Ubisoft Toronto sets sights on more mature IP

Jade Raymond insists that multi-million selling games can be more than Michael Bay movies

Ubisoft's new Toronto studio is setting its sights on developing a more mature approach to AAA IP.

In an interview with CVG, managing director Jade Raymond stressed that, with the gaming audience growing all the time, the medium needs to "grow up" from its fixation with brainless action.

"We don't need to make the equivalent to a Michael Bay flick in order to sell five million copies," she said. "I think things can be exciting, have meaning and hit important topics, and I'm not the only one that thinks that."

Raymond claimed that the development of the Assassin's Creed franchise was informed by an interest in exploring more mature themes, even if the core gameplay was still largely concerned with killing.

"It's definitely something that we're pushing for at Ubisoft Toronto. I think every other entertainment medium or art form does manage to have commercial success and have the viewers or audience think or be inspired.

"Every other entertainment medium or art form does manage to have commercial success and have the viewers or audience think or be inspired"

"Games, I think, have even more potential than that given that on top of the narrative side we do have all of the gameplay mechanics and we create rule sets from scratch which can have any kind of meaning embedded in them.

"It's not easy to do that, because it requires breaking our recipe and trying to find new recipes, but I think it's an important thing for us to strive for."

Whether the most commercially successful products in other media are more mature or provocative than the most successful games is certainly open to debate, but the tools with which to create "new recipes" for gaming are more abundant than ever.

Indeed, Raymond believes that the industry has changed so much since the launch of Assassin's Creed that Ubisoft Toronto's first new IP will be radically different.

"For example, some of the stuff Dark Souls did with social elements - people impact each others' games without having to really create content, and people are having this shared experience within the game... I think there's a lot further that we can go with that," she said.

"It's about thinking how we adapt our media to the way that people actually consume games. Being more conscious of the amount of time people have, where they're playing them, how they want to be playing them, what different tech they have and in what circumstances... And also being more conscious of the fact that our customer is changing and there are people who expect to have an impact on the entertainment and sharing that - we have to build that in to the property."

Ubisoft Toronto's first project is Splinter Cell 6. To read our extensive interview with Raymond from GDC, click here.

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Latest comments (3)

Terence Gage Freelance writer 7 years ago
Some interesting points, and hopefully more developers will embrace this mindset of developing mature games which tackle interesting subjects in the future -- I thought Heavy Rain was very successful in this regard, for example.

I don't really have much interest in Splinter Cell, but I look forward to their new IP, even though it's presumably a good 3/4 years away at least.
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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 7 years ago
Mature content requires authorship. That means creative control retained by the core creators. It also means that the work is from them - those people, with top billing. Even if within a collaborative setting, there needs to be a perception of authorship, or it's not going to be mature - it will just be more factory work.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tim Carter on 19th April 2012 6:23pm

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Jess Kappeler Senior Game Designer, Pipeworks Studio7 years ago
@Tim Carter
I agree completely. Obviously a lot of people work on a game, but as long as players associate a particular game with a company instead of the core set of people making the game, those creative people will not have the power they need to push back on the important aspects of the game. You could likely have an Assassin's Creed 3 without any members of the original team, and as long as Ubisoft was still making the game, fans would assume it was the same people.

This is an aspect of the games industry that I really think needs to change if we want games to be taken more seriously.
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