Patrice Desilets says blockbuster videogames will be profitable again once gamers accept that the future is “digital all the way.”
A powerful stink was raised by gamers when Microsoft revealed its vision for the future at its E3 press event, with a sort-of-always-on Xbox One that relied heavily on the cloud for its functionality. The furor was enough to force Microsoft to step back from that vision – which has of course inspired a backlash of its own from people who believed that Microsoft was set to lead us into a great and glorious future.
Speaking at the Gamelab conference in Barcelona, Desilets, formerly of Ubisoft and THQ (and then Ubisoft again) said the famously-struggling triple-A development industry can and will be profitable in a digital future – and that fighting that future, as so many gamers did with the Xbox One, is essentially a waste of time.
“Yeah, games come on disc, and I get it guys, you were really pissed off,” he said. “But, deep down, nobody cares about not having CDs any more. The future is digital, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
But the industry also needs to expand its scope beyond the usual fare, he said, noting that he’s been to four E3 events and they’ve been dominated by the same things every time. “We all like space marines and shooters, but come on, we need to talk about something else,” he continued. “Make games with a cultural point of view. We did a game, somehow, about the Muslim faith. We did a game about the Italian renaissance. [Ubisoft] did a game about the American Revolution. Having a cultural point of view will become more and more important. There is something about where I come from in the game I was making [1666: Amsterdam]. I think that will change the entire industry.”
Desilets was working on 1666: Amsterdam for THQ when the company went under, and both he and the game ended up in Ubisoft’s hands as a result. He was fired by Ubisoft shortly thereafter, and filed a lawsuit earlier this month seeking to have the rights to the game returned to him.