Update (July 24): Ubisoft now says that accounts which have game purchases or subscriptions attached to them are spared deletion for inactivity. The company has not explained the support message that seemed to indicate otherwise, but it has updated its policy page, and it sent the following statement to PC Gamer:
For many years now, we have implemented our account deletion process in compliance with the requirements of the GDPR (Article 5.1.e on the obligation to limit the data retention period). Our policies are aligned with legal requirements and with the standards of the industry. This measure also acts as a protection for our players against fraud.
Account deletion follows a very strict process. As such, we take into consideration the 4 following criteria before an account is deleted:
- The gaming activity of the account since its creation
- The account’s libraries: accounts that include purchased PC games are not eligible for deletion
- The duration of inactivity of the account, meaning the last login to our ecosystem (including from Ubisoft games on Steam and other platforms)
- In practice, as of today, we have never deleted accounts that have been inactive for less than 4 years
- The existence of an active subscription tied to the account.
In any case, before the deletion is permanent, three emails are sent to the player over a 30-day period offering to restore their account. In addition, if the user tries to log in during the 30-day window, they will automatically receive a warning and a link to reactivate their account.
Original story (July 23) I'm pretty sure I have a Ubisoft account—it's the sort of thing that's come up every few years when there's a Ubisoft game I want to play, and I've had to go through the company's proprietary launcher/digital marketplace, Ubisoft Connect, formerly Uplay, to access it. Leaving a Ubisoft account inactive for too long, though, apparently puts it at risk of permanent deletion.
A piracy and anti-DRM focused Twitter account, PC_enjoyer, recently shared a screenshot of a Ubisoft support email telling the user that their Ubisoft account had been suspended for "inactivity," and would be "permanently closed" after 30 days. The email provided a link to cancel the move.
Now, that sounds like a phishing scam, right? I and many commenters wondered that, looking at the original post, but less than a day later, Ubisoft's verified support account responded to the tweet, seemingly confirming the screenshotted email's legitimacy.
"You can avoid the account closure by logging into your account within the 30 days (since receiving the email pictured) and selecting the Cancel Account Closure link contained in the email," Ubisoft Support wrote. "We certainly do not want you to lose access to your games or account so if you have any difficulties logging in then please create a support case with us."
This page links to another dedicated to voluntarily closing one's Ubisoft account, and seems to operate by the same rules: a 30-day suspension before permanent deletion. "As we will be unable to recover the account once it has been closed, we strongly recommend only putting in the request if you are absolutely sure you would like to close your account."
It is not clear how long a Ubisoft account can remain inactive before receiving this notice of suspension. I have reached out to Ubisoft for clarification, and will update this story if I hear back.
However you slice it, though, this is a customer-unfriendly practice, and an exhausting thing to see. Whatever database maintenance justification Ubisoft has, it's a poor showing compared to competing digital distribution platforms, many of which have been around longer, presumably have more users, and do not do this.
I don't think I, or I'd imagine, a lot of gamers, would use Ubisoft Connect or Ubisoft accounts to game if we had a choice—it was part of the EA Origin/Games for Windows Live generation of publisher-exclusive launchers and digital storefronts primarily implemented for digital rights management. They all come crawlin' back to Steam, because these proprietary launchers are a burden.
The non-Steam alternatives that gamers continue to tolerate have a value-add: Epic gives out a lot of free games in addition to its exclusivity deal muscle, but it's still a relative newcomer. GOG, meanwhile, has games you just can't get on Steam, and you also don't even have to use the launcher—you can still access your library purely through a browser.
A scant decade or so after the EA Origin generation, and that wave of proprietary platforms is playing havoc not only with our personal libraries, but game preservation more broadly—Fallout 3 was only fully liberated from GFWL in 2021, while a selection of Capcom games remain lost to the GFWL abyss. Nobody asked for Uplay or Ubisoft Connect, and then it has the temerity to make you opt in for your game library's continued existence.
It should not be a radical notion that digital videogame ownership at the very least feel like ownership. Our extensive digital libraries may very well be one bad business deal or alien invasion EMP burst away from oblivion, but I don't think we need to be jerked around up to that point. The account inactivity opt-out feels like scummy marketing email logic applied to a potentially quite large monetary investment.
Ubisoft's online service issues don't stop at its own launcher. Last year, we reported on how a large number of 2010s Ubisoft games had their online components discontinued, which also borked their DLC, even on Steam.
This is all a source of well-earned consumer angst right now, but it also has long-term consequences. Ephemeral digital libraries could very well inflate the ranks of the 87% of games that are unplayable without piracy, a potentially difficult-to-find physical copy, or archive access.