By John Walker on August 19th, 2013 at 12:00 pm.
Hello, and welcome to an irregular update on The Silence. The technique publishers use when they want a story to go away. Rather than responding to press enquiries, they instead pretend they haven’t happened, or send prevaricating nonsense which ultimately goes nowhere. So, RPS figures, let’s not let that work. Let’s keep bringing stuff back up, reminding people about it, and letting their silence be a thorn in the publishers’ sides. Today it’s EA, Ubisoft and Deep Silver.
2013′s most famous deployment of The Silence has to be EA with SimCity. They didn’t tell the truth. They bold-faced didn’t tell the truth about the game in previews, and they continued to talk bollocks about the game after release. They announced it required a permanent internet connection to run “server-side calculations” on which the simulation depended. It wasn’t true. It was demonstrated as not true by hackers, then journalists, and yet amazingly, EA continued to maintain their bullshit story. And they still to this day haven’t explained it. They haven’t explained how Lucy Bradshaw repeatedly told the press things that weren’t the case. They haven’t explained how their story kept changing throughout development. Maxis and EA have instead stuck their heads in the sand, while somehow also shouting “LA LA LA CAN’T HEAR YOU!”, and then rushing back to the press and asking them to excitedly report how many copies they sold. Most of the press duly did, and didn’t think to mention that they’d been ignored when trying to find out why they’d not had the truth told to them earlier. You can read much more about this here.
You’ll notice how I so cleverly avoided the word “lied” in the EA entry above. Because while we know they didn’t tell the truth, and we know they spread bullshit, we can’t prove that any individual knowingly lied. With Deep Silver and the mucky mess that was Dead Island: Riptide’s promotional material, it’s even more ambiguous. They didn’t technically lie about anything – instead they heavily manipulated the press into believing they were going to do something that they had no intention of doing. It was in response to the reaction to their unpleasant torso statue – a mutilated female corpse, arms and legs bloodily removed, but remarkably the large, balloon-like breasts pristine and barely hung in a bikini. It was to be given away with a special edition. We, along with many others, suggested that doing so was pretty disgusting. Deep Silver implied that they agreed, issued a profuse apology, and explained that they were rethinking strategies, and that they “sincerely regretted” the choice. They didn’t. Quietly, and without drawing the press’s attention to it, they just released the torso special edition anyway. So we asked them how come? We asked why they suggested they wouldn’t, and did it anyway. Why something they sincerely regretted was something they went ahead with. They didn’t reply. They wouldn’t even issue a “no comment”. Just silence. Because that makes it go away, right?
It’s also worth noting that at a recent Deep Silver preview event for Saints Row IV, to which RPS did not attend, scantily clad pole dancers appeared on stage and writhed around the assembled journalists. Deep Silver: keeping it tacky in 2013.
A new entry to The Silence charts, this little nugget occurred back in June. An interview with a developer for Ubisoft’s jumpy-stabby series mentioned that the PC version would appear “a few weeks” after the console versions. It had been the habit of Ubisoft to pretend that a game was coming out on all platforms simultaneously, and then with as little as a week to go, suddenly declare the PC version was another month or two away. Routinely. Something Ubisoft promised to try to stop doing to PC customers when we spoke to them about it last September. And it seems like they’re going to do it all over again. Or are they? We don’t know, because no matter how often we ask, we don’t hear anything back. Clearly the developer spoke off the PR script, and has likely caused all manner of consternation at Ubi as they try to figure out what to do about it internally. But as is so painfully often the case, they’ve failed to say anything externally. So instead we’re just getting The Silence, and PC customers might once again get screwed over on release day.
To all three publishers – we’d still love to hear from you about these matters. Any time you like.