Ubisoft: No New Games Unless They Can Be Made Into Franchises

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
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Ubisoft: No New Games Unless They Can Be Made Into Franchises


Ubisoft's Vice President of Sales and Marketing says the triple-A game business these days is too expensive for "fire and forget" development.

In April, Ubisoft Montreal boss Yannis Mallat told gamers to expect more annual sequels [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/123044-Ubisoft-Says-to-Expect-More-Annual-Sequels] from the publisher's properties, because that's what people like and that's what sells. This month, Tony Key, Ubi's VP of sales and marketing, put a bit of a finer point on it, saying that it won't give the go-ahead to any new game unless it thinks it can be built into a franchise.

"We won't even start if we don't think we can build a franchise out of it," Key told A-List Daily. "There's no more fire and forget - it's too expensive."

Ubisoft isn't shy about spending money to market those properties it believes have that potential, however. Key said that the marketing campaign for Assassin's Creed III was double that of any previous effort, yet it "doesn't feel so big anymore" compared to Assassin's Creed IV and Watch Dogs. Yet its approach to the two games is very different: Assassin's Creed IV can tap into the existing fan base and get a "faster start," while Watch Dogs is still in "acquisition mode... trying to find people who are intrigued by the concept," because right now there's "still less awareness outside of the core gaming community than we need to have when we finally launch that game."

"Because now we're in (a) blockbuster world, and Watch Dogs needs to be a blockbuster because it deserves to be and as a company that's what we need it to be," Key said. "It's the most ambitious production in the history of Ubisoft, and we need to make sure that everybody who likes videogames has a chance to decide that this game is going to be hot. That's the hard part about a new brand, that awareness outside the core needs to be created."

Watch Dogs is being made for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U and PC, and will launch on November 19, while Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions will follow.

Source: A-List Daily [http://www.thealistdaily.com/news/tony-key-interview-part-1-now-were-in-blockbuster-world/]


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Dr.Awkward

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Mar 27, 2013
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Idiots. Complete idiots. You're completely devaluing all your IPs this way - Just because this is how the fast food industry quickly grew to what it is today doesn't mean it can work the same in the games industry. People want quality these days, not quantity.

Here's some advice: You wouldn't have to "franchise" your games if you would cut out the bloat in the company. And in most cases, you're going to find that it's often near the top, and very hard to get rid of.
 

kajinking

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Aug 12, 2009
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This is literally my only reaction to the idea that EVERYTHING needs sequels.

Did no one learn anything from guitar hero?!
 

CyberMachinist

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Oct 8, 2012
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Well looks like Ubisoft is starting it's own "New game"in the industry, I just wonder how long it'll last before things start to stagnate them.
 

Phrozenflame500

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Dec 26, 2012
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The sad part is he's probably right about the franchise bit. People LOVE begging for sequels which almost inevitably end up worse then the original and always end up with the franchise being run into the ground (see Assassins Creed).

Which makes me sad about Watch_Dogs, even if the game lives up to the hype Ubisoft will eventually find a way to ruin it.
 

Proverbial Jon

Not evil, just mildly malevolent
Nov 10, 2009
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Bwah? Ubisoft I am conflicted over you.

First you milk Assassin's Creed to the point where I'm just not interested in the series any more. Then you greenlight the honestly interesting Watchdogs and pique my interest. Now you go and pull this sort of shit.

This is why I will support games like Remember Me and Mirror's Edge vehemently. They didn't quite get everything right but at least they were trying something new.
 

Fdzzaigl

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Mar 31, 2010
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I think creativity will go down the drainer with a policy like that. It's likely that they won't take any chances doing something fresh, due to the risk of it not catching on.
 

fix-the-spade

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Feb 25, 2008
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Well that's torpedoed my interest in Watch Dogs, welcome to the eight hour set up for Watch Dogs 2, enjoy!
 

TiberiusEsuriens

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Jun 24, 2010
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I have extremely mixed feelings about this. I totally am down with them at least being open and honest about the company plans, and even more so for clarifying an earlier statement.

If they test the waters with Watch_Dogs and find success, my only hope is that with the sequel they try to diverge further from standard procedure (more hack-eyness) and avoid the make-it-like-every-other-sandbox generalizing approach. Hopefully they've seen that between games like Blood Dragon and Saints Row they can continually try to make sequels MORE unique, thus justifying this statement.

Andy Chalk said:
"Because now we're in (a) blockbuster world, and Watch Dogs needs to be a blockbuster because it deserves to be and as a company that's what we need it to be," Key said.
Just please don't pull a SquareEnix. I'm looking at you, Tomb Raider. It's a new IP. It's going to be good, but please don't expect it to sell 10 million units because it won't, but that doesn't make it a failure unless you're setting it up to be one.
 

CardinalPiggles

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Jun 24, 2010
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I just lost a lot of interest for Watch Dogs honestly.

I get the feeling they will be holding back features on the first game so they can ever so slightly improve it's later iterations without putting in any extra creative effort.

It's what companies do with DLC. They hold back content so they can sell it down the line. Sequels are just a slower process.

This is pure speculation, don't get me wrong. But given how some companies handle DLC I wouldn't be at all surprised if this is how they handled their new interesting franchise.
 

Krantos

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Jun 30, 2009
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Andy Chalk said:
"Because now we're in (a) blockbuster world, and Watch Dogs needs to be a blockbuster because it deserves to be and as a company that's what we need it to be,"
You know, it'd be nice for industry to NOT prove Jim Sterling right, but... damn. That's pretty much verbatim what Jim was saying the mentality of Publishers is.

"This game is going to be a Blockbuster, because we want it, and we need it to be."

-_-

Calling it now. Watch_Dogs will sell millions of copies, and still be a "failure." I like what UbiSoft has been doing lately, but this sort of attitude just isn't sustainable. I'm becoming more and more convinced that the Industry as it stands is not sustainable.

You can't magic sales out of the aether of dreams and wishes. If games got the success they "deserve," Psychonaughts would have outsold Call of Duty. Know your audience, know your game, and plan your budget accordingly.
 

klaynexas3

My shoes hurt
Dec 30, 2009
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It's sad that the only games that don't end up in this hole are the indie games. Everything else, even good games, will be milked and milked and milked. We may grown, but I want people to try and think of one developer or publisher that doesn't do this.
 

Andy Shandy

Fucked if I know
Jun 7, 2010
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Oh fucking joys -.-

Well at least thanks for letting us know that, in all likelihood, all of your games are going to be "cliff-hangered" with no reasonable resolution just so you can milk the tits off of something.
 

Therumancer

Citation Needed
Nov 28, 2007
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Hmmm, well I think this has seriously hampered my enthusiasm for Ubisoft games even more than the damper that was already on it.

I think Ubisoft needs to get it's priorities straight and be willing to accept making a profit, but requiring huge, monster profits on every large investment. It's that kind of thinking that strangles the game industry.

Not to mention that Ubisoft sounds insane when it talks about wanting to go outside the "core" gaming demographic, once you go outside that core you wind up with a lot of very fickle, casual, diverse groups that are neither loyal, nor play together very well (so to speak). Making games for everyone generally tends to erode the series by ultimately making them for no one, especially if you want a franchise. A cool premise can sell a game to begin with, but after that you need to take it in a specific direction story and gameplay wise and no matter what you do, your going to slot off a lot of people.

What Ubisoft needs to do, and this applies to the rest of the gaming industry, is to humble their expectations, and cater primarily to the hardcore gamers, and be grateful for others that happen to come along. After all the hardcore gamers are your LOYAL audience and the ones most likely to stick with you if you take care of them.

Right now the kind of thinking we see here is exactly why the gaming industry is having problems and so many people are expecting a crash. The expected returns on these investments are getting to be so high that implausible amounts of sales are needed to reach those goals, and in attempting to meet those sales numbers the games need to be watered down and schitzophrenic enough to try and appeal to everyone, which is something that simply cannot be maintained, and tends to lead to really mediocre games, which hurts if you want guaranteed sequels.

I get that tens or hundreds of millions of dollars for a game is a lot of money, but the thing is that people need to learn to be content with say a 400 million dollar game making 401 million dollars in a year or so, that should be viewed as a win, rather than the attitude that "well if a game doesn't make at least ten times it's development budget it was a failure" or whatever crazy formula is used to justify the current industry rot.

... My interest in "Watch Dogs" pretty much went down hill. For a first game I expect it to be self contained and stand alone pretty much, if I happen to like it, and you tie it up well on it's own, then maybe I might want a sequel. I don't want to pretty much drop $60 for a game the main purpose of which is to sell me another game, and keep dangling any kind of closure or sense before me until the series is ready to fail.
 

PoolCleaningRobot

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Mar 18, 2012
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Its annoying because Ubisoft found success with the random, small title Blood Dragon. Maybe the answer is to release smaller and cheaper games in order to gather interest in a series and make money rather than spend a shit ton hiring 5 different developers to pump out mediocre yearly sequels and spending a few hundred million more to market said game

At this point, I just hope Ubisoft is the next THQ
 

GAunderrated

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Jul 9, 2012
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Andy Shandy said:
Oh fucking joys -.-

Well at least thanks for letting us know that, in all likelihood, all of your games are going to be "cliff-hangered" with no reasonable resolution just so you can milk the tits off of something.
Yes sometimes people just like a game to actually end. You can appreciate a game without a gigantic cliff-hanger and a sequel to follow.
 

Robyrt

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Aug 1, 2008
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I don't see why everyone is bemoaning this move. If you want to justify a AAA budget, you need a plan for making that money back, which means you need to turn your game into a series. Bioshock and Demon's Souls didn't become any worse just because they had sequels that iterated on the concept. Blood Dragon is a good example from the other end of a weird, unique small game that helped to justify the massive expense of making Far Cry 3.