Don’t expect to get buying advice on Ubisoft’s next game before it goes on sale.
The publisher isn’t making its upcoming racer The Crew available to critics before it goes on sale Dec. 2. It announced today that it will give reviewers access to it on the same day as everyone else. Ubisoft explained its decision by pointing to the The Crew’s reliance on interaction with other real people. The Crew is an open-world driving game that will have you teaming up with friends to take on other teams of players. Ubisoft claims you’ll interact with “thousands and thousands and thousands” of other people online, and that it cannot re-create that experience for reviewers.
“For this very reason, The Crew will be available to media to begin their reviews when the game launches on December 2,” Ubisoft evangelist Gary Steinman wrote in a blog post. “There will be absolutely no embargo on any type of coverage once the game is available for sale. 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.”
Ubisoft is reeling from the launch of Assassin’s Creed: Unity. The publisher let reviewers play that release early, but it set an embargo for 12 hours after it went on sale. That kept critics quiet about some of Unity’s framerate and technical issues. In that instance as well, Ubisoft came out and said that it wanted reviewers to get online with the game.
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Not sending out reviewable copies accomplishes the same thing as a post-release embargo. Additionally, Ubisoft is trying to taint the perception of any review that does get out in the first few days. By claiming any reviewer with an opinion based it on an early version of the game, the publisher is saying you can’t trust anything you read until days after the game has had a chance to rack up sales.
Destiny developer Bungie did something similar for the launch of its online shooter. In a blog post on its website, community manager David Dague warned consumers of reviewers that don’t “have the time or patience” to take Destiny for a “nice, long road trip.” Following this post and the release of the game, reviews didn’t start appearing for Destiny until around a week after it went on sale.
In the case of Destiny, waiting to review only kept players from finding out that Bungie had released its lowest-rated game (according to Metacritic) in more than 10 years.
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