Gamer expectations curb innovation - Jade Raymond

Ubisoft Toronto managing director says audience demands perfection, leading developers to create what they know will sell.

According to Ubisoft Toronto managing director Jade Raymond, gamer expectations limit innovation in today's industry. Speaking to Official Xbox Magazine UK in a new interview, Raymond claimed that the business has come to the point where gamers expect such high quality in every aspect that developers can only create what is proven to sell.

Raymond says gamers' purchasing habits are hurting innovation.

"One of the things I see that's different [about the industry today] is that our audience expects perfection," Raymond said. "Before, there were only, say, 2 million people playing games--they were real fans and they were playing every game. They were willing to forgive bugs, and try things that weren't as much fun because they were different."

"Now, there are 30 million people buying and they only buy the top five," she continued. "They expect perfection. I think that growing up with everything being so good, so easy to use, there are certain expectations."

And it is these expectations, Raymond says, that have hurt developers' abilities to try new things.

"It's not very forgiving," she said. "It does limit innovation, because if something isn't working as you get towards shipping, you have to cut it or revert back to what you know does work."

Raymond is not the only developer to speak about efforts for innovation in the industry. Quantic Dream boss David Cage said in July that games will die without new ideas, with Tekken boss Katsuhiro Harada saying just last week that a one-console future would allow for a greater potential for fresh thinking.

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wiouds
wiouds

The main problem I have is that a good amount of innovation is not noticeable if you are not looking for it from game to game.

zako94
zako94

"Jade Raymond" well somebody grow up and talk about innovation , before blaming gamers go solve your problems with your marketing team .

dadoesch
dadoesch

An unfortunate byproduct of the industry's success.  I agree with Raymond, in that it would be good to see more flexibility in consumers' spending habits on games.  However, the publishers are also part of the problem -- most (if not all) of their games are locked at a $60 price point.  They should be more flexible in their pricing.  Innovation is more likely to occur (in my opinion) at a lower price point -- the cost of a downloadable title, an indie development, etc.

Kickable
Kickable

boohoo.  with the intimidating surge in gamers also came their money.  take some risks and work your whiney asses off.

avatarIVN
avatarIVN

Ahhh, that is the reason why Ubisoft, launches a barely-touched AC every year without changing anything but the title and a few additions. Now I get it

rarson
rarson

People are disagreeing with her because they cannot grasp the fact that they are not part of the 30-million strong mainstream game-buying public. If you frequent one or more gaming websites, such as this one, on a regular basis, you are not a mainstream consumer. You're one of a small, but enthusiastic and vocal minority. Your purchasing habits are not what she is talking about. She's talking about the people who don't research games at all and just buy whatever they already like. She's talking about the people who drive sales of franchises like CoD. If you think she's wrong, then all you need to do is look at sales figures and the endless strings of franchise titles... clearly those purchasing habits are well-established, or those franchises wouldn't exist.

suko1983
suko1983

I'm an Assassins Creed fan, and when a new game comes out I don't expect it to have a lot of new things, just more fun  by killing the bad guys and a follow up of the history, when they make too many changes mostly are bad things.

qead
qead

Oh please, a capitalist economy is driven by innovation... if Ubisoft can't provide this then customers will seek out alternative suppliers. This is probably part of the reason why indie games are starting to pick up in sales

 

Joesocwork
Joesocwork

The gaming industry or Hollywood movies??? Claiming to be a victim of your own success is an industry wimp's excuse to me.

ESB
ESB

nanana Raymond, your opinion is wrong!

Zyxi27
Zyxi27

Completely disagree with her.I would probably never buy off the top ten games, since most are fps or basically similar games that aren't what am looking for. It's not about people not being accepting of bugs and glitches, at least not for me, but am sick of everyone and their similar shooting games or crap DLC, the greed of the industry. And in the topic of ubisoft, maybe if ya'll didn't try to extend a game for longer than it should have been (did ezio really need 3 games?), you wouldn't have as much pressure on you. A series should only be so long, so stop trying to milk it

raahsnavj
raahsnavj

the problem is the budgets big studios use for their games. Instead of chasing the fun profits, they only want the easy sucker profits. Problem is I think more big games are going to go the way of Rock Band with this one. Popular now, stupid tomorrow. I wonder what it will be like to laugh at someone that plays COD... oh wait. 

Henninger
Henninger

I disagree with her statement. I think the industry has become lazy greedy bastards. The industry has become, as a whole, more concerned with milking the customer & thinking that we're dumbass' (which is somewhat true) & will continue to scam us with this little thing called "DLC". Now very few games that have come out over the last, lets say 10 years have been innovative. Braid is one of those games. Catherine is another in my opinion. You can add Portal in there as well. But other than those games, not too many others. You can make cases for others but those 3 come to mind first. You can add Mirror's Edge in there as well. A very different approach to a FPS. Oh yea put Dead Space in there because they helped the dying survival horror genre. I blame the publishers more than the developers though. The developers most of the time dont have the freedom to be innovative. Its make this COD clone & get it out as soon as possible so we can take a share of the FPS genre. So concerned with making money than being creative. Now dont get me wrong I'm all for making money. But when it gets rid of creative thinking, thats where the problem lies. So publishers/developers take a chance & think outside the box for a change. 

Casey1967
Casey1967

Ok. So everyone is ranting.I did my rant earlier.That being said, I would pay $60 if Jade herself was in a video game. I think perhaps a female Splinter Cell character or maybe Assassins creed.Just saying.....

aussiemuscle
aussiemuscle

Sounds like excuse making to me. We demand perfection? maybe, but we rarely get it. This year 99% of AAA pc games needed a patch on the week of release. We shouldn't have to put up with bugs if they did proper play-testing and QA.

 

Shouldn't developers themselves strive for perfection anyway? if not, there's something wrong with their work ethic.

thatsmyspot
thatsmyspot

The audience do demand perfection,and why not? Should we just settle for any old rubbish? The industry has evolved and will continue to do so and the demand with it, but that is not why the developers 'create what they know will sell.'

 

The true reason is because they follow a strict track of producing 'clones' such as the aforementioned CoD franchise satiating the public desire for them, whilst sticking to a tried and tested formula that generates the largest income with the smallest risk potential, in order to please the hierarchy of suits who pay their wages.

 

The reason is money, and creativity will be abandoned if there's a buck to made in the 'same old', irrespective of gamer expectations. Look at Assassin's Creed: originally 3 releases planned; they decided to make more because there was money to be made in further iterations. The creative direction was for 3, but the business demanded more, not the gamers.

Shadow4020
Shadow4020

You vote with your wallet, when CoD clones are the only games selling, it's the only games that will be made.

tevic
tevic

She's 100% right.

joeboosauce
joeboosauce

I don't have a hissy fit like some vocal gamers because of the occasional glitch. If you undrstand the lines of code that go into a game nowadays compared to NES days, its an achievement that there are not far more issues. If people want a perfectly rendered reality... leave the couch.

 

We really have mediocre consumers. No taste, want nothing but regurgitated stuff. Look at music, movies, etc. Easy to blame the producers but rarely do consumers want to examine themselves... that's assuming they have the ability to do that.

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

Yep they sure do.

 

Innovation is dying and gaming with it all because of whiny, entitled gamers.

airshocker
airshocker

Sounds like an excuse to innovate less. New types of games come out all of the time and are rewarded with huge followings. Take DayZ for example. It's just a mod and it has TONS of people eager to purchase the standalone version.

 

Perhaps Ubisoft should actually focus on making decent games that don't force me to make an online account and aren't bugged straight to hell.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

I've played PC games since the early 90's and console games since Famicom, and I am certain my friends and I who've played even in those days wanted to have fun. My definition of fun has changed over the years, but if anything, the games I consider fun have grown to include more games that are different from mainstream. I feel many old timers, members of Ms. Raymond's "two million," share my sentiment.

 

As for bugs, I am just as forgiving of them then as I am now, which is not that much. I always expect little problems here and there: graphic/sound glitches, performance issues, whatnot. It's too hard to QA everything. I do not forgive game breaking bugs that make progress beyond a certain point impossible, save file corruptions that wipe my progress after 20 hours of playing, or crashes to desktop every third time I try to connect the online component. These tell me the the product is faulty. I am willing to forgive if the publisher is willing to give a refund, standard practice in business.

 

So I am not sure what Ms. Raymond wants me to do. Should I kneel at her feet whenever she choose to grace the consumers with a game, any game? Should I be happy when the game I bought is broken because at least she made an effort to make it work? Sorry. I am not a millionaire patron. I can't reward you for trying.

The-Neon-Seal
The-Neon-Seal

Metal Gear Solid/4, Dragons Dogma and Minecraft all sink this argument.

kuda001
kuda001

Completely agree with Raymond, look at all the bitching going on with the GS Sleeping Dogs review. An 8.0 is a good score yet for some it just isn't good enough. The vast majority have not bought and played the game yet but are confident enough to say the score is too low.

 

Every game with a bit of hype surrounding it or is part of a successful franchise must garner a 9.0 or greater in the eyes of gamers, which is not realistic. I played Fallout:NV recently, the game was buggy as hell and it got a 7.5 review score. That said it had a great storyline and memorable characters as well as good DLC especially Old World Blues.

 

I think the problem lies with how long the current-gen product life cycle has been and the limitation this presents to developers. Playing safe is understandable especially when one bad release can bankrupt a company e.g. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning developer 38 Studios is a perfect example. There are a lot more cheaper alternatives out there and a lot more free to play games.

 

Why spend $60/£45 on a game?

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

She's right, but it's the way the industry is now.

 

#1:  "Before" is the NES and SNES era.  In the 8-bit era, there was really only 1 console.  The Master System and the 7800 didn't have enough of a footing to be considered competitive.  One system means everyone's sharing games with each other and playing everything.  The 16-bit era had two, SNES and Genesis.  Today we have 3.

 

#2:  Game length.  I hate to say it, but the average NES and SNES game took maybe 1 or 2 hours to beat, not counting the time you spent learning the game and dying and replaying levels along the way.  Today, games are at least 3 or 4 hours long, many being 10-20 hours long or even more.  Tack on multiplayer and there's EVEN MORE time squeezed out of a single game.  I have almost 1,000 recorded hours into Counter-Strike. 6,000+ in World of Warcraft across my top 3 characters.

 

This is what happens when you raise the bar for game length and replayability.  There are only so many hours in the day.  Kids are spending their entire summer vacations on Call of Duty, a single game.  Sure, you can sub in games like FF3 or Chrono Trigger for the 16-bit era and say the same thing but games of that length in the 16-bit era were few and far between when you look at the entire library of games available.

 

#3:  Review sites.  This is kind of ironic given where I'm posting this, but review sites have completely destroyed the concept of playing everything.  Back in ye-olde days there was no way to tell which games were bad and which games were good.  You had Nintendo Power but Nintendo was hardly going to be critical of itself and they weren't really on the level a lot of the time.  Third party magazines didn't really hit the mainstream until the PS1 era in my opinion, even though some were around for a long time.

 

Now, you can tell what's worth playing and what isn't in a couple of seconds.  Yes, reviews are opinions, but it doesn't change the fact that people make purchasing decisions based on review scores regardless of how much you want to argue against this fact.  Case in point, I loved Ninja Gaiden(Xbox) and Ninja Gaiden 2(360)... immensely.  I was going to buy the third game on release and a co-worker told me it was getting bad reviews.  I checked, and it was.  I read one(Gamespot's), and skipped the game completely.  Sorry, but that's the way the industry is whether you like it or not.

 

#4:  The death of rental stores.  I don't know about everyone reading this but for me, the four rental places that were close to me all closed down at some point or another.  They weren't big franchise places but they all shut down.  I don't really have a way of trying games before buying anything anymore.  It wasn't often that I bought a game because I had a good rental experience, but it did happen.  PC game demos are the equivalent today, but it's just not the same.

Gandoclaus
Gandoclaus

Really valve proves she's talking out her ass better than anything else. They are a big budget studio and they release extremely high quality games that are also unique, innovative and compelling games that are great fun to play. No one at ubisoft has the brains or balls to make a game anywhere near as adventurous as portal 2.

KFHEWUI
KFHEWUI

Any one else getting tired of listening to publishers/developers talk out of their a** when trying to figure out what is wrong with the industry and completely miss the problem?

 

I do not care for perfection as long as the game offers an unique experience, and the sad thing is with the economy in the crap publishers/developers are less likely to take a chance on something different because it may flop. instead they can crap out games like CoD because they know they will sell like hot cakes.

 

It gets old listening to game companies using gamers as a whipping boy for the dying of originality instead of accepting that it is their fault.

 

Personally out of all the game released only Xenoblade Chronicles has been the game that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. Not only was it a great game, but it was fun and unique game.

 

When it comes to game mechanics I rank them controls, camera, gameplay, story, music/sound, replay value, and at the dead bottom is graphics.

 

She is right about one thing, the days of unique and engaging games has passed, and it looks like they will not return ever again.

Gandoclaus
Gandoclaus

Developer and publisher profiteering curb innovation.Indie games are absolutely KILLING it at the moment because they dare to be different and they usually always put gameplay first.

alenth
alenth

One thing is true now in the era of the internet: Gamers just like to bitch about everything.

_el_Greco_
_el_Greco_

What a load of BULLSH*T!!  LOL!!  You gotta be kidding me.  I can't believe she's saying this crap.

 

Raymond:  "Now, there are 30 million people buying and they only buy the top five."

- Yes, BECAUSE YOU GUYS ARE MARKETING THE HELL OUT OF THOSE FIVE AND WANT THEM TO SELL!

 

You see, Jade Raymond's dodging the blame here (for her and for the rest of her friends at the publishing companies).  She knows very well that the main problem with game "innovation" today is that game publishers are no longer taking risks on new intellectual property.  They're just selling the same thing that people have gotten accustomed to for years.  In other words, they're selling what is bound to sell very well.  (Take a look at the last top selling games of the past 7 years, and you'll see that it's mostly the same games with constant sequels.)

 

Now, these games are NOT proven to sell because the CONSUMER DEMANDS it!  The average consumer (casual gamer of America with an xbox in his room) is only buying these "high quality" games because the publishers are MARKETING THE SH*T out of these games!!  These publishers are spending so much money in marketing and they're pushing these games so much that the average consumer buys them mainly because he generally doesn't know any better, or because he doesn't have a choice (it's either another polished but bland sequel from a big studio, or an innovative / different game that's not well polished from an indie studio).

 

Raymond:  "They expect perfection."

- No, we expect good games, not perfect games.  It's you guys, being driven mad by corporate thinking, that expect "perfection."  And what a stupid thing to say, after all.  Perfection is subjective.  What you guys might consider perfect, the gamers might consider MORE OF THE SAME.

 

When the big companies will stop pushing the same garbage on the consumers (sequels, expansion packs, and DLC for the same franchises that have been around for more than a decade), then you have our permission to say that we're the problem.

ACWH
ACWH

Never heard so much bollocks from a person's mouth. How can you blame your customers for wanting the best when you fail to deliver it? What is she doing as CEO? Has she no idea about business?

Shayaneshan
Shayaneshan

jade ur one of the most amazing people on the planet but i beg to disagree and differ from wat u said entirely. if you are right then games like 'Lost' or 'Minecraft' and countless others would not have made such huge impacts in the gaming industry as they have. So technically....no....the consumers are not hurting innovation rather its the power/money hungry developers that are looking for commercial games that will sell rather than mind boggling innovation. *cough cough* Diablo 3

Krauklis
Krauklis

Ubisoft what happened to you? Once you made games like Rainbow six 3, and ghost recon(the last one does not count as a game). Even the first AC was nice, but now all you do is shit on gamer's, especially PC gamer's.

Frimmel
Frimmel

If it doesn't work right and you can't play it, it isn't really an innovation.

Casey1967
Casey1967

Those who create video games are  large companies. They have a lot of staff, expenses etc etc. If they make a game that doesn't sell then they and their staff may be unemployed. They have to take the safe path. If you take a 30 milion dollar risk and it doesn't pan out then you're finished. I think these companies will use mobile and PC platforms to test market games and if they work out then they will take them further to console. I think innovation is coming thanks largely to mobile. Honestly though I think this is just the beginning of the end for console.Soon there will be so many cheap/free games available to PCs/tablets/phones etc that the concept of paying $60 for a game or even $20 will seem rediculous.The PC market is finished now as boxed product. anyone who says otherwise is not informed or lying. All media will be on the internet only

or primarily  soon. You can hold back technology for awhile but it always wins in the end. Sure, you could say that console games are better.Blah Blah. 95% of gamers will play a fun,graphically inferior product for free instead of a $60 superior product. The next generation of consoles had better be amazing or it may be the last. I am betting it's the end of the line for 2 of the 3 console manufacturers. I will leave the debate up to you to decide. By the way, we can all thank the used resellers for expediting the death process.

there is now no such thing as back catalog inventory in this industry. There is only new and clearance.

Hey_Jay
Hey_Jay

I totally get where she's coming from, but even then, at the end of the day...

 

... excuses, excuses...

tonyleo01
tonyleo01

make the game 30 bucks and I'll buy more games, take more risks, and forgive more bugs....

suko1983
suko1983

 @rarson You are right, that's why I think if they want to innovate, they should do it on new games and not in a franchise. An example is "Assassins Creed Brotherhood and Revelations", they tried to add new stuff but was horrible. Another example is "Splinter Cell Conviction" (I'm a huge fan too) they forgot about stealth! wtf?!. So innovate in new games not in a franchise.

rarson
rarson

 @qead 

 

Capitalism is driven by trade, not innovation. The vast majority of the game-buying public is not looking for innovation. See Call of Duty.

 

Indie games are being better exposed through digital distribution, that's it. Sales might be up, but they're still indie games, so they're still selling in MUCH smaller numbers than your average blockbuster franchise title.

rarson
rarson

 @Zyxi27 

 

The fact that those top ten games are in the top ten completely validates her point. Yeah, YOU might not buy them, but the vast majority of people who buy video games ARE buying them.

 

Ubisoft is in the business of making money, like any other company. They have to give their customers what they want.

alenth
alenth

 @Henninger She's talking about the people who don't research games and ask for the same dumbed down games all the time, why miss the oportunity to get more profit with a 10 million playerbase that don't know anything about games (only the most popular ones, like Fifa, Mortal kombat, COD, Need For Speed, etc) and ask the same game over and over again? people in this site is another history, she's not refering to us, the games today are not for the past veteran gamer, and i agree 100% with her.

RetryAgain
RetryAgain

 @Henninger *Slow clap* YEAH BRAID! You forgot Bastion, but I can forgive that since you did so well.

rarson
rarson

 @aussiemuscle 

 

You are not part of the "we" she was talking about. People who are passionate about games and frequent gaming web sites do not represent the majority of the 30 million people that spend money on video games.

joeboosauce
joeboosauce

 @airshocker 

I don't have a hissy fit like some vocal gamers because of the occasional glitch. If you undrstand the lines of code that go into a game nowadays compared to NES days, its an achievement that there are not far more issues. If people want a perfectly rendered reality... leave the couch.

 

We really have mediocre consumers. No taste, want nothing but regurgitated stuff. Look at music, movies, etc. Easy to blame the producers but rarely do consumers want to examine themselves... that's assuming they have the ability to do that.

ACWH
ACWH

 @tonyleo01 To expand on your comment, because they cost so much and then you get bugs, plus you can't return a game for a refund just means your setting up an anti consumer market so it's no surprise that innovation goes out the window when desperation to get high sales figures leads you towards tried and testing formulas like COD or Warcraft.

Henninger
Henninger

 @RetryAgain

 Yes your right Bastion is another game that should've been on this list.

blackothh
blackothh

 @ACWH what is all this cost too much to make crap, its not my fault the companys have 5,000 more employees then then need