Ubisoft apologizes for boorish shutdown reference as Division 2 looks ahead to private beta

    
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Back in October, Ubisoft made the bold claim that it was actively avoiding becoming “openly political in [its] games,” specifically referring to The Division 2. As Ubisoft Massive COO Alf Condelius put it, “It’s a universe and a world that we created for people to explore how to be a good person in a slowly decaying world. But people like to put politics into that, and we back away from those interpretations as much as we can because we don’t want to take a stance in current politics. […] It’s also bad for business, unfortunately, if you want the honest truth.”

It seemed an odd statement at the time, given the setting and situation is overtly political, and it made for some eyerolls. It’s an even odder statement in light of an email Ubisoft sent round last week. “Come see what a real government shutdown looks like in the private beta,” the headline blared. Yikes indeed.

Anyhow, Ubisoft has since apologized, not so much for contradicting itself but for offending people whose very real health and livelihoods were very much affected by the very real shutdown and likely will be again. The apology claims the note was “sent in error” and constituted a “grave breakdown in process”: “We recognize the very real impact of the United States government shut down on thousands of people and did not intend to make light of the situation.”

The private beta itself begins next week on February 7th.

Source: Resetera

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Rolan Storm

Apolitical… Or rather avoiding it. Understandable, but like some folk here said it is simple does not fly. The setting does not allow it. Also I remember one of the cutscenes where head engineer (I think, I saw it long time ago) has been delivering he strong opinion on existence of Directive 51 in particular and situation in general. So no, not really.

If they chose some altered reality with different places and names (“in distant Zanzibar land…”), with different scenery – that would abstract. But not when it so close to real thing.

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draugris

Seems like the fun police is on patrol, no jokes allowed.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

When I saw the email from Ubisoft apologizing, I knew that the news sites would pick up on it. A lot of people may not have really noticed it that much if they didn’t send the apology email right out, but I guess they wanted to get ahead of it in case it did turn into something.

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Utakata

Boorish? That’s a strange way to phrase that. It that what Ubisoft said of this? Or is this something where the tongue is firmly planted in the cheek coming from the writer’s choice of words? O.o

Mewmew
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Mewmew

There are different versions and definitions of Boorish. What they did would almost fit but they’d have to have been doing it on purpose, when really it was them not thinking.

K38FishTacos
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K38FishTacos

The problem is that — like many other words people fight about — there is no generally agreed-upon definition of “political.”

Xijit
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Kickstarter Donor
Xijit

I laughed, and I am sure Ubisoft is very remorseful abouy all this free publicity.

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

I was very disappointed that Ubisoft copped out by making Far Cry 5 not political enough, that game would’ve been VERY interesting if they did explore the political strife in the current day USA.

But nope, they didn’t, we instead got some multi-ethnic hippie extremists…. and that’s it. Very shallow and disappointing. Talk about a wasted potential.

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Baemir

From your description it sounds like it WAS political in a way, just not topical. I’m not sure I want game devs to attempt that anyway. Just sounds like a recipe for disaster. Of course anyone who is highly ideological will want to see propaganda for their side everywhere, but what about the masses?

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rafael12104

So first things first. Boorish is a kind word to describe their tongue in cheek attempt to be clever. Politics aside, the shutdown impacted millions. There are people that are still in danger of losing their homes. Others lost their livelihoods because they are contractors. And that is in the real world. Dumbass is the word that comes to mind.

As for the rest? Ubi is it’s own worst enemy. The more they open their yap, the more they will get dragged into the political quagmire. My advice? Don’t take sides and don’t try to cleanse. Best not to say anything about the politics at all, but if pressed just remind people its a game.

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Jack Kerras

I mean, these folks aren’t Americans. They don’t realize they’re making shitty jokes because none of this stuff impacts them, and the largest source of political info they have from the US is sideline news stories and memes. We have a lot of colossal assholes making memery about things that are honest-to-God terrible for everyone, but those people are dickbags, and memes travel -real- fast.

As for political stuff: they are fucking in it. They have always been in it. You can’t -not be political- when you’re making art of any kind, even a huge half-decade collaborative enterprise like a video game. It’s just not possible to completely avoid making a statement of some kind.

The original Division’s statements could be kind of crappy. I played it anyway, but I have plenty of friends – I am surrounded by other queers and trans folks and other people who have reason to be a bit touchy about political messaging as a whole concept – who wouldn’t touch the game with a ten-foot pole, and looked askance at me for having done so.

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rafael12104

Well, everyone is in it I suppose. I understand your point. But for Ubi it doesn’t pay to start arguing politics with gamers no matter their position.

So, if they make a good game, then that’s the best they can do. Some will call out political bias. If that is how some players make choices on the games they play, so be it.

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Jack Kerras

I agree; they should work to make the best game they can. Being conscious of what their game says is important, though, and saying ‘well, we didn’t mean it like that!’ doesn’t fix things when your game turns out to be Government Agents Cleansing The Poor And Mentally Ill Simulator.

It wasn’t really pitched like that, but sleeper agents mobilizing against civilians and killing people in the streets, no matter how bad shit’s gotten, is pretty rough.

Again: I am not really that worried about it myself, the games are fun and I don’t examine their message that fucking hard, but saying they -have- no message is just not so.

Further: it -does- pay to argue politics with gamers. For example: the Wolfenstein folks are all about ‘fuck Nazis’, and you know what? They’ll lose a little business, because some of their prospective players are Nazis, or adjacent at least.

Doesn’t matter.

Adopting a hard-line stance against Nazis is plain common sense, and it’s worth the handful of sales you’ll lose to folks who can’t stop bleating about freedom of speech or memeing about Hitler having done nothing wrong. Feels good to do, puts your cards on the table, loses an insignificant amount of money and wins you at least a few valor points with straight-up everyone who doesn’t suck ass.

Same thing with LGBTQ+ folks. It is a net positive to have some representation there, even though folks are going to piss and moan until the end of the Earth about how they’re ‘forced’ or political or what-have-you. Fuck that. Do it anyway. Representation saves lives and it’s worth doing even if a couple hundred absolute fuckbeards refuse to buy your game because it features a gay or trans person who never gets murdered and isn’t bad guy.

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Utakata

Well…that becomes the middle of the road fallacy where they will get hit from both sides. I think Willie Nelson wrote a song about that playing on that road again. Either way though, the narrative should be not to wear their politics on their sleeve instead. Most people don’t. That’s usually the professional decorum. Mr. Pink from Reservoir Dogs said something about that too…

…and besides, when dealing with The Asshole-in-Chief, there’s only one real reasonable side to take. But again, they don’t need to brag about it…unless they are Robert De Niro. o.O

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Mark Mealman

Avoiding politics in its game means you won’t be seeing Trump or Obama images in DC. It’s a fictional world that doesn’t reflect our current modern political climate.

It’s a very smart move on their part.

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Jack Kerras

No, it’s an impossible bullshit move on their part.

You can’t have a game like this and not have its message end up political; it’s not smart, it’s corporate ass-covering while producing content which clearly contains a stance of some kind.

Yes, they have no real-world politicians, nor analogues of same; we’re all Division agents here. But any game with LGBTQ+ representation, a diverse and varied cast, and players (and enemies!) from every walk of life -does- make statements, even if they’re not intended to be political.

Some of them are good, see: our gay doctor buddy in the original game. Some of them are ‘every convict is a violent murderer and summary execution is the only response’, or black-coding the low-rank poor enemies to the point that post-launch they had to add tons of VO to round out their voices. Not showing any skin just wasn’t enough, and they already got huge backlash for that.

They’re trying to avoid getting that again and, being largely from a place which is not America, they fucked it up pretty good. My British colleagues make cracks about Trump kind of regularly, but take a bit of offense at Brexit jokes; one of those things is in their wheelhouse and the other isn’t, so they don’t realize how substantial the message is to people it actually affects.

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Utakata

I am still looking for that filter that turns all Trump images into cats. /nyaa

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Mr Poolaty

I started playing the first one and while I was hooked at first it just started to wear on me that I was a government agent and I was killing civilians… I wanted more and more to be the bad guys and couldn’t…

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John Kiser

You were killing civilians that formed violent gangs/militias and were burning other people alive, killing other people etc. The government agents were at least trying to find a cure and help those people instead of burning them alive among other shit.