Funny how studios can exploit gamers, but when gamers exploit video games…
Tom Clancy’s The Division has had some pretty bad press since Update 1.1 hit. Vanishing characters, sticky grenade screw ups, gamers tumbling through the environment, glitches, exploits and issues in Incursions. Little bastards slapping their over-inflated Gear Score in your masked face. So it’s game over for Ubisoft’s broken MMO-lite cover shooter. Apparently.
To read gamespulp’s view on The Division’s chance of survival post-E3 2016, head over here.
When anything goes wrong, some games journalists are quick to wail like it’s the end of the world. Resident Evil? Dead. Battlefield? Dead. Xbox One? Dead. Console gaming? Dead. We get it – it makes good headline copy. They click-bait us, whipping up a wicked outraged frenzy. But these things matter; these things start wars.
Gamespulp isn’t going to defend The Division’s problems – developers should be releasing products that work, and The Division isn’t entirely that. But we’re not going to tee up a nail designed for its coffin. We’re just going to say that The Division isn’t dead.
Not because Ubisoft have totally messed up The Division beyond absolute repair. They haven’t. They’ve released a game that mostly works, except for one tiny, little, very massive fuck up that imbalances the all-important end-game.
Ubisoft’s biggest crime was to underestimated the players. Gamers have been using exploits for decades, it’s part of the fun – the only difference is, now it affects a lot of players who can take their anger and frustration online. The Division is the biggest time-sink since Skyrim, and when you spend so much time on a game, you’re bound to get curious about whether you can stack DPS, or accidentally place a mobile cover too close to a wall. And if soulless quick-scoping COD dogs have taught us anything, some folks will do anything for a win. Even if it means sitting back and letting enemies destroy your target. Good time to make a coffee.
We all know those chaps on the mics telling yelling at us that Ubisoft are fucked. Hated. The EA of Today. It’s just a glitch, it’s fair game because it’s in the game. Never buy another Ubi title ever again. They’re still playing it, sure. But they’re furious. If they feel anything beyond their own sense of entitlement, they feel like the gaming industry has exploited them for years, so why not exploit the video game. It’s a boss battle with Ubisoft as Bowser. But then there’s the other side.
Less hardcore gamers actually, unbelievably, incredibly like The Division. They’ll pop on to do the dailies, and roll the dice once or twice with pals in the DZ. They can slip in and out of seamless matchmaking. They’d never find an exploit, because they’re not even looking. And while glitches can be frustrating, they laugh and shrug it off: it’s happens, it’s a game. That may not be a way of seeing everything the game has to offer, but they’re playing their way. They’re still playing it too.
Sure, if they wanted to cut and run with your dollar (Or Phoenix Credit), they totally could. It could be left to fester and they know people will still play. Even if core gamers left, it’s addictive enough that new ones would arrive in NYC. The problems currently facing The Division isn’t hurting the studio’s wallet too much – the game has already broken sales records. Job done.
But Ubisoft hasn’t rage-quit yet.
The publisher has been burnt before. The fallout from Assassin’s Creed Unity led to the empty streets of Syndicate, a far cry from the atmospheric, bustling Paris, as they turned down the power to make sure the game run smooth-ish-ly.
Even when it may even be a poor, game-destroying, atmosphere-killing misstep, they do have a history of trying to make things right, which is more than can be said for some industry giants (And they get extra points for letting their team work on Valiant Hearts). While extra but infrequent server downtimes can be irritating, at least someone somewhere in the Ubi dungeon is trying. And their highly personal Customer Service Twitter has been non-stop twittering in a dawn chorus of complaints.
Ubisoft have been lazy, but their latest flurry of patch notes are a misstep step in the right direction. It’s still early enough in the end-game that they can turn The Division into the next Battlefield 4, which 180-ed after its botched launch and is still supported by Dice today. For now, the agents of The Division are still breathing.