First reported by Rock Paper Shotgun, console players of older Assassin’s Creed games like Origins, Odyssey, and Valhalla encountered Black Friday ad pop-ups for the latest entry, Assassin’s Creed Mirage, while trying to access in-game menus. Ubisoft has since stated that the ads appeared due to a “technical error” and removed them.
Videos demonstrating the issue show a full-screen spread touting a 20% off Black Friday offer for Mirage, with a prompt to dismiss the ad or “buy now.” The ad seemed most likely to appear when players tried to access the map screen of the affected games.
Just got an in-game advertisement when I tried to go to the map from r/xboxone
“Our intention was to display a promotion for Assassin’s Creed Mirage as part of the franchise news in the main menu of other Assassin’s Creed games,” Ubisoft stated on Twitter through the official Assassin’s Creed account. “Unfortunately, this technical error caused the promotion to appear in one of our in-game menus instead.”
This isn’t the first time this has happened to an Assassin’s Creed game, either: in 2019, Kotaku reported on a similar situation where ads for Assassin’s Creed Osyssey’s DLC kept popping up in-between in-game menu screens. Ubisoft stated at the time that this was a glitch as well.
I don’t particularly love the way we see advertising on videogame title screens, but plenty of developers and publishers do it. I launched Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous to screenshot its in-game news ticker (which usually points players to new DLC packs) as an example, and was greeted by a full-page spread for Owlcat’s upcoming Rogue Trader—pretty much the exact same experience as Ubisoft seems to have intended with these Assassin’s Creed pop-ups.
The uneven rollout, coupled with the negative press Ubisoft has gotten both times this happened, leads me to believe it really was a technical error and not an experiment with a new style of invasive advertising as some commenters on Reddit and Twitter allege.
It’s times like these that I fondly recall the Warden’s Keep DLC for Dragon Age: Origins all the way back in 2009. In the base game, with no DLC installed, an annoying little man would eventually show up at your party camp with a big quest giver exclamation point over his head to tell you about the Warden’s Keep quest, and the only way to make him go away was to buy the DLC. Levi Dryden, get the hell out of my house! I don’t care about your stupid family’s legacy.