Ubisoft: Only Triple-A Games Are Profitable

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Ubisoft: Only Triple-A Games Are Profitable

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Ubisoft's European Managing Director Alain Corre says the company is focused on a small number of well-established "key franchises" because only triple-A videogames are profitable in the current market.

Conventional wisdom says that big-budget game development is a risky business. Companies that sink a bazillion dollars into making and marketing a game can find themselves at serious risk if said game fails to meet expectations. On the other hand, there's no denying that with risk comes reward and one major, Modern Warfare-style hit can be incredibly lucrative. But even more important, in Corre's opinion, is the fact that it's the only way to make money these days.

"The games that are not triple-A are not profitable anymore. And that's changed in the last 18 months," he said in an interview with GamesIndustry.

"When you have a triple-A blockbuster it costs more money to develop, but at the end of the day there's also the chance of a good return on it because there's a concentration at the top of the charts," he explained. "To a certain extent it becomes less risky to invest more in a single game or franchise than spreading your investment between three or four games. Because if those three or four games are not at the right quality level, you are sure to lose money."

In response to the changing nature of the business, Ubisoft has changed the way it makes core games. "With hardcore games that we're not sure are reaching the right level, we stop work on them," he said. "And that's why we concentrate more on key franchises, because that's what the market wants - something new with huge quality production behind it. The market is not supporting the full range of product that it used to anymore."

It's not overly thrilling to hear that potentially good new games are being killed because they don't fit well with focus groups, but it's hard to argue Corre's point. The biggest games on the market, and the most anticipated new releases, are consistently either sequels or franchise derivatives. Gamers may sometimes decry the lack of creativity and originality in the industry but when it comes time to vote with our wallets, we go with what we know.

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It sounds like Ubisoft has been rewriting the definitions of a few terms here.

But either way, I'm gonna say that they're wrong and they're doing it wrong.

There are plenty of successful low-profile (and low-budget) games still.

are you kidding me i mean like i enjoy a triple A game ever few month but i also enjoy indie games and new games with new ideas. they may not be as good but there still good because of there origanlity.

Maybe the reason their games sell so badly is the a** rapeing DRM they ship with their games.

also farcry 2... once again with feeling

DAMN THEE UBISOFT!

DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!

I would understand if it was Rockstar or Valve saying this but Ubisoft? What about Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter or HAWX, those surely arent triple A

Oh ubisoft a little game called torchlight would like a word with you!

Two words for you Ubisoft, Metro 2033. A game made for a low budget, that managed to turn a very respectable profit, paving the way for a sequel, announced only 4 months or so after the original was released.

All it takes is imagination. Something, given their recent crop of games and DRM Scheme, they seem to have replaced with irrationality.

If that is the case, then it's a sad world we live in.

Good points dood.

But wait, what if this high quality game doesn't end up selling well? What then? Oh, that's simple, we just remove 10% of the game and release it later as DLC. That's definitely the best idea in the world.

Damn it, Ubisoft... You're lucky Assassin's Creed 2 was just damn good and I bought the stuff because I actually cared about the story. If I hear that anything like this has happened with Brotherhood, you have lost a customer.

The consumer has brought this upon themselves.

While I will concede that Triple-A games make THE MOST profit, that doesn't mean that non-Triple-A games aren't profitable. I do admit that some obscure gems didn't do well on sales, but Corre is generealzing here. There have been plenty medium/low profile games that made a good profit.

Furburt:
Two words for you Ubisoft, Metro 2033. A game made for a low budget, that managed to turn a very respectable profit, paving the way for a sequel, announced only 4 months or so after the original was released.

All it takes is imagination. Something, given their recent crop of games and DRM Scheme, they seem to have replaced with irrationality.

HOLY CRAP! My Xbox 360 will be dust free again

You guys can't compare large companies with indie developers... Just stop tormenting the thread with such bulls***.

Just stop sinking money and effort into "Imagine: [Object]z" games, Ubisoft. Then you should be all right.

Aura Guardian:

HOLY CRAP! My Xbox 360 will be dust free again

I assume you mean the sequel? Yes, it should be good. Metro 2034 is its name, somewhat unimaginatively.

Oh no! Those capitalist bastards are attempting to turn a profit! And they're doing this by firing all their staff- I mean, they're ...trying to make sure that their popular franchises are... good? ...Those bastards?

I'm not entirely sure how to feel about this, in all seriousness. I mean, on the one hand it means that they won't be making games like... all the Ubisoft games I don't play, but on the other it means they'll be trying to make Assassin's Creed good.

But if this means they stop working on the grand Rayman revival, then I will be severely unhappy.

Sadly, this is a pretty huge misconception that seems to be plaguing most developers this generation: The only way to make any money is to go big, but time and time again we've been shown that low-budget games can rake in a hefty profit (Just Dance, for example, probably didn't have a big budget, but it's sold millions). The problem is nobody seems to get this, which is why we see developers falling over themselves trying to make everything into the next huge blockbuster game. Since the cost of making a game has come to an all-time high, companies have literally gone out of business just from one failed attempt at this.

If developers don't learn that playing the field and making games of all budget sizes is the way to true business success, a lot of big players may no longer be around in a few years.

Now we're never going to see Beyond Good and Evil 2.

redmarine:
You guys can't compare large companies with indie developers... Just stop tormenting the thread with such bulls***.

Popcap suggests that neither you, nor Ubisoft, knows what the hell you're talking about.

Furburt:

Aura Guardian:

HOLY CRAP! My Xbox 360 will be dust free again

I assume you mean the sequel? Yes, it should be good. Metro 2034 is its name, somewhat unimaginatively.

I loved it. And No multiplayer made it much better

I think what Ubisoft means is, single-A games aren't profitable. B games, indie games, low-budget games all would be immensely profitable... if they were marketed to Ubisoft's full audience, as triple-A games are. What Ubisoft is doing instead is limiting their products to the "triple A" category, and in the process ignoring everything below it.

Kwil:

redmarine:
You guys can't compare large companies with indie developers... Just stop tormenting the thread with such bulls***.

Popcap suggests that neither you, nor Ubisoft, knows what the hell you're talking about.

popcap is a strange case for it is a bit of both.

omicron1:
I think what Ubisoft means is, single-A games aren't profitable. B games, indie games, low-budget games all would be immensely profitable... if they were marketed to Ubisoft's full audience, as triple-A games are. What Ubisoft is doing instead is limiting their products to the "triple A" category, and in the process ignoring everything below it.

this will not end well.

The only difference in a AAA game is the amount of marketing it gets. A "A" game might be excellent but if no one knows about it, it amounts to nothing.

josemlopes:
I would understand if it was Rockstar or Valve saying this but Ubisoft? What about Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter or HAWX, those surely arent triple A

I think that by triple A Ubisoft means very expensive heavily advertised games with tons of graphics and famous voice actors etc. etc. Not games of actual quality, a la Valve or Rockstar games.

Oh you silly French. When will you learn?

I guess I'm the only one who agrees with Ubi on this one. It's a damn shame but companies aren't just dying out because their games suck; it's deeper than that now.

Indie games aren't released at retail, that's one thing to think about. Fact is that obscure yet original games just fly under the radar regardless of quality because they just aren't blockbuster titles.

Kwil:

redmarine:
You guys can't compare large companies with indie developers... Just stop tormenting the thread with such bulls***.

Popcap suggests that neither you, nor Ubisoft, knows what the hell you're talking about.

Popcap's just not the same though is it? That's casual gaming on a mass scale on every gaming platform known to man, a completely different environment to big name companies selling much larger gaming experiences which require a gargantuan budget (in comparison).

Popcap games don't maily have to rely on their games to sell at retail on disc format (as they sell digitally, and I imagine that's where they glean most of their profit from), so they've pretty much passed a hurdle entirely. Ubisoft and many others would be dead by now without retailers like Amazon or GAME.

Not to mention casual gamers like games that have one pre-requisite:

FUN. And gamers are much more bitchy.

Dear Ubisoft,

This claim goes against your pattern of loading the Wii and DS with shovelware. Get your story straight.

Sincerely, Covarr

P.S. Thanks

Is he saying that indie games aren't profitable?

The budget for an indie game can be 0, so it'd only need to sell one copy to be profitable, which is pretty damn likely.

Maybe I should just choose a spot on my wall entirely dedicated towards me banging my head against it when ever Ubisoft says anything. Thank god the rest of the industry isn't thinking this (or at least not saying it out loud). If that were the case, we'd be left with a long line of mainstream, un-inovative mush. Sequel after sequel after re-make knocked out on the cheap to appease the unwitting masses.

Yeah, alright, why not. Just keep bringing good games, and let someone else take in the cash you'll be missing out on for the middle of the range. But, if this is the case, then Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood had better be the bee's knees, the cat's meow, the dog's bollocks. It should be that which we've been waiting for in the series. Or, you know, AC3, if you'd prefer.

Oh Ubisoft, how dickhead you are.

I about halfway agree with ubisoft here. To say that all small scale games can't turn a profit is a little silly. However, most small scale games are still pretty expensive and don't pull a profit and those that do usually see so small a profit as to be negligible though of course there have been exceptions to this rule, just not many.

I'm getting the feeling his thoughts are probably more along the lines of "AAA games pull in the most profit and allow the video games industry to survive, given its massive growth in such a short time leading into this recession." If that's what he was trying to say here (which once again I only think he was going for) then he's right. There's a reason there's more Space Marines than Prince of Persia's: they sell more, and keep the industry pushing forward. Sad truth.

BUT, if those Space Marines keep the industry alive long enough for more money and better financial times to roll around, thus allowing more freedom and potential to take risks on less mainstream games: fight on Space Marines, fight on...

Ubisoft are doing it wrong, they should but more effort into making new Rainbow Six's, because in my opinion, Rainbow Six Vegas (one and two) were the only FPS games to single handedly beat, the all hated, Halo 3 and COD, and why you ask me?, simple, the games get no hate like those two and I for one had a damn good time playing them :D

Plus, don't they have the money to take risks?

It's one of those fantastic little insights into the gaming world's comfort blanket here. It's the same reason we were so stunned that Scott Pilgrim didn't do well at the box office.

Businesses must make money, or else they go under and everyone loses jobs. I don't know much about business, but even I understand that it's got to be profitable, whatever yuo're doing.
Profit comes when lots of people buy your product.
Lots of people buy your product when lots of people want your product.
If you make a product with a very niche market, no one will buy it.

Moan about casuals all you like, but they are a large market spending lots of money on big titles. Whether we like it or not, they are the driving force behind the industry now, simply because there are more of them willing to shell out more money to buy more games. The core demographic of 'gamer's as we so casually self-identify is ludicrously small in comparison. Back in the old days that was fine because production costs were lower but nowadays we demand the same levels of production as the triple A titles on all our games, but expect to still be paying the same amounts (to say nothing of the pirates, the overwhelming majority of whom I am certain are gamers rather than casuals)

And yet for some reason we can't see beyond our little demographic. It's why everyone starts saying 'I'd be fine with just a good story' when the evidence is that you won't. Alpha Protocol had people claiming they weren't going to buy it (in their thousands) because it didn't make full use all the time of the entire pixels worth of an HD screen. This is nonsense that only the gamers care about anyway. I don't think Johnny Frat Boy cares if his entire HD screen is getting used as long as he and his four busddies who all have also paid for the game instead of pirating it can see well enough to shoot terrorists.

Gaming's shift in focus to the Triple A casual titles is entirely because gamers' demands were too excessive and our whining was much, and in the attempt to pacify us the developers found the new market of casual gamers who were quite willing to part with large sums of cash, with less moaning about the finished product, and weren't such self entitled douchebags.

You don't make money off a tiny demographic if you've shelled out the big bucks (see also: Scott Pilgrim, did you really think non-nerds were going to be that interested when there was Piranha 3D, a Stallone Blockbuster, Toy Story 3 and an Angelina Jolie flick out?)

It's the hardcore gaming communitty's fault, not the developers and not the casuals.

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