View Full Version : Assassin's Creed: why DLC and companion apps are gaming's next war zone

02-21-2015, 02:18 PM
I came across this article and found it a really interesting read. It looks at the use of dlc and companion apps as incentives and monetization streams, and why the games industry will persist in pushing them.


A few snippets taken from the article:
- the experiment failed for Ubisoft, but we wonít have seen the end of it.
- As publishers move into a new service economy, retention becomes a key focus -
- When you've already asked someone to pay premium ticket for a copy of the game, itís understandable that they then be cynical about being hassled to make follow-up purchases. -
- The biggest challenge publishers face over the next five years is creating games that work as services without alienating the very enthusiasts they desperately need to secure and monetise.-

In short, even though it was a failure this time round, Ubisoft will continue on down the companion app route as they look towards other revenue streams. Lets hope they've learned from this and don't lock content behind it. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

02-21-2015, 03:18 PM
It's simple really. If you're going to continue to try and extort me, I'm not going to continue to give you my money.

so how much is that $3.99 or so really worth to you when held up against my continued purchases of many of this company's titles

02-21-2015, 06:49 PM
We won't see the end of it because this is hardly the first time something like this was done for the Assassin's Creed series, it just impacts the core gameplay more and more and gets more diverse at the same time. Here is a short (and incomplete) chronology:

Assassin's Creed II:

Uplay was introduced, henceforth you can unlock different stuff in every game with uplay points.
You get bonus weapons for the PS3 version of you synchronize it with the PSP title Bloodlines.
If you buy the Assassin's Creed mobile title you can receive another coloration option for the game, the Bonus Skin.
Web Battles logs your game progress.

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood:

You can connect the game with the now defunct Facebook title Legacy to get two new capes and get new missions for your Assassins.
For the first time we see console exlusive story DLC, The Copernicus Conspiracy.

Assassin's Creed Revelations:

If you played the Multiplayer in Brotherhood you could unlock more skins, this method would be used in every following game and expanded to the singleplayer mode.
The Assassin's Creed Network logs your multiplayer progress.

Assassin's Creed III:

The game includes the first online-only mode: collecting pivots, henceforth every game features one.
Intiates is introduced, the Assassin's Creed Network now also logs your singleplayer progress of all games.
The multiplayer features timed events that unlock exclusive stuff like profile images, titles and relics.
The first ingame currency that can be bought with real mony is introduced, Erudito Credits.

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag:

The first title that features cross-promotions with companies outside the Assassin's Creed franchise, toys now include codes to unlock DLC.
Inititates replaces the Assassin's Creed Network and can now be used to unlock ingame content when reaching a certain level.
The singleplayer now also features timed events that unlock new stuff along with the social events.
For the first time not every DLC is included in the Season Pass.

Assassin's Creed: Unity:

For the first time there "events" that unlock stuff in the game before it's even released.
The Companion App is introduced.

It's all about content splitting, you have to join several "experiences" to get more from your game, be online all the time and over a long period of time if you want to see everthing. The saddest part is here that since Assassin's Creed III not only the players are confused and overwhelmed by all this crap, but even Ubisoft's employees themselves don't seem to know what's going on when a specific problem with all this nonsense appears.

And I didn't even talk about the pre-oder DLC and the different editions which seem to multiply every year.

02-21-2015, 11:54 PM
Well, let's just say if they decide to lock game-progress behind external applications in Victory i will not buy it.

02-22-2015, 01:45 AM
i don't have a problem buying story dlc (as long as it's not done like ac2 where whole sequences of the game were dlc).
I like the concept of the old initiates (where there were extra activities on initiates that you could do in game), would like to see that expanded (without payments needed). My issue is with how badly they screwed up the unity app (black flags was good and felt like a continuation of the game). I've had the unity app reset 3-4 times, which means i've lost multiple hours of progress. It also seemed pointless and wasn't fun.
a companion app that was something like ac pirates (ie; stand alone game) but which unlocked things in game, would be good. Play as a minor character (in unity maybe play as arno's dad in the app), this would achieve a couple of things; 1: expands the lore by filling in the gaps between games, 2: creates a new gaming experience, 3: makes the app not seem like a chore. (also would make sense that arno could have items available that his dad had found, all they would have to do is put 'charles dorian's chamber' in the french assassin councils chamber). Could even combine the app with the chronicles series!

02-22-2015, 01:54 AM
The problem with practices that are designed to piss off consumers (which microtransactions and exclusive ULC are - after all, if you were perfectly satisfied with the vanilla product, why would you pay more?) is that they may work short term but in the long run they harm the company's image. Ubisoft is now pretty much on equal footing with EA when it comes to most hated video game companies. As ShardofTruth pointed out, they've been consistently increasing the limitations players face when playing their games. Unity's disastrous launch was like the culmination of everything the company has been doing wrong for a while now and it finally backfired on them - hard. AC is still a best-selling franchise, but Unity seriously damaged the brand and the company's reputation, so it remains to be seen how Victory will be received.

02-22-2015, 02:10 AM
^I still see people throwing Ubi DLC spreadsheets around so yeah. Initiates, well, that's a dead horse for now.

02-23-2015, 05:30 PM
They did backpedal a long way, though. Yesterday I fired up my 2nd Unity playthrough, which had sat dormant for a while. This is on the Xbox, where the only way to have a 2nd PT without destroying the first is to play under a different profile/gamertag. That 2nd profile is silver (free), meaning no online in-game activities. Well, now absolutely everything is unlocked even here. I was opening Initiates and Nomad chests left and right, and completing what were once companion-app missions. It could be they retreated to live to fight another day. But I hope the experience with consumer backlash taught them more than that.

The trends are disturbing, without a doubt. I could never see games as a "monetized" service, and if that model is forced on me to the complete exclusion of the product model, I will spend my entertainment dollars elsewhere. I think my backlog is long enough to last me the rest of my gaming life anyway, not that I cherish the thought of the end of new games.