Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ubisoft and Rayman Legends: Screwing Over Gamers and Possibly Their Own Developer All At Once

The news of Ubisoft of Rayman Legends going multiplatform, but most importantly, delaying the finished Wii U version until September, shook the gaming world. If you could sift through the editorials claiming the Wii U was now most certainly doomed after only three months on the market, or the arguments between console warriors on various sites, then you could see just how crappy this decision actually was, for gamers and for the developers of Rayman Legends, and why you shouldn't think of boycotting the game despite this maddening news.

Wii U owners were looking forward to the game not only because the game looked fantastic (the E3 and resulting playable Wii U eShop store demo alone both turned heads), but because there was nothing else to look forward to in February. There was literally nothing for Rayman Legends to compete against. Wii U owners are starving for games in this post-launch drought period. By September, they will have plenty from Nintendo to play, and Rayman Legends could possibly just be a passing thought to many. Not to mention that Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 users will be too busy playing Grand Theft Auto V, as well. Now, so many gamers I see are saying they will wait for Legends to fall in price as new consoles and bigger titles will take precedence over Ubisoft Montpellier's hard work. That is an absolute shame.

The Wii U version of Rayman Legends IS finished. The only reason it was delayed was for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 ports. That is astoundingly dickish. More so than the upstanding journalist at IGN who led Wii U owners to believe today's news would be positive (he knew what he was doing). Look, it's great that the game is going to be available to be played by millions of more people. Anyone who argues against that is rather silly. It's not great that those who were ready to play it in just three weeks get news that the game was delayed-- not by a week, not by a month, but by seven months. It's not Wii U owners who exclusively get screwed here, so take your "cry me a river, Wii U losers" comments to your average garbage gaming message board or YouTube comment section where they belong. No, gamers as a whole are the ones who get screwed. We could have had the chance to play what I still think is going to be a fantastic platformer in three short weeks. Now, all of us have to wait seven months.

And for what? There is honestly little reason to delay the Wii U version to coincide with the Xbox 360 and PS3 ports. Was it because Ubisoft was worried the game wouldn't sell because of the low install base? Well, you can't have an install base without games to get people to want a given console, and Rayman Legends was ironically one of those games that would have expanded the install base. Instead, now the install base for the Wii U will stay dormant until who-knows-what comes out, thus the install base remains low. Completely anti-productive and perhaps self-fulfilling in the prophecy department. Quite possibly the only feasible reason gamers can come up with for this decision is marketing costs, and even then, Nintendo has supported the game firmly, even spotlighting the game smack dab on the Wii U eShop's front page with an awesome demo.

Nintendo made an environment that is open to 2D platformers. The success of New Super Mario Bros. U proves that Wii U owners have a heavy interest in the genre, so why delay a game that is in a loved genre by Nintendo fans, was set to release during a quiet period where the console's owners were thirsty for games, and was completing finished? The mind just boggles.

This news most certainly does NOT rock!
Beyond all of that, however, is what gets me most furious about this delay-- those poor mistreated fellows at Ubisoft Montpellier, the most fabulous group within Ubisoft, yet the group that is treated the most like dirt. This is going off a "rumor" that is pretty much confirmed as true. A developer on the team posted on a Spanish forum, EOL, his frustrations with the entire situation (translated from a member on NeoGAF). It turns out the team barely saw their families and worked long hours on the game simply because they thought the game was releasing at the end of the month. Ubisoft suits today simply changed the release date to September, thus putting all the laborious hours of work on the game, as the developer put it, "for nothing."

The translation from a NeoGAF user named beje:
"I completely understand you but you have to understand one thing. This is not a decision taken by the development team, this comes from really really high up, so please don't pick on the game. 
If you're pissed, imagine how we feel. Think on the situation, we've been making overtime with this game practically since May preparing E3, and then almost a demo per month (Gamescom, Wii U presentation, shops, eShop, etc...) and at the same time trying to actually finish the game. We had a first delay because it was obvious we couldn't finish on time but we gave it all to be there on February. What face do you think we had when the week we had to close the game we're being told it's not going to be released? I couldn't believe it. 
For practical matters, you'll have to wait for some months for the game to be released and will most likely serve for more content to be added and do it better. For us, this means we've spent 6 months barely seeing our wives, kids, and friends for nothing because, after all, such a haste wasn't needed. Believe it, it was a hell to swallow these news. 
Even then I'm firm in what I said back in the day, Rayman Legends is an excellent game and will still be, and the team that's making it doesn't deserve to have your back turned on them just because some men in ties one day took a wrong choice. This industry is really that shitty."
As someone who is going into the game design part of the industry (and as a current college student who does a lot of crunch time), this hurts my innards to read.

Nonetheless, here's an important thing to take from all of this. No matter how infuriating this news and delay makes you, you can't be happy if the game bombs, and you shouldn't boycott the game. Rayman Legends really does deserve your support. The publisher definitely doesn't, but the development team definitely does.

And what good would boycotting the game really do? If it doesn't sell, then how would it negatively affect Ubisoft? They will still make big bank on other ventures like Assassin's Creed and Just Dance no matter what happens with Rayman Legends and your ill-conceived sense of justice. Meanwhile, and in a hypothetical situation, Ubisoft Montpellier gets shut down, the employees are fired, and 2D platformers are seen as a "big risk." That isn't good for anyone, and certainly not this industry! I'm sure some of these random thoughts about this mess have been expressed by many of you already, but the point here is that this situation deserved to be handled much better by Ubisoft, much like the treatment of the glorious people at Ubisoft Montpellier themselves.

What do you think about this past day's incident? Do you think it is really crappy of Ubisoft to pull a seven month delay that on gamers who were feverishly awaiting Rayman Legends, just for the reason of releasing with the 360 and PS3 ports? Do you feel bad for the development team? Do you totally disagree with the premise of this piece? That's fine, too. Post your thoughts in the comments section.

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