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Christmas market "brutal" for new IPs - de Plater

Publishers pushing new titles into early 2010 is evidence of fierce Q4 market, says Ubisoft exec

Games have surpassed movies as the premium blockbuster entertainment, and the resulting quality of bigger titles has made the Christmas market in particular "brutal", according to Ubisoft's Michael de Plater.

Speaking exclusively to, the creative director of last year's EndWar said that the number of titles coming out in early 2010 is clear evidence of the strong competition games face in the festive run up.

"It's a bit tough to launch a new IP exactly at Christmas when you're head-to-head with blockbuster sequels," said de Plater. "It's interesting to see a number of big titles, like Heavy Rain, being targeted at 2010 to avoid the Christmas rush.

"And Ubisoft's got Ruse coming out in 2010. Even God of War 3's in 2010, that's how brutal it is. I mean, you've got Assassin's Creed 2, Modern Warfare 2, Mass Effect 2..."

Blockbuster games have become even bigger over the last four years, he believes, comparing the importance of games like Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare to movies like Transformers and Terminator.

"To me, it's been a period of enormous change, and the last four years I would say has been the time when games have actually surpassed movies as the premium blockbuster entertainment."

de Plater doesn't see these triple-A titles as being in conflict with the casual online and mobile gaming market either, despite predictions the latter is a threat to traditional console gaming.

"There are blockbuster games and there are casual games - but I think the future moving forwards will be the convergence of those trends. So real blockbuster games that then connect to you everywhere - on Facebook, on your iPhone, and so on."

On the subject of his own game, EndWar, which utilised some of the most advanced voice recognition software seen in a console game, de Plater said that giving people this type of immediate access to their fantasies is important in a game.

"If your fantasy is about being a general and yelling at people then you want to live that by voice. If your fantasy is about rock-climbing or mountaineering, something where you can climb...

"Rock Band is the best possible example, because actually the kind of experiences that people fantasise about having, or want to have, really don't appear to have changed very much."

EndWar is one of the two biggest RTS games released in the last five years, said de Plater - the other being Halo Wars. "They're two console ones," he points out - a departure from the days when the best strategy games always appeared on PC.

As for the future of voice control gaming, de Plater sees a revolution coming about over the next five years.

"In five years you could imagine Mass Effect 4, or whatever, having actual speech recognition in - it's a bit like Milo and Project Natal - I'm sure there are still some limitations there, but it's showing that potential."

The full interview with Michael de Plater is available now.

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