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Ghost Recon lands Ubisoft in trouble with Bolivian government

Wildlands sparks diplomatic incident over depiction of drug problem, with possibility of legal action

The Bolivian government has made a formal complaint about Ubisoft's Ghost Recon Wildlands, taking issue with the way the country is depicted in the French publisher's new game.

The complaint was made to the French embassy in La Paz, the capital city, at the behest of Bolivian interior minister Carlos Romero. Speaking to Reuters, Romero would not rule out the possibility of legal action over the portrayal of Bolivia as "as area controlled by drug traffickers."

"We have the standing to do it [take legal action]," Romero said, "but at first we prefer to go the route of diplomatic negotiation."

Ghost Recon Wildlands is a work of fiction extrapolated from real-world issues. As Reuters pointed out, Bolivia is the world's third largest producer of coca leaves, an essential component in the production of cocaine. Ubisoft has inserted a fictional drug cartel, Santa Blanca, which has turned the country into a narco-state.

This is the basis of Ubisoft's official response, which emphasised that Bolivia was chosen on the basis of its "magnificent landscapes and rich culture." Ubisoft continued: "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."

Nevertheless, Bolivia's landscape wasn't the only reason the country was selected to be Wildlands' setting. As part of the marketing push around the game's launch, Ubisoft commissioned a documentary, called Wildlands, that investigates the impact of the real drug trade on the country and South America as a whole.

"The two are, essentially, very separate products," said Ubisoft's UK marketing boss Mark Slaughter. "The documentary certainly deals with a very serious subject matter, so we have ensured that we've worked with a leading production team and figures with extensive knowledge of the regions featured in the documentary and the key individuals, who have lived in that world.

Ghost Recon Wildlands launches next week, on March 7, and its beta has already attracted 6.8 million players, setting a new internal record at Ubisoft.

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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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