The road to redemption is long, but Ubisoft may well reach its destination sooner than later
It almost seems bizarre when you think about how recent years have seen Ubisoft snatch the unholy gauntlet from Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA). There was a time when the publishing giant EA was in the spotlight alone; winner of the “Worst Company in America” award for two straight years, tagged as a greedy corporate entity, with a global quest of integrating microtransactions and ruining games left and right.
EA, though, seemingly tired of the worsening image of its brand, suddenly began working on its quality standards and communication to patch up the visible cracks in its outer walls. The internet likes to make fun of how Ubisoft suddenly arose that day, intent to substitute itself – much like how there should always be a Lich King present to maintain unholy balance.
The impending chain of events saw Ubisoft – almost purposely – release broken and half-baked products, ensuring at numerous occasions that the PC user-base got the sharp edge of the knife. It’s actually amazing to see how the company always managed to hype up everyone for an upcoming release, citing how it had learned from previous mistakes, making promises and raising expectations. None of them were ever fulfilled, or at least, during the launch period.
The release of Watch Dogs in 2014 was a disaster, from being one of the most anticipated open-world games of the year to an incredibly forgetful experience. Assassin’s Creed: Unity (following in the same year) was supposed to showcase the storyboard’s vision and power, an amassing of knowledge from the numerous preceding installments; it only ended as a rushed game with enough bugs and issues to qualify for a developer’s worst nightmare. Far Cry 4 was different; some were actually able to play without a hitch, while others had to face performance issues and struggled to just get the game up and running (despite multiple post-release patches).
The days leading up to the release of Rainbow Six: Siege last year were of similar nature and carried much concern. For many, the game’s beta sessions were plagued with connection and matchmaking issues. With just days to go before release, many wondered how it was possible to push the product in such a condition. However, Rainbow Six: Siege stuck to its release schedule, dispersing all speculations about a delay, and saw to a smooth launch. For being an online multiplayer team-based game, there were hardly any major issues reported. Players enjoyed the Rainbow Six experience and appreciated the work put in by Ubisoft.
The studio followed it up with Far Cry: Primal this year. Knowingly, the Far Cry engine has always expressed an easier way towards hardware optimizations, despite the issues with Far Cry 4. It, however, was Ubisoft’s notion of escaping the conventional Far Cry formula and switching gears into a brand new prehistoric timeline that captured our attention and respect. It’s always risky to change key aspects of an establish franchise, but Ubisoft took that jump, offering fans a new flavor that proved excellent.
Next comes the recently released, The Division. Ubisoft locked horns with the mighty and lucrative Destiny brand from developer Bungie and publisher Activision Blizzard Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI). Officials had already expressed confidence how it would cast aside Destiny, and it proved its worth when the Division went on to become the largest selling new IP in Ubisoft’s history. Since its release earlier this month, the developer has also shown a staunch commitment of knowing fully well the downsides of Destiny, and working towards making sure the same never happens for the Division. Ubisoft plans to reveal new content this week for the game’s next major April update, in a way, promising similar attention to ways players can keep themselves busy every month.
Suffice to say, this short run has thrown a new light on Ubisoft and proves that the company has accepted its faults. It’s now working towards redemption; ensuring stable releases, communicating with its community for features and changes, acting on valuable feedback and more, all for garnering a positive following and finding itself back in the good books of users.
That being said, the road to redemption is seldom short and easy. The Division may have just released, but Ubisoft already has its hands full. With an ongoing drought of content in Destiny, the release of the Division has actually seen many jump over. This has given Ubisoft a timely advantage. Until the release of Destiny 2 next year, Ubisoft can make sure that it fortifies the user-base of the Division, making them think twice to ever leaving behind the post-apocalyptic New York City.
We’re now anticipating an invigorating reveal of Watch Dogs 2 at E3 2016. The first game may have been a disaster, but it laid the foundation to something big. The sequel should take advantage of that, offering us a new look at the series with rememberable characters, a better storyline, powerful visuals, new features, a capturing open-world, and most importantly, a stable launch.