Speaking during the Sweden Game Conference 2018, Ubisoft Massive COO, Alf Condelius, discussed separating politics and games with The Division and its sequel, as well as how he and his team don't want to use the series as a vehicle to take a stance on current politics.
While many have interpreted The Division and the reveal of The Division 2 as having something political to say, Ubisoft Massive actually wants to distance itself from whatever interpretation players may have. According to Condelius, being openly political in games is "bad for business."
"It's a balance because we cannot be openly political in our games," said Condelius. "So for example in The Division, it's a dystopian future and there's a lot of interpretations that it's something that we see the current society moving towards, but it's not - it's a fantasy."
"It's a universe and a world that we created for people to explore how to be a good person in a slowly decaying world. But people like to put politics into that, and we back away from those interpretations as much as we can because we don't want to take a stance in current politics."
The COO continued:
"It's also bad for business, unfortunately, if you want the honest truth.... but it is interesting and it is a discussion that we have, and it's an ongoing discussion we have with our users, of course, because people want to put an interpretation into the universe that we create and they want to see their own reality in the fantasies that we give them, and the stories that the games are."
Interestingly, it appears Ubisoft Massive's approach to The Division is different than the approach Ubisoft Montreal took with Far Cry 5, which felt more openly political at times. Or perhaps that was just how it was perceived.
Later during the presentation, Condelius was pressed on whether games can be considered art if they are afraid to make a political statement, to which he responded by stating that "art doesn't have to be that straightforward" and that not every game has to have a "political campaign message."
According to Condelius, avoiding overtly political statements helps players project their own beliefs, if they choose, and that's important in a game that is asking players to spend dozens of hours with it.
"It has to be subtle for a lot of people to be attracted to it, it has to be undefined for many people to put their own definition to it," he said. "It has to be vague in some aspects while it's in a very well defined world, for people to be able to interact with it for a very long time.
"[If] we want people to play the game for hours and hours, then we cannot be very defined in what everything means. That would be boring. That would be like watching one of the educational movies from high school."2comments