Online passes have been more or less ditched by all of the industry’s major publishers at this point, but Ubisoft curiously opted to cling onto the outdated practice for Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Fortunately, following an inevitable online backlash, the publisher has decided to force the title's controversial unlock key to walk the plank, meaning that you’ll be able to access all of the title’s online features – even if you buy the game used.
The problem with this particular online pass is that it locked out important single player content. We were unable to test the title’s Fleets system in our review – a resources management mechanic similar to the mode added in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood – because it required a key that didn’t come with our pre-release copy. Prior to the firm’s backtracking, you would have needed to stump up for a new Uplay Passport if you bought the title second hand in order to access the pivotal single player component.
“Assassin's Creed fans, we heard you loud and clear,” communications manager Gary Steinman said on the Ubisoft blog. “We listen to our community and understand that there are concerns over some players' ability to access this feature, so we have decided to eliminate the cost of the Uplay Passport for Black Flag.” If you’ve already splashed out on one of the passes, you’ll be able to contact the French publisher for a refund.
“Games today are blurring the lines between offline and online, between single player and multiplayer,” Steinman continued. “Based on that and on the feedback that we received from you, we recognised that the Passport is no longer the best approach for ensuring that all of our customers have the best possible experience with all facets of our games.” Let’s now hope that we never need to return to these choppy waters ever again.