Ubisoft Has Never Denied Grooming Children
The author of this news post does not consider himself to be a prude. As consumers we are daily confronted with age recommendations for everything from the entertainment we view to the refreshments we consume. Without batting an eyelid we will be told that access to alcohol and tobacco has been restricted to certain age groups, just as films, video games, and pornography have been regulated along the lines of age-appropriateness, in order to restrict access to individuals deemed too young to consume such content. Hell, even bottled beverages which contain large amounts of caffeine carry labels warning parents that they may not be appropriate for very young children. Such age recommendations exist for a very real and legitimate reason, yet at the end of the day they are just that: recommendations. The buck ultimately stops with a child’s parents. It is a child’s parents who will decide whether they are allowed a glass of wine with their dinner, or whether they are allowed to purchase the newest iteration of Grand Theft Auto – and this is absolutely how it should be. Different children develop at different rates, meaning that any guidelines put in place are by necessity slightly fuzzy generalisations. In many cases it is perfectly fine for parents to overrule the age restrictions pertaining to the entertainment their children consume. And then we have Ubisoft.
The Assassin’s Creed franchise celebrates and fetishises the extralegal killing of people, often civilians, within the context of a historical setting. The franchise depicts killing in a typically bloody fashion, with the newest game in the series, Assassin’s Creed Unity, taking this portrayal of the macabre to a whole new level. If parents wish to allow their children to play these games then that is perfectly fine, and they may even learn a thing or two through their exposure to the game’s historical setting. What is not fine however, is for Ubisoft to attempt to groom children into playing their decidedly adult games through appealing to a child’s inherent love of toys. Ubisoft brand manager, Yannick Spagna, this week admitted that the French mega-publisher has been acting much like a sleazy pornographer or tobacco shill, by entering into a partnership with Mega Bloks in order to create a range of children’s toys based on the mature Assassin’s Creed series – not because this partnership is financially beneficial for Ubisoft, but in order to circumvent prohibitions pertaining to marketing adult content towards children, and thereby groom children onto the Assassin’s Creed series:
“For big IPs, smart brands are the best partners. They do a line with Mega Bloks together. On their side, it’s nice because toys are looking for the hype around video games. And we are looking for a new audience: kids, children, it’s more like that.”
This line of thinking is highly predatory and more than a little sick. Ubisoft is not your child’s parent. Ubisoft does not have their best wishes at heart. Ubisoft are a feculent cesspool of garlic wine swilling Frenchies who wish to exploit young children in an effort to realise even greater returns on their bloated and terrible games. Ubisoft is not the first publisher of mature content to do an action figure tie-in, and they are likely not the first to have done so in order to ween children onto their adult oriented entertainment products, but they are the first [to the best of one’s knowledge] to hold this gross ethical breach in so little regard as to just casually throw it into a public conversation without ever wondering at its appropriateness. Then again, somewhere along the way someone would have had to have known that what they were doing is wrong, since the entire premise of this current tie-in loophole is predicated on the fact that the ERSB strictly prohibits ‘mature’ and ‘teen’ rated games from being marketed towards children:
“Companies must not specifically target advertising for entertainment software products rated “Teen,” “Mature,” or “Adults Only” to consumers for whom the product is not rated as appropriate.”
The author of this news post does not consider himself to be a prude, but what Ubisoft is doing seems demented. What is wrong with letting kids be kids?
Ubisoft Cancels Assassin’s Creed Unity Season Pass – No Refund for Season Pass Owners
Assassin’s Creed Unity was awful. How awful? Awful enough for Ubisoft to completely cancel their plans for a season pass of DLC it would seem. With the cancellation of the season pass comes the corresponding cancellation of extended Assassin’s Creed Unity DLC, while the largely completed Dead Kings DLC will now be ‘free’ for everyone. To that end, owners of the vanilla $60 version of the game definitely come out ahead, insofar as anyone saddled to that turd could be said to come out ahead, while things are decidedly less rosy for owners of the more expensive season pass versions of the game. The CEO of Ubisoft Montreal and Toronto, Yannis Mallat, broke the news as such:
“The launch of Assassin’s Creed Unity was a highly-anticipated moment for me and for our development teams around the world who dedicated a tremendous amount of energy, passion and skill to the game’s creation. For us, it was the culmination of years of work on new technologies, the development of multiple innovations — including an all-new game engine — and an evolution of the Assassin’s Creed franchise’s core pillars. More importantly, we know that it was a highly-anticipated moment for many of you as well, as you looked forward to taking part in the first truly next generation Assassin’s Creed game.
Unfortunately, at launch, the overall quality of the game was diminished by bugs and unexpected technical issues. I want to sincerely apologize on behalf of Ubisoft and the entire Assassin’s Creed team. These problems took away from your enjoyment of the game, and kept many of you from experiencing the game at its fullest potential.
To show our appreciation for your continued support, we’re making the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity Dead Kings DLC free for everyone. For Season Pass holders, we will also offer the choice of one additional game from a selection of Ubisoft titles for free. More details on the offer for Season Pass holders can be found here: AC Unity FAQ”
Yeah… The problem is that season pass owners paid for additional Assassin’s Creed content – if they had a mind to pick up another Ubisoft title then one supposes they would have done just that. What would have been the proper thing to do in this instance would have been to give season pass owners the option of a full cash refund or the free Ubisoft game, and allow them to pick the option that is most to their preference. As it stands, season pass owners have been left paying for goods that they never asked for. The games on offer include four old games and two new ones: Far Cry 4, and The Crew. Far Cry 4 has been released for about two weeks, so it seems likely that the gamers who were most anticipating it would have already snagged themselves a copy, while The Crew is a game of oddly little fanfare. In fact, one does not consider it at all far fetched to imagine that this scheme came into existence purely as a way to save face by artificially bolstering sales of this frequently overlooked new IP, especially since the quality of the game itself appears to be somewhat dubious…
Ubisoft Has Learned No Lessons from Their Review Embargo Trickery
… Why else refuse to send out review copies until the day of release? Ubisoft is attempting to maximise day-1 sales of The Crew by inhibiting reviewers from performing their jobs. One assumes this to mean that the game is set to be a critical flop on par with the most recent entry in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. In the wake of the awfulness that was Assassin’s Creed Unity, a very contrite Ubisoft apologised for the anti-consumer bent of the review embargo they had used in that particular instance, yet, as we are learning, Ubisoft’s sincere appeals to their customer base ultimately mean very little.
The way that review embargoes generally work is that reviewers require advance copies of games in order to get their reviews out in a timely fashion, and this reliance on publisher goodwill means that the publisher is able to set the terms of the game’s review embargo. If a publisher is confident in their product then they may lift the embargo one or even two weeks prior to the game’s launch, while if a publisher is unconfident in the quality of their game then the embargo will typically lift as soon as the clock ticks over on its day of release – what is virtually unheard of however, is for a game’s embargo to be held in place until midday on the day of release. This was the trickery that Ubisoft pulled with Assassin’s Creed Unity, and the game turned out to be shit. In the wake of the gaming community’s backlash against the mediocrity of Assassin’s Creed Unity Ubisoft apologised rather unreservedly for pulling this kind of shit, yet apparently this apology was not sincere because here they are to do it again:
“We also know that many of you will be eager to turn to experts for their professional advice. You want to read how the pros feel after their carefully considered road tests of The Crew. While we totally understand (hey, we read reviews, too!), The Crew was built from the beginning to be a living playground full of driving fans, so it’s only possible to assess our game in its entirety with other real players in the world. And by other, we mean thousands and thousands and thousands of players – something that can’t be simulated with a handful of devs playing alongside the press.
For this very reason, The Crew will be available to media to begin their reviews when the game launches on December 2. There will be absolutely no embargo on any type of coverage once the game is available for sale. While we fully anticipate that you might see some reviews immediately at launch – largely built around the preview sessions we facilitated during the past months or the limited content of the closed and open betas – they won’t be based on optimal conditions or reflect the finished game.”
The open beta of The Crew started on the twenty-fifth of November, with release set for the second of December – nothing will change in this time. The game is complete in terms of content, features, and polish, with nothing set to change until the Ubisoft launch ritual of a day-1 patch. A review based on this particular beta is as representative as it gets to reviewing the state of the game as it is shipped. Moreover, the open beta means that reviewers are experiencing the game precisely as it was meant to be played – by racing against loads of people online. One expects the reviews to pour in relatively quickly after the game goes on sale, in fact reviewers would be stupid not review the game based primarily on the only tools that Ubisoft has given them. Do not count on the reviews to be glowing however, as once again Ubisoft has acted like a bunch of imbeciles, and have generally upset everyone in the process.