Glitch me once, shame on you. Glitch me twice, shame on me.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Victorian London. The swanky outfits, the roar of growing industrialisation, the Jack the Ripper’s and Charles Darwin’s of its time; these are just a few of the things that make the time period fascinating for me.
So I wish I could tell you that I’m tentatively excited for Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate. Unfortunately, I’ve been burned too many times by Ubisoft’s historical saga turned cash cow, so that ship has sailed.
The company hardly has a reputation for quality over quantity, after all. The series has been put on a yearly churn cycle and the glitch-filled mess that was Assassin’s Creed: Unity lost the company a lot of respect last year – and that’s before we even get into the issue of burnout, with many gamers on social media decrying their belief that the game shouldn’t be released annually and should instead be released every two years to let anticipation build.
But are there signs that the company is learning from its mistakes?
Ubisoft: A New Hope
Normally I’d laugh until I dropped at the mere suggestion. but the news that The Division, Ubisoft’s ambitious open-world Tom Clancy game, has been delayed from its vague “2015” release window and is now expected out early next year has left me pondering.
As part of Ubisoft’s financial results announcement for the year ending March 31, Ubisoft offered a new release window for the title, with The Division now listed as coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC during its fourth fiscal quarter. That means we can expect to see it between January and March of 2016.
It’s not the first time The Division has been delayed. At one point it was scheduled to appear in 2014, but last May that date was pushed back to 2015. A more specific release date was never announced and now it’s easy to see why. The game clearly wasn’t ready in 2014 and still isn’t ready now.
It’s not as if the company isn’t throwing resources at it – along with Massive Entertainment, a total of four studios are working on the game, so we can assume that the title hasn’t been pushed back due to lack of resources. So what’s the hold up? Speculation is rife but considering Ubisoft’s recent history of releasing games that were broken at best and outright incomplete at worst, this could be a sign that the company is finally taking the state of its games seriously. Another glitch-ridden, bug-laden title that falls dangerously close to being unplayable could be the death knell for Ubisoft, if not for their wallet then certainly for their reputation. After all, if any other industry released an incomplete product they’d be shut down, so why should the game’s industry be any different?
The answer seems to be because releases can now be patched from day one, reducing the need to release a finished product in the minds of some devs. Unfortunately for them, the gaming community has become rather irate with that assumption and the last Assassin’s Creed game marked a turning point in just how bad a triple AAA title can be without being considered utterly broken at launch. Taking an extra few months to fully test The Division and smooth out any bugs, glitches or other issues the game may be experiencing is probably the best decision Ubisoft has made in years.
So perhaps there is a glimmer of hope for Ubisoft, then, and for those of us who buy their products. We’ll know by next March whether or not the delay has paid off or if the company has finally started learning from its mistakes. One thing’s for certain, though – Ubisoft can’t afford to release another broken game.