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Ubisoft “Forward” Event is One “Backward” Step for Ubisoft Among Many

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By Nelson Schneider - 07/18/20 at 04:13 PM CT

Last weekend, Ubisoft, French purveyor of “AAA” swill and Triumvirate of Evil member (alongside Electronic Arts and Activision-Blizzard) hosted its own substitute E3 presentation. Dubbed “Ubisoft Forward,” the hour-and-a-half live video presentation, like so many other dumb, hype-generating affairs (like the Super Bowl), had extra pre-show and post-show events, dragging the display of advertising might out for far longer than anyone (besides Ubisoft) would have wanted.

Of course, prior to last Sunday, when Ubisoft Forward streamed live all afternoon, Ubisoft had already started promoting the affair, promising bribes rewards for Uplay members who watched, including the giveaway of one of their $60 “AAA” games, “Watch_Dogs 2.” While I personally have no interest in playing “Watch_Dogs 2,” I AM interested in claiming free games and making gaming corporations take the financial hit, so against my better judgment (and while struggling to write an article while fighting-off COVID-like symptoms), I tuned in, only to find Ubisoft Forward to be an unsurprisingly borked debacle in every way.

First, Ubisoft led up to the Forward proper with a pre-show where they gave away free Uplay keys for a number of titles such as “Tom Clancy’s The Division 2” and “Trials Rising.” They did this giveaway in the most half-assed way imaginable: They ran the 16-digit keys in the video stream and made them first-come, first-serve. So only people with screen reading bots actually managed to claim any of those games, what with how aggravating it is to type a 16-digit game key (and the hyphens between each 4-digit chunk) into the Uplay client when NOT under the pressure of competing against others.

Things went south even harder, though, once the show proper began. Right from the outset, Ubisoft informed viewers that they would receive a coalescing pile of merch and loot the longer they spent watching the Forward presentation whilst logged-in to their Uplay accounts. Unfortunately, as soon as the Forward began, it simultaneously logged me out of Uplay. But when I – and countless others – went to log back in and claim our prizes, the Uplay login server rolled over and played dead… very convincingly. The remainder of the show was a fog of irritation, which I will remember primarily for the amount of times I clocked “login” on a number of different Uplay pages instead of the amount of interesting games Ubisoft had on display.

At the very end of the show, one of Ubisoft’s webmasters finally managed to throw up a real error message informing Uplay users that nobody was able to login during the Forward show and that Ubisoft would be giving all Uplay accounts the promised merch and loot as compensation. Yet, here we are a week later, and my Uplay account is still devoid of “Watch_Dogs 2.” Not that I ever planned to play it. Of course, this was a lie, and the company later put up a special (and far less promoted) page to claim the Forward merch, with a window that closed on July 15th.

So what did Ubisoft show off this year to make mainstream gamers soil themselves and the other publishers quake at the might of France? A bunch of old stuff from previous E3 shows, a new numbered ‘Far Cry’ that will take place in a Latin American dictatorship, and a new Battle Royale game called “Hyper Scape.”

YIKES!

This poor display of games at Ubisoft Forward comes hot on the heels of Ubisoft experiencing the joys of the Fringe Left’s newest and most egregiously-abused tool: Cancel Culture. Citing claims of “toxic work culture” and “sexual harassment,” female employees of the multi-national corporation managed to coerce three top executives (all straight White males) to step-down in the face of the all-powerful #MeToo.

While I am quite willing to believe that the situation inside game corporations can be grim, the evidence points to a pervasive culture of “crunch,” that is, forcing employees to work obscenely-long hours without proper breaks or overtime pay in order to meet arbitrary deadlines. Likewise, I have worked at a business where there was a toxic work culture, and this problem is, in my experience, a condition caused by the presence of unbending, unthinking ideologues, like the ones who employ Cancel Culture to push their agenda or who defer to The Bible as the ultimate authority in every situation.

I am disappointed in the French cowards at Ubisoft (but not surprised) for not standing up for themselves. In this modern world of 4th Wave Feminism, we’re dealing with potentially half the population becoming divorced from reality: A surreal world where flirting is conflated with rape and dirty jokes are conflated with sexual assault. Anyone who values freedom of speech and free thought needs to push back against the mounting tide of dogmatism rising on the political Left. The Right was lost decades ago when Jerry Falwell ruined everything. With the Left now also divorcing itself from evidence and facts, and relying instead of “feelings” and “belief,” we’ve got an uncomfortable horseshoe where undifferentiated lunacy rules at both ends, alienating the vast remainder of the spectrum. If this can happen in the insular world of videogames, folks, the effects on the wider world will be (and already are) far more dire.

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Matt

Wrote on07/20/20 at 10:03 AM CT

Two things: 1) it’s hopeful to see academics and creatives identifying the harm of Cancel Culture and speaking out against it in Harper Magazine’s open letter. Now the test will be whether or not they are cancelled, proving their very point. A liberal (in the “free” sense) democracy requires the open exchange and discussion of ideas. 2) IF the thought police win out, be ware, they will be after you for writing such things. Are we now heading into Fahrenheit 451 territory?

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