The Division is an open-world third-person shooter set in the aftermath of a devastating pandemic that has left the United States, and I would assume the rest of the world, utterly devastated. The disease, as it turns out, was spread by infected currency—a “cash contagion,” you might call it. In fact, that's exactly what Ubisoft calls it in a newly-launched promotional website that purports to tell you where your money came from, where it's been, and how many people have peed on it along the way.
Unfortunately, the Cash Contagion website only supports pounds or euros, so you can't uncover the provenance of your good ol' US greenbacks, or their more colorful, 30-percent-off Canadian cousins. But I was nonetheless able to test the system thanks to the magic of Google image search, which gave me a serial number for a £50 note that may or may not have been valid, but either way served the purpose. Here's what I learned:
The note originated in Debden, England, and traveled 6202 miles over 492 months before arriving in Canada. By the time it ended up in my hands, it contained high levels of cocaine, marijuana, and urine—one of these things is not like the others, as they say—and also tested positive for staphylococcus aureus, acinetobacter, and helicobacter pilori. It sounds bad, and yet all of that is only good enough for an overall risk factor of “medium,” although a risk of precisely what isn't clear. Death, I suppose. An “extreme” ranking (which I got from a €50 note) results in a bright orange screen and an ultra-ominous warning that what you're holding in your hands could destroy the world!
Ubisoft obviously isn't tracking who's had a whiz on your wallet, or anything else in the way of where your money has been or what sort of awful things have happened to it. The website explains that results are "calculated using scientific data and actual statistics”: Euros contain more bacteria than pounds, for instance, and the listed age of notes is based on the average for each denomination. The site also claims that more than 50 percent of all banknotes seized by police contain traces of cocaine.
It's a silly gimmick, but an amusing one, in the “I dropped my wallet in the toilet and ended human civilization” kind of way—which as apocalyptic kickoffs go is a lot more interesting than the usual business of nuclear annihilation. A lack of access to the required currency has kept me from playing with the site more, so if you've got a minute and some legal tender of the appropriate sort, feed your numbers into the machine and let us know what you get.
The Division comes out on March 8. If you want to give the closed beta a rip, whenever it runs, you may buy your way into the program by beating the average (currently a little shy of $10) in the current Humble Weekly Bundle.