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Assassin’s Creed Liberation will remain available on Steam for owners, says Ubisoft

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Following initial miscommunication and fan backlash, video game publisher Ubisoft has confirmed that its 2014 title “Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD” will remain downloadable and playable by current owners on Steam.

In early July, fans noticed that on the Steam video game storefront, “Liberation” had been affixed with an ominous disclaimer: “Please note that this title will no longer be accessible after September 1, 2022.” The note seemed to imply that the game could become completely inaccessible, even to customers who had already purchased it.

A new note on the Steam “Liberation” page indicates that players who previously purchased the game can still play it, but clarifies that they will lose access to multiplayer and any paid DLC after September 1. After this date, the title will be removed from the list. , which means that new customers will not be able to purchase the game.

“We do not take the decision to retire services from older Ubisoft games lightly, and our teams are currently evaluating all options available to players who will be impacted when online services for these games are retired on September 1, 2022. “, Jessica Roache, senior manager of corporate communications at Ubisoft, told The Post.

All Assassin’s Creed Games, Ranked

Earlier in July, Ubisoft announced it would be shutting down online support for more than a dozen titles, including ‘Assassin’s Creed II’, ‘Rayman Legends’, ‘Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands’ and more. This is an extremely common practice in the video game industry, and Ubisoft has already taken down dozens of games. For multiplayer games like “The Matrix Online,” that’s a death sentence. For titles with single player modes such as XCOM 2, this usually means multiplayer is disabled but single player functionality remains intact.

The initial miscommunication and confusion came at a difficult time. Ubisoft is currently celebrating the 15th anniversary of Assassin’s Creed, a four-month event with new DLC for many Assassin’s Creed titles, sales, merchandise, fan cosplay, and even a historical podcast.

Some Assassin’s Creed fans were unhappy with the news, responding with memes strongly criticizing Ubisoft and bombarding the “Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD” Steam page with over a hundred bad reviews, specifically citing the delisting announcement. from Ubisoft.

Ubisoft has faced a host of controversies over the past few years, ranging from allegations of worker abuse and harassment to repeated delays of its new pirate game, “Skull & Bones,” to its much-maligned market push. NFT. After Ubisoft failed to meet its financial targets, CEO Yves Guillemot took a $327,000 pay cut, as reported by Axios.

Guillemot had also been implicated for “institutional harassment” in a complaint filed by two former employees of Ubisoft and a French union before a French criminal court.

Consumer fears over the withdrawal of ‘Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD’ hint at a larger concern: Gamers aren’t really own more video games. Physical copies of video games have been a niche market for years, and that market is shrinking. Digital distribution, on the other hand, offers many advantages over physical games, for both consumers and distributors. Digital games cannot be destroyed, exhausted, or bogged down by physical production costs.

Academics want to preserve video games. Copyright laws complicate matters.

But buying a digital game also means you’re only buying a discretionary license to play the game, not own it. Archivists trying to preserve old video games have been locked in copyright battles with publishers for years. From the consumer’s point of view, games are no longer a product. It’s a service you pay for indefinitely until the publisher decides to disconnect it.

Games may be removed from the list for reasons beyond the distributor’s control. For example, Remedy Entertainment announced in 2017 that their beloved thriller “Alan Wake” would be written off as the licenses for several songs used in the game were expiring.

Sometimes just offering games can become prohibitively expensive. Most digital games come with a digital rights management system to protect against piracy and reverse engineering. DRM-protected games verify their authenticity by connecting to a server. Many games, even single-player ones, need a constant internet connection to run. If a game is very old, publishers could lose money by reserving server space for a game that people barely buy or play.

Some distributors such as GOG.com (a subsidiary of CD Projekt of Witcher and famous “Cyberpunk 2077”) solve this problem by selling games without any kind of DRM. However, these platforms are the exception – not the norm.

“The space and infrastructure needed to house a huge library of games is something that Ubisoft seems to be up against,” Adrienne Shaw, associate professor at Temple University and founder of LGBTQ Game Archive, told The Post. “All distribution companies have to take this into account these days. For example, it’s not possible for Netflix to make all movies and TV shows from around the world available simultaneously… There just isn’t enough server space to manage and support this kind of access .

Video games keep getting longer. It’s a matter of time and money.

The Assassin’s Creed franchise follows a secret war between two ideological factions spanning all of human history. But despite the global nature of the conflict, most Assassin’s Creed games feature European protagonists. “Liberation” is the only one that features a black woman – the daughter of a prominent French merchant and an enslaved African woman – as the protagonist, making her an outlier not only for the franchise but in the offerings of the industry at large.

The cultural disparity in what media is preserved is something media scholars have long considered, Shaw said.

“[Media studies scholar] Alfred Martin pointed out that while VHS/DVD sets, copies, and syndicated versions of many pre-2000 white-release sitcoms are readily available to scholars, black-release sitcoms are much harder to find,” Shaw said. . “Early films by female directors were much less likely to be saved than those by male directors. And so yes, that [Ubisoft is] deciding not to support a game that’s representationally interesting like “Assassin’s Creed Liberation” is disappointing but not surprising in itself.

The unique value of “Liberation” as an important artifact in video game history has not gone unnoticed. Social stealth – the ability to hide in the open by blending into various crowds and public environments – is a hallmark of the Assassin’s Creed series. The hero of “Liberation”, Aveline de Granpré, is a fantastic example of characterization of a protagonist closely synchronized with the design of the game. Aveline is adept at navigating 18th century Louisiana by portraying herself as a business executive of high society, an adventurer or an enslaved worker. Soraya Murray, associate professor at UC Santa Cruz and author of “On Video Games: The Visual Politics of Race, Gender and Space,” gave a presentation on this specific topic, titled “Three Faces of Aveline: an Intersectional Feminist Reading of Assassin’s Creed”. III: Liberation.

“I understand the technical reasons for the choice,” Shaw said, referring to Ubisoft pulling “Liberation” from Steam. “But one can still wonder how [publishers] decide which games they remove from the list.