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Ubisoft: Content more important than platforms

Tue 27 Oct 2009 1:00pm GMT / 9:00am EDT / 6:00am PDT
MediaPublishing

Assassin's Creed: Lineage film demonstrates publisher's ambition, says Pannel

Ubisoft, which today released the first part of its Assassin's Creed: Lineage film on YouTube, believes that the future of the company lies in focusing on content, without becoming too concerned about specific platforms.

The 14-minute movie, which is part of a short series dealing with events leading up to the Assassin's Creed II plot line, was created by Hybride Studios - the team behind the visual work on the 300 and Sin City films - an acquisition which demonstrates the publisher's commitment to exploring the convergence between media, according to UK marketing director Murray Pannel.

"I think the first point to raise is that we're probably not moving directly into making films for the sake of becoming a film publisher," he told GamesIndustry.biz. "There's definitely technological convergence - Hybride Studios was responsible for very visual, stand-out films like 300 and Sin City, so they were using a lot of visual and special effects in their movie-making which used technology we could leverage as a traditional games publisher.

"For games development, equally, because we use a lot of digital assets they can utilise a lot of those assets in film development - so there's a technological convergence which is most easily understood.

"But where Ubisoft is a bit more ambitious than other publishers is on convergence of the intellectual property, and story-telling in its broadest sense. So what I think Assassin's Creed Lineage showcases is how we can take content - and we're a content provider fundamentally - and deliver that in interesting ways to consumers and fans alike.

"So the beauty of something like Lineage is that it allows us to take a lot of the assets developed for the in-game engine and create an extended storyline which in this case talks about the story before Assassin's Creed 2, and gives fans a lot more richness, depth and storyline to the overall Assassin's brand that trailers can only go so far in delivering."

And he was very clear that it was content the company was focused on, above and beyond looking specifically at platforms for games, films, books or any one other product.

"Content is moving forward - in the future it will be king - and the platforms almost become irrelevant to how you deliver that," he explained. "It could be through Xbox, it could be a movie, or a book, or maybe even a card game. Ubisoft's ambition is to be a 360-degree content provider rather than just a traditional games publisher - so looking at entertainment in a much broader sense than games development, or just movie production.

"The truth of the matter is that we're not 'making movies' now - this is an experiment, a bridge that we're building to see how convergence works in terms of content and IP. I'm certainly not suggesting we're going to start making feature-length films off the back of this.

"I think Ubisoft, more than any other major games publisher, is anticipating this long term manoeuvre. Go to E3 enough times and you'll see Peter Jackson talk about games and movies getting closer together, Spielberg working with the big publishers on expanding IP outside of their existing film franchises... Hollywood and videogames are definitely converging as people understand the value of telling great stories, whether that's in an interactive way, or a more passive way through movies.

"I suppose at the moment what our creative studios are working out and looking to deliver are ways of storytelling beyond just the traditional videogame format."

Assassin's Creed II is set for release on November 20, while further episodes from Assassin's Creed: Lineage will be available on YouTube in due course.

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