So just now I read a story on The Escapist (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/125997-Ubisoft-No-New-Games-Unless-They-Can-Be-Made-Into-Franchises) in which I learned that Ubisoft are not planning to release any new games that cannot be turned into franchises. They stated that apparently that’s what people like and want, and that gamers need “A chance to decide that [Watch Dogs] is going to be hot”. Notice the wording there was “That” and not “If”. You don’t get a chance to decide if it’s going to be good, just that it’s going to be good.
Anyway, this new move from Ubisoft is a foolish one for one main reason: how will they decide what’s going to be successful? Through market research and focus groups? You know- those things that definitely always work out well for publishers and the games they publish? I’m reminded of when David Cameron said the government should be giving funding to independent films that will definitely go on to be “King’s Speech”-style blockbusters. This is a stupid, misguided way to do things. Supposing Ubisoft releases Watch Dogs and it tanks? Do they then recall every copy of the game and burn them? What if it gets to the point where every one of their games goes up in smoke and they’re terrified to take a chance on anything else? Unlikely, yes, but possible all the same. One reason they gave is that the “Fire and forget” style of development doesn’t work for triple A games, and that it’s too expensive. The very wording of that statement seems to be the problem here- “Fire and forget”. You know what? Don’t “Forget” about it then! Release a game and keep supporting it- develop meaningful DLC for it (by “meaningful” I mean at the very least don’t make it ripped content or on-disc. Create some extra content that makes sense and adds something without feeling like it should have already been included), create patches (if neccessary) and the like. If the problem is it’s too expensive to “Fire and forget”, then don’t bloody forget about it.
So yeah, I think that’s a bad move by Ubisoft. Only time will tell if this new system will work for them, but I for one hope it doesn’t.
By James Lambert