State of Play: Ubisoft
CEO Yves Guillemot and executive director of EMEA territories, Alain Corre on the publisher in 2011
Ubisoft has a 25 year pedigree in the industry, producing AAA titles like Assassin's Creed, arthouse risks like From Dust and a wealth of content for the family market. It's also recently turned it's attention to free to play titles, purchasing developer Owlient and expanding into Facebook and online.
At Gamescom this year, GamesIndustry.biz spoke exclusively to CEO Yves Guillemot and executive director of EMEA territories, Alain Corre about the changes the company has seen, how it's diversifying from games to films and television with Ubisoft Motion Pictures, and its hopes and predictions for the future.
It was recently revealed that From Dust had been a surprise success for the company, breaking Ubisoft sales records. It may not match up to Assassin's Creed in sales revenue, but Guillemot was keen to point out its potential.
"Assassin's Creed is doing $250 million, and From Dust is going to do between ten and $20 million," he explains.
"So it's more in the five to ten per cent of the revenue. But what's very interesting is that From Dust can evolve from XBLA, PSN, PC download to a broader game that we can enrich to become another Assassin's Creed maybe one day."
Creativity is for us a motto, we need to surprise the consumers, we need to astonish them, because otherwise they do something else.Alain Corre
"I think that it's a good sign that the market is still very excited for new innovations, good products and they are ready to go for it," adds Corre.
Both men agree that taking those sort of risks is very much at the heart of Ubisoft's culture.
"I think that we have always been in the spirit of taking risks. Creativity is for us a motto, we need to surprise the consumers, we need to astonish them, because otherwise they do something else," says Corre.
Guillemot was similarly enthusiastic about embracing new concepts. In fact, I Am Alive, another game that seems to steer clear of the AAA conventions, is rumoured to be a pet project of Guillemot's, despite its troubled development history.
"It's very important to bring creativity to the industry on a regular basis otherwise the industry will not continue to keep people and attract new players," he argues over the sounds of the show floor.
"Giving diversity to the console is a way to make them consider the company and to consider its capacity to bring new stuff. So for gamers and for Ubisoft it's very important to be able to have new ideas and come with those innovative concepts. Because those innovative concepts don't always stay small, they can really grow and become huge in the industry."
And there's no questioning Ubisoft's commitment to diversifying. Not content with producing games for every possible gamer, from the hardcore shooter fan to teenage girls who want to be fashion designers, the French company has recently expanded into the film and television business with Ubisoft Motion Pictures. This branch of the company is already working on Assassin's Creed, Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell projects.
"We hired some very talented people from the cinema and they are working to take the best out of our franchises, discussing them with Hollywood and so on," reveals Corre.
"The most important thing for us is to control the quality, the production, but to limit the risk and have pre-financing before we launch the creation."
Guillemot explains in more detail just how the company is limiting the risks. "So we are developing three movies, which are Assassin's Creed, Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell, but we develop the first concept and scenario and then they will be published by a studio that is going to work to make it of high quality."
With next generation consoles, TV series and games will have the same quality in terms of graphics.Yves Guillemot
"And for the TV series we are also working to pre-finance the development so that we have zero risk in the creation of those series because we feel that they are two business really, the series and the movies, and that the two business will actually be very close to the videogame creation in the future. Because with next generation consoles, TV series and games will have the same quality in terms of graphics."
According to Guillemot, Ubisoft's plans to make it's brands known beyond the worlds of games as a "Disney" strategy, extending IPs across as many formats as possible, from books to action figures and advertising. The Raving Rabbids, for instance, can now be spotted in adverts for the New Renault Grand Scénic.