Ubisoft CEO Hopes Next Generation Will Be Shorter

Revealing the fact that he has access to a far larger reserve of disposable income than most people in this sh*tty economy, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has expressed his unhappiness with the long life of the current console generation.

“I think that what has happened is the transition has been very long,” he told Polygon. “You know, in the industry, we were used to changing machines every five years. This time we are in the seventh year of the 360. We need new consoles and at the end of the cycle generally the market goes down because there are less new IPs, new properties, so that damaged the industry a little bit.” He continued, saying in part that “when a console is out for a long time … you don’t take as much risks on totally new IPs because even if they are good, they don’t sell as well.”

What does he mean by ‘damaged the industry’ or ‘don’t sell as well’? Polygon doesn’t appear to have pressed him on that point, but this isn’t the first time Guillemot has hummed this tune. Last July, while talking to Gamasutra about the long length of this generation, he went into slightly more detail. “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,” he said at the time. “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.”

Setting aside the semantic incoherence of that statement – not to mention the complete disregard for people who don’t play multiplayer as default – what he basically said is that the long life of the current console generation has made gamers stupid and closed-minded. In other words, it’s your fault, players, for the industry’s current woes, and not the fact that it is increasingly reliant on sequels and spinoffs, and barely invests in new IP. Shame on you. SHAME. Granted, this is at least a more realistic view of things than that expressed by the head of Eurocom. In the wake of that company’s spectacularly deep layoffs – 75% of the company was let go last week – he blamed Eurocom’s rapid decline on a “steep decline in demand for console games.” You know, instead of the fact that gamers aren’t interested in buying bad games.

Guillemot did make the excellent point that “transitions are the best times, are the best ways, to make all of our creators take more risks and do different things.” And we agree wholeheartedly. But that seems like the cart pulling the horse, argument-wise. Marketing is key to the success of a game, even a mediocre game, and the reluctance of publishers to promote new IP at this stage in the generation makes the contention that new IP won’t sell sound more like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What do you think, Game Front? Is the current generation’s long life the reason for the industry’s creative and financial woes? Sound off in comments.

Via Kotaku.

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6 Comments on Ubisoft CEO Hopes Next Generation Will Be Shorter

SupremeAllah

On November 25, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Meanwhile they’ve had access to the ever evolving PC format, which really would be the answer to this man’s plight.

Too bad the company he runs is doing what they can to destroy their PC userbase with crap security measures and console ports.

And he says it right in his statement, paraphrase “we need new consoles to make new games” while the PC sits right there, just goes to show how much Ubisoft cares about the PC market, but also the market as a whole.

R.J.

On November 25, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I really don’t see the length of the console cycle as being the big problem. The thing about taking a chance is that it needs to be a mutual experience between the company and the customer. Just because the game is new and shiny doesn’t mean I’m going to jump on it. It actually needs to DO something new and do it well. It’s not that I don’t want new, experimental things, it’s that I don’t want them to be done poorly. If your new game is just a clone of another game, it might as well have been a sequel, and if your new game is lousy and shoved onto the market hoping that being new will make my overlook the flaws, I have no interest. In my personal experience, I don’t really put much emphasis on what my friends are playing. Out of my small group of friends, I’m the only one without a 360. I use my PC and my PS3 to play the games that I want to play, regardless of what they are playing. If we happen to have mutual interests in games, that’s great, if not, whatever. As Ross correctly pointed out, the advertising budgets seem to be mostly reserved for the sequels that the publishers bank on, and yet those are the games least in need of that money if they truly want new IPs to succeed. The existing fans of those games usually keep tabs on sequels and try to convince their buddies to get those games. Would Activision really need to advertise COD as much as it does? Somehow the record breaking sales each year suggest that games like that can largely take care of themselves.

And as was mentioned above, if he is so concerned about old console tech constraining creativity, then why does his company seem to have such an ant-PC business model? Even though I don’t see the hardware as the greatest hindrance to creativity, it seems contradictory to say they need newer, better machines when such things already exist. A lot of indie titles have found success because people want to try something new, and the hoops they have to go through with consoles means that the PC crowd is their main demographic. You don’t always need a AAA budget to sell something if it is still done well and you keep your expectations reasonable.

Ebalosus

On November 26, 2012 at 1:17 am

Quote R.J.:

” As Ross correctly pointed out, the advertising budgets seem to be mostly reserved for the sequels that the publishers bank on, and yet those are the games least in need of that money if they truly want new IPs to succeed. The existing fans of those games usually keep tabs on sequels and try to convince their buddies to get those games. Would Activision really need to advertise COD as much as it does? Somehow the record breaking sales each year suggest that games like that can largely take care of themselves. ”

This is probably one of the biggest things holding new IPs back. Why? Because publishers erroniously believe that if the sequel sold better than the first, then they need to focus on what made the sequel great, rather than the original. This is where the likes of “Streamlining” and “broadening its appeal” come from, in that publishers become tied up in the shallow things that made the sequel to an original IP great, instead of the things that gave them depth.

Want two examples? Sure: Mass Effect 2 & 3, and Modern Warfare 2 & 3. Instead of expanding on what the originals of those games great, they focus on the superficial elements, ironically in both their cases, the shooting parts. Publishers either don’t take into account that fans will buy the game regardless of marketing, or just don’t care, and justify the focus on the superficial elements because: the sequel had more of that, and the sequel sold better, ergo this is what the customers what even more of.

This is why most major game releases feel similar, and why new IPs struggle within the developer-publisher relationship. It’s not our fault, nor is it the hardware’s fault that new (major) IPs aren’t created. It’s because publishers are both too afraid to take a risk on something too ‘different’, and when they do take a risk, you can be almost guaranteed that the more sequels this new, ‘different’, game has, the more it’ll evolve away from what made it different into something almost like anything else, because apparantly, “there’s too much money at stake to try something different.”

Axetwin

On November 26, 2012 at 3:21 am

That poor delusional fool. If he thinks this generation has gone on too long, he’s going to hate the next one. I fully expect the next Microsoft and Sony generations to last at least 10 years. The main reason being the gap of what you can do from generation to generation has been severely reduced. Unless they delve into some serious ground-breaking technology, console technology is going to plateu, and I think itll happen with this next generation.

Its almost as if Guillemot expects consoles to be treated like Iphones. Ever year there is a new Iphone simply for the sake of releasing a new Iphone not because theyre doing anything new with it.

Grem

On November 26, 2012 at 5:27 am

Out of touch, blinkered idiot. EA, Ubisoft, Activision, and maybe THQ as well, need to get their heads out of their collective arses and stop blaming the customer for becoming burned out on unfinished games, broken promises, and unoriginal concepts. The fall in sales of mainstream games has coincided with a massive increase in sales of independently released games for a good reason. People still want to play console games, they just don’t want to play bad ones. Until these conglomerates realise that, or go bust, there will never be any evolution in the industry mentality.

Ebalosus

On November 28, 2012 at 3:30 am

@Grem

Couldn’t have said it better myself
:)