Ubisoft on new IPs: "We won't even start if we don't think we can build a franchise out of it"

Senior vice president of sales and marketing says that company will not "fire and forget" on potential series due to overwhelming costs.

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Ubisoft senior vice president of sales and marketing Tony Key has said in an [A]list Daily interview that its upcoming action title Watch Dogs will be the foundation of a major franchise.

Ubisoft seems to have big sequel plans for Watch Dogs.

Key said that while the game is putting Ubisoft "in a really good place," the company will not be satisfied with just the first entry. "That's what all our games are about; we won't even start if we don't think we can build a franchise out of it. There's no more fire and forget – [starting and releasing one is] too expensive."

Key also explained the difficulty in launching and building up new intellectual properties. "There's no proven DNA for people to latch onto for people to say 'I understand what that brand is about.' Especially when you're annualizing something like Just Dance or an Assassin's Creed, you understand that experience and you either want to be part of that community or you don't. We can tap into that and get a faster start."

"With Assassin's Creed IV, we start with those 4 million users on our Facebook page. With Watch Dogs, we're in acquisition mode--we're trying to find people who are intrigued by the concept of what Watch Dogs is all about, about the surveillance and the hacking. It's a whole different strategy in the social space--we're trying to acquire people, where with Assassin's Creed we're trying to get more engagement."

Key added that despite the press being excited for Watch Dogs, there are people outside the gaming community who aren't aware of the game's existence. "We're in blockbuster world, and Watch Dogs needs to be a blockbuster because it deserves to be and as a company that's what we need it to be. It's the most ambitious production in the history of Ubisoft, and we need to make sure that everybody who likes video games has a chance to decide that this game is going to be hot. That's the hard part about a new brand, that awareness outside the core needs to be created."

Discussion

747 comments
SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

I'm cool with new IPs being turned into franchises, as long as those franchises are quality and don't get rundown to the point where they are just medicore installments just going for quick cashgrabs from the fanbase.

The-Longshot
The-Longshot

Ohhh k? So they want to promote the hell out of it, yet this is the 1st I'm hearing of it, and still, what the hell is it about? Not one mention of the mechanics other then "surveillance and hacking" ok, how does that translate in to the gameplay? Why should I be excited for this title? because its going to be a "blockbuster" ? or because its going to offer something fun, new, and unique in terms of a gameplay experience.

p.s lol "ubisoft seems to have big plans for a sequal" ?! wtf! they haven't even released the 1st game yet! This whole "franchise" mentality really needs to go away, games were MUCH better when they let the "franchises" create themselves from selling well and being fun and unique.

Lionheart86
Lionheart86

I pretty much thought this was just going to be the new AC line right from the get go but in hopes that it isnt going to leave me with just a small part of a story for $60 I've still got in on order. Personally I think the AC games would have been better without the Desmond filler. His story is what left me feeling unsatisfied every game, like great i get to pay more to hopefully finish it off next time or the next or maybe after another. I'm hoping they work this franchise like Naughty Dog works Uncharted. I never felt bad dropping day one price on any of those games but after the first couple AC games, i held off until the price dropped.

warorpeace2020
warorpeace2020

looking at this article reminds me of EA and activision and rockstar. once upona a time EA used to make good or even great games, the old medal of honors or the need for speed undergrounds and the OG most wanted are a great example. but now they mostly suck with their annual franchises and sequels, they sucked so hard that they ruinned the medal of honor IP with warfighter. Activision followed the same path. on ps2 gen, the CODs had improvements not only on graphics, but on the gameplay overall, now its just almost stagged. Rockstar on the other hand made i think like 10 GTAs and all of them feel fresh and always improve on its content. To me what Ubisoft passed with this is that every game they do that is well received will have a sequel. it does not mean it needs to be with the same characters or even scenario (Farcry speaks for itself, or AC that spawns different chronoiogical events, even thoughit weakened with when it became annual). its a dangerous path as every path is. In one hand we could see they do awesome franchises (remember god of war 2 was produced with the third one in mind) or they can end up ruining franchises(like whats happening with AC). To me only time will tell if that strategy is good or will make Ubisoft be the next EA/Activision. and you guys, what are your thoughts of my opinion?

TirOrah
TirOrah

Okay, fine, I understand this from an economical standpoint. I really do. I don't mind you guys looking for franchise opportunities in favor of stand alone games. 

But you better not annualize Watch Dogs or you're going to have an angry gamer dissing you on the internet. Me. -_- I purchased Assassin's Creed 2 and Brotherhood, but haven't touched an AC game since. 

A new game just has a lot more impact when one doesn't come out every freaking year. 

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

I am sadded because the message I got out of his statement is that Ubisoft as a business is not just exploiting good game ideas for maximum profit but rather making profit the driving force behind the creation of all its games save, perhaps, the first one in each franchise.

I am curious. Just how much money can be saved by making a sequel as opposed to a different game? I guess another way to ask this question is, just how much Ubisoft intends to recycle for games in the same franchise?

blaze_boy30
blaze_boy30

Pretty much sums up the contemporary mentality of publishers in the gaming industry.

veryDERPY
veryDERPY

most sequels this gen STARTED this gen. ubi has it figured out. it's just the execution that they kinda failed at

Syphen_bast
Syphen_bast

Well at least they are not hiding anything AND in the end if the game is good enough to support sequels, bring it....but imo its never a good idea to speak so soon about that when none of us have even had the chance to try the first game yet! Sounds a little pretentious?

vivalatour
vivalatour

I really hope this makes it and makes it BIG ! these companies are really starting to use full potential when it comes to us little folk and guess what , well I am really liking it  CAN YOU DIG IIIIIIIIIIT ?

Ovirew
Ovirew

Almost makes me want to cancel the pre-order for this game.  I seriously thought this would be like a one-off game, but it figures that they're planning on making it into their new Assassin's Creed.

I'm all for sequels when they're done right and they're needed, but not when it's just for their milkage.

Gamer_4_Fun
Gamer_4_Fun

This is pathetic ubisoft. Most of the greatest games ever made told stories that started and ended with the credits. Franchising is a fancy term for publishers to dilute their games when business trumps creativity and quality.

Shanks_D_Chop
Shanks_D_Chop

Makes me glad I don't have cause to buy many Ubisoft games anymore. I'm not against franchises as such, but this mentality that Ubisoft is displaying here is what can turn amazing stand-alone titles into a deteriorating series that gets depressing.

Look at Assassin's Creed. They already did it there. The first was impressive and tantalising, the second was THE perfect sequel in terms of gameplay. And everything since has been tedious trash. Although the big problem there is that someone bullshitted the devs and told them they had a good quality plot...

rigbybot127
rigbybot127

Well, they're being smart and realistic about it.

The-Neon-Seal
The-Neon-Seal

But... but... some of the best games ever were one his wonders... and all the more legendary for it.

Valen_Ca
Valen_Ca

Just don't make it a yearly franchise where you are rushing to put out sequels every year, Assassins Creed in my opinion has suffered greatly because of that and the release cycle for games like GTA or The Elder Scrolls has shown that it is unnecessary.

MegaX-
MegaX-

lol so Watch dogs 2 will come out next year

Mega_Skrull
Mega_Skrull

Hm, at least they're honest about their greed? *shrugs*

I like good sequels to games I like, but there's only so much milking you can do before inevitably crapping all over what people once loved.

tightwad34
tightwad34

This is either a good thing or a bad thing. Not much grey area here. It seems weird that you would develop a game anticipating a sequel before you have even sold a copy of it in the first place. O.K. I am leaning towards a bad thing.

XAGMNINETY
XAGMNINETY

Well, this is why Assassin's Creed has gone down the shitter.


And this process has pretty much been confirmed for all Ubi franchises.

Hooray!

pound-u
pound-u

This is why the gaming industry is in trouble.

ank000
ank000

So ubisoft is all about quantity over quality. hmm...

Duke_51
Duke_51

This article just made me hate Ubisoft a little more. So in other words, this could have been summed up with one sentence: "Ubisoft wants to make as much money as possible."

Which means more sequels. Is the truth so sad that that's seriously all people will buy?

Kickable
Kickable

Watch Dogs looks so awesome but I still have a weird dread since Ubisoft is behind it haha.  I don't think I'm being unfair either based on actually playing almost every game they've released.  what they're saying now in plain english certainly doesn't help, but I'll most likely buy this game anyway barring terrible reviews.  maybe i deserve mediocre games for giving them money at all.

hastati4
hastati4

Can't wait until Watch Dogs is as stale as Assassin's Creed, and people hate on it when Watch Dogs 4: Black Smartphone gets to the final four of the Best of E3 voting.

bignick217
bignick217

"we won't even start if we don't think we can build a franchise out of it."

That line right there scares the crap out of me.  On the one hand, I'm really interested in Watch Dogs.  On the other hand, some of my all time favorite games were one offs.  

Plus this just makes it all the more clear why there is so much regurgitated crap constantly coming out of the publishers.  Other than Watch Dogs and Rome II total War (which I'm really excited for), most of the games coming out of the publishers are just plain boring and more of the same crap we already constantly see from them in one form or another.  Most of the really interesting games lately are all coming from the Indie space.  Such as Star Citizen, Planetary Annihilation, Antichamber, Kerbal Space Program and maybe even Satellite Reign (if I can find enough information on it).  The Indies are the ones shaking things up and trying new things and publishers just refuse to look outside that box they've placed themselves into. 

Hey publishers, here's a clue for you.  If I as a perspective customer can name more indie titles I'm interested in, off the top of my head than I can of games coming out of your development houses, then your doing it wrong.

foxrock66
foxrock66

That kind of pisses me off a little bit. Some of my favorite games were one-offs

gf61
gf61

It need to be a blockbuster because it's too expensive. This is the new trend, triple A games will be established franchises and most new creative IP's will be indie games.

Hobbes444
Hobbes444

Key: The sequels can't just be the same game with a different story *cough* Call of Duty *cough* *cough*. when you make a sequel it has to improve on the first, and not be like apple where an iP 4s essentially looks like a 4 and iOS has looked the same ever since it released, with the exception of the notification center and the ability to set a background.

PlatinumPaladin
PlatinumPaladin

Hmm. Can't say I'm surprised to hear this. I won't be making the same mistake with Watch Dogs.I did with Assassin's Creed though. I'll buy the first game and then pretend any others don't exist.

joce667
joce667

If we c'ant milk the crap out of it ! it is not getting made . Now who is up for AC 17 !


Agent_Vincent87
Agent_Vincent87

@TirOrah yea not dissing Call of Duty...but come on- every year like clockwork they have a new one! However, I did play every AC game known to man though more for the story than anything else, and I was still kinda confused at the end...lol

The-Neon-Seal
The-Neon-Seal

@Mega_Skrull I think far too many francise suffer from the second album curse. You know, some make a brilliant follow up like Origin of Symetry, A Curious Thing, Sams Town, Babel (to name actual albums), which are akin to ACII, Battlefront 2, Littlebigplanet 2, but there are also a ton that fall flat on their face.

smashthejews
smashthejews

@pound-u this is also why i pirate all of ubisofts games and sell them for $5 to all my friends at school...paybacks a bitch

EdotheHero
EdotheHero

@Duke_51 i don't think you understood the article. in more simpler terms, creating a new IP and profiting from just one game = loss in the long run. creating a new IP requires a lot of investment, and this investment can only be paid back in the long run with future titles i.e. deciding to create just one game is too expensive on resources. in Ubisoft's case, when they decided to build Watch Dogs they had to think about whether investing into this entirely new IP would be worth it or whether they would end up making a loss over time.

hope that made it clear for you :)

The-Neon-Seal
The-Neon-Seal

@hastati4 At least we know Watch Dogs 2 will be one of the defining experiences of the next gen... but... then you'll get WD: randomcoolname and year after a second WD: randomcoolname, followed by WD4, which will seem really cool at first and have trees, but quickly get's boring when your tired of climbing them.

The-Neon-Seal
The-Neon-Seal

@bignick217 The indie space is the future. The big publishing are probably affraid of them (looks to EA's aquesition of Pop Cap.)

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

@gf61 not true, look at watch dogs, destiny, the last of us, that new tom clancy game made by ubisoft for next gen (can't remember the name) there are still new AAA IP's coming out, but they already have it planned to be a saga or trilogy etc.

LOWJ000
LOWJ000

@joce667 Preordered Up to AC 51, than I think my Arthritis will be too much and I'll have to quit gaming! Maybe I can pay some young chap to play the rest of the series on my 17K 8D holographic display.

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

@joce667 I dunno about 17, but if Watchdogs is as good as it looks then I will welcome watchdogs 2


TirOrah
TirOrah

@Agent_Vincent87 The AC games have an interesting story at least, IMO. How about FIFA which just brings "revolutionary" gameplay changes every year? I mean seriously? I've never played one of these games, so feel free to correct me, but every time I read a review of a FIFA game they've usually added about 3 new features and changed the layout of the modes and such. Think of the praise FIFA could get if its creators weren't on a 12-month deadline every time? And like I said indirectly before, anticipation is powerful. Just look at GTA. 

As you can probably tell from my wall of text, I strongly dislike annualized game franchises. 

tightwad34
tightwad34

@The-Neon-Seal Yeah, I could see that way before I could see it with video games. It's just a whole different ballgame when it comes to development.

Duke_51
Duke_51

@EdotheHero @Duke_51 Yeah, I understand that. I guess I should have clarified, I don't like the mentality that every game they make has to be a AAA blockbuster title. There's nothing wrong with more inexpensive games that don't result in the birth of a new franchise.

There's a problem in the gaming industry that games are so expensive to make that the publisher won't sign on with them unless they're on par with Call of Duty in terms of success.. which translates to more and more CoD-like games. And that's kind of annoying.

Games don't have to be like movies, and yet Ubisoft thinks they do.

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

@joce667 ps I have all the AC games so far and can't wait for the new one, Pirates Yarrrrrrrr

EdotheHero
EdotheHero

@Duke_51 @EdotheHero lol i agree, i hope watch dogs doesn't follow the CoD path. but there are other games like rayman origins which isn't a AAA blockbuster title (or am i confused?), and Ubisoft is making a franchise out of it.

hopefully new and inexpensive IPs will become a trend, because the gaming industry today could use more variety - as long as those games have quality, though.