It’s an undeniable fact that the PC gaming hardware market is worth twice as much as that of consoles. As this report shows, PC gamers are spending over $21 billion on their rigs, from chipset upgrades to new keyboards, screens and controllers.
By proxy that means there’s an incredulously large userbase on PC ready to throw money at any big blockbuster or small-scale indie title that takes their fancy. It’s why high profile figures such Doom designer John Romero have spoken about the need to support PC, why Microsoft is talking up (and consequently failing at) their position on PC gaming and why games like Ryse: Son of Rome are coming to PC from Xbox to pump up sales that Crytek ‘wasn’t 100% happy with.’
It’s also why, after years of controversial missteps on their part, Ubisoft stresses that they are ‘committed’ to improving support for their games on PC and not just consoles.
One of those greatest missteps is Ubisoft’s policy on Digital Rights Management (DRM). Back in 2010 Ubisoft announced that they’d be switching out their StarForce DRM program for a more exclusionary ‘always online’ policy which meant that while you could install your games on any PC that you wanted, you’d have to log into your Ubi.com account every time you wanted to play it.
If your Internet went down or Ubisoft’s servers underwent maintenance you’d be out of luck as the system wouldn’t even let users play offline. Understandably, the backlash was so strong that despite saying DRM was “vital” to their business, within a year they recanted their opinion and got rid of it. That still left a sour taste in some PC gamers’ mouths though, even as they explained the following,
“We listen to feedback from players and continue to adapt accordingly; for instance, we switched to a simple, one- time activation for our PC games — a standard practice in the industry.”
Part of that listening to feedback also includes Ubisoft changing up its PC and console release schedule. It’s notable that the PC versions of three of the last Assassin’s Creed games launched three weeks to a month after their console counterparts. That won’t be the case with Assassin’s Creed Unity, though,
“We’re also doing our best to bring our games to PC at the same time as the console versions. Assassin’s Creed Unity and Far Cry 4, for example, will be released simultaneously on console and PC, and this will continue to be the goal for all our major titles.”
In fact, although Ubisoft’s pro-PC stance has rarely been this publicized, they’ve still had PC gamers willing to buy their games. Ubisoft’s European boss Alain Corre told MCV that “as a percentage of our business, PC grew last year, from 11 per cent in 2012/13 to 15 per cent in 2013/14” rightly calling it an “indication of the progress [Ubisoft is] making”.
Furthermore, he added that Ubisoft is “committed to improving the optimization of our games for each platform on which they’re released — including PC” and that they are going to allow players to influence the development of their future titles. There’s no word on whether that would involve putting playable females into Assassin’s Creed Unity or nixing microtransactions in The Crew, as per fan dismay, but we should know more on Ubisoft’s plans in good time.