Total gridlock. Thousands unable to access their places of work, leisure or rest. Movement restricted to a 2 square kilometer area. A city totally and utterly shut down. EA’s latest Simcity title has gone from fiasco to fiasco, with the restrictive play options, overbearing DRM and an infrastructure not fit for purpose conspiring against allowing anyone to actually play the game they purchased. But as the old games industry saying goes, never attribute incompetence to that which can be explained by viral marketing, as Ubisoft have today revealed that the whole thing was a staged promotion for this winter’s Watch_Dog’s.
“We want people to see Watch_Dogs as a critique of the modern surveillance state – the idea that a city should be completely and utterly controlled by a single, fallible entity” said Yannis Mallat, CEO of designer Ubisoft Montreal. “Then EA go and announce that Simcity will require a constant internet connection and have important calculations done by them “for your convenience” – well, it just sounds to us like a perfect opportunity to promote our title dealing with the same themes, albeit from the other side of the monitor. So we had it arranged that the whole thing would fail on day one.”
It seems, however, that EA themselves were not party to the “arrangements”, said to involve several shady organisations headed by people called “Vladimir” and “Igor”, and while the original one-day promotion was intended to disrupt Simcity‘s launch, the subsequent media coverage caused Ubisoft to extend the promotion “for the foreseeable future”.
“The only real problem,” said Mallat, “is that no-one seems to actually be looking at us. Which, in a way is a good thing, since it was us who sold EA on the whole “always-online” bullshit in the first place.”