Conan O'Brien runs a small skit on his show every once in a long while called the “Clueless Gamer”. It lets the red-headed ravisher get some hands-on time with some of the most highly anticipated games either already out or coming out for home consoles.
The latest game to run the comical gamut at Conan's late night gig is Watch Dogs, Ubisoft mega-million-dollar blockbuster that marks the company's first new franchise-worthy IP in a long while, and a game that has been on the end of more discussions about graphics than James Cameron's pitch to Fox about big, blue, 3D cat people running around in jungle jockstraps on a foreign planet.
The skit is just over a handful of minutes long, showing Conan doing the typical goofy stuff that becomes the norm for someone who doesn't regularly play games, including accidentally shooting civilians and driving fake UPS trucks into walls and claiming that it was sabotage at the hands of FedEx.
The real interesting part about all this is that technically, Conan broke the review embargo.
Remember, a long time ago in a far away land called last week, Ubisoft warned everyone about “false reviews” making the rounds. What was it again? Oh right, this was it right here...
Hackers have attempted to infiltrate our system and post false reviews of Watch Dogs. All valid reviews will emerge at release on May 27_— Watch Dogs (@watchdogsgame) May 18, 2014
So does that mean Team Coco's support of Watch Dogs in their Clueless Gamer review isn't valid?
DualShockers also recently posted a translated review from a French magazine, Jeux Video, calling it the first “legit” review.
Even still, Jeux broke embargo much in the same way that Team Coco did. I don't see how either could be considered more “valid” than WCCF Tech's early review – a review that they did based on a retail copy of the game, and not a review copy, I might add – other than that Jeux and Conan are very positive toward the game and continue to put coals into the furnace of the hype train.
Now some of you might instantly respond with: Maybe Team Coco bought their own copy.
It could be the case – that the studio picked up a copy of the game from a retailer who broke the street date before May 27th. However, previously the producers had made it known that publishers provide Conan's studio with content... sometimes for a fee, as reported by Re/Code.
A press rep also mentioned the following in regards to Conan sponsoring and reviewing games on the show, stating...
“These Clueless Gamer segments are not serious reviews nor endorsements — they are strictly comedic sketches,” … “We do not believe sponsorship identification is needed.”
The interesting thing about it is that it doesn't matter if you play games professionally or not (most reviewers aren't good enough to play games professionally), once you have an audience and you give your opinion about the content – just like Conan does in the video above – it's a review. Plain and simple.
Nevertheless, Ubisoft made it known in an e-mail that the whole thing is to be played for laughs, with a representative saying...
"We look at the segment as more of a comedy sketch than a review."
What's funny here is that I'm sure not everyone would dismiss Conan's review entirely as throwaway comedy, especially when you have comments like this on his YouTube page...
Comedy sketch or not, come May 27th a bunch of people were just influenced to pick this game up. Conan's review may not be very comprehensive, but it sure is influential.
Today's lesson has been learned: All negative reviews, even if they don't break embargo, aren't “valid”. All positive reviews, even if they do break embargo, are “valid”.
Good to know.