayer, linking accounts, online features
  • Assassin's Creed 2 (2009): multiplayer, linking accounts, online features
  • Assassin's Creed 3 (2012): multiplayer, linking accounts, online features, access to DLC
  • Assassin's Creed Brotherhood (2010): multiplayer, linking accounts, online features, access to DLC
  • Assassin's Creed Liberation HD (2014): multiplayer, linking accounts, online features, access DLC
  • Driver San Francisco (2011): multiplayer, linking accounts, online features, access to DLC
  • Far Cry 3 (2012): multiplayer, linking accounts, online features, access to DLC
  • Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (2010): co-op multiplayer, linking accounts, online features, access to DLC
  • Silent Hunter 5 (2010): multiplayer, linking accounts, online features, access to DLC
  • Space Junkies (2019): "As a multiplayer only title, you will be unable to play the game going forward."
  • Splinter Cell: Blacklist (2013): multiplayer, linking accounts, online features

Ubisoft states that "Closing the online services for some older games allows us to focus our resources on delivering great experiences for players who are playing newer or more popular titles." I'm certainly sympathetic to that argument—I doubt there's a ton of gamers out there still playing Splinter Cell: Blacklist's online multiplayer. Additionally, the remastered versions of listed games will be retaining online features.

However, cutting off DLC and, in one case, an entire game is troubling. Space Junkies, the multiplayer VR shooter, cost $40 at release and remains available for sale on Steam, with no notice that it will be rendered unplayable in two months. 

If NFTs haven't been thoroughly debunked enough already, seeing Ubisoft completely end these services makes the company's Quartz NFT initiative even more absurd. What happens to that blockchain-backed investment once the game it's attached to shuts down, and the crypto booster pipe dream of a single NFT being used across multiple games never materialized?

This mass decommissioning also demonstrates the preservation issues inherent to walled garden online services. You can still enjoy online games significantly older than the ones listed thanks to their support for private servers. It's worth remembering that every live service game will one day stop getting official support and eventually shut down. Overwatch, Destiny, Ubisoft's own Rainbow Six Siege, there will come a point maybe years, maybe decades down the line when their servers are switched off and you won't be able to come back to them.

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.