Ubisoft is deleting The Crew from players' libraries, reminding us we own nothing

The company is pulling licenses from paying customers now that the servers have shut down.


Ubisoft’s online-only racing game The Crew stopped being operable on April 1. Some users are reporting, however, that things have gone a bit further. They say that the company actually reached into Ubisoft Connect accounts and revoked the license to access the game, according to reports by Game Rant and others.

Some of these users liken this move to theft, as they had purchased the game with their own money and received no warning that Ubisoft would be deleting the license. When attempting to launch the game, these players say they received a message stating that access was no longer possible.

On its face, this sounds pretty bad. People paid for something that was snatched away. However, there’s one major caveat. The Crew is an online-only racing game, so there really isn’t anything to do without the servers. Those servers went down on April 1 and the game was delisted from digital store fronts. Also, this move only impacts the original game. The Crew 2 and The Crew Motorfest are both still going.

When Ubisoft announced that the servers would be taken offline, it offered refunds to those who recently purchased the The Crew. The game’s been around a decade, so this refund likely didn’t apply to the vast majority of players. Some of these people said they had planned to set up private servers to play the game, an option that is now impossible.

This isn’t the biggest deal in the world, being as how The Crew is not operable, but it does highlight a major problem with the purchase and use of digital goods. We pay money for these products. We think we own them, but we don’t own a damned thing. Read the terms of service from Ubisoft or any other major games publisher for proof of that. Philippe Tremblay, Ubisoft's director of subscriptions, recently told that players will become “comfortable with not owning” their games. I’m not so sure we’ll ever be comfortable with the idea that stuff we paid for can disappear on a dime, even if it becomes standard practice.