Ubisoft caught out while trying to explain in-game ads

  • Ubisoft has riled players up after some were shown adverts for Assassin’s Creed Mirage when attempting to access in-game menus.
  • Officially Ubisoft says it was a bug and that the issue has been sorted, but the same “bug” was observed by players four years ago.
  • This is the latest example of a concerning trend among the largest game publishers of advertising during gameplay.

Last week a user on Reddit reported that Ubisoft served them a Black Friday advert in the middle of a gameplay session of Assassin’s Creed Odessey, popping up an image showing the latest game in the series, Assassin’s Creed Mirage, was 20 percent off while the player tried to look at the in-game map.

The player was given two options, to either close the pop-up or buy the game. You can watch the video clip from /u/Triddel24 below:

Obviously, gamers took umbrage with the pop-up. Very few like to see propaganda for other Ubisoft games after they’ve spent more than R1 000 on a previous title in the series. The official Ubisoft account on X noted the outcry, and issued a statement trying to explain what happened.

“We have been made aware that some players encountered a pop-up message in-game while playing certain Assassin’s Creed titles yesterday. This was the result of a technical error that has now been fixed,” the social media account indicated.

“Our intention was to display a promotion for Assassin’s Creed Mirage as part of the franchise news in the main menu of other Assassin’s Creed games. Unfortunately, this technical error caused the promotion to appear in one of our in-game menus instead. We want to ensure the best player experience possible, and these disruptive pop-ups were promptly removed once we learned of the issue.”

This explanation seems very strange, given just how nicely the pop-up works in the above video clip. It’s almost like it’s an intended feature instead of a bug. Unfortunately for Ubisoft this may have been swept under the rug but the X post was swiftly struck with a Community Note.

It states simply that the supposed “technical error” that showed the pop-up when accessing the in-game menu, interrupting gameplay – of a full-priced single-player experience – was showing up in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey at least four years earlier. This time a French streamer was dealing with annoying pop-up ads for the Odyssey DLC every time he opened the in-game menu.

It should be noted that the experience of the French streamer four years ago was more like a technical issue, with the advert showing up every single time he opened the menu and refusing the close after several attempts. This is unlike the most recent example, where the promotion integrates very well into the game. The question stands why the issue wasn’t fixed back then? Why, now, is the supposed issue cleaner and works better?

Ubisoft says that it has fixed the “error” by removing the pop-ups. It is but another worrying example of large publishers advertising other products in games. This is not the same as trailers showing before a film at the cinema which adds to the overall experience. Instead, as Ubisoft themselves say, it unnecessarily disrupts gameplay.

Imagine you were watching a film you paid full price for and then while Thanos is being confronted by the Avengers, portals opening across the screen. It’s Dr Strange, he brought reinforcements. The time has come for the final battle. Hellor! A Madea Family Funeral now in cinemas. Catch the film at the special price of R300 and get a free small popcorn and a coke.

Games from EA have been the biggest culprits of this, and even Capcom was noted for quickly showing sponsor logos before matches in Street Fighter V, and most recently Microsoft has been showing players adverts for Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 when they boot up their Xboxes but all of these are before gameplay, or at least keep the disruptions to a minimum.

If it was honestly a bug, then all is forgiven, Ubisoft, but our cynical opinion is that this may be a test for a wider rollout of in-game ads in the future. Given just how well the “bug” integrates into the overall experience. We hope that doesn’t come to pass.

[Image – u/Triddell24 on Reddit


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