Pop quiz, hot shot! Your company is facing strong scrutiny for not letting video game critics tell your audience about the bugs in your latest game. Your reasoning is that slightly integrated online features won’t allow critics to give all the game offers fair shot, but your next release is a full blown MMORPG racer with multiple delays under its hood. Do you release the game for critics to give an air of transparency and to show you’ve learned something, or do you dig your heels in and pray that this release fares better?
What do you do?
I hope the cars in The Crew can deliver all the speed Ubisoft promises, because we don’t want this one dropping below 50 mph. The company finds itself in a tough position by not providing critics enough of a chance to let people know about The Crew’s quality and playability with the smoke from its last major backfire still settling.
For those who don’t remember, Assassin’s Creed Unity was released two weeks ago with a whole host of bugs, frame-rate issues, connectivity problems, and the overlying opinion that it just wasn’t all that great. Critics’ hands were tied in being able to reveal that information because of a ridiculous 12 hour embargo. That is, they couldn’t talk about the game until 12 hours after release. The result was a lot of angry gamers who felt bilked for dropping $60 on a broken game.
Ubisoft explains its latest decision on its official blog:
The Crew was built from the beginning to be a living playground full of driving fans, so it’s only possible to assess our game in its entirety with other real players in the world. And by other, we mean thousands and thousands and thousands of players – something that can’t be simulated with a handful of devs playing alongside the press.
It would go on to point out that there is no embargo of any kind this time and that review copies would be provided to media outlets. However, due to critics and journalists not being given a copy before release, I guess it doesn’t really make a difference, huh? You’ll be discovering right along side them. Ubisoft also explains that any review you see at launch will be based on a preview build and not truly reflective of the final product.
While we fully anticipate that you might see some reviews immediately at launch – largely built around the preview sessions we facilitated during the past months or the limited content of the closed and open betas – they won’t be based on optimal conditions or reflect the finished game.
We sincerely hope everyone will take the time to customize their ride as they progress through all five regions, explore every corner of the map solo and with friends, dive into our competitive and cooperative mechanics, race to the end of the main campaign, choose a Faction and compete with your crew in Factions Wars, and so much more.
Oh goodness, gracious me, I hope this launch goes well for Ubisoft. The last thing it needs right now is another reason for gamers to unify against them and slap them with labels like “the new EA.” I can understand the logic of not wanting to have your MMORPG reviewed right out of the gate, and I fully agree. It’s a great idea. DriveClub reviewers had a great time playing with its online features before the embargo was up, and look where that landed us: a lot of people upset over a broken game with critics not getting a chance to view it under normal circumstances.
However, to make this call while your company is front and center of gaming’s latest wave of controversy is a really gutsy and questionable one.
Ubisoft is asking for your faith, gamers. Your purchase of The Crew is totally on your shoulders, and only you can make the decision to trust that this goes off without a hitch. Not just Ubisoft but everyone from EA and Blizzard to Microsoft and Sony is having issues getting online games off the ground this year. In tandem with The Crew’s delays and Assassin’s Creed’s “no-face” horrors still haunting my dreams, we would advise you to wait a few days just to make sure all is safe, for your sake.
Just remember what a wise man once said…
If this works and Ubisoft’s success repays your trust, does this fix everything and all is forgiven, or does this call for gamers to be ever more vigilant in making sure we get what we pay for? The Crew releases on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on Dec. 2nd.