Ubisoft recently announced that Ghost Recon: Breakpoint is due out this fall for home consoles and on the Epic Games Store and Uplay. One of the first things that game journalists were concerned about were the game’s politics. Yes… politics.
Gamespot got first dibs on a quote from Ubisoft about Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, and the one thing they were geared in on above all else was what sort of political themes Ubisoft would be tackling in the game. Lead developer Sebastien Le Prestre told the outlet…
“We’re creating a game here, we’re not trying to make political statements in our games. We’ve rooted ourselves in reality, and you’ll get what you get out of your playthrough–everybody will get something different out of their experience. The story might make you see different situations, but we’re not trying to guide anybody or to make any sorts of statements. It’s a ‘What if?’ scenario, it’s Tom Clancy, it’s purely fictional.”
This obviously wasn’t kosher enough for game journalists.
The Verge took a swipe at Ubisoft for not getting “woke” and joining the Regressive Left in how they depict politically sensitive matters in their games, writing…
“It’s become something of a trend for the French publisher, which makes big-budget action games that feature settings and storylines plucked from the headlines, yet stubbornly refuse to say much of substance despite this. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot told The Guardian last year that, instead of making political statements, the company makes games where the goal “is to make people think.”
“Here are just a few examples of the company’s insistence on staying away from politics — and just how ridiculous that can be when you look at the actual games.”
PCGamesN jumped in on the festivities as well, asking Le Prestre if the impetus to change settings in Breakpoint was brought about by previous controversies surrounding Wildlands’ depiction of Bolivia, which led to a complaint from the Bolivian government. Le Prestre attempts to side-step any potential controversial answers relating to the game, saying that the new change in setting had nothing to do with real world politics.
Roadblocked by this answer, PCGamesN attempts to reorient the conversation, saying…
“Ubisoft has gained a reputation for refusing to comment on the politics of its games, which often use real-world socio-political tensions as the backdrop for the action, but that doesn’t appear to be the case with Ghost Recon Breakpoint.”
It’s a weird statement given that Ubisoft has basically made it a press tour standard to make it known that Ghost Recon Breakpoint won’t dabble in a specific political side.
Comicbook.com mirrored the same kind of talking points as the others, pointing out that Ubisoft has shied away from engaging in the kind of politics that game journalists want, writing…
“[…] for better or for worse, the game isn’t making any political statements. As you may know, some people want politics far away from games, others sometimes want titles to get political, or at the very least, not beat around the bush with soft political statements. In the past, Ubisoft has been praised and criticized for not tackling the political issues its games skirt around. For example, Far Cry 5. That said, while there’s some political topics in play in Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Ubisoft’s stance remains the same: its game aren’t making any political statements.”
As pointed out by TheQuartering, having all of these articles drop within the span of 24 hours rekindled thoughts of the GameJournoPros and their smear on gamers way back in 2014 during #GamerGate.
As pointed out by TheQuartering, you’ll find many of the same voices spreading the same kind of sociopolitical noise you’ve come to expect from that side… or from what’s left of it after several outlets either lost funding or had to close up shop.
For instance, Kotaku had their hot take on the situation with a title that basically sets up what you would expect from outlet “Ghost Recon Bungled Bolivia, So At Least They’re Going Somewhere Fictional This Time”.
Author Joshua Rivera’s garrulous piece recounts interactions with Ghost Recon: Breakpoint executive producer, Nouredine Abboud, who kept dodging any sort of inclination the game might have toward taking political sides. Rivera still takes a moment in the piece to implant his own political stakes on Ubisoft’s games despite the company trying to veer away from playing into the hands of journalists, writing…
“Despite its developers’ reticence to talk about it at this stage, Breakpoint does seem like a work that’s trying to remove itself from a political minefield, and depending on your personal preferences, maybe it’s enough. It is, however, quite far from apolitical. It’s still a work of hardcore military fiction, a jingoist fantasy that fetishizes guns and spec ops training that filters the world into threats and the threatened.”
Journalists have been intent on trying to get Ubisoft to take a more politically partisan approach to their games, much like what Bethesda and MachineGames did with Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, which resulted in a lot of angry gamers incensed at the developers using a popular property to push their partisan politics through the optics of the game’s cinematics and messaging.
Sales for Wolfenstein 2 absolutely pale in comparison to Wolfenstein: The New Order, but Bethesda insisted that the sales for Wolfenstein 2 were fine.
Ubisoft, despite opening a Diversity & Inclusion division, and definitely including lots of Left-wing compliant politics into games like Assassin’s Creed, still doesn’t believe going all-in on being a Left-wing propaganda publisher like some other studios. Ubisoft Massive COO Alf Condelius infamously expounded on their principles at the Sweden Game Conference in Skövde back in October of 2018, where GamesIndustry.biz quote Condelius as saying…
“It’s a balance because we cannot be openly political in our games,” he said. “So for example in The Division, it’s a dystopian future and there’s a lot of interpretations that it’s something that we see the current society moving towards, but it’s not – it’s a fantasy.
“It’s a universe and a world that we created for people to explore how to be a good person in a slowly decaying world. But people like to put politics into that, and we back away from those interpretations as much as we can because we don’t want to take a stance in current politics.
“It’s also bad for business, unfortunately, if you want the honest truth…. but it is interesting and it is a discussion that we have, and it’s an ongoing discussion we have with our users, of course, because people want to put an interpretation into the universe that we create and they want to see their own reality in the fantasies that we give them, and the stories that the games are.”
I would have taken interest in Ghost Recon: Breakpoint simply for not being a vehicle for political propaganda, as it seems as if it’s becoming harder and harder to escape from the overbearing yoke foisted upon the laymen by the Intersectional Inquisition. However, there’s also the major issue of Breakpoint being an Epic Games Store exclusive that’s a pretty huge turnoff, in addition to being always-on. So even without the partisan politics it’s still a no-go for me. But maybe people who don’t mind those other two things will take solace in the fact that SJW game journalists are vexed at the idea that a publisher isn’t immediately and consistently bowing to their childish whims.
(Thanks for the news tip NoriyukiWorks)