Ubisoft is not known to be an ear-to-the-ground company. The French video game developer and publisher has made many anti-consumer moves in recent years. This most recent blunder brings us back to the early 2000’s email spam. With their newest game release Far Cry 6, players who have started the game but haven’t played recently are being sent emails belittling them for not spending enough time in-game.
A True Villian
The emails are told from the point of view of the game’s main antagonist Anton Castillo, played by the actor Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad. The emails consist of Castillo antagonizing the main character Rojas for giving up on his journey of taking back the fictional Country of Yara. It then shows the players playtime with the caption saying they can play more
This email is clearly aiming to push more player engagement with the tactic of “fear of missing out” or FOMO. FOMO plays off the natural human urge to be included. It is a marketing and sales tool used in all industries, from car sales to the entertainment industry. When done right FOMO is very effective. However, it is a double-edged sword. When done wrong it provokes resentment from the customer. Ubisoft got the wrong end of the sword this time.
You can attract more flies with honey than shit. And this email is no honey jar. First off, FOMO is supposed to show a shiny new thing and say, “it’s only around for a limited time”. The customer is then urged by the emotional side of their brain to make a purchase. In this case, the urge would be to play more of the video game. This email doesn’t have a shiny new thing that would excite players enough to bring them back. Ubisoft is using the quote from Castillo as a half-assed substitution. The player is supposed to be reminded they have the adventure to go on. However, it doesn’t come off as encouraging for the player. It comes off as being mocked for failing on a journey you just started. This makes the player want to give up entirely because they perceive it as a fruitless task.
You’re not allowed to have a life
The time played section has nothing going for it. Even putting myself in their shoes I don’t see its purpose. All it does is call out the player for playing a game less than the publisher would like. Gaming is something you’re in the mood to do. The mood dictates what you play, how long you play, and who you play with. Some gamers play multiple games at the same time, while others play a single game consistently. Telling us in an email how long we have played a game does nothing but belittle us
This email can’t be saved but I have some ideas for the next ones they inevitably send
- Subject line– Scrap the “you disappoint me” bullshit. What are you, my dad? Issue a challenge to the player as a worthy adversary not as a child. Gamers love a challenge.
- Perspective– position the picture as one of those “Uncle Sam wants you” type posters. Instead of encouraging the player to join the army you’re encouraging them to jump back into the game. In my samples below I’ve done this with the main antagonist and with some weapons the players might want to find.
- Ditch the time played counter– If players want to know how much time they have sunk they can look at the console itself.
- Add a CTA- Instead, have a big button that allows the player to jump right back into the game. Copywriters are taught to put a call to action. A CTA is supposed to tell the reader what to do next after consuming the media. Think of “buy it here” buttons on emails or “Call Now” on commercials. This removes the barrier of entry of having to exit the email, find the launcher icon and start the game.
- Honey not shit- Use the best aspects of your game to entice players to keep playing. Far Cry 6 for all its flaws has cool aspects. Pets, cock fights, crazy weapons etc. Tell them what they can do if they start playing your game again.
Here’s what I did
Have you gotten these emails from Ubisoft? Do you have any ideas on how to improve them? Let me know below.
Great perspective, I enjoyed seeing your point of view in breaking down their marketing scheme.