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Kenneth Cummings
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Make fun of Ubisoft all you want, they've already won.

Ubisoft's been the centre of attention the past couple of weeks, mostly because of their general incompetence and terrible business practices. In light of the recent Watch Dogs debacle, in which Ubisoft made a build of their own game and then hid it, it's no surprise that consumers and gamers in general are lashing out out against them, accusing them of being a greedy corporate hacks and general slimebags, and then idiots as they trip over themselves with terribly transparent PR.

Ubisoft is pretty much the laughing stock of the industry at the moment, when this really shouldn't be the case. Watch Dogs was meant to be the spearhead of the generation, and though it's not the best game ever, it's not the game they showed us. Needless to say, a lot of people were upset at its mediocrity and general jankiness, which must be absolutely embarrassing after such a long delay. Yes, it's easy to hold a self-righteous attitude and look down on them, but in truth, they've already won.

From Gaf threads to belligerent comments on YouTube, most of the reactions I've seen thus far are mocking Ubisoft, when they should really be considered the envy of the industry. We've reached such a point where you don't even need to make a good game anymore, only the illusion of one. The game we were shown at E3 2012 was just that: an illusion for most players. 

So what I'm trying to get at here in all this nonsensical rambling is that I'm experiencing a bit of cognitive dissonance here. On the one hand, the Watch Dogs we were shown was a technological marvel. On the other, the Watch Dogs we got was painfully average. At this point, you're likely to do one of three things: accept that you made a bad purchase and move on, lash out at Ubisoft because you failed to be a responsible and informed consumer, or desperately defend the game, lest your ego take any damage.

So how can you be an informed consumer? I'll tell you. You can't. Not before release, anyway. Everything you're seeing and being told about the game is marketing material, whether it's a CG that is in no way representative of the final product (a la Dead Island) or even a gameplay demo full of outright lies (a la Aliens: Colonial Marines). If you buy the game before the actual real product is out, you are gambling your sixty dollars on something that can easily be a terrible game. If you want to wager your hard-earned money on a crapshoot, do it in Vegas; at least then you'll have a funny story to tell.

In all seriousness, please think very carefully before you pre-order. Not only do you risk wasting a lot of money, you're hurting the industry and the medium as a whole by encouraging bad business practices. Watch Dogs has been met with mixed reception and very ugly controversy. None of that matters, because Ubisoft has already won. If you pre-ordered and got burned, they already took your money, and all the bitching in the world won't change that. They won't face repercussions, they haven't learned their lesson, and now that Watch Dogs has become their biggest launch title ever, they have every reason to pull the wool over our eyes again.

You might think the corporate higher ups at Ubisoft are all idiots, but they deserve to be lauded for being able to not only profit, but break day-one records for a game that was marketed as something entirely different. They didn't have to make your dream game, they only needed to tell you that they were. If you pre-ordered Watch Dogs based on what they showed you, you're a part of the reason they didn't need to make a good game. When a game's profit is practically guaranteed months before release based on hype alone, what incentive do they have to make a good game?

The bottom line is this: think before you buy. If the game comes out and it's everything you wanted and more, great! Go out and buy it. They'll have enough copies. If they don't, you can buy it digitally, where there is no stock. If it's a real stinker, then you dodged a bullet. Comparing the risk of losing a lot of money versus simply waiting, when you get the game at the same time, is there any real reason to buy a ticket for the hype train?

Oh never mind guys. You can get a different coat. I'd buy that for sixty dollars!
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About Kenneth Cummingsone of us since 5:17 AM on 03.22.2013

My name is Ken. I have a deep passion for art and storytelling, video games in particular. You can follow me on Twitter here:

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