Ubisoft examines review policy following Assassin's Creed: Unity mess

Assassin's Creed Unity

The launch of Assassin's Creed: Unity has not gone particularly smoothly. There have been an awful lot of bugs, performance issues, and sub-80 scores, which are bad news for a triple-A game in the era of Metacritic. Ubisoft has acknowledged the problems and appears to be pushing hard to correct them, and also says that it's looking at ways to change its reviews policies to better serve its customers in the future.

The Assassin's Creed: Unity bugs are bad enough in their own right, but Ubisoft made the situation look even worse with a bizarre review embargo that didn't lift until nearly a full day after the game went on sale. (Our review was delayed because of late-arriving review code, but should be up tomorrow.) The reasons for the embargo remain a mystery, but the combination of a buggy game and held-back reviews means the optics aren't good; Ubisoft, however, insists that there was nothing untoward going on.

"The nature of games themselves and the way they are being reviewed is changing, as evidenced by games like Assassin's Creed: Unity, Destiny and The Crew—games that have significant online components," a Ubisoft rep told the BBC. "Having the online elements available and having populated worlds is essential to creating a representative and complete experience for reviewers. Achieving this prior to launch is incredibly complex, which is why some games are being reviewed much closer—or as was the case with Destiny, even after—the game launches."

"We are working to adapt our services and communications with consumers accordingly, both by changing the way we work with reviewers and by offering customers open betas or other early access to some games, all so that they have the information they need and want," the rep added.

More open processes are certainly welcome, but it fails to address the question of how the Unity embargo served any purpose other than to keep a lid on reviews during the first several hours of the game's release. That's got nothing to do with the difficulty of reviewing a connection-dependent game, which is admittedly a tricky business, it's just a dodgy policy—and hopefully one that won't be repeated.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.