View Full Version : I Spent $100 In Assassin's Creed Unity So You Wouldn't Have To

11-21-2014, 11:47 PM
This article absolutely nails what's wrong with all of the online peripherals in Unity in an intelligent, realistic way:


I get it. I understand that companies are looking for other ways to generate revenue streams due to the nature of AAA video game development and marketing costs. As a result, it's not only inevitable that additional "microtransactions" will show up in games, but actually potentially healthy for the industry when done right and in a way that is respectful of their customers. The keywords there are "right" and "respectful."

Unity is a textbook case in how not to implement these features. Everything about it is is in your face and disrespectful of us and our time. It's also implemented in a clunky manner with a terrible experience that makes me think a business executive was standing over a poor programmer's shoulder telling them where to put all these annoying features.

The most glaring problem with Unity's Helix credits is that the author of the article bought $100 worth, bought a bunch of great gear, then had nothing meaningful left to spend his $56 worth of remaining credits on. That's absolutely horrendous design. Did anyone ever stop to think if $100 worth of Helix credits would actually be spendable in a meaningful way? Because that's incredibly disrespectful and downright insulting to your customer to sell them $100 of something that really only has $44 worth of value. Did you not realize that someone "hacking" the game to get the best gear would use their credits bought with real world currency to buy the best gear first? Maybe Unity technically has enough items to spend $100 worth of Helix credits on, but realistically, anyone buying the credits would buy the 5-star gear first and never worry about touching anything below that.

The author's suggestion to put a dialog box explaining some of the game's additional touchpoints like Initiates and the Companion App with a checkbox that lets us turn it all off would be a very respectful design decision. He's right that most people aren't going to use these features anyway, so why not tell us a little about them once we've gotten a decent way into the game (instead of before we can even use them, like Helix credits being offered before you can even purchase gear), then give us the option to turn it off and get those blue and yellow chests off our maps?

If you want to do a companion app, please think it through better next time. Ask yourself what extra value it's adding to the experience. The Companion App for Black Flag was great. It was an extension of the game and useful. I listened to the 45 minute recordings of the Surrogate Initiative stuff on the app while I was at work, away from my game. It was great. Unity's app actually detracts from the game experience instead of enhancing it like Black Flag's app did.

And Ubisoft, please hire a usability/user experience expert to help you with the user interface for these games. This person could help you craft a better experience with your microtransactions, your add-ons like Initiates and the Companion App, and the game's menu systems. They could also help fix problems like AC3/AC4's 3D Animus menus that made it extremely difficult to read database entries because the text was severely skewed. Look at Dishonored's 3D menu system, which was much more subtle, looked even cooler, and didn't get in the way of the content. Unity's UI is better but still annoying at times. I like the text pop-ups like mission info boxes and clue descriptions that come up in-game. But the game sends me notifications so often (a recurring problem starting with AC3) that a notification often blocks this text box for several seconds. And database entries are very hard to read because the available space for text is so small. AC2's menus were much more usable.

Perhaps most importantly, and this should go without saying, maybe next year make sure all these additional services actually function on the day of the launch. Or even the week of the launch. Or heck, how about 10 full days after the launch, since that's still not the case as of today?

11-22-2014, 12:01 AM
Yep, we were all right to complain about it the moment we got a hint of it in said leaks a few months back. But I never thought said stuff would be so intrusive in the final product.

11-22-2014, 12:13 AM
That damned unspent sync point thing is incredibly annoying haha. I would turn the stuff off but I'd like to see it all.

11-22-2014, 12:24 AM
Yes. I understand the need to raise money via microtransactions, and I understand that a small proportion of users will actually want them. However, there has to be an opt-out option for people who will never engage with those things to just turn them off and forget about them. No blue/yellow chests in their world, no reminders. Withhold the opt-out option until we've seen 5 notifications, if you like. We'll have got the message by then, and maybe we'll come back when we're drunk and buy some horse armour.

On PC:

Never link to Initiates in a way that takes us out of the game. I don't ever want to see a game offer me more info, have me hit "Y" to see it, and then knock me out of my game, open my browser for me, make me wait for the [counts] 50 tabs I have open right now to load and then make me see a 51st that contains a non-functional website. Don't make me shut down my browser, find AC in the taskbar, and get it back to fullscreen. Never.

You have the UPlay client already, which does a pretty good job of informing customers about new products related to the game, season passes, etc. You have our email addresses, and send us updates that way. Overloading the game with commercial opportunities is counterproductive.

That damned unspent sync point thing is incredibly annoying haha. I would turn the stuff off but I'd like to see it all.

God, yes. Add context to this. Often the sync point reminder is telling you to spend unspent sync points when there's no way you can do that (i.e. you have 2 unspent points, and the only skill available costs 5). Only tell us when we can actually buy something, and/or hook this into a category of HUD elements that we can turn off without affecting others significantly (such as Tutorials).

11-22-2014, 12:28 AM
I really hope the higher ups at Ubisoft read the article.

11-22-2014, 01:18 AM
I was going to make a thread about this myself. Really interesting article.

11-22-2014, 02:13 AM
I agree. Why lock all the best equipment behind a multiplayer feature. There are people out there that are not the slightest bit into multiplayer. So they all missed out but still payed full price for the game. And also what's the deal with only one save profile? I still think
it is an awesome game but this locking stuff away unless they play multiplayer is not really fair.

11-22-2014, 03:07 AM
I was about to post this myself. Great article. Everyone hates microtransactions, but at this point it seems unrealistic to hope they'll just disappear from games forever. So if they are here to stay, Ubisoft marketing team would be well-advised to read this and take heed. The author's point about allowing the player to first immerse themselves in the world and only then introduce the possibility of paying for upgrades is especially good advice. The fact that the very first chest you find in ACU is locked behind the companion app is the quickest possible way to sour the player's opinion about your game.

11-22-2014, 05:32 AM
Holy crap, a Kotaku article I actually agree with. That's a first.

Yes, the app/Initiates/Helix credits are awful. They have no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Even if they all worked perfectly (they don't) they would still be a huge drag and a spit in the face to fans.

11-22-2014, 06:23 AM
I don't even care about the microtransactions. There aren't any stuff that can only be bought with Helix credits.

But what irks me is the companion app and initiates crap. There are so many people who don't want to spend hours on extra stuff just to unlock meagre features in this game. It's a horrible design.

And then there's the club competition **** that locks some of the best gear. For starters, that rubbish doesn't even work right now. And even if it eventually starts to work, what about those who play solo? What about those who just play with random people online without having any friends who own the game to join a club with? These are what should be gone.

aYo TooNs
11-22-2014, 06:39 AM
This is funny and you forgot they pushed the release date back a month to fix problems. and this game still has mass problems, GAMESTOP FTW

11-22-2014, 11:00 AM
I don't dislike microtransitions the least, but they should be optional to 100% - meaning the contents is purely cosmetic like new outfit, new colour schemes, rendering modes like in Last of us. I actually spent $24 on Helix points to get to some of the good equiptment in advance, becuase i needed a little something to boost me as i'm not overly skilled with the new battle mechanics and lack of proper counter-moves.