Ubisoft have begun revoking access to The Crew – WGB

By admin Apr14,2024

After shutting down the game’s servers at the end of March, it seems that Ubisoft have now begun removing and/or revoking player’s copies of The Crew, sparking outrage amongst fans and even discussions about the legality of what Ubisoft are doing.

This story needs some context, though, so let’s get to that: last year Ubisoft announced that it would be delisting The Crew from storefronts, and then shutting down the servers in March of 2024. This wouldn’t be hugely surprising for a multiplayer-only game that’s nearly a decade old, but it was a controversial move for one simple reason: The Crew has singleplayer content as well. Unfortunately, it’s also one of those frustrating games that demands an online connection to its servers to function, meaning when the servers were shut down, anybody who owned the game couldn’t even access the singleplayer content.

This move actually sparked a Youtuber by the name of Accursed Farms to begin a campaign to defend consumer rights. Using The Crew as a rallying point, Ross has created stopkillinggames.com.

“The videogame ‘The Crew’, published by Ubisoft, was recently destroyed for all players and had a playerbase of at least 12 million people.” reads the website. “Due to the game’s size and France’s strong consumer protection laws, this represents one of the best opportunities to hold a publisher accountable for this action. If we are successful in charges being pressed against Ubisoft, this can have a ripple effect on the videogames industry to prevent publishers from destroying more games”.

Petitions in various countries, including here in the UK, have begun circulating in an effort to persuade governments to look into legislation that could help protect consumers.

But back to The Crew. Following the news of the servers being retired and the game essentially being killed. various people began efforts to circumvent Ubisoft’s decision by either creating dummy servers or designing unofficial patches to remove the online requirement. It was hoped that Ubisoft might consider patching the game to strip out the need for an online connection, but Ubisoft seemingly never acknowledged the idea.

Now, Ubisoft has gone one step further in its destruction of the game as people have begun reporting that The Crew is being actively removed from their libraries.

On Ubisoft Connect, people are reporting that The Crew has been moved to a new “inactive” section in their library and that attempting to play it results in the message: “”You no longer have access to this game. Why not check the Store to pursue your adventures?” Meanwhile, trying to run the game directly from its executable file only results a demo version launching.

Over on Steam things are a little different because Steam’s terms and conditions mean Ubisoft can’t just remove the game from people’s libraries. But because The Crew needs to be connected to a Ubisoft account, people are instead firing up the game only to be told to enter a game key, a frankly dirty workaround to stop the game from working.

The initial Reddit post stating Ubisoft were revoking keys was locked down by moderators. However, the main Reddit post in r/Games is alive and well, and the Steam discussions are currently swarmed by angry consumers.

Games that have single player content yet still require online connections have been a point of contention for years, and rightfully so. Games like The Crew serve to reinforce this point, essentially locking people out of what they paid for. Nobody expects a company to maintain servers forever and multiplayer games always have a lifespan limited by the playerbase, but it’s a relatively simple thing for a game with singleplayer content to have the online connection requirement removed or, better yet, never in the game in the first place.

Given the surge of people becoming more knowledgeable about digital gaming and its transience, and the success that stopkillinggames.com is having, I can’t help but think this is Ubisoft’s reaction.

Eurogamer contacted Ubisoft for comment and received this reply: “We announced on December 14, 2023 that after almost a decade of support, we would be decommissioning The Crew 1 on March 31, 2024. While we understand this may be disappointing for players, it was necessary due to server infrastructure and licensing constraints.”

The comment ignores the fact that Ubisoft did not state they would be actively removing the game from people’s libraries too.

On a purely practical front, removing the game makes no difference: it doesn’t work anyway. But this has gone past the practical and into the realms of ethics, legality and fair expectations. It’s yet another blow to the already tattered and torn reputation of Ubisoft, and one that could have been easily avoided by simply not removing the game from people’s libraries, or by a good-will gesture of updating the game so that it could still be played offline.

By admin

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