Ubisoft Managed To Outdo Itself With Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad
As a French person who knows Ubisoft well, I thought it couldn't get worse. However, they proved me wrong with Tom Clancy's Elite Squad.
On August 25, Ubisoft published a new mobile title called Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad. The action-RPG is set in an unstable world due to war, corruption and poverty. In the midst of all that, an organization named Umbra claims power should be in the hands of the people, and uses anti-fascism, anti-discrimination imagery as its symbols. Specifically, the game’s intro cutscene features a raised fist symbol that many players have drawn comparisons to Black Lives Matter.
However, it turns out Umbra are the bad guys: they organize terrorist attacks against civilians, further destabilizing countries. Luckily, the governments of the world and their representatives of law enforcement, only here to protect us, unite and form a special Elite Squad to stop this threat to Capitalism. The player is the leader of this Elite Squad.
As the game has been available for a few days now, many have started to notice how baffling Elite Squad‘s storyline is, especially compared to the events happening today. It’s as if the wildest racist manga written by a Netouyo and the delusions of a white supremacist put some Potara on and fused.
French journalist Oscar Lemaire, who watched more of the game’s cutscenes besides the intro above, also mentioned Umbra’s final plan is triggering a global pandemic to fully destabilize governments and take over. I’ve watched some of the cutscenes myself to confirm. To crown it all, the Creative Director of Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad is Charlie Guillemot, the son of Yves Guillemot. Charlie Guillemot is the leader of Elite Squad‘s development studio, Ubisoft Owlient.
– Le plan des méchants consiste à provoquer une pandémie mondiale pour discréditer les gouvernements en place qui n’arriveront pas à gérer et ainsi prendre le pouvoir.
— Oscar Lemaire (@oscarlemaire) August 28, 2020
As a French black person, this is unfortunately not the first time that we’ve experienced racism and sexism come from a French company. And based on what we’ve seen in the past few months, I can’t even begin to imagine how all the women and people who spoke up to denounce Ubisoft must be feeling. Yves Guillemot’s statement in July about the sexual misconduct problem at Ubisoft sounded like an empty apology. But now, after seeing Elite Squad? It feels like decency is dead and buried.
I wouldn’t even say I’m that pissed off or shocked as I’m used to all this, especially after what already happened with Quantic Dream, another French game studio. France has a discrimination problem, and it has obviously shown in game companies too. This problem is perhaps even more ingrained in France’s society than in the United States. There is no justice in France either, and cops regularly brutalize, choke, and assassinate minorities with impunity, most notably in the abandoned suburbs of Paris, where many people of African, Arabic, or Asian descent live. I often find myself thinking that if not for stricter firearms policy with French police forces, the birthplace of Human Rights would definitely have more casualties in police encounters than the land of Freedom and Justice.
Be it in France or America, there is an institutionalized, state-racism system where minorities will always encounter further obstacles when looking for education, a job, or a house. When a sports figure of African or Arab origin triumphs in a world-level tournament, they’re French. If they dare speak up against discrimination or lose the tournament, they’ll become “African” or “Arab.” Attempts to discredit anti-racism, anti-police violence activists are a daily occurrence in France. Politicians of any party regularly integrate narratives and ideas from fringe, extremist political groups to gather more votes.
At the end of the day, there’s nothing surprising in seeing a huge French company like Ubisoft pulling the same move with its latest mobile game, trying to appeal to those kind of gamers as well. Of course, it’s likely that Ubisoft wrote the plot of Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad years ago, before a pandemic and before police brutality became more visible than ever. Maybe every single developer at Ubisoft Owlient is a blissfully ignorant French citizen who “doesn’t see color” and don’t understand why minorities talk about discrimination all the time if they want it to disappear. Maybe they genuinely never saw the Black Lives Matter logo. One thing is sure though, they and I don’t live in the same world.
An update regarding Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad: pic.twitter.com/G6Hb1SO7Gx
— Ubisoft (@Ubisoft) August 29, 2020
After some backlash, Ubisoft stated on August 29 it will remove the raising fist logo in the game’s opening cutscene with an update coming this week. This doesn’t really change anything though, as the game’s story itself stays the same.
Luckily, Ubisoft’s games “aren’t political” according to the company’s past statements, so we can disregard all of the above.