Take a second to consider just how many games eventually turn into a scrappy underdog story where the little guy/gal becomes filled with righteous purpose and takes up arms against an unfeeling corporation, usually one that’s hellbent on control over the populace in some form or another. Now consider how many of those games are made by the very same types of corporations that such a description would apply to. This is something that’s been bugging me for awhile because it’s starting to feel like self-flagellation. Or maybe the developers working under these evil corporations—cough EA cough so subtle cough—are taking out their pent-up aggression by effectively turning their bosses into game villains? Whatever the case, I can’t help but think that it’s kind of a weird situation for everyone involved.
There’s no case of this that I love more than Ubisoft. Their Assassin’s Creed series’ central conflict has been between the assassins who champion freedom and and the Templars who believe that people need to be controlled. Obviously the assassins are shown to be the good guys in almost all of the games, so think about this: Ubisoft is notorious for using heavy DRM in their games to restrict what legitimate users can do. They were the ones who pushed always-online DRM (with Assassin’s Creed 2, ironically enough) and they’re currently on the front lines of cramming Denuvo into everything they put out. If the game’s conflict was real, Ubisoft would be Templars.
Hell, they’d be the Templar leaders.
Ubisoft is hardly the only example of this, either. Capcom not only published Remember Me, but their Resident Evil series was practically driven by in-game corporate douchebaggery for the longest time in the form of Umbrella Corporation. Multiple “worst company in America” winner EA put out Mirror’s Edge and 2012’s Syndicate reboot. Activision put out Prototype. I could go on and on.
I won’t, though. It’s more fun to leave it as a creeping realization as more and more examples inevitably spring to mind. It’s weird, though, right?