Players have found out that Ubisoft has apparently started experimenting with in-game ads. These pop-up banners appear during gameplay, promoting discounts on the latest Assassin’s Creed title.
The video footage was first shared by Redditor triddell24 a few days ago. When they were playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on Xbox Series X|S and tried to navigate to the map, a huge pop-up banner appeared on the screen advertising a Black Friday deal for Assassin’s Creed Mirage.
Later, the same clip was posted by XboxSquad co-founder @Fab_XS. Below you can see the exact moment a 3-second in-game ad pops up, with players having two options: a) close the banner; b) buy the game at 20% off.
Il semble qu’Ubisoft expérimente la publicité en jeu chez certains utilisateurs (Xbox et PS).
Vous êtes au milieu de votre jeu, accédez à la pause ou à la Map et vous avez pendant 3sec. une pub pour un autre jeu qui s’affiche. Suffisant pour désinstaller ? 😅 pic.twitter.com/m5S4rEXas5
— Fab ✨ (@Fab_XS_) November 23, 2023
Ubisoft hasn’t commented on the situation yet, so it is unclear whether this is just an experiment or a new common practice by the French publisher. It is also hard to say if in-game ads are now being shown to players globally, or in certain regions only.
Other users on Reddit also confirmed that they had seen this banner. “I got same screen on PS5 last night,” one player wrote. Most users in the comments considered this practice unacceptable, with many saying they would immediately uninstall the game after seeing the pop-up banner in the middle of gameplay.
UPDATE: Ubisoft spokesperson Fabien Darrigues told The Verge that “this was the result of a technical error that we addressed as soon as we learned of the issue.” However, it is still unclear how a pop-up banner could accidently appear in the game, and what “technical error” could potentially lead to it.
Players’ disappointment largely stems from the fact that Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a premium that sold for $60 at launch. And in-game ads are the widespread practice among mobile publishers, who use them to promote events/shop/other offers or as one of the monetization methods for their free-to-play game.
Ubisoft has already promoted its products within its games by displaying banners in the main menu of some titles, but this is the first time the company is inserting ads into gameplay. So the French publisher is likely testing new marketing tools. One could argue that this banner in Assassin’s Creed doesn’t directly affect gameplay and isn’t an additional monetization method, but let’s hope that John Riccitiello’s infamous idea of charging $1 to reload an ammo clip in Battlefield never materializes in any future AAA games.