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One of the big no-nos these days in the world of game reviews is for a big AAA publisher to release a game and then have reviews embargoed until the day of release or post release. Ubisoft has been in the hotbed of release day embargoes before but this time they offer a detailed explanation of why they're using that method for The Division.

Over on the official Ubisoft blog they explain that the beta has played host to more than 6.4 million players, including those who signed up and managed to get in to beta test the game over the various beta weekends, and those who pre-ordered The Division just to play the beta. In conclusion of looking over the stats, Ubisoft decided that the number of players they received during the beta offered a more real-world experience of what The Division is like and that granting reviewers access to an early build where server stress, player counts and the random structure of online play wouldn't be as present would hinder the reviews from being as accurate as possible.
Since it’s impossible for us to populate the servers in a way that would adequately replicate playing The Division on launch day, reviewers will start playing the game along with everyone else when it’s released on March 8 – after the servers go live officially and globally at 00:01AM Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT).

While this sounds like an excuse to delay reviews to the point where they only appear with the launch of the game, this does make some sense. This is almost a direct opposite approach to what happened with a game like SimCity back in 2013, where select game journalists from some of the biggest outlets were given exclusive access to the game on Electronic Arts' private servers in order to review the title. Most of the early reviews were glowing because everything ran great on EA's private servers. In a real world test, with real players, with real server stress, things did not go so well with SimCity and a lot of people found it impossible to play, causing all sorts of massive problems for countless gamers.

Of course, the flip side is that Ubisoft withholding reviews until launch day could mean that they don't have a lot of confidence in their product and that it may not be as good as some people may have hoped for.

According to the post, the servers for The Division will go live 00:01AM Australian Eastern Daylight Time, and they expect to have a fully populated game world the first day out. They also expect to see some day-one reviews and impressions even though early review copies haven't been sent out. In a way, we could know who actually played the game and who is basing their review on the beta build. In fact, Ubisoft anticipates that a lot of the day one impressions may be based on the beta build but they still state that they're looking forward to those impressions nonetheless.

For gamers it's a bit of a rock and a hard place because if you wanted to buy the game day-one it wouldn't really be feasible to check out early reviews since the only things that would be available for The Division at that point would be beta impressions or early first-impressions. And if you were one of those die-hard fans who pre-ordered but were still kind of skeptical and only wanted reaffirmation that your purchase was worth it, having to wait until after the game releases to check the reviews creates a serious inconvenience.

We'll see how this all plays out come March 8th when The Division finally launches for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
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