A Schism Between Gaming Media and Reality - Ubisoft Refuses Politics

A Schism Between Gaming Media and Reality – Ubisoft Refuses Politics



why do you play games why do we play games the answer is highly subjective for some it's an escape for others competition and there is a long list of reasons why millions of players everyday sign on and play a few hours of their favorite titles turns out mainstream gaming news media doesn't really like that it's by no means something brand new a sort of underlying expectation has existed for many years within a large section of the game journalists community that games should attempt to make a stand and by make a stand I mean convey a position of right and wrong largely motivated by politics there are a number of different examples I regularly bring up games like Far Cry 5 battlefield 5 Call of Duty World War 2 and more recently the division 2 or even further Ghost Recon breakpoint a game that is months away from release I won't go in depth on all the previous examples here but a game like Far Cry 5 was attacked by mainstream gaming news and to be clear when I say mainstream gaming news I'm talking about sites like otaku polygon the verge that kind of shit and not that kind of shit as a synonym for that kind of stuff like some people say nowadays no that kind of shit as in shit or fecal matter but anyways Far Cry 5 was attacked just by being a largely successful and relatively fun experience which sold quite well by the way for not presenting a strongly opinionated narrative against certain demographics another example is battlefield 5 which is a really complicated one but to summarize briefly the games development team made diversity a prominent focal point by itself that's a non-factor but in a world war 2 game an emphasis on female British frontline commando amputees something is off with that for a game that claims to be the most immersive experience yet and is not tagged with the label of historical fiction but even then still not something I would have cared about had the animosity between development team and player base not been so obvious at various points high-ranking developers said things like if you don't like it don't buy it and even when it's the far as to call their own fanbase uneducated because they themselves had decided to market a game poorly and made a bunch of historically inaccurate creative choices needless to say the game didn't do so well but still this is a bit of a tangent the reason it's relevant is because this was a targeted stance which aligned quite well with what the current mainstream gaming media expects to see on the one hand mainstream outlets praised the game and made a deliberate point to disparage the naysayers who attempted to voice even mild or reasonably articulated criticisms of the creative choices but on the other hand the game was such a flop it caused EA's share price to tank almost 20% purely based off of its weak sales numbers the development team chose to give a battlefield 5 a contemporary message if you will which led to positive press but terrible sales there is a long list of instances just like this one the more overt a games message becomes especially when that message has ties to modern politics or social issues the more people will back away from it and in a retail environment when profit margins and sales volume matters quite a bit creative choices that hurt the games overall financial success are not necessarily the right idea I am by no means saying the games can't have a strong social or political message they certainly can but they can also be criticized for that message should they choose to push it whatever it may be this brings us to the true point where once games were criticized for the message they did have or the story they chose to tell now games are being criticized for the stories they didn't tell or the messages they don't have the main example at the moment is Ghost Recon breakpoint now I'm no expert on the Ghost Recon franchise as a whole I liked wildlands I actually had a lot of fun with the pvp especially back when thermal vision was stupidly overpowered and I didn't particularly like the campaign but it was a perfectly fine game because of that vague interest I was mildly curious when the new breakpoint trailer dropped and to be honest it looked pretty cool obviously it's a cinematic reveal designed to create hype so through that lens I didn't really fully trust it but there were some interesting moments and it seemed worthwhile to keep an eye out to me it's the early stages where a game has just been revealed so there really isn't all that much to say and I'm not that interested so I didn't do a trailer analysis or something similar to that but then a few people forwarded me some of the articles already releasing which target break point and have already I shit you not begun to spread negative press about the game because they don't think it's going to be political enough they are effectively criticizing a game for not telling a message they want it to tell and the game isn't even out yet this isn't the first time that Ubisoft has been criticized for avoiding politics the division 2 is a brilliant example of a title that improved on a significant number of that the first iteration had it sold extremely well it has been met with wonderful levels of support and yet articles like this one hit the scene which claimed that the game's refusal to engage with politics make it hard to enjoy to be fair everyone has their own motivations for playing but in my experience the vast majority of players enjoy a game because it is fun to play not because of its political commentary to go a step further there are articles like this one and the language here is what really goes from possibly rational to total what the fuck when you look at the bigger picture of the division – the premise is nearly as ridiculous and far-fetched Washington DC is lawless and locked down after a deadly viral outbreak and it's up to you an agent a secret federal task force charged with while fixing America to restore order and rebuild that symbol of us freedom the White House yes that includes rescuing the president there's just a small problem with that premise in the u.s. of 2019 when Donald Trump is historically unpopular and is perhaps best described as the country's first a bonafide despot it's hard for a lot of people to get fired up by the division 2's effort to make America great again the White House isn't much of a symbol for American freedom when it's occupied by a tyrant here's why Ubisoft the divisions publisher thought that approach would work the division – isn't making any political statements that's what Terri spear one of the game's creative leads told polygon in a June 2018 interview I'm just going to say that you are a veteran agent who was activated before the time of the division – and you got the SOS call okay you're war-torn you're tired you've been doing division stuff elsewhere and you arrived in DC to find what it is you're going to find and you're going to rebuild and make sure that DC does not collapse shade does not collapse and that the nation does not collapse and so it should be clear we're definitely not making any political statements right this is still a work of fiction right the audacity of making a statement like that in 2018 wow that is an epic facepalm and about a game set in the crumbling ruins of Washington DC was obviously not lost on an ever watchful Internet Ubisoft faced sharp criticism almost immediately after polygons a story published and the whole it's not political thing has become a running joke Wow now the article does go on to say that this was their stance before the game launched and since the game has launched and they had a great deal of fun playing it they realized that it is a better because it did not engage with politics in a detrimental way but that in no way exonerates them from having preemptively attacked a game simply because they thought it might not contain enough political propaganda that aligned with their viewpoints the basic concept outlined by Terry spear is a city in crisis where you the player prevent collapse while battling through the streets of Washington DC Ubisoft has long decided not to take a targeted stance and the results have spoken for themselves the game is extremely popular has a lot of quality content and is being met with widespread positivity to be fair the PvP is an absolute disaster but by and large people liked the game the backlash or so-called backlash whatever that really means in the context of this article came almost exclusively from media sites like the verge or polygon or Mashable with battlefield 5 fans were unhappy Media was very happy game was a failure in a totally flopped with division 2 fans were happy media was unhappy game is a resounding success starting to see a pattern here for Ghost Recon breakpoint it appears to be an even earlier and more exaggerated occurrence here's a paragraph from lead developer Sebastian lopressor I'm probably mispronouncing that I apologize but moving on we're creating a game here we're not trying to make political statements in our games we've routed ourselves in reality and you'll get what you get out of your playthrough everybody will get something different out of their experience the story might make you see different situations but we're not trying to guide anybody or make any sort of statements it's a what-if scenario it's Tom Clancy it's purely fictional to most sane human beings that sounds completely reasonable right the game creates a world it lets you experience that world but it isn't trying to tell you how to think you might draw some conclusions from its narrative sure but those conclusions are reliant on how you choose to interpret what the game offers they are not beaten into your brain making overly aggressive political statements is bad for business it's a proven fact and Ubisoft doesn't want to tell their user base what to think so they create a world and let the players think for themselves but mainstream gaming media can't stand that sites like polygon or the verge or whatever else have a narrative that they believe and want to push but it is so far beyond that now where once upon a time they used to criticize a game that ran counter to their preferred narrative which is completely normal everyone tends to do that let me be clear they now criticize anything that does not outright push their preferred narrative it's lunacy the shift from criticizing things you don't like to hear to criticizing anything that does not say the exact things you want to hear even before anything has been said and you have no idea what will be said is mind blowing and demonstrates the growing schism between gaming media and their fan base or to go even further between the media and rational reality at this point I think it's important to say that I'm not really passionate about politics it's definitely fun to engage in the debate here and there but I find myself more often than not disagreeing with Republicans Democrats libertarians all of them I'm certainly an advocate against forced inclusion of political themes in video games but I'm not against those themes existing if they are done in an artistic way but what I simply cannot reconcile in my mind is how and why games are now being criticized for what they might not say well before they have even said or not said it gaming media has been a joke for a long time now but this isn't dulo the one positive I can glean is that Ubisoft has realized that shoehorning in politics negatively impacts their games and by learning that lesson they have now drawn the ire of the hackey mainstream gaming outlets which might lead to a divorce between Ubisoft as well as any other publishers who follow suit and these obsolete journalists for far too long the industry is operated around an industrial hype wheel that turns out exclusives interviews and insider access to these outlets but as companies do their fiscal duty and think about growing the sales volume they may continue to edge and typically damaging inclusion of contemporary social and political agendas which would infuriate gaming journalists even further and perhaps fingers crossed here lead to a redirection of access involving a wider and better-suited group of videogame enthusiasts it's far from certain and at the moment this new phase of demonizing things that don't exist for things they might not even say is beyond annoying but it's something and good might come of it that's it though enough rambling if you want support the channel there are links down below I will also be out of town for the next six or so days possibly a week I'll be working on a game or maybe maybe consulting on a game I'm not sure exactly what to call it but I will be at a studio giving feedback so I'll be pretty much going radio silent until I get back the content will resume as soon as I am back around the 19th I think but that really is it thank you all for watching and have a nice night

20 thoughts on “A Schism Between Gaming Media and Reality – Ubisoft Refuses Politics

  1. I will not be here from May 14th – May 19th! For updates during that time, follow the twitter. https://twitter.com/UE_UpperEchelon

  2. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Don't let game journalist make up your mind about a game. They aren't gamers. Make up your own mind about it, either by playing it, or watching others play it via streams. Journalists are shit. And will always be shit.

  3. oh i offended ur sexual inuendos and do i need to say sorry bcoz im incorrect and u ate crayons taste.. now we are fuck up bcoz of machismo we need unicorns to solution all this.. f them shoot them down now were losing alot make it tight.. shut them fu.

  4. you are incredible! by ponting your finger on think cages (that's what they are!) wrong with this time. will you succed? probably not. but I salute you for trying! would I agree with your political oppinions? IT-DOESN'T-MATTER!!! (that's the key!!!) your stand for freedom of thought and expression is right on a very baisc level, that not many fewers are abel to understand ANYMORE!

    and whose fault is that?

    in a time, where YouTube itself undermines that principles, your voice is more important than ever!

  5. Dear game dev, don't ever listen to the media and always listen to the players and the community.

  6. sounds like unisoft figured it out and I fully agree with you about politics. THey can be there if they are in artistic and creative ways. THese journal websites are not gamers and they are losing to youtubers in ad revenue who are passionate about games regardless of stance.
    Also Media in general having forced politics is definitely not helping and in fact is part of a larger problem we have yet to define.

  7. "Division 2 hard to enjoy" I literally enjoy it the most, now its free to play for limited time, i actually got to play this game. I guess, today media wants to get hated…

  8. And then Ubisoft proceeds to put out Watch Dogs:Legion, the most hyper politically charged premise I've yet seen injected into video games. Pure cancer, hopefully it absolutely bombs it certainly deserves to

  9. I can’t lie I get sucked in to politics way to often. And I am very bias. But whether Obama or trump was in office it shouldn’t matter to any American citizen, if the point of a game is to save America and rebuild it theirs nothing wrong. It’s sick that any American is ok fantasizing of America being destroyed because u don’t like our president

  10. Publisher: pays Journos to write articles for good publicity

    Gamers: *hate the game*, Game fails.

    Publisher: pays Journos to write articles for bad publicity

    Gamers: EA, Activision and Ubisoft are the best companies ever!

  11. I think that sincerity is the key to a political message in entertainment. This point is far and away proven by the the failure of thing like Battlefield V but if you look at more traditional forms of entertainment this idea is repeated case in point the all female remake of ghostbusters and animal farm. Where ghostbusters failed is that it was pandering and people both hate and have a good sense for pandering and thus it failed but the book animal farm was also a political message but it was backed by sincerity as it was a legitimate criticism of Stalin and his government so it succeeded (outside of communist Russia). There is no problem with political messages but they do require sincerity and I personally look forward to the day that games make legitimate political messages but for now I think that they should be avoided

  12. is thats what they (the media) are trying to do to watch dogs three? make it all about their hate of brexit? ubi not taking a stance, but its the media saying, oh ya its about post brexit!

  13. Ugh… I hope most (if not all) of the game developers and publishers realise that gamers and ""game journalists"" are not sides of the same coin and are clearly just in search of a digitalised echochamber of sorts, rather than engaging and thoughtful story and gameplay. They just enjoy scrutinising and making bad press for games that do not adhere to their political agenda (aka, game does not include: microtransactions to fund the hiring of the assassination of trump, and clear hate/alienation of politically uninvolved gamers (talking for me and a few other people living in parts of the world that are not america and therefore couldn't give a flying fuck about the political state over there)). Furthermore, these ""game journalists"" that make up these extremely strict standards of what is considered 'OK', don't even buy the games in the end lmao. Explains the 'underwhelming' sales (that's to be expected when you alienate your playerbase).

    Fucking. Laughable.

  14. Imagine being such a colossal jackass that you try to trash any & every awesome thing for not explicitly being your ideological propaganda tower.

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