Some Assassin’s Creed Odyssey console players encountered in-game pop-up ads for Ubisoft’s Black Friday Sale while playing the game. As per a Reddit video posted by u/triddell24, they stumbled upon an advertisement when toggling open the world map, filling the screen with a dismissible banner for Assassin’s Creed Mirage, currently available at a 20 percent discount. Clicking the ‘Buy Now’ button would presumably redirect to the store page for Mirage. Players online have understandable expressed their disappointment over the in-game advertisement that interferes with gameplay. Publisher Ubisoft has since apologised for the pop-up, in addition to stating it was a ‘technical error.’
“We have been made aware that some players encountered a pop-up message in-game while playing certain Assassin’s Creed titles yesterday. This was the result of a technical error that has now been fixed,” Ubisoft addressed in a tweet. The company has denied claims that it was an intentional means to sell more Assassin’s Creed copies, adding that it was supposed to be displayed on in-game menus across the franchise. However, the error caused the promotion to show up in-game and disrupt the flow, causing many to compare it to mobile game ads that constantly urge players to engage with microtransactions. That said, a Community Note attached at the bottom of the tweet shows a similar instance from four years ago where an Assassin’s Creed Odyssey player was hit with a pop-in ad when trying to open the map. In-game advertisements are met with the same, if not worse, outrage as microtransactions, which solely exist as a way to extract more money from customers.
We have been made aware that some players encountered a pop-up message in-game while playing certain Assassin’s Creed titles yesterday. This was the result of a technical error that has now been fixed.
Our intention was to display a promotion for Assassin’s Creed Mirage as part…
— Assassin’s Creed (@assassinscreed) November 24, 2023
Both video game publishers and movie production companies have experimented with ways to include pop-up ads over the years, despite inventing ways to consume ad-free content. Netflix has been dabbling with cheaper ad-supported alternatives in the US, which could be something live service games implement into their core model — it wouldn’t feel far-fetched considering the second you open a menu on something like Overwatch 2, you’re urged to interact with battle passes and purchase new cosmetics. Even Microsoft has started incorporating fullscreen pop–up ads for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 upon booting up the Xbox console, regardless of whether someone already owned the game. There are crafty ways for a developer to promote its own games — Remedy Entertainment being a great example, where it would include posters and screenshots for its other titles via in-world banners, posters, and computer screens.
Earlier this month, Ubisoft confirmed that it was working on two new modes for Assassin’s Creed Mirage, available as a free update in December. While not explicitly mentioned, the New Game+ mode should allow players to plunge back into ninth-century Baghdad in an overpowered state, carrying over any skill upgrades and weapon unlocks. I mentioned in my review how every upgrade in Mirage made an already straightforward game easier, and to that effect, Ubisoft is adding a permadeath mode, accessible across all difficulty levels. The game is a throwback to the old-school Assassin’s Creed games focused on a contained story and stealthy killings before the series took a detour into the open-world RPG format with AC Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla.