Ubisoft is charting a bold new course for major videogame publishers, announcing that it plans to release more sequels, more often, and that it wants to shoehorn multiplayer into every game it makes.
Oh, you got me: Ubisoft's plan is neither bold nor new. Activision is all about the sequels, while EA announced yesterday that every game it produces in 2011 will have some form of "online component." Now Ubisoft has apparently decided that the best way to forge a vision for the future is to just take those two strategies and mash 'em together.
"Our clear goal today is to come more regularly with our top brands. For example, it took three to four years to come back with Splinter Cell, Driver, Prince of Persia, or Ghost Recon. We believe we can launch them more often without risk of brand fatigue," Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said during a financial call yesterday.
He added that the commitment to existing franchises won't mean the end of new IPs, as the company plans to launch two new titles in 2011 and 2012. But as Ubisoft CFO Alain Martinez explained, franchises are where it's at.
"When you add up the three Raving Rabbids games over the years, what we are seeing are the total amount of units going up," Martinez said. "Assassin's Creed has kept selling and is still one of our best sellers. Bringing a game regularly is actually maintaining a better sell of your back catalog because you are more present and people will buy the new title or the cheaper, cost-effective ones."
You know what else is big these days? Multiplayer. So in the future, Ubisoft is going to make sure that it builds multiplayer action into, well, everything. "We've made big investments to make sure all of our brands could become multiplayer," Guillemot added. "We're coming out with Driver, Splinter Cell, Assassin's Creed, and Ghost Recon, which will all have multiplayer."
Well, why not? Meaningful single player experiences are hard to craft and not many people seem all that interested in them anyway, so you can hardly blame Ubisoft for hopping on the bandwagon. The "everything multiplayer" approach also dovetails, sort of, with Ubisoft's plan, revealed in January, to require gamers to be connected to the internet and signed in to Ubi.com in order to play Ubisoft games. On a personal level, I think it's a terrible plan that deserves to fail miserably, but as Activision has proven, people will pass up steak once a week for Guitar Hero every day so it's probably going to work out just fine.