Ubisoft has announced plans to use in-game events in games such as Riders Republic and Skull and Bones to raise awareness around the impact that climate change has on our planet.
The plans were developed as part of Ubisoft’s participation in the Playing for the Planet Alliance’s annual Green Game Jam, which encourages studios to find ways to integrate environmental topics in their games.
In Rider’s Republic, for instance, Ubisoft intends to use a “short and intense live event” to promote strategies that will reduce the size and frequency of wildfires, as well as have an emotional impact by highlighting their consequences. You won’t be forewarned of the event, Ubisoft has said. Instead, one day you’ll boot up Riders Republic and “be immersed immediately in the consequences of wildfires on the outskirts of the map”.
The consequences will include an orange sky and "’fire smoke’ fog throughout the entire game”, a default gas mask being equipped and a part of the map being completely inaccessible as a result of the air being “unbreathable”.
It’ll be up to you and other players to work together to stop Sequoias burning down. This will involve identifying “the most fragile and flammable areas of Sequoia National Park” by using Photo Mode and then engaging in collaborative activities that will reduce the risk of the fire spreading, for example, cleaning forest paths or protecting trees by putting aluminum foil on their trunks.
Skull and Bones, on the other hand – which doesn’t yet have a release date but is expected some time later this year – will focus on the consequences of resource exploitation by “showing what happens in the game world and the real world when the demand for sharks’ fins results in the overfishing of sharks.”
As Ubisoft explains it, it’ll be “one of the seasonal live events in the game” that are designed to encourage collaboration and you’ll “have the choice to contribute to marine wildlife protection and comprehend the destructive nature of the shark fin trade.” Contributing to community challenges will, Ubisofts says, result in rewards being unlocked for everyone “depending on the overall level of participation.”
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The Green Game Jam has been taking place since 2020 and it appears to have grown each year. Starting with mobile games in its first year, it was opened up to all platforms in 2021 and this year is being described as “the largest edition” yet, with over 50 participating studios.
Scrolling through the list of this year’s participants shows that there are other Ubisoft studios and games taking part, though not necessarily with such all-encompassing in-game events.
For Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, for instance, Ubisoft Montreal will apparently add “an exclusive Charity Pack that features two unique mount skins”, with all profits generated “donated to charities focused on nature conservation.”
Ubisoft San Francisco, meanwhile, has said it intends to “teach guitar learners & players more about their instrument and everything that went into making it” in Rocksmith by using a combination of “environmentally-themed in-app rewards” and “an interactive curriculum that focuses on the planet with themed song playlists and educational Rocksmith Discover videos and articles”.
Even outside of Ubisoft, Guerilla Games and Sony are getting involved through Horizon Forbidden West with its previously announced “Aloy’s Forests” project. Media Molecule’s Dreams, meanwhile, created a “community-facing game jam focused on the themes of sustainable farming, including sustainable food and agricultural practices” back in April of this year.
Ubisoft is a prominent presence in the list of participants for the Green Game Jam this year and it was in 2021, too. The publisher has also been vocal about its Play Green initiative announced in 2021.
However, it’s also attracted criticism for its push into NFTs despite severe backlash from players and widespread concerns over the negative environmental impact associated with some NFTs.
Ubisoft has claimed that its Quartz platform is “the first platform for playable and energy-efficient NFTs in AAA games” but in an interview with IGN around the time of the platform’s launch, Nicolas Pouard, VP of Ubisoft’s Strategic Innovation Lab said, “If we see [blockchain technology] cannot go [more energy efficient], if it’s not sustainable, of course, we will think again of what we are doing.”
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Emma Boyle is TechRadar’s ex-Gaming Editor, and is now a content developer and freelance journalist. She has written for magazines and websites including T3, Stuff and The Independent. Emma currently works as a Content Developer in Edinburgh.