Black Flag: Ubisoft drops controversial online pass

Just when you thought that game publishers weren’t listening, someone turns around and responds quickly and sensibly to consumer complaints. Ten points to Ubisoft, who this week released single-player Assassin’s Creed IV content behind a paywall, and then swiftly removed the requirement after significant gamer backlash.

In the beginning, Assassin’s Creed IV launched with an assortment of functions – including multiplayer elements and the Fleet minigame – locked away. The key to unlocking? Purchase the game’s online pass system, the Uplay Passport. If you didn’t pay – for whatever reason – you weren’t able to access these parts of the game, meaning that a whole bunch of extra in-game loot was kept away from your prying fingers.

Gamers are – rightly or wrongly – used to certain multiplayer elements being held behind paywalls, but many felt that restricting the singleplayer experience was a step too far. So they protested. Loudly.

…and Ubisoft responded.

In Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, ‘Edward’s Fleet’ is an innovative online single player feature that allows players to interact with multiple players on consoles or via the game’s companion app. Every new copy of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag includes the Uplay Passport code needed to unlock this online feature. However, we listen to our community and understand that there are concerns over some players’ ability to access this feature, so we have decided to eliminate the cost of the Uplay Passport for Black Flag. This ensures that everyone will be able to use the companion app, Edward’s Fleet, online multiplayer and available bonus content at no additional cost.

If you do not have a Uplay Passport for Black Flag, Ubisoft is making them available via both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network. If you have already picked up a Uplay Passport for Black Flag, you’re advised to “contact your regional Ubisoft support”, hinting that a refund or exchange may be possible.

But the best part is yet to come:

What’s more, Uplay Passport will not be a part of any future Ubisoft games.

Online passes were once embraced as a way of capitalising on the second-hand gamer market, but most companies – like Ubisoft – have dropped the process in recent times.

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