Why We Should Avoid Ubisoft Products


In 1994, my friend Russel called me raving about a new playable demo he’d got from the cover disc of a PC magazine.  The game was a reasonably early example of a real-time strategy game, in which the player was required to harvest resources, construct buildings and raise an army with which to crush the opposition; lest they do the same.  It was called Warcraft: Orcs and Humans; you may have heard of its descendants.  The playable demo came with four levels, which I devoured.  I quickly bought the full game shortly thereafter and its sequel, Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, the following year.  I had developed a taste for real-time strategy games and wanted more.

In 1995, another phone call from Russel introduced me to Westwood Studios new RTS game – Command & Conquer – which I came to love more than I loved Warcraft.  One of its distinguishing features, setting it apart from the Warcraft series was the inclusion of full-motion video sequences (with real actors!) introducing each mission.  After making free with Russel’s copy of C&C, I bought my own copy in early 1996, followed by its sequels as they were released, including the games from the C&C spin-off series Red Alert.

That was until 2008, and the publication of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3.  By then Westwood Studios had been bought up by gaming giants Electronic Arts, and with more money behind them (and much more money in the video game market than in 1995), EA were able to cast Hollywood stars for Red Alert 3‘s full motion video segments.  The cast included Tim Curry as Soviet Premier Antony Cherdenko;  J. K. Simmons as US President Howard T. Ackerman; Jonathan Pryce as Field Marshall Robert Bingham; George Takei as Japanese Emperor Yoshiro; and one Jenny McCarthy as Special Agent Tanya.

Yeah, that Jenny McCarthy.

My heart sank as I read her name on the back of the box in the Rock Ferry branch of PC World, prompting a brief email to EA:

Dear EA,

Although I’m a fan of the RTS genre in general and of the “Command & Conquer” series in particular, the involvement of Jenny McCarthy in “Red Alert 3” means that it will be the first C&C game I won’t be buying.

McCarthy’s anti-scientific propaganda war against vaccination is endangering the lives of children around the world and I can’t bring myself to put money toward any project in which she is involved.

I appreciate my message is unlikely to affect casting decisions at EA, I’m sure there are wider issues, but I live in hope that you will consider re-casting Tanya in time for Red Alert 4.

Thanks for taking the time to read my email.

Best wishes to you all

Mike Hall

I never received a reply, nor did I really expect to.  So why am I boring you with this, over a year later?

In the dying weeks of 2009, the French video game studio Ubisoft released a new fitness title for Wii and PC entitled Your Shape featuring Jenny McCarthy.

Yes, that Jenny McCarthy.

Fortunately, 14 months is a long time in skepticism and we have a much tighter knit community in 2010 than we had when Red Alert 3 was published in October 2008.  An excellent post on the Depleted Cranium blog has been hurtling around Twitter for the last few days, urging those of us who feel strongly about the damage McCarthy is doing to boycott Ubisoft products.  Not only that, we should let Ubisoft know what we’re doing and why.

When a company selects a person to endorse a product, they try to avoid anyone who cast their product in a bad light or might be seen in a negative way to the consumer.  The absolute last thing they want is to find someone who is going to hurt their image or sales.  By refusing to patronize this company you can send them a message indicating you are dissatisfied with their choice of spokesperson and feel strongly that Jenny McCarthy is not someone who you associate with a good product or company.

Your Shape featuring Jenny McCarthy has yet to be released in the UK, but when it is I urge you not to buy it.  Or anything produced by Ubisoft.  Yes, I’m sorry, even the new Tom Clancy game.

We can do something about this.  Sure, Ubisoft are unlikely to withdraw, recast, reshoot and re-release the game they’re already published.  But maybe, just maybe, we can make enough noise so that Ubisoft, EA and any other games developer paying enough attention will more carefully consider their casting decisions in the future.

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  1. #1 by Mike on January 5, 2010 - 15:00

    As a slight addendum to the above; Your Shape appears to have been released in the UK without the involvement of Miss McCarthy. Even so, I think the point stands.

  2. #2 by Gittins on January 5, 2010 - 16:57

    Your Shape look sinister enough without McCarthy’s involvement. A “game” that takes a digital photo of your body and then rates your appearance? I think I’ll stick to shooting innocents in the face over and over again thankyouverymuch.

  3. #3 by Betty D on January 5, 2010 - 22:21

    Baffling as it seems, McCarthy will continue to get work outside the realm of her usual nutbaggery about vaccines. It’s a drag, but I think it’s hardly worth fighting.

  4. #4 by PurePareidolia on January 6, 2010 - 09:04

    I hated Jenny Mcarthey because of Red Alert 3 long before I heard of the anti-vax thing.

    How is it she corrupts all she touches like that? First one of my favourite RTSes, now one of my favourite game studios? There’s a joke about her being infectious here, but given there’s nobody* I hate more in the world, I won’t make it

    *Possibly subject to change, though unlikely

  5. #5 by Dan Jacobs on January 11, 2010 - 00:04

    As much as I dislike a lot of the games Ubisoft produce (they are possibly the biggest producer of Wii shovelware), and as much as I can’t stand them being in cahoots with Jenny McCarthey, I’m still not sure it would make me boycott the *entire* company. This is a massive games company that produces some top quality titles — perhaps better advice would be to support their good games, and not buy anything that’s crap and features Jenny McCarthey.

(will not be published)