You might take a look at Far Cry 6 and think, wow, Ubisoft is really going for it. It’s speaking to former guerilla rebels to get an actual sense for the lives, motivations, and meanings of guerilla warfare from firsthand accounts. It’s putting out trailers that use heavy imagery of fascism, slavery, and tyranny against the quiet minority to show off their newest video game. The trailers speak of a desire to convey the feelings of living under martial law by an oppressive regime. You probably think that, after years of being lost in the woods regarding what their games mean and what the company culture has produced, Ubisoft has taken the stage with something to say.
Oh, you fool. You sweet summer child. Of course not.
The game takes place in a fictionalized island inspired by Cuba, which is famously completely free of politics. Nothing has ever happened there in the last century that involves itself or much larger companies. It has never been a flashpoint for what seemed like an imminent nuclear holocaust. It’s not any kind of dealbreaker across political lines.
I don’t think Ubisoft has to make a political statement — it is free to make whatever game it likes. The company, which has made a mantra out of fence-sitting, does its best to practice the idea that everyone regardless of political ideology has money. But what galls me is that it’s trying to have it both ways. Its games, especially ones in the Far Cry series, are about as politically charged as a Thanksgiving dinner with your family and your annoying second-cousin that was in D.C. “as a tourist” in January. It just always wants the official stance to be that, while everything may look political, that is coincidence and not intention.
It’s an odd hypocrisy that does not appear to actually have a point. We have been through this dance multiple times now where a Far Cry game appears to be trying to say something, but is tonally inconsistent and officially non-partisan. I don’t mind the company not having an official stance, but they keep making games that really encourage it before they drop the hammer down. Ubisoft is always trying to run that ball into the end zone and then inexplicably stops and turns around while maintaining they’re not actually playing a game of football here, it’s kind of on you for thinking they were doing so on this football field while they’re wearing a helmet and shoulder pads.
At some point, aggressively pointing out that you’re saying nothing is about as much a stance as being loud about it.