Ubisoft CEO: Lack of Innovation Due to Long Console Cycle

Assassin's Creed 3

As much as some of us rail against the impending onslaught that the games industry collectively refers to as “the next generation”, there’s not much we can do to stop it. It’s coming, whether we like it or not.

But according to Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, the next generation should have already been here. In fact, if it was here, we wouldn’t see the industry in quite the state that it is, lacking innovation and in need of a shot in the arm. Here’s what Guillemot said in a recent interview with Polygon.

We need new consoles and at the end of the cycle generally the market goes down because there are less new IPs, new properties, so that damaged the industry a little bit. I hope next time they will come more often… Everybody who is taking risks and innovating is welcome because there are lots of hardcore gamers and those guys want new things, where the mass market will be more interested in having the same experience.

Call me crazy, but I’m just not clicking with this comment. Don’t we see some of the generation’s worst games early on in a console cycle? It’s not until developers get their feet under them in regards to the hardware that the industry really starts hitting its collective strive, all around the same time. It’s weird that Guillemot feels this way — nobody’s stopping Ubisoft from creating new IPs in the middle or latter end of a console cycle… so why wait?

What do you guys think of this? Is Guillemot crazy? Am I the crazy one? Does lack of innovation stem from lack of prettier graphics? Go!

Source – Polygon

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6 thoughts on “Ubisoft CEO: Lack of Innovation Due to Long Console Cycle”

  1. Eddy, I’m with you. He’s just using the long console cycle as a scapegoat for the unfortunate path the industry has taken.

  2. this is bs, its like saying that my writing is lacking Innovation because I need another jump in technology similar to the jump from the typewriter to the keyboard. the only thing stopping you from innovating is yourself.

    In fact I would go 100% the other way and say that some of the most innovative ideas come out because of limitations. I go to school at DigiPen and some of the best games that come out of the school are good because they set a limit on their tech, art, and gameplay, then do the best they can to improve what they have within those limits. and they do so to a point where it is better than other game teams that have almost no limit in scope.

    Look at the team that went on to do portal, which I consider to be one of the most innovative games this generation. It started out as a student game called narbacular drop. And then there is Tag, another student game that went on to work on the colored gel sections in portal 2. both games had restrictions in scope and gameplay but went on to make something bigger than there limitations.

  3. I actually kind of agree with him. Most publishers at the late parts of the console cycle tend to rest on their laurels and prepare their new IP’s for the future. Sure the worst games tend to come out at the very beginning, but a year or two into a console’s cycle is when all of those new IP’s that have been bottled up are unleashed. I don’t believe it’s a technology restriction that keeps it this way per se, I think it’s more of the fact that consumers are much less likely to take purchasing risks at this point. They settle into a routine of buying the yearly Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed entries, with only a few other in between. When there is a new console, they are much more likely to try games outside of their comfort zone, seeing as they want to see what all their new console can do.

  4. I find it funny how often people look at what they do and say, “What caused this? What are the events that lead to people making decisions the way they do, how they’re creative, whatever?” It’s this thought that a world without chaos means that none of us are responsible for our actions, but the fact of the matter is how we think and what we decide is part of the chain of events of the universe and that makes us ultimately responsible for our own fates.

    Now that’s kind of a deep way to open this response considering where I’m going with it. I feel that too many people in what are supposed to be creative industries are looking around at a lack of creativity and say, “Hmmm, what are the circumstances leading to this?” The fact of the matter is that creativity is a man-made thing, and yes people do create things based on their environment but it is an absolute cop-out to start blaming your own lack of imagination and knowledge of what plants the seeds of an interesting new game on the consoles you create them on.

    What’s going to happen when there’s a new PS4 and Xbox720 and we get to see the new console’s worth? Oh my goodness, more memory? Better GPU? More built-in hard drive space? Maybe another peripheral that half of the audience likes because it lets them wave at the TV and it waves back?

    Historically the improvements in technology have not bred creativity. The more graphical power a console seems to have the more people are interested in making standard shooters with simply prettier graphics. There’s those that stand out like God of War, Gears of War, Uncharted, and so on, but that’s always been the case. There’s great games on top and then a million games trying to copy them. Ever since goddamn Super Mario Brothers.

    If you’re looking for inventiveness in the current market it’s not hard to find. Minecraft was genius in its inventiveness even if I’m not terribly fond of its gameplay. It turned some unheard of developers into stinkin’ rich video game heroes. And I’ll tell you this much for sure: it’s not because Minecraft came about with an excellent skip in technology. It’s a poorly coded java game that works on ten year old computers.

    Innovation comes from innovative people, not innovative circumstances. How late into the cycle of using gas lights were we before somebody innovated light bulbs. People don’t come out with new leaps in technology all the time for a couple reasons: one is that it’s extremely expensive and if you want to burn out the gaming community’s mass market really fast it’s forcing them to pay for ANOTHER system if they want to play any more games (read: why I gave up on Gameboy).

    The second reason is that new technology is bred from necessity, and I just don’t really see much yet. Our graphics have gotten about as realistic as we care to have them at the moment and we can fit thousands of monsters on-screen at once. Our games run fast, load fast, look great, sound great, have all sorts of crazy built-in effects, and are more convenient to buy now than they ever have been with digital marketplaces. We’ve already got all of these crazy motion-sensing shenanigans and microphones and other peripherals on our consoles.

    Apparently the only reason why we need newer consoles more often is so that we can get developers to be a little more creative. That would be incredibly destructive to the gaming market.

    Now consider this: if we have a massive library of games on the same generation of consoles, wouldn’t that breed lots of innovation? When we have virtually every first person shooter under the sun (and half of them look and play exactly the same) on this generation, doesn’t that mean that gamers will grow tired of it and want different kinds of games? We’ve been seeing the rise of independent games during this cycle because gamers are looking for new and interesting ideas. Don’t Starve, Super Meat Boy, The Binding of Isaac, ‘Splosion Man, etc etc etc. The old are atrophying because they don’t want to make any risks on new IP’s, but the guys just starting out with nothing to lose are making millions off of their games and are becoming the new videogame celebrities because they do something different.

    The industry is thriving right now in so many ways. How can a CEO of one of the biggest videogame companies have his finger so far from the pulse?

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