When it comes to the next generation, there are two groups of people: those who can’t wait for new consoles, and those who are more than comfortable with the current lineup. Ubisoft can be placed in the first camp, as the publisher is eagerly looking forward to the fabled PS4 and Xbox 720.
Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot is eagerly anticipating the next generation, reminiscing of a time when console cycles only lasted five years. While Guillemot acknowledges that console launches may be expensive for the manufacturers (not to mention consumers), their presence allows developers to take more risks and innovate. Battlefield 3 developer DICE echoed a similar sentiment last year, criticizing dated, current console hardware for limiting developers.
Guillemot stays away from the technology debate, instead making reference to software sales. Developers are more likely to create new IPs in the beginning of a console cycle, as consumers are more likely to purchase new software. Over time however, software sales begin to dip, and it becomes difficult to justify the launch of new IPs.
“It’s a lot less risky for us to create new IPs and new products when we’re in the beginning of a new generation. Our customers are very open to new things. Our customers are reopening their minds — and they are really going after what’s best. … At the end of a console generation, they want new stuff, but they don’t buy new stuff as much. They know their friends will play Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed so they go for that. So the end of a cycle is very difficult.”
Ubisoft’s fondness for new hardware can be seen with the launch of the PS Vita, the Kinect and the upcoming Wii U. The publisher was out in full force with the Vita, and have already announced seven titles for Nintendo’s Wii successor. Surprisingly, Ubisoft has kept R&D costs to a minimum while developing for the Wii U, which can be attributed to most games being ports of PS3/Xbox 360 titles.
“We are not talking about games today, like we were spending on Ghost Recon or Assassin’s Creed. So they are much smaller in terms of cost. As we’ve always said, when there is such innovation, the need is not to have big a production value but to concentrate on the innovation. This is what we are trying on Rayman and on ZombiU.
For the other five games, you are talking about small budget, I’d say of less than a million Euro to make some of the ports, I would estimate. So together I don’t think we have a huge investment on the Wii U.”
With the Wii U launching this fall, and EA suggesting the PS4/Xbox 720 are coming next year, we can only hope that Ubisoft’s definition of innovation includes Beyond Good and Evil 2. Please?
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