Child of Light turns a profit

Ubisoft experiment in smaller-scale development makes back its money, says creative lead Patrick Plourde

About two years ago, Ubisoft took a chance on Child of Light, a downloadable game pitched as a playable poem by Far Cry 3 creative director Patrick Plourde. Speaking at the GameON: Finance conference in Toronto today, Plourde confirmed that chance paid off, and the game has turned a profit since its April release.

"It's not as profitable as Assassin's Creed is profitable, but it's profitable enough that we would have been able to fund a sequel," Plourde said. "Or if it had been my company, I would be driving a Ferrari and doing donuts."

The game's performance is doubtless a vindication of sorts for Plourde, who had been looking for a change of pace after spending years in AAA development.

"I can't explain everything, but the main reason why I got greenlit on the project was because I had carte blanche for making Far Cry 3," Plourde said. "I didn't want to make Far Cry 3, but they said, 'Pat, if you do that and help build that brand, we're going to give you a free shot at the game you want.'"

As nice as it is having financial success to go with critical acclaim, Plourde said the most rewarding part of Child of Light's reception has been players' reactions. In addition to cosplay and fan art, Plourde said he's also been touched by e-mails and incredibly personal blog posts about how the game helped people coping with depression or contemplating suicide.

"That's something that I hadn't been able to achieve working on blockbuster AAA games," Plourde said. "Now I'm really, really proud of being able to help people in their life through our medium, which is gaming. That makes the whole thing for me worth something."

When asked what sort of budget the game was put together with, Plourde described it as "a couple of million," mostly taken up by salary. With the game being ported to launch on six different platforms at once, the project peaked out at about 40 people working on it, Plourde said.

In September, Ubisoft confirmed that the Child of Light developers have been cemented as a core team at its Montreal studio. At the time, Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat espoused the value of games with short development cycles and small teams, saying it was "super interesting to create this rhythm in the careers of creative guys, allowing them to work on triple-A games and then do something different and then maybe go back."

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Latest comments (6)

Emily Rose Freelance Artist A year ago
This is wonderful news, Child of Light was great :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Emily Rose on 21st November 2014 3:01am

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Daniel Hughes PhD Researcher, Bangor UniversityA year ago
Great, one of my favourite games of the year. Would be great to see more titles in a similar vein from larger publishers, giving their staff a bit more creative freedom and a change of pace.
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Christopher Ashton Carlos Software Programmer A year ago
Definitely one of my personal favorite games that was released for this generation. The gameplay was really fun, and the battle system always kept me involved, but the music... oh how I was so in love with the soundtrack. It just really sold the world to me on the game. I would love to see another successor to this game. :)
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer A year ago
Child of Light was an all-around beautiful experience. I'm glad it's hit the break even point, and I suspect it's not done yet - I know a fair few people still planning to buy it for themselves once their Christmas budgets are over and done with.
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Justin Shuard J - E translator A year ago
Good for them. Child of Light wasn't really my cup of tea, but it's good to see smaller, more creative endeavours be rewarded.
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Kristina Rothe Game Development Evangelist, MicrosoftA year ago
I think both Child of Light and Valiant Hearts are exceedingly beautiful :)
Hopefully it won't fall for sequelitis but rather pave the way for more "creative" / enchanting, little games.
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