On Wednesday we spoke with Ubisoft's Stephanie Perotti about maligned DRM, security concerns and new and upcoming Uplay features. Yesterday, we caught up with the publisher's head of online services again to discuss how Ubisoft's Uplay service might evolve in the very near future. eSports features and livecasting support, she told us, are way up on their list of priorities.
ShootMania represents Ubisoft's biggest push into the competitive angry man shooting arena, though it's currently a law unto itself where community and matchmaking features are concerned. "They're operating on their own," explains Perotti, "because that's a studio we acquired that already had their own systems and infrastructure, but we are looking into at least finding some way to implement some of Uplay's loyalty features."
Perotti went on to describe how it was at the request of the Far Cry 3 development team that party features will be added to Uplay, and that it's the games development teams at Ubisoft who shape and suggest the evolving service's functionality. When asked whether Uplay could be updated to support eSports-specific features, such as livecasting, Perotti responded: "Yes. It's a bit early and the dev team would hate me if I commented too soon, but definitely when I was talking about sharing and social features, everything about video editing, sharing and broadcasting is something we're looking at very seriously. Actually, if you look at Uplay on consoles, we are already streaming videos on console, and this is something that we will continue to improve."
The head of Ubisoft's online services also admitted there's a need for transparency when it comes to the seven different editions of the Assassin's Creed 3 available at launch, each coming with odd additional missions, retail exclusives and other extras. So complex is this multi-pronged flood of additions, that the game's Wikipedia entry sports this helpful guide as to what features are present in which versions. Confused much?
"Obviously we need to be transparent and communicate well on that," said Perotti. "There's always a version where you can have everything, so that you know exactly that you don't miss anything. There are also always ways to get the extra content after launch, either through DLC or special events or Uplay."
Uplay will stock the standard edition of the game, as well as two digital editions, one of which - the Digital Deluxe Edition - contains the three bonus missions, two costumes and two multiplayer characters strewn across other editions of the game. Four missions, however, will remain Playstation 3-exclusive, with no word on whether that content will ever migrate to other versions of the game.
Perotti also appeared disappointed that Uplay had been besmirched by the DRM debate, which culminated in Ubisoft abandoning the always-online requirement, a policy that came into play in June of last year and was only recently clarified in a statement from Ubisoft. "I think there were a lot of misconceptions surrounding Uplay and DRM," she says. "Uplay has nothing to do with it, but it has been associated with the DRM. So our job is to improve and deliver on the service, and hopefully gain the community's trust with what we're bringing and doing."
The community, so far, seems to be reacting well to Ubisoft's u-turn and subsequent efforts to appeal to PC gamers. If they can now follow through on promises to make Uplay a friendlier, more useful, more commercially competitive and more functional piece of software, they could easily bring detractors back on-side.