So we've all seen the news articles lately that Assassin's Creed: Syndicate is adding a transgendered character to the game, and I'm sure a lot of people are patting themselves on the back now feeling like a huge victory for the gaming industry was accomplished here. However, let's slow things down and think about this for a second. In the world of business, a company's job isn't to make you feel good. It is to make money, so whenever a company is trying to make you feel good, always take it with a grain of salt and look for an ulterior motive. You would do especially well to remember this when the company we're dealing with here is Ubisoft.
I want to add some context to what I'm about to say so people can understand that what I'm going to say isn't an isolated incident. Let's look at the case of Coca Cola and obesity. Coca Cola has been a huge proponent of fighting obesity. In fact, they've even started a whole campaign dedicated to fighting obesity called "Coming Together: Help Us Fight Obesity". I'm going to link their page on it for convenience's sake so you can follow along. Coca Cola: Let's Fight Obesity Together.
Good old Coca Cola suggests such great things as "Walking the Dog, playing less video games (Shots Fired!), playing outside, and teaching nutrition." Hmm, I wonder what Coke's steps to better nutrition are. Let's find out. Wow, rearranging your plate and helpful tips like "Sprinkle on Cinnamon" and "Toss in a Turnip" are included in their 12 tips. But somehow, I feel like Coke is missing something... Oh, wait! I know! It's drinking less soda! Of course, that makes sense. "We're only as progressive as we need to be until it affects our bottom line". Coca Cola will is even willing to go as far as nearly $120 million on medical research to find the "cause" of obesity. Coca Cola's tactic of "helping people" always involves shifting the blame to something else. In Coke's eyes, the problem is lack of exercise, big portions, unhealthy eating habits, snacking, etc. But it's never drinking Coke. Knowing this, let's bring Ubisoft back into focus. Considering this is Destructoid, let's not forget the legacy of crap Jim Sterling has taught us about Ubisoft's terrible legacy.
Ubisoft is a company that releases unfinished games. Assassin's Creed: Unity was a terrible, buggy and glitchy mess that tried to hide how bad it was by using review embargoes to hide how bad their game actually is. So in Ubisoft's mind, it's ok to release barely working versions of a new game and hide the fact that it works horribly by making sure that any information telling you how bad the game is remains hidden until you spend your $60 and suffer the buyer's remorse for yourself.
Ubisoft is also a company that thinks it's perfectly ok to screw over PC gamers because those poor suckers have no option for a refund (or at least didn't before). In their eyes, PC gamers have no worth because Game Stop doesn't exist for them, and they're always buying new. PC gamers get to deal with always online DRM that would boot them from their game if they ever lost internet connection, and got a huge middle finger if they didn't save their game. Ubisoft has gone on record defending their terrible DRM practices and outright admitting that they have nothing but contempt for PC gamers. In Ubisoft's eyes, the PC gamer is a filthy, swash buckling pirate who will never spend a doubloon on Ubisoft games, so they can all go to hell. In fact, Ubisoft thinks so little of PC gamers that in their eyes it's ok to release broken and unoptimized versions of Assassin's Creed 4, Splinter Cell: Double Agent and Dust because "it's not important." And PC gamers still get to deal with Ubisoft's terrible UPlay whenever they want to purchse PC versions of their titles, like Watch_Dogs. Yes, lovely UPlay.
Oh, and since we're Watch_Dogs, let's talk about how Ubisoft loves to feed gamers bullshit. Did you know that playing a game at 30 FPS is actually more "cinematic"? I didn't know this, but thanks to Ubisoft, I've been educated. Whenever I go to the movie theater, my film experience is never complete without doing 10 hours worth of fetch quests and mini-games before I get back to watching the actual main plot of the film. Wait, is everyone else telling me that they don't perform useless side quests that are typical of a Ubisoft game while they watch Guardians of the Galaxy? Maybe I'm just confused, but perhaps it could be because video games aren't movies. Even if a player doesn't actually care what frame rate a game runs at, everyone cares when you try to lie through your teeth to them. It's ok to admit that you couldn't achieve what you aim for due to limitations, but it's not ok to lie about it so everyone still thinks you're the "cool guy". If only Ubisoft's trash ended here, but in the words of the late Billy Mayes, "But wait, there's more!"
Ubisoft is a company that puts microtransactions in a full priced game. Hell, it was only last year that Assassin's Creed: Unity came out infested with microtransactions. Of course, they always use the defense that "the game is balanced so that you get get everything for free." Yeah, if in the eyes of the player, "balance" is doing the same, repetitive tasks over and over again to grind for an in-game currency that's purposefully made hard to get in order to wear down a player's patience and open up their wallet. Details are still scarce on Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, but I'm still waiting for the press release of how "balanced" their microtransactions are in this game compared to Unity. Luckily, Ubisoft decided that Syndicate doesn't need a stupid compainion app like Watch_Dogs and Black Flag did, so I'll leave that one alone. But let's follow up on Ubisoft lies with more lies.
Ubisoft thinks it's ok to use bullshots to falsely advertise its games. Again, it was only a year ago that players learned that Watch_Dogs used bullshit footage from its original announcement. And like the snakes they are, Ubisoft goes on to defend itself saying that "Of course it is not downgraded at all. It's a true next-gen game for sure". Yes, it's not downgraded at all, Ubisoft, except for after the game comes out, the money is made and the pre-orders are cashed in. A year later, Ubisoft can admit "That’s what we learned from the Watch Dogs experience – if it can’t be played on the target machine, it can be a risk." Maybe I'm missing something here, but it seems to me that if a company makes a version of a game that can't be played on the console's hardware, requiring a downgrade to fit console specs, then it seems to me that a game has been downgraded. I guess in Ubisoft's eyes, a game only counts as downgraded once it already has your money.
Now let's bring this all home. How many years has Ubisoft been doing this trash? How many years have fans of their games put up with with their garbage in order to play the games they like? And after all these years, Ubisoft has done nothing. In fact, Ubisoft has a vicious cycle of screwing over gamers, asking for forgiveness, then proceeding to keep screwing over gamers. Ubisoft always finds a new way to piss off its fans, and I have no doubt that Syndicate will pull some kind of travesty on gamers. Hell, Syndicate already had five different retail editions and a season pass. Oh, and Syndicate already has day one DLC missions, "Runaway Train" and "The Darwin and Dickens Conspiracy". Extra missions certainly aren't cosmetic content, so clearly Ubisoft has already cut content from the game to sell it to you. Plus, the extra missions, "The Dreadful Crimes" is a PS4 exclusive DLC that, once again, was developed before the game was released. Somehow, no one is talking about this.
Ubisoft would instead like to generate positive buzz about Syndicate by announcing to the world that a mission giving NPC is a transgendered man. Just like how Coke likes to brush its problems under the rug, Ubisoft is also hiding it's bullshit behind feel good news. Notice how they announced this only a few weeks before the game's launch? What are they really trying to hide about the game while the internet is busy arguing about this? This is Ubisoft we're talking about, so don't tell me they're being honest and innocent. How is it that after almost a decade of fans criticizing their horrible business practices, Ubisoft still doesn't care and changes nothing, while in only a year a minority of people complain about diversity, and suddenly Ubisoft is a "moral" company in gaming, right up there with "patron saint" Electronic Arts. Making an NPC a transgendered person is cheap and costs nothing. Actually not screwing buyers over by making sure your games work, not slicing up content into exclusive DLC, not selling five versions of the same game and not having DRM costs money, and just like Coke, Ubisoft will only go as far in being "good" until it affects their bottom line.
Feel good all you want about divesity, but if your idea of diveristy is insincere marketing ploys, then you're in for a rude awakening when the marketability of it passes.
Anyone remember this "diversity" campaign?