Here's something that might take you by surprise: on their latest earnings call, Ubisoft described Ghost Recon: Wildlands as "the best selling game since the beginning of the year".
The news was dropped during the same earnings call where Ubisoft talked about Far Cry 5, a sequel to The Crew and a new Assassin's Creed. But it's success of Ghost Recon: Wildlands that really stands out to me, especially since it's a game that went so unheralded compared to all the games that launched around it - Horizon: Zero Dawn, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and so on.
Ghost Recon Wildlands seems innocuous at first glance. It is a passable open world shooter where cooperative play leads to exciting gunfights and silly vehicle stunts. But Wildland's core is far more insipid. It is propaganda. It is jingoism made playable, perpetuating the failed logic that all it takes to solve the world's woes is enough ammo.
Ubisoft's financial release says Wildlands is "the industry's best-selling game since the beginning of the year", with For Honor surprisingly in second place. The caveat is that sales were only counted from January to March, although data from the US, Japan, EMEA territories and Australia were counted. Ubi also used their in-house estimates, as well as data from Famitsu, GfK and NPD.
The claim might not be 100% accurate, then. But there's no doubt that Wildlands sold really well, and it's not a complete surprise. NPD Group last month already announced that Wildlands sold more than Breath of the Wild in the US for March, even though Zelda sold more than 1.3 million copies in the region. NPD figures, however, are based on revenue, and not on the number of actual copies sold (which obviously benefits big budget titles over indies that might explode in popularity, like PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds or Stardew Valley).
For all the flaws in Ubisoft's spin on Bolivia, the fundamentals of jumping in a dirt bike with mates and shooting up a few drug smugglers are really, really solid. It's a good reminder that large, well optimised co-op experiences will always play well to the broader market, even if the road is a little tone deaf and samey along the way.