As the years have gone by, the videogame industry has become more and more willing to take a chance at the risk of potentially losing a large chunk of their clientele. At first glance it may appear that developers are creating controversial games solely for shock value.
While this can be true for a select few of game developers, the majority of controversial games are actually developed to represent legitimate issues in the modern world. The same way that films like "Schindler's List", "Hotel Rwanda", or "Zero Dark Thirty" are written and produced to portray a real story, certain videogames are created in a very similar fashion for a very similar purpose.
There is no denying that certain video game developers enjoy controversy because it fuels their games' promotions. For example, Rockstar Games' famous videogame series "Grand Theft Auto" that draws in controversy for its material, or IO Interactive's controversy with their most recent release, Hitman Absolution.
Shock-value aside, there are a lot of games developed solely for the reason of bringing light to issues in the world that may otherwise go unnoticed.
Throughout its history as a videogame developer and producer, Ubisoft has never been known for covering sensitive topics in their games. They have covered the military genre from unique perspectives with their historical Tom Clancy series "Splinter Cell" and "Ghost Recon." The company has also broken records with their award-winning games like "Far Cry," the "Driver" series, and "Assassin's Creed."
Ubisoft has been in development of their newest Tom Clancy installment to their "Rainbow Six" series, "Rainbow Six: Patriots." Stealing the main focus in the December 2011 edition of "Game Informer," Ubisoft's newest announcement began drawing some controversy from readers and gamers. Since then, Ubisoft has kept the majority of their game under wraps and out of the spotlight despite its controversial subject matter.
So what is it about the new "Patriots" installment that has drawn some heat to Ubisoft?
The game brings back Team Rainbow, who is called to action by the United States. The country is under siege by domestic terrorists known as the True Patriots, made up of American citizens who blame the government and corporate America for the state of the country.
Essentially, the True Patriots are a militia form of Occupy Wall Street. That in itself is a sensitive topic that perhaps partially explains why Ubisoft has been quiet about their progress thus far.
Aside from the domestic terroristic focus, another prime target of criticism that Ubisoft has been receiving is in the small bits of information that have been released. For example, it has been announced that players will have nearly total freedom in their actions. In prior "Rainbow Six" games, if a player shot a civilian, the mission would be failed. With "Patriots," due to the constant threat of plain-clothes civilians opening fire, players are given complete discretion and are allowed to respond to potential threats as they see necessary.
With the release of the "gameplay footage" of "Patriots" (featured above, or click here), it was made very clear that decisions made by the player would have an effect on the story, as well as potentially taking a toll on the player's emotions.
As the video shows, the player is forced to open fire on New York City police officers in order to protect civilians. The average player will hesitate, playing as a counter-terrorist unit and being told to fire upon law enforcement.
Ubisoft clearly branches their series out into a generally untouched genre. The usual military FPS is based on a battle between the United States and Russia, but very rarely (if ever) do developers focus on modern revolution. For Ubisoft to take to the streets of the United States and pit the government against the people is a very risky venture.
So how have Ubisoft managed to fly under the radar and avoid heat for their clearly controversial subject matter? Simply put, they have taken an interesting approach.
They have done nothing. Rather than shamelessly promote their upcoming game as publishers like Deep Silver do with "Dead Island: Riptide" or LucasArts with "Star Wars 1313," Ubisoft has been "pulling a Rockstar."
In other words, Ubisoft is using the same approach that Rockstar Games used with "Grand Theft Auto V"; they have released very little information on a clearly controversial game and have left it up to the gamers to theorize and speculate what the game might consist of.
This technique seems to be working for Ubisoft, as they have used the same tactic with "Watch Dogs," another highly-anticipated game with release planned for the end of 2013.
How has Ubisoft not been pressured into responding to the criticism, though? With such a controversial game being developed, one would think that the company would be fired upon by Jack Thompson, MAVAV, or Conservative politicians. Most companies (of any industry), when getting bad rap for a controversial topic, would write a press release to clarify their intentions.
Ubisoft has remained silent entirely, only leaving their studios to promote "Splinter Cell: Blacklist," perhaps their most anticipated game at the moment, planned to be released in August of this year.
Somehow Ubisoft has been incredibly successful in regards to keeping critics at bay while still maintaining gamers' interest in the newest "Rainbow Six" installment.
Perhaps Ubisoft will continue following in Rockstar's footsteps and progressively release more information over the next few months. With no official release date set, or even which quarter, there is no evidence that "Patriots" will be released in 2013. There is always a possibility that Ubisoft will start releasing more information around the time they start publicizing "Watch Dogs" (due between October and December), which will most likely be during the summer.
In the meantime, Ubisoft will continue working quietly. There is always the possibility that they will come out and surprise gamers with an unexpected news release, trailer, or release announcement. Keep checking back for any updates on "Rainbow Six: Patriots."