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Ubisoft to release franchise titles every 12-18 months

Mon 15 Feb 2010 9:53am GMT / 4:53am EST / 1:53am PST
Publishing

French publisher hopes to turn around big brands every year; will be mindful of franchise fatigue and product quality

Ubisoft has detailed its franchise plans for the future, with the intention of releasing new titles based on existing brands every 12 to 18 months.

Looking at Activision's success with the yearly Call of Duty titles, the French publisher said it will be careful not to fatigue IP or compromise on quality.

"We're organising ourselves towards that strategy - providing you can create something innovative every year that can surprise the end user and please your gamers," said European MD Alain Corre, in an interview published today. "Then you can consider releasing a SKU every 12-18 months - but it needs to be different enough from the previous SKU to make sure you're not tiring the franchise or the consumers.

"The Call of Duty example is the best around - they've been able over the past five years to iterate every year with growing success each time. They never compromise on quality, which is exactly what we're trying to do with our brands now."

The next 12 months sees the return of a number of high-profile Ubisoft franchises the next Assassin's Creed game will hit within a year of the last release, and use many of the same assets as Assassin's Creed II. But brands such as Ghost Recon and Prince of Persia have been away from stores for longer, and Ubisoft may face challenges when it comes to quality of product within a short time-frame Splinter Cell: Conviction, which was under development as far back as 2006, has been delayed numerous times.

Corre also admitted that working to strict time frames dictated by the movie industry as it did with the recent release based on James Cameron's Avatar was partly to blame for its mediocre scores and sales.

"It was true that we were also hoping to create a better experience, I'd say, in terms of gaming - but it's not always easy when you have to follow the rules of a studio," he said. "When you have guidelines and so on, it's more rigid in terms of creation than what you can do with your own property."

The full interview with Alain Corre, where he also discusses the U Play initiative and how it will measure up to services such as Xbox Live and PSN, can be read here.

10 Comments

Matej Gause CEO, Mobilgamer

13 0 0.0
Maybe they should look at EA. They practised the same strategy and now they realise, that it was wrong decision. Players are fed up with XXX episode of the same brand.

Posted:4 years ago

#1

Terence Gage Freelance writer

1,289 126 0.1
I don't think gamers are tired of multiple iterations in the same series, but it is worth bearing in mind that most franchises suffer or die a slow death when subjected to punishing yearly schedules - you just need to look at Tony Hawk's, Spider-Man, Rock Band or the 'old' Medal of Honours, for examples. I think from both a creative and fiscal standpoint, releasing an instalment in a big franchise every two to three years is probably the ideal happy medium.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if Ubi are intending to release an AC instalment every year in the run-up to Christmas, given how successful ACII has been. I also wouldn't be surprised if they're getting two alternate development teams on the case, a la Infinity Ward/Treyarch.

Posted:4 years ago

#2

Antony Cain Lecturer, Wakefield College

263 21 0.1
People like the familiar, it's why games like Mario Bros are selling so well, it's why sky boxes around the world are hoarding episodes of 24 and Lost. EA claiming they are all about 'the new' when both Madden and FIFA 10 are in the top 20 just proves it.

There's a difference between a strong, well supported franchise and a sequel forced out to milk a profit; seems to be the latter causing the problems really.

Posted:4 years ago

#3

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,287 2,507 1.1
Sequelitis can be a nasty disease.

The symptoms can be alleviated with an injection of new IP every quarter or so. But left untreated it can wreck havoc on your internal development systems.

Posted:4 years ago

#4

Fran Mulhern , Recruit3D

863 707 0.8
Ah, to have an update of the early Ghost Recon games.....

Posted:4 years ago

#5
I'd agree with Terrence, than a good sequel follow up with high quality residuals every 2 years is a decent arbiter, which would still have demanding deadlines/pipeline procedures. Followed up with a staggered release between various franchises/IPs it could allow for a 18m cycle release of 3 titles (from say 2010-2013).

Thus, looking at Mystic Megs crystalball one could assume:

2010 Q2/3 - Ghost Recon?
2010 Q4 - AC2.5
2011 Q2 - Prince of Persia (not movie tie in)
2011 Q4 - new IP?

Posted:4 years ago

#6

Tommy Thompson Studying Artificial Intelligence (PhD), University of Strathclyde

110 0 0.0
I think Ubisoft are just catching onto the idea of maintaining a franchise with good, high-quality product. If you have an interesting IP and listen to the consumer, get some feedback and then use it to improve the product, then you're gold (see Assassins Creed 2). And as Andreas noted, Ubisoft have some really cool IP in their portfolio.

Though I think you do need some downtime between releases, 18months+ I would think to keep it fresh and ensure gamers are excited about the next release. I sometimes wonder whether the CoD bubble will burst sooner than anticipated.

Posted:4 years ago

#7

Roland Austinat roland austinat media productions|consulting, IDG, Computec, Spiegel Online

144 94 0.7
Antony, you mention Mario Bros. - how long did we have to wait for the current one? Is there a Zelda or Metroid coming out every year? Stretching out their releases is a smart move on Nintendo's side, there's no franchise fatigue with those three at all.

Posted:4 years ago

#8

Dave Conley Lead Programmer, Fuzzy-Frog Games

5 0 0.0
You can't possibly say Nintendo don't milk the Mario cash cow. OK they're not the same game but Mario is the IP that sells the game and they've released at least one major mario game every year for a long time. Christ, just look at this list! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Mar...

Posted:4 years ago

#9

Stephen Wilson graphic/web designer

21 0 0.0
Judging from Ubisoft's most recent release the submarine simulation "Silent Hunter 5" the 12 month turnaround development schedule is a "bridge too short" the game is full of bugs and missing features and the forums of the internet's largest naval gaming portal Subsim.com are awash with complaints about the quality of the game.

Whilst it is encouraging to see that Ubisoft is continuing its support of the PC platform and niche genres such as simulation and that the game obviously has a passionate and commited devteam it is a terrible shame to see a such respected and award winning franchise go "down the toilet" in terms of quality due to such a tight turnaround. Let's hope that Ubisoft use their new "always on DRM game connection" to provide quality patches to games such as Silent Hunter 5 which should have been much more complete on day one.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Stephen Wilson on 4th March 2010 4:34pm

Posted:4 years ago

#10

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