Clips of a player opening the map on Assassin’s Creed Odyssey to be greeted with a full-screen 20% discount offer went viral, with plenty of players on Reddit claiming this would be an instant uninstalling offence if it happened to them.
In a post on X, Ubisoft acknowledged the footage as legitimate, but stopped short of an apology for the disruptive ad, which it claimed was misplaced in the game due to a “technical error that has now been fixed”.
We have been made aware that some players encountered a pop-up message in-game while playing certain Assassin’s Creed titles yesterday. This was the result of a technical error that has now been fixed.Our intention was to display a promotion for Assassin's Creed Mirage as part…November 24, 2023
“Our intention was to display a promotion for Assassin's Creed Mirage as part of the franchise news in the main menu of other Assassin's Creed games,” the company claimed.
“We want to ensure the best player experience possible, and these disruptive pop-ups were promptly removed once we learned of the issue,” the company continued.
Some of the responses are what you might call skeptical of this claim. And somewhat awkwardly, a Community Notes addition to the post highlights that full-screen ads on the map had previously appeared in a Let’s Play video published four years ago (they’re visible at the 35:35, 36:54 and 47:39 marks).
Whatever the cause, be glad it’s gone
Whether you believe it’s a genuine bug or simply that Ubisoft has backtracked in the face of massive backlash, it’s a good thing that this isn’t going to become the new normal.
As one Redditor wrote, a full screen advert disrupting play is “trash-tier android game s***”, and it’s hard to argue with the sentiment. The reason we have ads on mobile games is because they’re either free or dirt cheap — Ubisoft, which sold over ten million copies of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in its first two years — has absolutely no excuse for emulating the tactics.
What about the explanation that Ubisoft meant for the promotion to appear on the main menu? Some players argue that aggressive advertising anywhere in a $70 game is a step too far, but there’s a world of difference between something appearing on the main menu as an FYI, and the same ad appearing during the action, taking you out of the moment.
Personally I’m more or less fine with the former, but deeply uncomfortable with the latter. Indeed, promotions on main menus have been a part of triple-A games for years, and I’ve occasionally found them useful. If I love a game, why wouldn’t I want to hear about the DLC to keep the experience going a little longer?
But put an ad for another game during the action, and I’d be furious — especially in a game like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which will take the average player 65 hours to work through.
For years the social gaming contract has been that if the title is free, you can expect ads and/or microtransactions, but for paid ones the experience should be complete and ad-free. While this has been eroded over the years, it’s nice to see that a line in the sand has been drawn on full-blown in-game ads… for now, at least.
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Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.