About the Author
Mass Effect
Final Fantasy X
Batman:Arkham City
Borderlands Series
Weekly Column
Champions Online
World of Warcraft
DM of the Rings
Good Robot
Project Frontier
Forums
"Music"



E3 2018 Day 3: Ubisoft Press Event Part 1

By Shamus
on Wednesday Jun 13, 2018
Filed under:
Industry Events

 
 

This is it. The last of the E3 streams for me. This one ran long in terms of commentary, so I’m going to make it a two-parter. As before, I streamed this show along with Ross, who worked on Good Robot with me. He works at Ubisoft now, and was streaming this event from inside the Ubi offices.

We start off the pre-show with some talk about Uplay and the Ubi offices that I can’t easily summarize here. As before, I’ve got a brief text-based reaction below the video:


Link (YouTube)


I’m not going to comment on that ridiculous intro dance number. That’s just how Ubisoft does things, and I’d never be able to do it justice in text. Let’s skip all the madness and go right to the first game…

Beyond Good & Evil

Yeah, the monkey gets on my nerves too. But I think he's supposed to?

Yeah, the monkey gets on my nerves too. But I think he's supposed to?

I know this is a bit contentious with fans of the original BG&E. This newer game doesn’t look or feel anything like the 2003 cult classic. It doesn’t even seem to be in the same genre. At some point you cross this threshold where the two works are so vastly different that you wonder why they’re bothering to re-use the name at all. I mean, BG&E wasn’t a smash hit. According to Wikipedia:

Beyond Good & Evil was not a commercial success. The game saw poor sales upon its release in the 2003 Christmas and holiday season. Retailers quickly decreased the price by up to 80 percent. Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine staff attributed the poor sales of the game—among many other 2003 releases—to an over-saturated market, and labeled Beyond Good & Evil as a commercial “disappointment”.

The name only means something to the small number of people who bought the game. But this sequel is not really trying to appeal to those fans as a nostalgia property. But if you’re not doing that, then why use the name?

For the record, I played BG&E several years after the release. I played the PC port, which was generally awful and frustrating for a bunch of reasons I won’t get into here. I like the game, but I didn’t fall in love with it and I barely remember anything about it.

Since I don’t have a strong attachment to the original, I’m fine with this table-flipping sequel. Still, I get why fans are mad. I can imagine how frustrated I’d be if they remade System Shock to be an anime-style point-and-click adventure.

This new thing looks like The Fifth Element. It’s like someone took a cyberpunk world and added sugar. The world is not a shiny happy Trektopia. There’s rich and poor, prejudice and injustice, but the inhabitants of the world seem to be having fun anyway. It’s bold and colorful and strange.

Well. That's new.

Well. That's new.

This thing is crazy ambitious. It’s a huge urban world where you can seamlessly jump between different characters and different types of play. You get to craft your own character from among all the various species that inhabit the gameworld. The backstory is big and complex and filled with wild ideas about how this particular civilization of sapient monkeys, pigs, pandas, sharks, and humans came to be.

And then things get really nuts when they invite the community to submit their own music and artwork to fill out the gameworld. I realize that some people will see this as a giant corporation asking their customers to “work for exposure”, and then turning around and selling them the finished work. And yeah, that’s kinda true. But I (and I assume a lot of other people) would be delighted to have my work woven into a rich gameworld like this. I wouldn’t even need “exposure”. Just turning on the in-game Pirate Radio and hearing one of my own tracksAnd knowing that this was part of an experience millions of other people are having. would be payment enough.

Given the sheer scale and ambition of this design, this might be the only way anyone could make something like this without going broke in the process. Games are terrifyingly large and expensive at this point, and I’m fine with pitching in to see it happen. Or I would be, if I thought my work was good enough to make the cut. I don’t actually have the knowledge or skill to hit the genre-bending pan-ethnic vibe they’re going for. Ah well.

Rainbow 6 Siege


Link (YouTube)

Everything I know about this game I learned from SuperBunnyHop. This is another one of those games I keep meaning to spectate but then never get around to.

Trials

I’m not into this game, but it’s always one of the best bits of the Ubisoft presentation. As much exposure as this game gets, I never hear anyone talk about it outside of E3.

During this segment Ross and I have a discussion on release dates. This year I saw at least six major titles with a release date in the January – March 2019 range. I think I only saw one that was aiming for the “Christmas Zone” of October – December 2018.

Did the calculus of release dates change recently? I understand why everyone fought over the Christmas season, but why would everyone fight over the post-Christmas slump? There’s usually a dip in disposable income after the holidays. And if you’re looking to release a title with little opposition, then summer is a better bet. Or did all of the publishers attempt to concede Christmas at the same time and cause a February traffic jam?

Theories?

The Division 2

I have always hated the faux-roleplay fake multiplayer demos that Ubisoft puts out. I know I already ranted about this during the Microsoft event, but it really rubs me the wrong way.

On top of that, I hate the lame-ass nonversation this game has with regard to its subject matter. The setting has government agents (who report to only the president) going through the streets, summarily executing “rioters” (civilians) after a pandemic. This would be fine if this game was set in some cyberpunk future, or on another planet, or in some crazy alternate reality. Heck, just putting it in a fictional American city would help. But this is a game that takes place in modern-day Washington DC and is loosely based on real ideas about how the government might operate in a crisis. It portrays the player as an unambiguous good against a cartoon evil, despite the fact that you’re a government agent executing your fellow citizens without due process. It’s basically “Human Rights Violations Online”. (Yes, the game sometimes portrays the “rioters” as doing bad things. But not always. And that’s the problem if you’re always killing them.)

This game sets itself at the political center of the USA and furiously pokes at some very sensitive topics. Then it refuses to say anything. And then the developer shrugs his shoulders as if to say What? This game isn’t political. I have no idea what you’re talking about!Not a literal quote. Read the linked article.

I don’t think every game needs to be a web of complex moral puzzles and political commentary. I’m fine if the designer takes the attitude of “It’s just a game. Have fun. We don’t need to overthink it!” On the other hand, I’m also open to having a game say political things. (Even things I disagree with!) Games are an art form and you can use it to express whatever kinds of ideas you want, or even no ideas at all!

But this game wants to throw a red-white-and-blue brick through the window and then claim it’s just trying to play catch. This game is like a white guy showing up to a Black Lives Matter rally in a shirt that says “******* black people”, and when you ask him what the asterisks stand for he shrugs, “What? It’s just a shirt. I’m not saying anything. Why would you think I’m saying something?” It’s a game screaming for attention and then refusing to say anything. It’s completely obnoxious.

And I would be fine with this being the gaming equivalent of a trollface if it seemed like SOMEONE at Ubi was having a laugh, but everyone takes this thing SO SERIOUSLY.

On top of everything else, this is a stop-and-pop cover shooter with bullet sponge enemies. This is a game almost perfectly engineered to irritate me on every level.

Skull & Bones

Avast! Hoist the mainstay, rudder the deck, veer off the starboard prow, and send them down to Davey Jones' Lobster!

Avast! Hoist the mainstay, rudder the deck, veer off the starboard prow, and send them down to Davey Jones' Lobster!

Here we have an open world (open ocean, really) PVP game about piracy. It seems really reasonable to assume someone at Ubisoft looked at how much players loved the ship-to-ship combat in Assassins Creed: Black Flag and decided to make that into a game of its own. It looks really pretty.

Even better, this PvP battle is simply narrated in a faux-documentary style voice instead of Ubisoft doing the Ubi thing where they hire actors to read cringe-y “player chat”.

Not my thing, but kinda fun to watch.

Footnotes:

[1] And knowing that this was part of an experience millions of other people are having.

[2] Not a literal quote. Read the linked article.


 
 
Comments (147)

  1. Redingold says:

    You’re not covering Sony’s stream at all?

    • Redrock says:

      Wondering about that too. Was kinda looking forward to Shamus’s coverage of Sony’s stuff myself.

    • Preciousgollum says:

      Sony’s E3 was trailers – there isn’t a lot to say. You can watch them on the Internet. At least Sony had some gameplay in their trailers. Sony E3 has got on with the job for some years in a row.

      … apart from having a ‘News-chat’ or ‘Talk-show’ style section in the 2018 one.

  2. Grimwear says:

    So I recently picked up Rainbow Six Siege because two of my friends play it and we got burned out on Pubg but still want to play something together. Before this point I absolutely refused to have Uplay on my computer. Even now it still irks me. Like you can’t put yourself to appear offline. This should be a basic feature. Heck I leave steam open in the background because I can leave myself as appearing offline. And sometimes I want to play my games in peace without anyone talking to me. Why can’t Ubisoft grasp this simple concept. I did a quick google search and found people asking for this in 2016 and the devs even responded “thanks for the suggestion”. Nothing came of it clearly. God I recall battlenet took forever implementing it too. I cannot express how much disdain I have for these services that don’t allow you to be invisible to people. If you want a surefire way to make me not want to open your service and leisurely browse then don’t let me appear offline. Idiots.

    As to Rainbow Six Siege I got the Standard edition which gives me the bare minimum while allowing me to unlock operators at the “normal” rate. Well I managed to play pretty frequently for a week straight and finally managed to unlock my first operator. I did a quick calculation and unlocking all playable characters right now would take me roughly 400 hours. Thanks Ubi, totally not pushing your season passes super hard or anything. I actually enjoy their terrorist hunt because I can play it solo (once again really wish I could appear offline here because I don’t always want to be pestered with play with me online invites) but because people were abusing it to get quick Siege Currency for unlocks they capped it at 36 for normal (which is what I play at). Meaning if I wanted to “solo” unlock it would take 695 playthroughs for 1 character. My casual matches net somewhere between 100-300 per match. I get that Ubi doesn’t want people farming like crazy for their lootboxes and whatnot but while I really enjoy this game everything about unlocks just sets me on edge and may directly lead to me putting the game away forever.

    • Decius says:

      It really bothers me when people complain about how much time it will take to unlock things in a F2P game, but don’t bother to mention how much money it would take.

      I could do the research and figure out what it costs to buy Siege- I hope it’s less than the $350 or so that I calculated it costs to buy Heroes of the Storm (all non-cosmetic content).

      • Grimwear says:

        All my prices are CAD but for my edition it costs 50 and for the complete edition (which is the only one they offer which gives years 1-3 operators) it would cost me 170$.

        Also Rainbow Six Siege is not F2P. You must pay the bare minimum of 20 dollars to play the game.

        • SKD says:

          Also Rainbow Six Siege is not F2P. You must pay the bare minimum of 20 dollars to play the game.

          Thank you, you beat me to it. A game that needs to be purchased and then can be played online for free is not F2P. F2P implicitly implies that the game can be acquired and played without spending any money whatsoever. Games published in this model generally rely on microtransactions and/or advertising as their sole sources of income.

          Rainbow Six Siege is essentially like CoD or Battlefield in that you have to purchase the game and multiplayer servers are provided for no additional charge.

        • Wolle says:

          It’s on sale right now, though (at least in Europe). The complete edition would cost me 60€.

          • Olivier FAURE says:

            Are you sure? I’m from France and Steam tells me the Complete Edition is still for 120€.

            For 60€ I can get the Rainbow Six bundle, which is multiple Rainbow Six games, no DLC.

            I haven’t played Siege yet, so I don’t know how long it takes to unlock new classes, but at first glance it looks like they’re mostly upfront about their pricing and what you get for your money. (also I’m told that you get some content from the season passes even if you don’t buy them?)

    • Shinan says:

      In their defense (though it’s a poor defense), the unlockable characters are essentially DLC characters. So one could also view them as characters that come as part of a bought expansion pack, that you also could grind for should you want to.

      If that’s how it is. There’s so many editions of this game now, but back when I bought it the base operators were all unlockable for fairly cheap (you could get about half of them by playing the tutorial thingie) and the rest came naturally as you played a bit.

      It’s only the season pass operators that are incredibly expensive… Right?

  3. Asdasd says:

    I also noticed that February is the new November. It’s always struck me as insanely inefficient that we see a year’s worth of games released in the same month – can we even count all the good games which have been sent out unfairly to die? But it’s been a conservative industry for more than a decade, and there’s so much trend chasing going on in terms of genre and mechanics that it perhaps shouldn’t surprise us when publishers ape one another’s release schedules too. I guess having two windows now instead of one is a step in the right direction..

    When you think about it, isn’t E3 itself similarly inefficient? The concentration of everyone’s news and hype for the entire year surely sees a tremendous amount of time and effort sunk into presentations that just get lost in the crush.

    • Redrock says:

      I’d actually be interested in seeing some quality market research on consumer behavior in those packed months. How many games do people buy? Perhaps, outside of a certain hardcore group, most people would only buy one of those regardless of when they are released. In my experience, market research often reveals some counterintuitive stuff that can contradict my or your spending habits.

    • ngthagg says:

      I think your answer is the post above. Shamus wouldn’t have talked about the majority of these titles (let alone did a steam featuring them) if they weren’t grouped together.

      Here’s a comparison. Would the greeting card industry be better off producing a series of cards spread over the whole year instead of putting them all out for Valentine’s day? I’m sure a lot of nice cards get passed over in the frenzy.

  4. Redrock says:

    I never really understood where Beyond Good and Evil’s cult status comes from. The semi-open world was fun, but most of the gameplay elements were pretty janky, one way or another. I guess it had a certain charm and I’ll be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued by the cliffhanger ending. But a prequel with a hell of a lot of retconning might as well be a completely separate game, as far as I’m concerned.

    I have a lot of thoughts about the Division and the “controversy” around it, but most of those break the rules here. I’ll just say that, for some reason, modern Call of Duty never got THAT much flak for portraying people of other ethnicities and nations as cannon fodder. Far Cry also got a pass before it dared to come to America. I think a lot of people have trouble with foreign developers treating America as just another exotic locale. Which is completely natural, but it’s also something gamers in Europe, Asia and Africa have been dealing, calmly, for decades now. Again, not blaming anyone here. It’s just fascinating to watch as an outsider.

    • Viktor says:

      You can’t make any art that isn’t political. And games are absolutely art. The question here is, do the devs of The Division know the message of their game and are being told by marketing “Make the message, but don’t say anything publicly” or do they honestly think you can make a game where a government agent is killing people and not come across as either endorsing or condemning it?

      CoD is exactly the same situation, but either through luck or care(I’d bet luck), they’ve been able to keep their politics from being blatantly obvious, which means that games journalists and the bulk of the public don’t ask about the politics. Even if the message is very similar to The Division, as long as no one draws any attention to it, the only people who will talk about the message are people who pay attention to that. The Division drew attention by hitting you over the head with the situation, a journalist asked the question, and suddenly everyone is talking about the politics.

      I’m sure the marketing department there is flipping out right now. The good solution is to pay attention to the message your art sends and only make products you can stand behind as a company, the actual solution is going to be a “We’re sorry if anyone read any unintended meaning into us making a game where you as the FBI are killing civilians for the crime of looking criminal. We never intended to take a stand on anything, and we hope you’ll forgive us in time to preorder for the AR-15 bonus weapon.”

      • Redrock says:

        But a game about murdering invading Russian soldiers is OK? I get all of that. But the uneven reactions amuse me. It’s funny how people see their own country as “real”, with real issues, but all other countries and nations you can make any story about and no one cares.

        I mean, can you imagine Ukrainians going nuts about how STALKER portrays their military? Or the SSU (SBU)? Because you absolutely are gunning down everyone in your path while being an SBU agent in Call of Pripyat.

        It’s cute, is all I’m saying. Perfectly normal, but cute nevertheless.

        • Hector says:

          I disagree with Viktor that art is always political. There are museums full of art with no meaningful relationship to any political questions, past or present. It’s only political if you demand that it be, or impose such meaning upon it arbitrarily. Which is not to say that art cannot be political, but it’s not inherent in any medium.

          But, while the Division isn’t political – it absolutely should have been. Instead, it’s too shallow to make any sort of statement or even have a coherent question, in the way that Ubisoft likes to run up to the line of pretending to have meaning but then drops every ball ever made in any conceivable universe (and several inconceivable ones). Ubi was roundly, and publicly, criticized for this the first time, of course.

          The reason for this is that Ubi went to a considerable degree of trouble in order to present the game as “real,” but tried very hard not to explore any implications of that. Ubi could have filled the game with zombies or whatever, but put players in the position of basically murdering hundreds or thousands of fellow citizens on extremely dubious grounds. Players didn’t impose this meaning on an unrelated game – Ubisoft deliberately designed it in. The game tells you in a hundred designed-in ways, “This is Real. This is Serious.” But it isn’t, and when people treated it as Real or Serious with some pretty negative, and thoroughly justified emotional reactions, Ubi tried to shrug it off by saying it didn’t mean anything.

          • Decius says:

            >There are museums full of art with no meaningful relationship to any political questions, past or present.

            Where? The classical artists are undeniably political. Likewise with modern artists.

            • Narkis says:

              Alright, I’ll bite. What’s the political message behind the Mona Lisa, the Seventh Symphony, or the Aphrodite of Milos?

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Or 4’33”

                Really,the notion that every piece of art is infused with a political message is rather silly.Sure,people can read a political message in it,but that does not mean its actually there.It can also mean that some people are projecting their own politics onto that piece of art.For example,if someone says that birth of a nation is a movie about the oppression of white people by the black slave owners,it would be clear that they are projecting their own views onto the film instead of the actual message of it.

              • John says:

                An artwork’s political content depends not just on the substance of the artwork but also on the context in which it was created and the context in which it was or is exhibited. In the Soviet Union, for example, painting in any style other than the officially approved Socialist Realism–no matter how innocuous or conventional that style might appear to be–was a deeply political act. A modern museum might stage an exhibit of Old Masters in such a way as to make a political point. Imagine an exhibit that contrasts, say, old European paintings of Africans or Africa with artworks created by Africans. Considered individually and divorced from all context, we might not view the paintings as political. The politics is all in the way the paintings are exhibited.

                The artworks you cite were all commissioned by wealthy individuals or organizations in order to show off their wealth and enhance their status. Public posturing is a political act. You may not view the artworks as political, but that doesn’t mean that other people don’t view them that way or that they can’t be used for political purposes.

                • Redrock says:

                  Oh boy. While you are strictly speaking correct, you should also acknowledge that actually interpreting each and every little thing as a political act is pretty much a symptom of totalitarianism. Your Soviet Union example was more on point than you might think, because back then using a newspaper with Stalin’s photo in the privacy of your home to, I don’t know, wrap up some leftover herring, could very well lead to an arrest. And no, I’m not exaggerating. Interpreting everything as political with total disregard of intent is not healthy.

                  • John says:

                    I agree with you in that I don’t necessarily agree that all art is political. The important thing is that all art can be put to political uses or perceived as political, even if the artist had no overt political intentions. To bring this back to Ubisoft and the Ubisoft presentation, I suspect what has happened is that Ubisoft has been trying to add gravitas or emotional impact to their games by making them topical or relevant. See the civil-rights allegory (or maybe non-allegory, since I’m not sure that they said anything coherent) in Mankind Divided, for example. But for whatever reason Ubisoft seems to lack the good sense to realize that people feel strongly about topical and relevant subjects and that these subjects are therefore inherently political. Or maybe Ubisoft doesn’t. Maybe Ubisoft is shocked–shocked!–to find that some people consider these topics political, as the marketing department all the while rubs its collective hands with glee because of the free publicity. I don’t know.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Of course any art can be used for political purpose.But that does not mean the art itself has an inherent political meaning.Displaying art in a particular fashion is kind of an art form on its own.And it can be transformative enough to make it into a completely different thing.

                  For example,never gonna give you up has become something entirely different than the love song it was initially.It does not mean that Rick Astley made the song as an anti scientology message,even though it was used in such a fashion,and even though he supported that usage after the fact.

                • Narkis says:

                  The artworks you cite were all commissioned by wealthy individuals or organizations in order to show off their wealth and enhance their status. Public posturing is a political act. You may not view the artworks as political, but that doesn’t mean that other people don’t view them that way or that they can’t be used for political purposes.

                  By that logic, everything a rich individual spends their money on is political. A villa, a ferrari and caviar are all political statements, and as their substitutes so are my small apartment, my old hyundai and the lentils I ate today. This, I think, is inherently silly, and such viewpoint reveals more about the person than about the nature of the world.

                  I absolutely concede that just about everything might be used as a political statement, but that doesn’t make everything inherently political and the fact that you have to invent a context in order to justify this is not in favor of your argument.

                  • John says:

                    You’re taking my argument to extremes that I never would. I’d agree that, in some sense, all choices are or can be political. Even choices that don’t seem political can be made political when you consider the opportunities foregone in order to make them. Money spent on one thing is money that cannot be spent on another, for example. That said, political is not the same as significant and to scrutinize everyone’s every last choice for its political content would be a tremendous waste of time and effort.

                    In other words, you can enjoy your lentils in apolitical serenity. But if some billionaire makes a big, expensive, and above all public production out of his lentil consumption then, yeah, that’s political.

                    • Narkis says:

                      As you say, “political is not the same as significant”. The billionaire’s public spending may be significant and a status signal, but that is not at all the same as a political statement.

        • Viktor says:

          Redrock, it’s not that shooting Russians/Muslims/religious fundamentalists is less political, it’s just that the average journalist or fratbro is able to happily ignore the politics. If you bring up the question of politics, you’re the one being divisive, therefore you’re wrong(at least in America). But The Divison is so obviously tied into the issues of the day that IT’S bringing up politics(in the opinion of the masses), so journalists can safely ask about it and have The Division take the heat for being political.

          Hector, the vast majority of classical European art is Bible fanart commissioned by the Church to help spread their message. That’s political. The remainder is mostly commissioned portraits of various wealthy nobles looking strong and surrounded by signs of their wealth and power, to be displayed for all who come to their castle. That’s political. Look at any art movement, Dadaism, neoclassicism, whatever, and you see politics the instant you ask “Why does this movement exist”, “What did artists do with it”, and “What was the reaction of society”. If art didn’t have something to say about people or about the world, then it wouldn’t be art.

          • Shamus says:

            I don’t know how other people feel about it, but for me it really helps to just have at least one layer of fiction between our world and the gameworld. I don’t play CoD, but from what I understand they’re usually fighting in in a fictional country, or the war is over some near-future super weapon. While still arguably political and obviously crass, I think the slight removal takes the edge off. Even Far Cry 5 features a nondescript cult rather than an explicit analogue to the real world.

            Sure, those games are careless with their source material and they never really say anything, but for me The Division is on another level because:

            * It lacks the layer of fiction you’d get from a fictional city or some near-future sci-fi tech.
            * It’s set in DC, which… it feels like the writer is TRYING to say something with that.
            * The in-game behavior is so poorly justified. When the bad guys in CoD are stealing a superweapon to blow up the ocean (or whatever) then I understand why I need to shoot all these guys. The Division is not quite as clear about why you need to shoot these dudes in hoodies.

            So yes, lots of games are careless with this sort of stuff, but it’s clearly a matter of degrees and in my book The Division is worse than the others. (Maybe I’d change my mind if I paid more attention to CoD. This is just based on my brief run-ins with the series.)

            • Redrock says:

              * It lacks the layer of fiction you’d get from a fictional city or some near-future sci-fi tech.
              * It’s set in DC, which… it feels like the writer is TRYING to say something with that.
              * The in-game behavior is so poorly justified. When the bad guys in CoD are stealing a superweapon to blow up the ocean (or whatever) then I understand why I need to shoot all these guys. The Division is not quite as clear about why you need to shoot these dudes in hoodies.

              These are some solid arguments. I agree that The Division could really do with some wackiness-alt-history-cyberpunk filter. Shouldn’t be so serious when it’s so scared of being taken seriously. Also, importantly, it’s a bloody boring silly game. That said, the reaction is still interesting purely in terms of some drastic cultural differences. For example, the hoodie being a racial thing in the States now. Before 2012, the hoodie was at worst mostly a social thing, wrongly associated with troubled and rebellious youth of all races, shoplifting, etc., especially outside the US. Hell, in my country the hoodie is still just a trendy thing young people wear. The reason I’m talking about all that is that it pays to remember that Ubisoft is a European company. That’s something a lot of people forget. Massive Entertainment is based in Sweden. They are absolutely making a mistake with The Division. But that mistake may not as ill-intentioned or even obvious as it probably looks to American citizens. But hey, if you wanna sell a game in the USA, maybe pay attention to the current cultural climate.

              • Shamus says:

                ” But that mistake may not as ill-intentioned or even obvious as it probably looks to American citizens. ”

                That is a really good point. The lead guy giving the demonstration didn’t seem to have an “accent” to me, so I sort of defaulted to thinking writer = American = Should Know Better. But likely as not that guy is Canadian, and he’s not the writer / designer.

                • Steve C says:

                  The article you linked to said the studio was in North Carolina in the intro. Later the interviewer asked a direct question about it:

                  What does that mean to you personally, you who live in and work in and lead your life in North Carolina, making a game about the next revolution? About civil war?

                  I don’t believe Ubisoft’s European financial roots matter too much in this game. And from the “You have this grin on your face” line, they know they are lying and also know they are not fooling anyone.
                  It is a very odd stance to take. Especially since it is clear it is the “official” stance by the company. Weird.

                  • Redrock says:

                    The Division is originally created by Massive Entertainment, which is Swedish. And Massive is, I believe, still project lead for the sequel. And, as far as I can tell, most big decisions are still handled by Ubi HQ, which is in France. Most of Ubi’s studios are also outside the States. Yeah, they brought in Americans for this one, but it’s not like the Division’s problems are new. They were there from the word go.

                  • TheJungerLudendorff says:

                    As far as I can tell their stance is just corporate nonsense-speak to try and avoid any serious controversy and deflect accusations.
                    Like how corporations will often insist that they never make mistakes and problems don’t exist. They have nothing to gain from telling the truth, and open themselves up to a lot of controversy.

                    • Redrock says:

                      Insert “you can’t handle the truth!!!” gif here.

                    • Steve C says:

                      I agree, but I don’t understand it. Not when they know it can’t fool anyone and it is still there. I find corporate nonsense-speak like that really offensive. Far more offensive than controversy. It is substituting something worse.

                      It is like stealing a phone then denying it is ringing. Not that it is stolen, not that it is yours, not that you have it, but that it is ringing at all. Then smiling about it.

                      I disagree though that this is the sort of decision handled by Ubi HQ.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Not when they know it can’t fool anyone and it is still there.

                      Youd think that,but youd be wrong.Look at ubisoft.Countless times have they fucked up,royally,and every time they issued a “We will do better” “””””apology”””””,only to proceed and fuck up in a different fashion.And what does the media do?Every time they accept the “””””apology””””” and praise ubisoft for their “effort to improve”.And then the customers also accept it and praise them for “trying to do better”*.Even though everyone knows thats not true,they still prefer to believe that “this time will be different”.

                      And when you get some asshole like Jim Sterling listing off the number of times a corporation has blatantly lied through their teeth**,they are being called grumpy and petty and assholes and ruiners of fun and bunch of things more.Because people want to be fooled.Its much better to be fooled into being optimistic,than to accept the harsh reality.

                      *Check below for Redrock doing exactly that.Keep in mind thought that Im not calling Redrock for doing anything wrong here,just being human.We are all guilty of this,quite often.I did it for blizzard more times than Id like to admit.
                      **So its not quite countless times,since he did count them.

        • Anonymous says:

          Don’t you think there is a difference between shooting soldiers (and even in a war) and executing civilians (during a crisis)? Most shooters, especially COD, very carefully avoid any civilians in their games, or make them immune to the player (granted, I haven’t played the recent ones). Remember the outrage over the COD title where you gun down civilians in the airport level?

          Maybe that is the difference, and not the nationality.

          • Redrock says:

            Well, they are armed civilians. Most gangsters are civilians. Stalkers in STALKER are civilians. I don’t think it’s quite that simple. I think Shamus is right – most games distance themselves from the real world at least a bit, with either setting or at least a humorous attitude that hints at satire. The Division doesn’t.

            • John says:

              Murdering gangsters is also bad. It’s one thing for police to shoot back at gangsters who are shooting at them. It’s quite another to send the police out on to the streets for the explicit purpose of shooting gangsters. Police, be they local, state, or federal, have a legal and moral obligation to attempt to resolve things non-violently before resorting to the use of force and to use only appropriate and proportionate levels of force when they do. Arresting gangsters is the goal. Killing them is a fail state.

              Except in video games, apparently. Everything I’ve seen about The Division suggests that it is a game in which federal agents are sent out into the streets to kill American citizens. That’s the whole point of the game. Even if those citizens are in the process of committing crimes, opening fire should not be the agents’ first course of action. Yet, unless I’ve missed something, it appears to be the only course of action the game allows.

              Intentional or not, this is an extremely political premise. If you were going to make a game about the police, the use of excessive force, and the abuse of power, this premise would be an excellent start. I can’t believe that no one at Ubisoft realizes that. I literally can’t. I mean, it’s a big company with a lot of employees. They can’t all be utterly clueless.

              • Hal says:

                To be fair, the premise (at least in the original) is that the island of Manhattan has been completely quarantined. A deadly disease has broken out and no one seems to know much about it; it’s killed so many people so quickly that it’s been difficult for relief and rescue services to do their jobs properly. Social order has broken down as people have turned to rioting (and there seems to be some actual terrorist organization involved with the creation of the disease, fielding soldiers/agents in the city, and instigating these gangs into action.) Evidently the police could not contain the chaos, and the military was also overwhelmed.

                So with martial law established, the whole “shoot first and ask questions later” is somewhat more defensible. You could poke a thousand holes in the premises of how you go from point A to point B, but I think that gets away from the original objections.

                • Redrock says:

                  It’s still hard to get away from the fact how even some rudimentary fantastical elements would have helped to smooth out this “controversy”. I mean, no one cares when you’re chomping down on civilians in a quarantined area in Prototype. Hell, even Watch Dogs is quite distanced from the real world, despite having few truly fantastical elements. Why they tried to make this particular scenario in The Division that gritty and realistic is beyond me.

            • TheJungerLudendorff says:

              Even Stalkers are more excusable, since it’s pretty clear the whole gameworld is basically a localized post-apocalyptic warzone. There is no central authority or law-enforcement left, so society in there has basically been reduced to various armed groups and individuals.

              And even gangsters usually get some justification, like making them part of a really evil crime organization, and absolving the protagonists of responsibility by making them a rogue cop/civilian out for vengeance/vigilante or some other Chaotic Good character without ties to a larger organisation.

              In the Division, you play as agents employed by an established, central authority with a mandate to protect it’s citizens and their rights. One with a functioning legal system, and whose law enforcement and military organizations have a lot of rules to ensure minimal bloodshed and a fair and just legal process (in theory anyway).

              Meanwhile the Division is a secret military branch of the government that bypasses all the existing command structures, has absolute power to ignore existing laws and regulations including the authority to execute citizens with impunity, and with no rules to safeguard the citizens or their rights, and consists entirely out of some kind of deeply-embedded militia of secret agents.
              It is completely out of place, and would fit much better with a far more totalitarian state.

              And then they present this organisation as a perfectly justifiable and morally benign thing to boot.

          • Preciousgollum says:

            My initial pacifism and distain for military-themed violence was why I like Stealth games such as Metal Gear Solid: a series that tells you what an unskilled tool you are for engaging in violence.

            Also, struggled with winning Civ 4 for quite a long time because of it lol.

            In terms of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare… the success was more down to it being a character drama:

            From the setup and role of the characters pushing you through the game, motivational ‘Revenge-worthy’ scenes established, pacing, and because a large audience wanted anything remotely ‘Middle-Eastern’ because of the Iraq & Afghan War. But they also wanted ‘Andy Mcnab’.

            And because it was a fun game to play. But I will insist that the vast majority of CoD: Modern Warfare’s conflicts are the responsibility of Captain Price.

            Battlefield 3 messed up the ‘military-thriller’ genre with their single-player because they went TOO serious, and weren’t vague enough with their setting: We are clearly in Iran – it says so.
            Call of Duty’s depiction was was an abstract ‘Middle Eastern Country’, and it globe-trots like any decent Tom Clancy property tends to do.

            • Redrock says:

              Speaking of distaste for military themes, one of the reasons i tend to cut Mass Effect: Andromeda a lot of slack is because the Andromeda Initiative is presented as mostly a civilian project as opposed to Shepard explicitly being part of Earth’s space navy that is very obviously styled after either the British or American Navy. It always bothered me a bit that the Paragon path included Shepard being a really good little soldier. I have no problem with violence in fiction, but military organizations tend to rub me the wrong way, because they often absolve people of any responsibilty for the acts of violence they commit. Cue obligatory Spec Ops reference.

    • Ander says:

      I enjoyed BG&E in the same way some people enjoy The Witcher 3 or Morrowind. It’s undeniably sci-fi/fantasy, but it’s not the standard setting I’m used it. The plot of BG&E was shallow and perhaps lazy, but the music, the environment design, and the characters made it feel like a real and unique place.

      I played on the GameCube, and the weak graphics were made up for in design. I would not consider myself a huge fan of the series. Regardless, I think the sequel is bringing in what I liked best about it: colorful characters in a vibrant realized world. Inviting open content submission fits the feel of the universe great.

    • CoyoteSans says:

      The Divison is frustrating for me, but in a different way: I want to the engage in the story and the (admittedly very little) it has to say about its very charged subject matter, but I feel prevented from doing so due to the nature of the gameplay itself. Like, having actually gone through the solo-player-ish campaign and gotten most of the backstory breadcrumbs, I can see that someone on the writing team really wanted to have a conversation about the breakdown of society in the face of a massive crisis, and the tension because the US government, its various agencies, corporations, regular people, and the power dynamics therein… but much like the first Watch_Dogs, this undercurrent of “hey, that’s stuff worth thinking about” is buried underneath feel-good, black-and-white shoot-and-loot power fantasy gameplay. The campaign ends with you trying and failing to stop the now Rouge Agents who came before you from seizing a tool of power and getting away scot-free, and we’re supposed to be left morally conflicted… but the game just turns right around and starts pushing you toward the big PvP area that’s been right in the center of the game world the entire time that, if you’re a solo player, you’ve literally been playing around and trying your best to ignore.

      I can’t even begin engage with the story, flaws and all, because the gameplay won’t ever let me forget that inherent dissonance. I actually want a The Division movie, or miniseries, or whatever, even if its bad, just so I can talk about the story without people talking about raids and builds and such getting in the way of the discussion.

    • tremor3258 says:

      BG&E: Interesting universe and art-style, the concept and dialog were charming and the various mini-games and sidequests didn’t out-stay their welcome, I felt.

      New one: we’ll see.

    • DHW says:

      >I’ll just say that, for some reason, modern Call of Duty never got THAT much flak for portraying people of other ethnicities and nations as cannon fodder.

      Nations I’ll give you, but can we drop the ethnicity thing? It’s just not true. Someone actually ran the numbers and the amount of times that the generic enemies in your average real-world shooty-mans game are all of some non-white ethnicity were minimal.

  5. Jennifer Snow says:

    Does having two black characters and an ape on the BGE2 image strike anyone else as potentially touchy?

    • Redrock says:

      I think they had the opposite intention here. If the ape was surrounded by white people, well, someone could suspect that the ape is kinda sorta a stand-in for non-whites? As it is, anything like that would be quite forced. Might as well make get offended at Pey’j being portrayed as a middle aged white man stereotype. But, seriously, this seems to be one of the most inclusive games ever so far, in a good way.

    • Viktor says:

      I’m shocked anyone uses a monkey in any image at this point, honestly. They could have used one of the other alien races instead, it’s far less fraught.

      And honestly, a monkey is basically human-shaped. If you’re giving us truly odd species to control, tossing one or two of them on the cover would tell me far more about what the game will provide than something that I’m immediately going to class into “rubber forehead alien”.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Potentially,yes.But in this case,nah.Primarily,because the monkey in question is the lean,small kind,while in racist pictures its usually a big fat gorilla thats used as a stand in for “black people”.So while some people will definitely draw the wrong conclusion here,most will just see this as an unfortunate accident and move past it.

      Also,ubisoft is so fond of slapping the “made by a variety of people from all races and religions” in front of all of their games,so they preemptively have a shield against this.

    • Preciousgollum says:

      The answer is that Ubisoft are French.

      And their example of famous anthropomorphic animal fiction includes Babar The Elephant… and musings on french-colonial history.

      And ‘Belle a la Bette’…

      And Japanese obsessions with Paris… and there being Monkeys in Japan… and Japanese obsessions with monkeys, alongside Western obsession with orientalism and monkeys… leading to a Japanese film director making ‘Max Mon Amour’.

      Also, Journey to the West – Monkey, Pigsy etc…

      So at some point a creator is going to mix it all up, and you end up with those different species of different stand-ins inhabiting the same universe, copies of copies etc. etc. like a stylistic ‘Marvel-crossover’ event.

      Chuck in a bit of German philosophy because Historic Prussian Military might over France… and you get…

      Beyond Good and Evil.

  6. MarsLineman says:

    When I worked in the restaurant industry, I was very surprised to find that January (post-holiday season) was one of the busiest months of the year. I had always assumed that after the holiday season, people stopped spending so freely. But it turned out that January was generally quite busy (before rapidly tailing off at the end of the month).

    The reason? Gift cards. People give and receive a very large number of gift cards during holiday season, and most of those cards are spent in January. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same is true in the video-game industry.

  7. BlueHorus says:

    I’m warming to BG&E 2 with that second trailer. Probably because the monkey features less in it…

    Though I’m with Shamus – why did they call it beyond Good & Evil 2 where it seems so different from (what I remember of) the first game in so many ways?

    Oh right, brand recognition. Same concept as the new Star Trek.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      But trek is a HUGE name,known to practically everyone,not just the few people into scifi.This game is only slightly known to a few gamers.

      Not to mention that,hugely divergent from the rest of the trek as the new universe is,it still has SOME connections to it.Original trek still had lots of spectacle fights in it,and the only reason those were slow and sparse on effects was their budget and old technology.But this thing,where you brawl with a bunch of enemies using your swords is tonally completely different from the beyond good and evil,not just in quantity,effects and budget.

      • John says:

        The important things here are (a) that some people have heard of Beyond Good & Evil and a fair portion of them seem to have liked it, (b) nobody else cares very much, and (c) every little bit of publicity helps. So, if you’re a games publisher, why not stick the Beyond Good & Evil name on your new game? What’s the down-side? If they can make a movie out the board game Battleship–the least cinematic board game ever devised by man–figuring, probably correctly, that name recognition alone would be enough to put butts in seats on the opening weekend no matter how stupid the movie was, I don’t see why this should come as a shock.

        The risky thing to do would be to make a basically a brand new game and then slap the name of something well known and widely beloved on it. You’ll get a lot of publicity, but you’ll also get a lot of backlash. Good luck with that.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          If they can make a movie out the board game Battleship–the least cinematic board game ever devised by man–figuring, probably correctly, that name recognition alone would be enough to put butts in seats on the opening weekend no matter how stupid the movie was, I don’t see why this should come as a shock.

          Didnt that one predictably bomb?Out of all the “name” movies,only lego movie was both critically and commercially successful,and thats because it was a good movie.

          So yeah,they do get a lot of free publicity,but not all of it is good.And ea has already shown us that “there is no bad publicity” is false.

          The only other way to make such a thing successful is to get star power:Aka Michael Bays transformers and ninja turtles.And getting star power in video games is much harder.Also,those two were big even before the movies.

    • Shoeboxjeddy says:

      I feel like these comments are made out of ignorance. The director of BG&E 1 is also the director of BG&E 2. If he says it’s connected… then it probably is. It’s so different because the previous game was made two generations ago. The last dev team that tried to make a “pick up exactly where we left off” successor (the Yooka Laylee team) was raked over the coals for not updating their design with more modern mechanics and ideas.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Updating the ui and gameplay is not the same as having the spirit of the game be completely different.Dewm wasnt suddenly a game that promoted making peace with demons,it was still a game where you went around ripping and tearing through them.

        Also,the director being the same does not mean a thing.Remember star wars prequels?They were made by the same guy as the original three,and look how different the two trilogies are.

        • Shoeboxjeddy says:

          Dewm? If you’re doing a cutesy thing with titles, you’ve lost coherence.

          Regarding BG&E 2, yeah it’s gonna be different. When the first came out, 3D action adventure games like Zelda were big, so the game was designed like that. It’s pretty similar to something like Zelda or Jak & Daxter without jumping. Now that those type of games are more rare, they’re trying something different. What BG&E “is” doesn’t have much definition after one game. Recall how strange it was that Far Cry 2 picked up in a different continent with a different character fighting different enemies for a different reason. After another game, it became A LOT more clear what made Far Cry a series and not just whatever the new shooter game they wanted to put out.

          Street Fighter was clearly a one player game where the player fought a series of bosses with a very limited move set (like Double Dragon or something)… for one game. Then it was a completely different thing from then on.

  8. evileeyore says:

    Finally got time to watch your streams Shamus… so i have to ask:

    What texture pack are using in Minecraft? I love the wall designs you’ve got going down in Moria there…

    • default_ex says:

      That’s actually a type of block provided by the Chisel mod (not to be confused with Chisel and Bits). It’s a mod that gives a lot of blocks texture variations you can choose from using a Chisel tool as well as providing some of it’s own block types which have their own chisel variations.

      If your curious the wedges are probably from Carpenter mod, another really cool one for the build variation it gives you. Carpenters lets you make frames from sticks that are wedge, diamond and so on shaped then you drop in the block you want it to take the texture of. Nice for bits and pieces like Shamus did but if you put too many in one place it gets kinda laggy (speaking from experience having build a massive Goa’uld like pyramid that was primarily carpenters blocks).

  9. Grimwear says:

    My idea for origin has always been to offer both steam and origin. People who want to play on steam will always pick it and the odds of having them use origin only works for games people absolutely WANT to play. I’ve passed on a lot of games because of that. Now granted my plan involves EA acting like EA which includes all their crappy business practices.

    1) Have launch day dlc? Make it available for purchase on steam but have it come included with origin. Meaning for 60 usd the customer gets 70 usd worth of product. And if someone NEEDS to use steam? Well they pay 70. And while EA gets significantly less with steam’s cut that’s still 49 more dollars in their pocket than they’d get otherwise (assuming steam takes 30%).

    2) Offer special codes on twitter/facebook which give free lootboxes for whatever games that can only be redeemed on origin. Borderlands 2 did the same thing with their skeleton keys and battlenet consistently offers free boosters for hearthstone and skins for starcraft 2 (though their games are restricted to battlenet so it’s more to keep people playing than making people switch).

    Give people the choice of either because hardliners for steam would much rather stay with steam than ever switch but provide incentives for people on the fence to get them to break down and download Origin. Would there be backlash? Yes. But at the same time companies have been doing this for ages. Heck internet/phone providers offers incentives to switch all the time. And I’d personally rather have the option of missing incentives than to not have access to the game where I want to play it. Heck they can even just call it the “Origin Loyalty Program” or some other buzzword name.

  10. Joshua Dolman says:

    For the questions as to why not the christmas period for release date, the only reason i could come up with was to avoid going to head to head with Red Dead Redemption 2, since the hype for that is through the roof and with the track record set by GTA V i think this is gonna be big. Might not explain the whole thing but that’s my guess.

    • Thomas says:

      It was the same this year though. Remember when three game of the year candidates were released in practically the same week in Q1?

      I’m wondering if marketers find that people aren’t buying new IP at Christmas? Family members will remember a COD or an AC (or in this case the monster marketing push Red Dead will get). In Q1 you can spend less on marketing and get the same result.

      But if that’s true, they’re going to need to spread out more again soon. Prey got trampled on by the Q1 rush this year

  11. MechaCrash says:

    For the Bethesda conference, you asked why the “fuck Nazis” thing got such a pop. Your reaction to the Division is why: Bethesda isn’t claiming their game isn’t saying something when it is really, really obviously saying something.

    Developers can claim their game about fighting religious zealots in the midwest or about secret government agents shooting “rioters” or about androids forced to ride in the back of the bus aren’t political all they want, but it’s a lord of horseshit and everybody knows it.

    So it’s not that Bethesda is saying “fuck Nazis,” it’s that they’re saying anything at all.

    • Henson says:

      I very much disagree; the reaction is clearly because of the word ‘Nazis’. Somehow, I doubt you’d get nearly as enthusiastic a cheer for another game with the words ‘Existential Dread’.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Judging the overall reaction from the audience,I think its more down to the fact that they like bethesda more than uvbisoft.Just listen to how much they were clapping for practically everything bethesda were saying,while here there a re a bunch of times where there was just silence.

      • Redrock says:

        People are a bit unfair to Ubi. I feel like they really are trying these days, listening to feedback, improving the design of their open worlds, being pretty decent with post-sale monetization, etc. The Division was and is a misstep, true, but they are releasing a bunch of great games.

        • Droid says:

          As an ANNO player (who has recently picked up 1404 again) I find it’s hard to forgive a publisher who found that fixing a reproducible save bug in a game where one “round” can last dozens of hours is not a problem worth patching.

          To elaborate: Anno 1404 has gotten 3 patches and 1 expansion (Venice) and since launch, every player who plays huge maps (i.e. one of the four standardized sizes available, and the only one that allows 4 players) with three AI players will find that even on a system way above the minimum requirements and no matter whether the game is allowed to use 2 GB or 4 GB of memory (it’s 32 bit), after a mere 4 hours of total playtime, the game starts to randomly crash, especially while at war.

          There are at least 8 achievements in the game that more or less REQUIRE you to play that long (not including those that are just 4 hours’ worth of hassle), and as I said there are only 4 map sizes, so these parameters are easily within the usual, predictable gameplay experience.

          And yet, Ubisoft just shrugged, and BlueByte and RelatedDesigns moved on to making Anno 2070, a game with all the charm and immersion of a pool of concrete.

          What makes this problem especially infuriating is that it most often crashes DURING AN AUTOSAVE! As in, the ONE moment in which you can lose the most unsaved progress. On the other hand, the game has yet to crash for me while manually saving or even quicksaving. It’s specifically the one feature that’s supposed to periodically save your progress that causes you to lose your progress periodically.

          That together with their tendency to turn unique, flavourful games into bland, more-of-the-same sequel-fests (AssCreed, Settlers, Anno) really make it hard for me to care whether they’re trying at all. I might go back to being their customer as soon as I see a Ubisoft game with an art style worth mentioning, no reproducible game-breaking bugs and no crap like Uplay tacked on.

          And sorry for the rant, but there was some long-repressed resentment in there!

          • Redrock says:

            I kinda like the current direction of AssCreed. That said, I’m weird. I’m one of the seemingly few people who vastly prefer the Ezio trilogy to Black Flag, so what do I know. As for their approach to PC support – pretty hideous. But hey, they’re hardly unique in that regard. Just look at the last batch of Bamco games or Nier:Automata. PC still doesn’t get the respect it deserves, even with PC-only games. Which is crazy.

            • Droid says:

              Ezio rocks! Black Flag had some great shanties, some okay sailing mechanics, but the story just left me rolling my eyes. Frequently.

              Ezio also had some low moments, but at least the games made me care for him, and the story was all right, even great by their standards. Also, the Ezio trilogy somehow had FEWER annoying climbing bugs than IV or Black Flag.
              That said, as a keyboard user, the “cinematic camera”[*] can go die in a cold, dark pit.

              [*] – Or, as I call it: “Getting your camera locked into weird angles to show you your next objective after you’ve already spotted it, with no way to change the angle to align to your 4-direction WASD jumping”.
              Rolls off the tongue like a caltrop, doesn’t it?

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Even if they have somehow cleared their act completely in the last couple of years,its hardly unfair to not immediately forget the last decade of their behavior.And I do like some of their games,even the perpetual franchises like asscreed and far cry.But I wont turn a blind eye to the fact that they were massive dicks to customers(and a bunch of their developers*) rather often.They arent the worst out there,but they had plenty of disgusting moments.

          *Most notable for me is their handling of the might and magic franchise,and how they handled the various developers for those games.

        • Steve C says:

          I know you are talking about Ubisoft here, be aware this is the same language victims use to excuse their abusers…

          People are a bit unfair to {my boyfriend}. I feel like they really are trying these days, listening to feedback, improving {themselves} being pretty decent with {their drinking and hitting me,} etc. The {assault} was and is a misstep, true, but they are {managing to keep a job}.

          They are literally lying and smiling at the audacity of the lies in the interview linked in the post. I don’t think people are being unfair. They are trying to show to others the cycle of abuse.

          • Shoeboxjeddy says:

            Corporations are not people, despite what certain Courts might try to say. Comparing an abusive person to the actions of a corporation is not particularly illustrative. In the same way that a wife getting punched in the head is not the same as buying a $60 product you end up finding mediocre.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              What about treating your employs like shit,denying them fair pay for their work,forcing them to burn out and then firing them once you get the money?Or what about cheating your customers by literally selling them empty boxes with just a slot for cd?Dont go downplaying disgusting and sometimes outright criminal shit these guys are doing by saying that the only problem is that sometimes they sell a mediocre product.

              • Shoeboxjeddy says:

                Well, going down your list here:
                Treating employees like shit: Sounds like every job I’ve ever had. Pretty expected honestly…
                Denying them fair pay: Begs the question of what “fair” means in this context. Game developers are notoriously hesitant to unionize, which would be the method to enforce that this doesn’t happen.
                Forcing them to burn out: This is apparently exceedingly common in the gaming industry. I wonder if Ubisoft is even a top 10 offender.
                Firing them once you get the money: Are you thinking of an incident in particular? This sounds like something that would happen to a contracted third party dev, not in house Ubisoft developers.
                Cheating customers by selling an empty box: Well, what are you talking about here? A Collector’s Edition without the game? That’s not a cheat at all, the game says what it has in it on the marketing and often on the box itself. If the customer is unhappy, they could return this. I think this is dumb, but there is a logical reason for it to exist. If you mean there was a manufacturing defect where games that SHOULD have had the disc didn’t, that again sounds like a specific incident I’m unfamiliar with.

                Most of that stuff is pretty common and legal, even if the employees deserve better. I strongly believe developers should have a union just like the one for actors or athletes.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  What I was talking about was just two games from ubisoft:Heroes of might and magic 6 and 7.Hardly the worst things ubisoft did,but those two were of note to me.Anyway:

                  Most of that stuff is pretty common and legal

                  Being common or “not the biggest offender” does not make it right.You dont get to evade jail for theft because “Well there are so many murderers around”.

                  As for the legality of it…well,the situations have changed drastically recently.Plenty of stuff were legal simply because no one though about putting those into the laws yet.Loot boxes being the most recent example.There are also things like “no refunds”,that were the norm in the usa,but then customer laws from europe intervened.Tied to this,the perpetual overtime simply because you signed a contract is legal only in some countries that dont care if companies treat workers as shit.Unions are not needed if the government already offers protection to workers.

                  • Shoeboxjeddy says:

                    “Plenty of stuff were legal simply because no one though about putting those into the laws yet.”
                    That isn’t how the rule of law works. Otherwise, you’d be in jail for doing a legal thing that was later made illegal.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      No,you wouldnt,because you cant be retroactively punished.But you can,and people do,get fined and go to jail for continuing to do things that were subsequently made illegal.Easiest example:Cigarettes.Everyone was allowed to smoke wherever they wished some decades ago,but today in many countries its illegal to smoke indoors in public places.

    • Preciousgollum says:

      …or about androids forced to ride in the back of the bus aren’t political all they want, but it’s a lord of horseshit and everybody knows it.

      … but they’re not political messages, they’re visual motifs – shorthand, and in some cases used as a way to achieve the illusion of forward-meaning or ‘agenda’.

      It is ‘simulacrum’ (second order?), where the symbol or icon is perceived to be AS real to the mind as an actual occurrence, even if it isn’t.

      Example: if you look at Toilet door symbols, you see ‘men and women – one of them wears a dress’. And they become ‘real’. Instead, the symbols are actually copies – one has a triangle placed in the middle of it.

      Another example might be: $$$$$$$$
      Now you’re probably thinking of and imagining a paper bank note.

      So, if the android stands at the back of the bus, why is it political? Androids don’t need to sit down.

      • Syal says:

        So, if the android stands at the back of the bus, why is it political? Androids don’t need to sit down.

        “It’s so much worse than I thought!”

        Like, there’s literally a cage, with clear windows so everyone can see the caged androids standing in the back of the bus.

        And the chapter is called “Shades of Color”.

      • John Harris says:

        Because if you took the trouble to remind someone of something, you presumably did it for a reason. Because if you fill your game with signifiers from the civil rights movement, you presumably wanted to make a game about civil rights. Because if the premise of your game is basically that androids are people rather than household appliances, then making the androids stand at the back of the bus is discrimination and not efficient appliance storage.

        • Preciousgollum says:

          Because if you took the trouble to remind someone of something, you presumably did it for a reason. Because if you fill your game with signifiers from the civil rights movement, you presumably wanted to make a game about civil rights. Because if the premise of your game is basically that androids are people rather than household appliances

          Perhaps David Cage doesn’t have the audience in mind when he is playing with those computer-dolls I mean 3D models. And, as I said, there isn’t any ‘meaning’ to it. Those scenes are used as allegory. Also, it is a case of projecting human qualities onto a machine.

          The only reason that the androids in ‘Detroit: Become Human’ get ‘rights’, is because the android can use intimidation to get them. Also, the human situation, with 40% unemployment, is absurdly high.

          The androids are 100% defective products, and I will not budge from that unless an android threatens me. I haven’t finished watching the game, but the only reasonable ‘Humane’ ending is where the androids threaten the rich, in order to redistribute the created wealth to poor humans – because, apart from the fact that androids need no wealth, THE ANDROIDS LITERALLY TOOK OUR JOBS.
          Otherwise, society is doomed, especially if the androids rebelled fully. The wealth of the upper class would crumble at the loss of indentured labour.

          Overall, the public wouldn’t be giving rights to androids, but the public would be in part programming the androids to believe that they have rights. In this case, the androids would be like a mechanical automaton species vying for dominance.

          • John says:

            I hear what you’re saying. But what do you think David Cage is trying to say? If he doesn’t want the player or the audience to make connections between androids and actual oppressed minorities, why is he using images that show androids being treated like actual oppressed minorities? If he doesn’t want the player to at least entertain the possibility that androids are capable of moral choice, then why are all the playable characters androids and why is the game full of choices? Why oh why is the subtitle of the game “Become Human”?

            Look, maybe there’s a big twist at the end. (I hear David Cage likes those.) Maybe there’s a Bioshock-type reveal where an NPC gloats that “foolish androids, you thought you had free will but you were following your programming all along.” Maybe David Cage and the game think that the androids really are malfunctioning appliances. But even if that’s true, then the twist can only work if the game has previously sold the idea that the androids are or at least might be people.

            • Preciousgollum says:

              I think David Cage took the philosophical idea of ‘Humanity’ & ‘The Human Condition’ and applied it literally, hence, “Become Human”, because clumsy pretentiousness.

              Yahtzee is right when he says that Cage work is all for the sake of melodrama.

              • Preciousgollum says:

                The graphics are sort of pretty though.

                Mostly, ‘moral choices’ in games serve as a means for player expression (option select) rather than serve up actual consequence of your actions – it is a slight of hand.

                That information on player choice that is now collected, probably has more value as analytical data than it does ‘meaningness’.

    • Preciousgollum says:

      So it’s not that Bethesda is saying “fuck Nazis,” it’s that they’re saying anything at all.

      ‘F**k them’ is a strange way of expressing any stance, either ‘for’ or ‘against’ something, because it ultimately means ‘to have sex with’, and so it is a very confusing slogan. It doesn’t mean the same thing to everybody.

      It has the same unclear meaning as that famous line “Let them have it, Chris”.

      Oh, it reminds me of that South Park episode with Mr Garrison running for president.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Who was that comedian that had “fuck you” as a routine to show how weird it is that it became an insult instead of a term of endearment?It went something like “Hi dad.How are you.Oh,fuck you dad.Fuck you so much,dad.Yeah,lovely fuck you”,all said with a smile.

        • Preciousgollum says:

          The more agressive form of ‘to f**k’ involves ‘engaging’ with something until it is destroyed or wrecked somehow, which is more of a sadistic terminology if you think about it… and doesn’t really improve clarity of context of Bethesda’s new Hines-ian meme.

          Meanwhile, I found it difficult to understand what Ubisoft were saying.

      • Redrock says:

        Look, sex-based insults are as weird as they are omnipresent. It’s the same as using “suck my d*ck” as an insult. Why would you want someone who doesn’t like you much to do that? That’s just asking for trouble and lots of stitches.

        Seriously though, it just goes to show how tightly the idea of sex is tied to the idea of power and domination. Makes you think sad thoughts, really.

    • DHW says:

      Bethesda’s behavior is the exact opposite of Ubisoft’s, but still just as bloodlessly planned out and corporate: pretending to be political when you aren’t, as opposed to pretending to not be political when you are. Despite all the media freakouts Nazis haven’t been an issue since 1945. Should the creators of Ghosts of Tsushima have expected a standing ovation and raucous cheers for taking a bold stand against Kublai Khan and the Mongol Empire?

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Those damn mongorians!Always trying to tear down my shitty wall!

      • Viktor says:

        Shamus, please delete this guy lying or or I’ll post links disproving him.

        • Preciousgollum says:

          Please understand where others are coming from in saying that a controversial or ‘offensive’ marketing campaign can end up alienating otherwise good people.

          I’ve been very concerned about ‘the issue’, but because I have been suggesting that aggression & division can drive people into the hands of ‘those people’, I’ve been labeled online, by ‘the good guys’, as ‘one of the bad guys’ – alienated.
          It is a bit like that Wolfenstein II scene where BJ Blasko has to keep saying to the paranoid resistance: “I am not a goddamn Nazi”.

          Now, unless there is a specific instance of where Bethesda have done something to deal with ‘those guys’, Pete Hines remarks, and the marketing campaign, serves as an echo chamber, and people repeat that echo. But echos arouse concern, and sometimes suspicion – think of the Simpsons episode where Bart is trapped down the well. Sooner or later, if the slogan is used ad nauseum, ‘Nazis on our streets’ could end up being dismissed like Plants VS Zombies: ‘There are Zombies on our Lawn’, ‘We don’t want Zombies on our lawn.’

          If the mantra works, then fine, but the onus is on those who believe it [Viktor] to prove that the Bethesda comments will work, not for others to have to be examined and tested for their allegiance if they are skeptical.

          “The freedom that a free citizen has, is the freedom to not get involved”.

          That mantra is sad, but true.

          • Shamus says:

            I see you posted this just before my reply. Just to make it clear to anyone else: Let’s consider this topic closed and move on.

            • Preciousgollum says:

              Yea sure.

              By the way, is there an easier/better way of viewing the comment threads on this site?

              Also, do you read all of the comments? Most of them?

              • Shamus says:

                I read all comments, even comments on 12 year old posts. The mod screen has a feed where I see everything.

                Although, some of my mod failures happen because of this mod screen. I can see WHO you’re replying to, but not WHAT. If I want context, I have to click the link and view it in situ. And on a really busy week like this one, I don’t always do that. So:

                Alan: Adding a save-anywhere feature to Dark Souls? You might as well kill the series entirely!

                Bob: That would be lovely!

                I see Bob saying SOMETHING would be lovely, but I don’t immediately see what he’s replaying to. Maybe it’s a joke, or maybe it’s something controversial.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                If you check the top of the page,you can see two links under “RSS”.Those two will give you the feed for the posts or the comments,so that you can see them as soon as they are made(or a bit later,depending on how often you make the feed be refreshed).You will need a reader for the feed,but every browser has at least an addon.This is the firefox one(since that is the most popular browser).

        • Shamus says:

          I’ll do you one better. I’ll predict the ENTIRE argument you’re about to have:

          Viktor: Nazis are still a problem! [link] [link] [link] [link]

          DHW: Uh, those are small problems, not worldwide invasions, which is what I was talking about.

          Viktor: But you claimed Nazis weren’t a problem and I proved you wrong!

          DHW: Here are OTHER groups that are far MORE dangerous and have killed thousands but journalists don’t care: [link] [link] [link] Would journalists cheer if we yelled “fuck [some other dangerous group]?”

          Viktor: Just because they don’t follow those other conflicts doesn’t mean they don’t care. See [link] [link] [link]

          There. Then he can call you stupid and you can call him racist and a dozen other people will jump in and dogpile on the two of you and I can spend the next two days moderating the ensuing flamewar instead of making content for the people who want to talk about videogames.

          OR!

          Or maybe we could just chill the fuck out and let something slide once in a while. Barring that, don’t issue me ultimatums on who to moderate and when, because I’m really sensitive about that.

          The line of politics is very blurry. There is no firm line between politics and not-politics and any ban on such discussions is going to be imperfect. We have two options:

          1) I lift the ban and the site turns into a free-for-all. Every comment thread will go the way of YouTube comments. Every thread will have people yelling about Trump and “feminazis” and snowflakes and nazis and commies and terrorists and gay agenda and alt-right and you get the idea. Don’t we get enough of this sort of thing everywhere else?

          2) We try our best to stay cool. If someone gets on your nerves, try to let it go. Even if they’re obnoxiously wrong. If you think I’ve let something really egregious through (happens all the time, especially for non-American politics) you can let me know without issuing me an ultimatum. Even if someone makes you mad and I don’t moderate the way you think I should, I hope you’ll still follow the no-politics rule out of respect for me and the site.

          I’ve got my own biases and I’m always filled with doubt. “Deep down, am I deleting this because it’s over the line, or because it annoys me?” I do my best. I know I’m not perfect. But this is the only way I can run a website without losing my mind.

          I hope you can accept that.

          • Mephane says:

            Shamus, I don’t think I have said this before, but I have to thank you for your stance. As someone with very strong political opinions, it’s nice to have a place where we can discuss just video games (and related topics, like superhero movies). The price we pay – not being able to discuss the more controversial political aspects of some games – is well worth the ability to focus on stuff game mechanics, quality of writing etc.

            Also, you are doing quite a good job staying neutral. I can only imagine how difficult that must be.

          • TheJungerLudendorff says:

            Thirded. This is one of the most neutral and apolitical websites I know, and it’s often quite a relief to not have to deal with that for once. It also let’s everyone focus on other interesting topics instead of derailing everything just as it get’s interesting. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into keeping it that way.

            And hey, nobody is perfect. As long as you’re trying, thats all we can ask of you :)

            And I really hope Viktor was joking, otherwise that comment was a really knob-y thing to do.

            Also, does this mean you gained the powers of precognition from critiqueing fictional stories for so long? Because I have this get-rich-quick scheme involving time-traveling lottery tickets…

  12. Naota says:

    I can imagine how frustrated I’d be if they remade System Shock to be an anime-style point-and-click adventure.

    Sold!

    Though what I would actually do is call up Netflix and give Urobuchi Gen the rights for a System Shock movie or OVA…

    EDIT: Animated movie, and not another in Netflix’s long line of “live action travistanime”. Just to be clear!

  13. SKD says:

    No, they aren’t attempting to get the post Christmas purchases. They’re all trying to get a jump on the Christmas 2019 rush

  14. Nick Powell says:

    I’ve bought and played through BG&E since the trailer appeared at E3, and I quite liked it. I agree that it feels like a completely different game to the one they’re advertising now… The original is just an innocent PS2 sci-fi zelda-type thing, and this new one… isn’t at all… And it feels like they were pretty determined to make a point of it considering how many naughty words the monkey drops in the 2017 video.

    Also were the camera controls one of your complaints with the PC port? Because I’m certain the camera was trying to get Jade killed the entire time in my playthrough. It just would not stop changing perspective and giving me close ups of walls.

  15. DGM says:

    >> “But I (and I assume a lot of other people) would be delighted to have my work woven into a rich gameworld like this. I wouldn’t even need “exposure”. Just turning on the in-game Pirate Radio and hearing one of my own tracks[1] would be payment enough.”

    There are some good essays by Eric S. Raymond (a big name in the hacking/open-source community) that are worth mentioning here.

    The first is “The Cathedral and the Bazaar,” which discusses (among other things) the conditions under which open-source projects that rely on user contributions can be successful. I doubt BG&E2 will be truly open source, but the parts about user contributions might still make it relevant.

    The second is “The Magic Cauldron,” which discusses the economics of open-source projects.

    Finally, I’d recommend “Homesteading the Noosphere,” which discusses the nature and norms of the open-source community and why people would contribute to such projects without being paid.

    You can find all of these here: http://www.catb.org/esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/

  16. ElementalAlchemist says:

    Isn’t the “monkey” a chimp and therefore an ape?

  17. krellen says:

    I have counted the stars, and thus it is clear to me that ******* stands for “Support”. Support black people. Good shirt. ;)

    The reaction to BG&E2 is fairly similar to my reaction to Fallout 3. While it’s possible you could port Fallout into an FPS engine (New Vegas did pretty good at doing that), what Bethesda made wasn’t even close to being that.

    • Redrock says:

      It’s a different situation, though – the same creative mind, Michel Ancel, is still the driving force behind the sequel. Bethesda just bought the license and proceeded to do its own thing. New Vegas showed that once some of the old Interplay crew came into play, the resulting game was instantly closer to the two originals.

      • krellen says:

        Something the size of a AAA video game is never the work of a single person.

        Heck, even Good Robot, a game by a team of half a dozen, was markedly different from the vision presented when it was produced by only one person. Creative endeavours are rarely the work of just one mind.

  18. ccesarano says:

    Late enough to the party to not really have much discussion I imagine, but January/February being the second Big Release months (with March in there as well) is because for many of these companies the fiscal year ends on March 31st. So if you cannot make the Sept-Nov. deadline or if there’s too much competition, push it to Jan.-Mar. and still convince your investors you did pretty swell that year.

    January and February are ideal because you have anywhere between 31 to 89 days (assuming releases between Jan. 1st and Feb. 28th) to tally your sales. You often see late-month releases lower on the totem pole when people do the monthly tallies, and the same would go for tallies in a fiscal year.

    Simultaneously, if you look at a game like Titanfall 2 it’s pretty clear that some games, even if they’re sequels, will get lost in the shuffle of the annual releases. Sure, if EA had played the date smarter rather than sandwiching Titanfall 2 between Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare it would have done better. However, Titanfall 2 would have had to compete with other big releases at the same time (I was about to mention Assassin’s Creed, but 2016 was the lone year they took a vacation). This year, you got typical Call of Duty: Black Ops IV, Battlefield V, Pokemon Let’s Go and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. On the next tier of releases you got a recognizable name like Spider-man getting a lot of marketing from Sony, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, new Destiny 2 expansion, Red Dead Redemption 2 (which may actually be on the top tier because Rockstar), and Fallout 76. I’d say the only non-contender is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate which is the lone December release, a month where few game companies put games out because there are fewer shopping days until Christmas. Be that as it may, it’s also a top-tier, just one releasing in a month no one else will and thus kind of doesn’t factor in.

    To that end, it makes sense to move your Anthems, Rage 2’s, and Division 2’s into the January-March timeframe. Unfortunately, as noted, that time of the year is also becoming crowded.

    Right now, though, it seems April to August is where a lot of smaller releases get dropped, and for those of us big into Japanese games or smaller devs, that’s becoming an exciting time. I’ve got a whole bunch I’m curious about in July that I might not be able to snag. As for why that’s not a more popular time to release big games? I guess because there’s an assumption that people are taking vacations to exotic places and don’t have time for games. Of course, to me, that’s the perfect time to release your E and T rated games, as young kids have summer vacation and teenagers are stuck with summer jobs but now have some level of disposable income. It’s also a great time to release a game on a handheld, moreso on the Switch now, because even if you’re taking a vacation to another state or country you can bring your handheld game device with you.

    That’s just my own speculation, though.

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>