Ubisoft allegedly pulling the old bait and switch

By Mike on 11:54 am

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As if Ubisoft couldn't hold any more contempt for the PC gaming community. Yet they still continue to surprise me with their antagonistic behaviour.

Their latest stunt comes from Lean L, a poster on Anandtech Forums. He alleges to have purchased a copy of Assassin's Creed: Director's Cut from Ubisoft's online store. The game was being advertised on the store and through Slickdeals as being free. Lean L jumped on the deal, installed it, and started playing. After he completed a few missions, he received this lovely message from Ubisoft.

"WE'RE SORRY! It turns out we made a pricing mistake with the Assassin's Creed: Director's Cut Edition. Unfortunately, this means we will have to revoke your game serial key within the next 48 hours. As a token of our apology, we would like to offer you a 50% off coupon good for your next purchase* on the UBIShop."

This seems like a classic bait and switch to me. Wikipedia defines it as baiting a customer with a product of significantly low price, later claiming it's unavailable, then directing them to more expensive items. It's widely considered to be a form of fraud and an unethical business practice.

This story is just one tale from a random person on the Internet. I'd be interested to know if more people were affected by this, and how Ubisoft plans to respond if these allegations are true.

If anything, it highlights the problem with modern DRM. The game was legally purchased. Even if it was a pricing error, the store should just live with it as a cost of doing business. However, DRM provides a path to revoke your ownership of things you legally own. This is why it's not just pirates who should worry about  intrusive copy-protection.

If you do find yourself in this situation, unfortunately, there's not much you can do. If you live in the UK, it is a criminal matter. In most jurisdictions, it's a civil one. All one can do is file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and stir the pot online. Hopefully Ubisoft does the right thing and gives Lean L his game back.

Source: Anandtech Forums
Image courtesy of Gaming for God

As a side note, sorry about my lack of articles lately. I've been very busy with work. We've just launched a new website and app, which I'll talk a bit about when it comes out of public beta.

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