To franchise or not to franchise? While just about all of today’s major publishers stake their success and reputation on the building of brands, the question seems to arise every time a new IP comes along and stands radically apart from the industry’s smorgasbord of sequels. After all when you haven’t even seen a story start, it’s hard to envision it starting anew.
As for Ubisoft, however, it might be a question that no one asks the Montreal-based publisher again.
Speaking in an interview with The A List Daily, Ubisoft senior vice president of marketing and sales Tony Key responded to an inquiry about whether Watch Dogs — its upcoming, next-gen, cyber hacking-based open-world thriller — would set the stage for future sequels.
Key answered in the affirmative — essentially stating that, considering the expense of modern triple-A game development, it was company policy:
“Absolutely. That’s what all our games are about; we won’t even start if we don’t think we can build a franchise out of it. There’s no more fire and forget — it’s too expensive.”
According to Key, Watch Dogs doesn’t just have the potential to become Ubisoft’s flagship franchise — the publisher thinks it can stand atop the entire industry, tapping into the cultural zeitgeist of government surveillance fears and depicting a world that, in theory, might not be too far away:
“We feel like we’re in a really good place with Watch Dogs, but until we’re the biggest game of the year we’re not going to be satisfied.
“Last year we cleaned up at E3 because we were pretty much the only next-gen game around. Watch Dogs for us is really a franchise because we’re tapping into something people really care about, never more than when the NSA PRISM scandal broke.”
With Watch Dogs now confirmed as a franchise, it joins Splinter Cell, Assassin’s Creed, Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon and Far Cry (which is set to have its next installment, Far Cry 4, announced shortly) on the list of franchises currently published and developed in house by Ubisoft. With the development firepower being thrown behind it, it’s likely the company has the same ambitions regarding Tom Clancy’s The Division. And next-generation consoles look to be ground zero for the returns of Prince of Persia and Beyond Good & Evil.
It’s a heavy schedule — even for a worldwide publisher with 26 studios. Do you think Ubisoft is taking the best approach by fostering each new IP as a long-term franchise?
Watch Dogs releases November 19, 2013 for the PC, PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U, and will also be available for the PS4 and Xbox One.
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