The Crew withheld from review until after release day

The Crew Beta - 76
The red light represents Ubisoft’s relationship with press coverage.

Ubisoft noticed that press and public alike were a bit upset by their post-release embargo time for Assassin’s Creed: Unity reviews, so they’ve found a new way to handle reviews with The Crew. It’s pretty simple: they won’t be providing any review copies until 2 December, the day the game comes out.

In their marketing mouthpiece (literally, it’s written by the “senior communications manager”) article linked above, Ubisoft says it can’t possible let reviewers look at The Crew to let people know whether it might be worth buying/cancelling that pre-order because:

The Crew was built from the beginning to be a living playground full of driving fans, so it’s only possible to assess our game in its entirety with other real players in the world. And by other, we mean thousands and thousands and thousands of players – something that can’t be simulated with a handful of devs playing alongside the press.

I have slight (very slight) sympathy with that argument. Predominantly multiplayer titles are difficult to review when the player counts are restricted to other reviewers and developers.

But this solution doesn’t help anybody – except the publisher. With the industry so utterly geared towards getting players to stick money down for a pre-order (indeed, there’s a “pre-order The Crew please” link right under the article) it’s pretty damn important for reviews of games to go out before it’s too late for people to cancel said orders.

Publishers don’t like that, obviously; but withholding all critical judgements of your game until after it’s already released is a shockingly arrogant way to handle this issue.

Since there’s now no way to tell ahead of release whether the final, finished version of The Crew will be any good, I’d urge you to hold off buying or pre-ordering the game until you hear testimonies from sites, forums, commentators or other players you can trust.

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