Child of Light turns a profit
Ubisoft experiment in smaller-scale development makes back its money, says creative lead Patrick Plourde
About two years ago, Ubisoft took a chance on Child of Light, a downloadable game pitched as a playable poem by Far Cry 3 creative director Patrick Plourde. Speaking at the GameON: Finance conference in Toronto today, Plourde confirmed that chance paid off, and the game has turned a profit since its April release.
"It's not as profitable as Assassin's Creed is profitable, but it's profitable enough that we would have been able to fund a sequel," Plourde said. "Or if it had been my company, I would be driving a Ferrari and doing donuts."
The game's performance is doubtless a vindication of sorts for Plourde, who had been looking for a change of pace after spending years in AAA development.
"I can't explain everything, but the main reason why I got greenlit on the project was because I had carte blanche for making Far Cry 3," Plourde said. "I didn't want to make Far Cry 3, but they said, 'Pat, if you do that and help build that brand, we're going to give you a free shot at the game you want.'"
As nice as it is having financial success to go with critical acclaim, Plourde said the most rewarding part of Child of Light's reception has been players' reactions. In addition to cosplay and fan art, Plourde said he's also been touched by e-mails and incredibly personal blog posts about how the game helped people coping with depression or contemplating suicide.
"That's something that I hadn't been able to achieve working on blockbuster AAA games," Plourde said. "Now I'm really, really proud of being able to help people in their life through our medium, which is gaming. That makes the whole thing for me worth something."
When asked what sort of budget the game was put together with, Plourde described it as "a couple of million," mostly taken up by salary. With the game being ported to launch on six different platforms at once, the project peaked out at about 40 people working on it, Plourde said.
In September, Ubisoft confirmed that the Child of Light developers have been cemented as a core team at its Montreal studio. At the time, Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat espoused the value of games with short development cycles and small teams, saying it was "super interesting to create this rhythm in the careers of creative guys, allowing them to work on triple-A games and then do something different and then maybe go back."