Fans of "Assassin’s Creed" or other Ubisoft games who rented the game, borrowed it from a friend or bought it used have missed out on some content for years. That will be the case no longer. Today (Nov. 1) Ubisoft announced it is ending the practice of putting content behind an online pass, starting with "Assassin’s Creed 4."
For years, video game companies have had online passes and "passports" included in their games. Typically, it is a code on a slip of paper included in the game’s box that allows access to online multiplayer games and/or to special content for single player campaigns. The companies typically charged $10 to download these passes, acting as a revenue source from those who rent games or buy them used. Thus, the passes acted as an incentive to buy the game new.
Ubisoft has had such passports for almost every entry in its popular "Assassin’s Creed" series, and tied them to its online loyalty program Uplay, which gave additional game bonuses to players who share personal information with the company. After reports that AC4’s Passport not only restricted multiplayer access, but also access to a feature of the single player game, Ubisoft said that it would no longer charge for this passport. Furthermore, the company announced that it will no longer use such passports in future games.
The statement on Ubisoft’s website reads, “Games today are blurring the line between offline and online, between what is ‘single player’ and what is ‘multiplayer.’ Based on that and on the feedback we received from you, we recognized that Passport is no longer the best approach for ensuring that all our customers have the best possible experience with all facets of our games.”
The content in question was a feature called Edward’s Fleet, in which players can send out the ships they have captured playing as pirate Edward Kenway out on missions. These missions earned players additional money and resources to use in the game. And it was tied to the AC4 companion app for Android tablets and iPads, which players use to manage the fleet or interact with the fleets of other players.
Players will now be able to download AC4’s passport free of charge. Ubisoft is directing those who have already bought the passport to stay tuned to the Ubisoft blog for information on getting credit or a refund.