Ubisoft madness

Mar 5, 2013

I had the dubious pleasure of starting up Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2 this evening, a game I bought during the latest Steam sale. I had previously bought the first H.A.W.X. during another Steam sale only to find out that it supported Windows XP and Vista, but not 7. Oh joy. I’ll just save it for when I invent time travel, which is any day now.

Anyway, H.A.W.X. 2 is indeed supposed to work on Windows 7 but Ubisoft haven’t exactly made it easy to run. I wanted to play it from Big Picture mode, so I hoped it would be immediately accessible with a controller.

It was not. Here’s a rundown of my experience:

  1. I launch H.A.W.X. 2 from Steam.
  2. It’s updating DirectX, as is commonplace when first launching a new Steam game. It’s hardly necessary, but fair enough. Installation finished.
  3. A simple Windows message box pops up saying “Ubisoft Game Launcher error 1” followed by the game window starting and immediately triggering a “H.A.W.X. 2 has stopped working” message.
  4. I Google the error message and find a Ubisoft support article telling me to install Ubisoft Game Launcher. I wonder why the initial game install hadn’t done that for me, as the installer was indeed packaged in the game’s redistributables. Oh well.
  5. Installing Ubisoft Game Launcher. Done.
  6. I start up the game once again. A small window with a Ubisoft logo comes up, saying “Patching, please wait”. Done. Window closes.
  7. An identical window pops up, but with a H.A.W.X. logo this time, again telling me it’s patching. I pleasingly wait. After about 75% into the patching process, “Ubisoft Game Launcher has stopped working”. I close the program.
  8. I launch the game a third time. The H.A.W.X. patching window pops up again and completes.
  9. A Uplay window opens with a progress bar. “Updating Uplay, please wait”. I wait for it to finish.
  10. Uplay restarts and displays a login screen. I take a wild guess at my username and password. Surprisingly, it works (bonus step: if I hadn’t had an account, I would have to register one). I accept their terms of use.
  11. Uplay loads some game information and then requests a license key. I enter the key Steam provided.
  12. A H.A.W.X. 2 page loads in Uplay, much as it would in Steam, and I press the “Play” button. “Synchronizing your saved games with the cloud …“.
  13. The game launches, and after a number of unskippable logos (good thing too, because I almost didn’t notice Ubisoft was involved in this game) I finally arrive at the main menu.
  14. I close the game because frankly this entire process has made me want to write about it.

This reminds me of something but I can't quite put my finger on it... This reminds me of something…

And Ubisoft wonders why people pirate their PC releases. I can take an educated guess. Had I been a filthy pirate instead of the legitimate customer that I am, the experience would probably be something like:

  1. Copy and paste a cracked .exe file.
  2. Run the .exe file.
  3. Main menu.

Also, why would I want something like Uplay when I have Steam? Much like Origin, Uplay seems to me a stillborn service. It seems to work alright, but why anyone would use it as long as Steam still exists is beyond my imagination. A really creepy loyalty to Ubisoft, maybe?

Oh well. At least the Steam overlay is still available. Did I mention that I like Steam?