When games started making the switch from physical to digital, everyone knew there were trade-offs. Digital downloads were quicker and more convenient, but also meant you didn’t entirely own the game you bought. You were just licensing it, making you subject to the whims and future solvency of the company behind it. Those problems used to seem like far flung edge cases. Now we’re watching them play out in real time, and Ubisoft is at the center of the mess.
Last week, the French publisher announced it was axing over a dozen games’ online DLC and multiplayer servers later this year. That was on top of the nearly 100 Ubisoft games that have already lost online content of one kind or another. Now the Far Cry maker has revealed that this mass “decommissioning” of content reaches even further, including Steam users losing access to an entire single-player Assassin’s Creed game they already own.
Update: 7/11/22, 1:00 p.m. ET: Ubisoft clarified in a statement to Kotaku that “current owners of [decommissioned games] will still be able to access, play or redownload them.” This would include Assassin’s Creed: Liberation. The company said that only DLC and online features will be affected, and that it’s working to “update this information across all storefronts,” but didn’t clarify why the single-player game was still being delisted from Valve’s storefront.
Update: 7/12/22, 10:05 a.m. ET: The notice on the Steam page for Assassin’s Creed: Liberation has been updated and the part about it no longer being accessible was removed. The game is also available for purchase again. It had previously been delisted.
Original story follows.
As spotted by Twitter user Nors3, a new notice on the Steam page for Assassin’s Creed: Liberation reads: “At the request of the publisher, Assassin’s Creed® Liberation HD is no longer available for sale on Steam. Please note this title will not be accessible following September 1st, 2022.” According to SteamDB, the game was being sold at a 75% discount just a couple weeks ago as part of the latest Steam Summer sale, and some players have taken to review-bombing the listing to vent their frustration.
Similar notices have cropped up for several other Ubisoft games, including Silent Hunter 5: Battle and Space Junkies. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands and Splinter Cell: Blacklist have warnings that only apply to their deluxe editions and DLC, though in Forgotten Sands’ case that includes a digital copy of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.
Valve and Ubisoft didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about whether this was an error or an oversight, though the latter tried to link it to its broader online server decommissioning initiative. “We don’t take the decision to retire services for older Ubisoft games lightly, and our teams are currently assessing all available options for players who will be impacted when these games’ online services are decommissioned on September 1st, 2022,” Ubisoft told Eurogamer in a statement.
In Assassin’s Creed: Liberation’s case, however, players are losing access to the single-player campaign as well. The 2012 Assassin’s Creed III spin-off puts players in the shoes of Aveline de Grandpré in New Orleans after the French and Indian War. Initially a PS Vita exclusive, it featured the series’ first female protagonist. Two years later an HD version was ported to console and PC, where it’s been available until now. While it’s still available on the publisher’s Ubisoft Connect client, the only way Steam users will seemingly still be able to access it on Valve’s storefront is as a free add-on for 2019’s remaster of Assassins’ Creed III.
It’s become somewhat commonplace for games to be delisted from various storefronts. In some cases, like Bandai Namco’s crossover anime fighter Jump Force, it’s because of expired licensing agreements. In others, like the recent disappearance of old Grand Theft Auto games, it’s because the publisher wants to replace them with remakes. In both cases it can be a huge loss as players lose official access to beloved and sometimes even historic games.
What appears to be happening with Assassin’s Creed: Liberation on Steam takes the preservationist nightmare even one step further. Not only is the game gone from standalone purchase, it will seemingly soon be gone from people’s Steam libraries as well. Nothing lasts forever, and in the case of Assassin’s Creed: Liberation’s life on Steam, it didn’t even last a decade.
Update: 7/11/22, 4:31 p.m. ET: Changed subheading to reflect new information from Ubisoft.