It seems Ubisoft was messing with the wrong people when it decided to set Ghost Recon Wildlands in the South American country of Bolivia. Despite featuring the fictionalised Santa Blanca Cartel, the Bolivian Government isn’t too happy about Ubisoft portraying its country as a gun happy haven for coke snorting drug lords and people traffickers. The Bolivian government has even gone so far as to ask the French government to intervene in Ghost Recon Wildlands’ launch or they will be forced to take legal action.
"We have the standing to take legal action, but at first we prefer to go the route of diplomatic negotiation," said Bolivian interior minister Carlos Romero.
Naturally enough, Ubisoft has been quick to defend itself, asserting that Ghost Recon Wildlands is a work of fiction and therefore not bound by law.
"Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is a work of fiction, similar to movies or TV shows,” reads the statement from Ubisoft. “Like all Tom Clancy’s games from Ubisoft, the game takes place in a modern universe inspired by reality, but the characters, locations and stories are all fantasies created solely for entertainment purposes. Bolivia was chosen as the background of this game based on its magnificent landscapes and rich culture. While the game’s premise imagines a different reality than the one that exists in Bolivia today, we do hope that the in-game world comes close to representing the country’s beautiful topography, and that players enjoy exploring the diverse and open landscapes it moved us to create."
On the one hand Ubisoft is busy trumpeting Ghost Recon Wildlands as a work of total fiction which has no basis on reality, while on the other it says its open-world Bolivia is a great representation of Bolivia’s landscape. It’s totally understandable why Bolivian officials would be a bit narked by this, however it’s difficult to envision any scenario in which they could build a legal case around this.
All of this hoo-hah does raise an interesting point though. As games become increasingly realistic, both in terms of visuals and thematic approaches, do developers have a responsibility not to tarnish the reputation of the places, or parties, involved?