If there’s one thing the gaming world should never underestimate is the voice of the gamer. We tend to be quit an unforgiving bunch and barely forgive studios for their mistakes. Sometimes it does feel justified: Battlefront’s lack of content and charging full price comes to mind. But other times I can’t help but feel that we may be overdoing it. Case and point, Ubisoft.
Ubisoft has, for the past few years, been regarded as one of the most hated video game company in existence. Not a single article, video, or mention of Ubisoft goes without negative comments or outright disdain for the brand. Just this week, a video went viral depicting the company’s most glaring issues which are the infamous UbiBullshots. Basically the game that’s demonstrated at E3 looks strikingly more polished than its final product.(worth noting that the comparison above was made with the console version).
But here’s the thing: they’re not the only ones who do this. If I recall correctly Halo 2’s E3 demo was a massive farce. The game’s visuals looked better and the scenarios that took place were nothing like in the final product. I really wanted to experience that segment and was completely disappointed to realize it wasn’t in the final game. More recently, The Witcher 3’s downgraded visuals were a similar scenario. The fire effects in particular were dazzling and looked nowhere near as good in the game we got. Yet despite that none of these titles received anywhere near as the high volume of criticism Ubisoft gets.
Bugs are another trademark we see in plenty of Ubisoft games. I mean who can forget the infamous AC Unity mess which managed to make its way on popular news outlets such as the BBC and CNN. Yet Bethesda games such as Skyrim and even Fallout 4 (which are riddled with bugs) manage to get a free pass. I still recall not being able to finish multiple quests in Oblivion due to bugs. From the community’s eyes however, Bethesda trumps Ubisoft and is beloved by fans. It’s quite jarring honestly.
Could it be a PR problem? Plenty of games such as Mighty No. 9 are receiving hate well before its release due to improper PR execution. While not as bad, Ubisoft constantly hammers each game with season passes and multiple editions. Watch_Dogs alone managed to get about 9 special edition each with unique in-game items. But as for the game itself? Well, it was not bad honestly. Isn’t memorable by any means but surely not terrible, especially for a first attempt. And arguably this applies to plenty of other released Ubisoft games. Most of them receive relative good reviews and are sold in high numbers. If this was a company truly hated then shouldn’t this reflect in sales? Vote with your wallet as the saying goes.
By now you must be wondering what exactly my agenda with this article is. Am I defending Ubisoft? Not really. First and foremost the point of this article is to give perspective on the matter. And secondly Ubisoft does deserves more credit than people think.
For one they are the only AAA studio that comes to mind that is willing to try new things. With each passing year, AAA publishers tend to lean on recycling brands as a safe bet. You don’t need to look farther than Activision who have milked the Call of Duty series beyond existence. Ubisoft did have the same problem with Assassin’s Creed but have now dared to take break this year in order to deliver something better. That’s a sign of progress I think.
Let’s not forget that Ubisoft managed to create the amazing Ubiart Framework which has spawned incredible 2D adventures ranging from Rayman, Child of Light, and the highly underrated Valliant Hearts. These aren’t games that were outsourced to indie developers like EA did with Unravel but are all created in-house withing the Ubisoft ecosystem. Least we not forget the amazing Far Cry Blood Dragon that is oozing with 80’s nostalgia and up until today is a mystery how it got a green light from an AAA publisher.
Does Ubisoft deserve criticism for its mistakes? Absolutely. But let’s not paint a bullseye on them. Plenty of other massive publishers have done similar and possibly bigger errors yet have been overlooked over the years. I’m hopeful they all learn but if we are to make enemies let us at least know why we’re fighting them.