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Ubisoft VP says company moving away from "finite experiences"

For games like Assassin's Creed, line between content updates and sequels grows "fuzzier and fuzzier"

Ubisoft is looking for ways to get players engaged with a single game for a longer period of time as it increasingly moves to a games as a live service model. Yesterday, executive VP of creative for Ubisoft Canada Lionel Raynaud gave a bit more insight as to what that might mean.

In a post on the official Ubiblog, Raynaud remarked on Ubisoft's shift from long narratives to self-contained stories that have a place in a bigger picture.

"What drove this is the will to not give finite experiences," he said. "This is why I talk about having several fantasies; not only being the hero who's going to free a region, but maybe also the fantasy of having an economic impact, of being the best at business in this freed country, or even having a say in how it should be governed, now that you've gotten rid of the dictator. And I think we can have several different experiences with different game systems in the same world, if the world is rich enough and the systems are robust enough."

At E3 2018, gleaned more details about Ubisoft's move toward games-as-a-service, learning that Assassin's Creed: Odyssey would include weekly content intended to keep players coming back and make Odyssey's world feel more alive. In that interview, EMEA executive director Alain Corre did not specify if that would be as simple as a weekly challenge for players.

Raynaud hints it may go beyond that. "Creatively, how does Ubisoft decide how long to keep creating new content for a live game after launch, as opposed to moving on to a sequel? Where does that line get drawn? This line gets fuzzier every year. We have bigger post-launch periods, longer lives for each of our games. Even the ones that used to be solo-oriented games, like action adventures, they now have a very strong post-launch, and people are staying in our worlds for a long time. So this line is absolutely fuzzier and fuzzier.

"We all see a future where a game will stay {post-launch], and new experiences will come in the games. But we will have technology that will break the [current] limits of memory, for instance, because of new technologies that are arriving. We would be able to - in the same world - have several historical periods, for instance, in Assassin's Creed, and use the Animus to travel from one to the other. Or have different areas of the world linked by travel systems, so that a Far Cry game or a Watch Dogs game could happen in different countries in the same experience, seamlessly."

Raynaud went on to say that such technology might also benefit from improved AI capabilities, which would allow for reactive NPCs or other ways dynamic world shifts based on what players or communities do over time.

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Latest comments (1)

Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 3 years ago
Have to admit, the possibilities in this approach are really exciting. It would take a slightly different approach to design - we'd need to look differently at things like progression in a game that might be infinitely extensible, but it has a lot to recommend it.

Plus, adding on to a game is not the only thing we can do with a "games as a service concept". When you're getting your content from a server, you're not constrained by the acceptable size of a single download or number of discs, so perhaps we can finally step away from extremely linear and "illusion of choice" narratives and draw just that little bit closer to the tabletop experience.
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