Ubisoft chief creative officer Serge Hascoet is excited about the future of the games industry. That much was clear from an interview with Game Informer published this week.
"It's a marvelous industry," Hascoet said. "Everything changes very quickly. VR was a buzzing last year and it's still my favorite technology. One day it will be the most important thing. It's not there yet. But China is here. And free-to-play games, like Fortnite, are a part of a newly exciting space. We have new spaces everywhere. Our business is full of possibilities."
However, the possibility Hascoet is most excited by is not one as frequently pursued as those markets.
"When we are just entertainment we are losing something"
"You know what is missing in this industry? A soul," Hascoet said. "Video games are about gaming, and gaming is not about entertainment, it's about learning. When you learn, you have fun. But when we are just entertainment we are losing something. I question the team about what real benefits the player will take away from the game for their real life. Right now, we don't do enough in this area. This is what excites me, how to make something that lets you have the most fun while also having something beneficial for your life."
As an example of the benefits he meant, Hascoet pointed to board games and card games where players might need to examine each others' behavior to determine how truthful they're being.
"This knowledge - gained while you are having fun - is very beneficial for your life because it will improve the way you read people's faces," Hascoet said. "We have to understand how we can change games and the rules to have this kind of benefit."
Though he did not bring it up in reference to the point about games being tools for learning, the Discovery Mode in Assassin's Creed: Origins, where players are taken on museum-like guided tours of the game's historical Egypt, would seem to be another example.
"I think it's kind of a wasted opportunity to create a game world like we did with Egypt in AC Origins and use it only for games," Hascoet said.
One could argue that games like Minecraft or Roblox, which foster creative play and emphasize building things, would qualify as games that carry such benefits for players. However, when Hascoet was later asked about those specific games and kid-friendly entertainment in general, he seemed less enthused about Ubisoft working in that space.
"It's not our will not to go there," Hascoet said. "We have some games designed for younger audiences, but when we do Rayman or games like that, we don't sell as much as Assassin's Creed. The team wants to be successful and sell millions, and we have more success with the more adult-rated titles. Still, we have brands like Child of Light, Rayman, Rabbids, and Mario + Donkey Kong, so we have plenty of them. Starlink. Just Dance. But people know Ubi from Assassin's Creed, Rainbow Six. So I won't say we won't make more games for younger audiences. As I said it's an organic process to decide during the internal vetting process, but people generally propose more mature themes."