Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Ubisoft - "we won't even start if we don't think we can build a franchise out of it."

Back to business as usual.

You know, I've often found myself in idle thought, wondering if there may be a week, one singular week, where I'm actually writing and some person, company, or other what-have-you doesn't come out and say something kind of stupid. I'm not a betting man, never have been. Still, if I were, I would hope that I'd never be stupid enough to take that bet, because it honestly doesn't look like it will ever happen.

I will admit, when Ubisoft came out and said that they wanted to turn Watch Dogs, which I should mention isn't even out yet, into a huge franchise, no one was really surprised, especially not me. It also didn't come as much of a shock when VP of Sales and Marketing Tony Kay said: "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."

No, it's not surprising at all. Doesn't make it any less stupid or ultimately frustrating though, either.

On the one hand, I recognize that there's a need to get back from what you invest in. No one wants to be the one holding the bomb when it goes off (or I suppose doesn't go off in cases of flops), and in some cases people can't afford to be in that position either. However, we're talking about the major companies here; Ubisoft, Capcom, Square Enix. Perhaps it is reckless to put Ubisoft's words in everyone's mouths, but I would be rather hard pressed to think that this isn't the stance that most end up taking.

It has been said before and will be said again: there's something deeply wrong with the industry as it stands. The idea that now no game is worth picking up unless it can be spun into a billion sequels is an extremely distressing one. I acknowledge that sequels are easier to make, and they have fanbase already present and accounted for, but is there absolutely nothing to be said anymore for the one of?

I would like to think that the first there are still strong arguments for games that stand alone, that don't need sequels. Not everything needs to be spun into a franchise. Again, this ties into the fact that budgets and development for the Triple A market has become something completely ridiculous. To think that now games not only have to do well, but that they have to spawn a series of games that do well, is going completely beyond the pale.

I get that no one likes to fail, and that failure in this climate is far from a welcomed thing, more so than ever before. At the same time though, what happens when people get tired of the formulas? What happens when all those safe, bankable games and series all of a sudden just aren't those things anymore? This industry almost seems like when push comes to shove they aren't even going to be able to remember how to innovate or create something new and completely self contained anymore.

That's a scary thought. Too bad that it rings a little too true for my liking.

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