It’s been too long since we had a good old-fashioned moral panic related to video games, and perhaps that’s why Ubisoft is making an effort to stoke the fires of controversy by encouraging gamers to rob a bank. This is the focus of a new mission video and competition that have been created to promote Ubisoft’s upcoming vigilante hacker sandbox game, Watch_Dogs.
Admittedly the anarchic nature of this promotional stunt is dampened a little by the fact that it’s, well, just a promotional stunt. No banks are actually going to be robbed and the target – Michael G. Aronson, a vague cardboard cut-out of a rich scumbag with “ill-gotten cash” – is a fictional character, but you have to give Ubisoft some credit for creativity.
Watch_Dogs is out later this year, and casts the player in the role of a hacker with a grudge called Aiden Pearce, who lives in a version of Chicago where everything that runs on electricity is connected to, and powered by, a single system called the CtOS. Pearce uses his technological expertise to break into the CtOS and access vast amounts of information about, and influence over, the world around him.
The mission video, titled “Cracked for Cash,” is shown above, and speaks to a network of hackers who are all invited to have a stab at breaking into Aronson’s account and making off with his money. There are four security levels to be cracked, and once the fourth is broken an ATM somewhere in Canada (which is a fairly big country, so those directions don’t really narrow it down much) will spit out wads of cash in a live event filmed by Ubisoft.
The first two levels have already been “hacked,” leaving two more to go before the live ATM event happens. The current security level waiting to be hacked required a six-digit security code (it’s not 1-2-3-4-5-6, we checked).
Obviously, when the fourth level is cracked, the ATM cash-spitting stunt will either be something organized between Ubisoft and the bank, or simply a fake ATM set up with money inside, but there’s nothing fake about the downright creepy Watch Dogs promotional site WeAreData. This covers three European cities – London, Berlin, and Paris – and allows the user to take a very, very close look at them: zooming in on particular neighborhoods to find out their crime and unemployment rates, average salaries and electricity usage, and even snooping on tweets and image shares from specific locations.