Ubisoft: 'There is no room for B-games'

Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat says with arrival of next-generation consoles, middle-market games no longer viable.

The viability of middle-market "B-games" has come to an end, according to Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat. The executive told Games Industry International that the onset of next-generation consoles means big-budget AAA experiences and smaller efforts will continue to draw new consumers in, but what falls in between will suffer.

"On one end of the spectrum you will have all the big, AAA blockbuster games that [offer] more and more production values, more value for the players, but there will be fewer of them taking a bigger chunk of the market," Mallat said.

The other end of the continuum, Mallat said, is made up of mobile efforts, tablets, and Facebook. The space between is what stands to get cut out altogether, he argued.

"The in-between, the belly of the market, is the one that just collapsed in a way and disappeared," he continued. "Meaning there is no room for B-games, if I should say so, which proves the point of quality. I think that companies that put quality and consumer value as a primary focus, as we've been doing at Ubisoft, will enjoy great success."

Earlier this month, Just Cause developer Avalanche Studios creative director Stefan Ljungqvist said big-budget games are here to stay, though he believes--much like Mallat--that they will decrease in number.

Cofounder Christofer Sundberg also echoed Mallat's comments on quality, saying the studio's goal above all else is to make products that resonate with gamers.

"We don't have to develop bigger, more expensive games," he said at the time. "We don't have to hire more people or have bigger teams. We just want to make better games."

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Discussion

394 comments
Hicks233
Hicks233

With the games industry these days and its obsession with the AAA market comes DRM. In Ubisoft (among others) flavour:

Asinine, Abstract And Annoying - Always Aggravating Audiences. Adjusting Apathetic American Attitudues A'la Access Awkward - Acceptance An Action Admonished.

All About AAA? Arse!


...Aardvark.

Never mind tripple A. What about 10+A!? Come on Ubisoft, you're lacking behind! It's all about the 10+A now!

goggles123456
goggles123456

How is it that old NES games that used a fraction of the people, and a fraction of the budgets that are used today are still loved, played and talked about to this day?  Because back then, it wasn't about budget or manpower.  It was about giving the people something compelling to enjoy.  More than 20 years later, people from that era still talk about Mega Man, Super Mario, Tetris, Pac-Man, Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog....those games and more are timeless masterpieces, even within their hardware limits.  I highly doubt that people 20 years from now are going to talk about Assassin's Creed or Crysis, and that's a huge problem in games.  I think 20 years from now people will still talk about The Elder Scrolls, Final Fantasy, Mario and Zelda.  I think Nintendo will still be a household name, as will Microsoft, Apple, and Sony.  I think people will still know who Sonic is and that he's fucking fast.  In 20 years, I honestly don't see someone going, "Yeah man, it was all about Altair..."  I do also believe that certain modern games that have made a huge impact on gamers and not necessarily sales will still be talked about in 20 years.  Games like Dark Souls, or Morrowind.  Remember titles like Zelda 64, or Rogue Squadron, or Final Fantasy 3?  Remember the impact those had on people?  They were frothing at the mouth to get these things, and they continue to have long-lasting appeal even today.  Modern games are losing touch with what is important...they are chasing the money, instead of chasing what is right...their people's hearts.

shadow131990
shadow131990

I like indies. Keep making those expensive repetitive games hoping to sell millions just to cover expenses. That seems like a great idea, especially on the long run.

Freedomination
Freedomination

So all the games i play will be gone? That would be me having a very boring next year. Luckily i dont believe a word of it. 

Hopefull the AAA games will choke themselves on their ever increasing budgets soon though. That way maybe the publishers wouldn't have to exploit the market in every possible way to avoid going bankrupt

Silphatos
Silphatos

Yet Blood Dragon will define the B-game term lol.

famekiller
famekiller

I think sometimes these developers loose sight of what makes a cool game. Just because you spend 50 billion bucks on a game doesn't give it a AAA rating.  Some people never learn!

schesak
schesak

My response to this asshat is that there is no room for games with f****d up DRM; Doesn't matter how many freaking A's it has.

wowgrandpa
wowgrandpa

yeah. what he should have said is that a big publicly-traded publisher with shareholders has no room for a B game. they want big money, and deadlines. 

B games are made with smaller teams, can take longer, have lower prices, and smaller marketing budgets, but a good B game will still bring in a big profit because of the smaller budget.

But a big publisher would find the profit too small for the hassle. 

AAA budgets are a joke because they throw those big budgets at once-great franchises they've absorbed and then produce annual crap titles and expect to gain massive profit simply from pre-order sales and expensive marketing campaign, not based on the quality of the game at all.

Some $60 games are worth $60, but most are simply not.

coop36
coop36

*inserts generic Assassins Creed 3 joke here*

Jebril
Jebril

Well I consider a game AAA by its success not by it's budget so a game like Minecraft or Super Meat Boy were AAA titles that didn't have huge budgets.

McGregor
McGregor

I'm not so sure this is true. I still believe there is a market for a "B" game. Although, in this day and age, I'm not sure what classifies a game as a "AAA" or "B" title. If triple A is merely defined by the allowed budget, then 'B' games are going to do fine, and there is a place for them.

Bumblebee1138
Bumblebee1138

What the hell is he talking about? "B" Games are great and a lot of people love them. Look at "B"attlefield, "B"attlefront, "B"ioshock, Borderlands and Batman. They are all "B" and they are awesome.

blueinheaven
blueinheaven

He says there is no room for B games then he says "We don't have to develop bigger, more expensive games," I wish he'd make his mind up.

I want to play good games I don't care how much they cost to make or whether or not they are perceived as AAA titles. I couldn't give a rats arse for retro games with shitty graphics if I wanted that I'd drag my Amiga out of the attic and I have zero interest in social media games either. 

If next gen means constant rehashes of known franchises or crappy bottom end casual or retro games I'm out.

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

He didn't mean casual games and indy stuff. He meant b-movie type of games that are not big budgeted, and not made in half-a-year time either.

hadept
hadept

If this is true it sucks because games can be artistically and technically great and not have the mass appeal that equals AAA budgets. Like Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem which I just beat a few hours ago, lol. A lot of indie games turn me off, being 2D and simplistic arcade style games. I like my 20 hour plus cinematic experience, but something that takes risks to be innovative.

ShinjiEx
ShinjiEx

So Yannis Mallat  pretty much said screw indie games?

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

Better not be the case, those middle ground games tend to be far more creative and inventive than majority of the AAA games out there since there aren't as many risks involved with production costs and having to sell like 3-5m just to break even. 

I also love how they said that AAA games offer more value, excuse me while I call BS on that since most AAA games nowadays rely on padding as their form of "value" such as DLC, online multiplayer and in some cases, achievements/trophies. 

LesserAngel
LesserAngel

Yeah... I don't think so. Some of my favorite games are ones this weenie would class as 'B-List'.

eric_neo3
eric_neo3

Oh ubisoft that's soo funny, with the exception of assassins creed 9000 everything you produce is C grade and don't get me started on your F grade of DRM Uplay.

Nys04
Nys04

Actually in my mind a AAA rated game is a game that I fully enjoy and find it worth my money regardless if it cost $10 or $100.  I found in the current console generation that there were many many many titles out there that are pure garbage and have regretted buying it once I started playing it.  Many people have tight gaming budgets and we cannot be spending $60 a pop testing games all the time.  So recently, after being burnt too many times, I tend to buy only games with high production values: I may not be completely satisfied by them, but at least I know I wont be profusely disappointed with these games.  And I know that I am missing some really good B gems out there, but I made my bed.

nanorazor
nanorazor

B games are awesome. I always by them because they have more sale often and are very decent for the price. If "b" rated devs are charging less I support them.

MordeaniisChaos
MordeaniisChaos

That's bullshit, no one ever markets those games so no shit they don't sell. They would sell if people knew about them and were hyped up for them. The only reason there "isn't any room" is because publishers got greedy from all of the success they had in the early years of this generation. 

brxricano
brxricano

Didn't someone say that this gen too?? There will always be room for a a simple fun game that doesnt have a stick shoved far up its ass AKA AAA-to-the-point-it-thinks-its-the-center-of-the-universe-cause-you-spent-100-million-on-it. Second, I decide whats A or B or C. Not your stupid budget or marketing team. Ubisoft is getting on my last nerve.

Baron_B
Baron_B

@goggles123456 Might have something to do with the fact that you're cherry-picking. I also doubt people will still be talking about AC in 20 years, but that's because AC is the CoD of adventure games. Look at Shadow of the Colossus, Half-Life 2, Portal, Demon's Souls and Dark Souls, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Dead Space, Journey, Bastion. Plenty of amazing modern games are out there.

JBo796
JBo796

@shadow131990 yeh - indie games rule.  I hope to see more games like "Shadow Complex", "Flower" and "Dust: An Elysian Tail" next gen.  

Ubisoft makes B games at best..so...are they saying they sucked this gen?

Baron_B
Baron_B

@famekiller Uhm, but that's exactly what an AAA game is; a game with a huge budget.

goggles123456
goggles123456

@schesak That....was an awesome comment.  "Doesn't matter how many freaking A's it has."  That was classic and I loled hard.

I_are_Cake
I_are_Cake

@awhite33 How about you "shut up"? Assassin's Creed III was fantastic. That 85 on Metacritic didn't come from nothing. 

arc_salvo
arc_salvo

@Jebril I agree.  Quality and fun-factor is the standard for me, not budget.  Honestly, I think the focus on graphical power over everything else is not that necessary.  

Torchlight 2 is doing well, is it a "B" game?  The developers didn't overspend on making it and they had realistic expectations for sales.  I think B-quality games with AAA budgets aren't viable, but I think that's just common sense.

jecomans
jecomans

@McGregor Yes, despite what some people on here seem to think - AAA is solely to do with budget. It's the game equivalent of tent-pole film. And like films (think the $200m budget travesty that was John Carter) the quality of the product does not affect that title, unless you wish to add 'failure of a...' as a prefix. 

I assume the dude is talking a B games as those which cost a few million to make? Maybe 2-10 million? 

simonbelmont2
simonbelmont2

@blueinheavenI hear you man but as gamers we should care how much these big AAA games cost to make. 

Some games have budgets that are way too big and they cost a small fortune to make like the recent Tomb Raider for example. As a result of this Square Enix decided that TR and Sleeping Dogs were flops and didn't meet their sales targets even though they actually sold really well. Their ridiculous budget for TR was so big that they didn't see the success of that game as a big profit.

If a publisher decides that a game didn't sell enough copies they may decide not to make a sequel and that is the end of the series. That is bad news for gamers especially if you are a fan of that particular game series. I have no doubt that we will see another TR but what about other games that didn't meet their sales targets in the eyes of the publishers? 

What's worse is these days a lot of gamers avoid buying games unless they are over twenty hours long and have something extra like multiplayer etc. A lot of players didn't buy TR because they felt a 12-14 hour campaign was not worth the $60 and the multiplayer was not even good enough. So a lot of games will sell even less copies than they used to these days. So that means less profit for the devs who already spend ridiculous amounts of money on making games.

If the publishers and devs lower their budgets then maybe they won't have such unrealistic sales targets for these games when they are released.  That's a very big IF though.

lovesykpuppy
lovesykpuppy

@blueinheaven The 2 quotes don't agree with each other because they're not from the same guy.

The B games comment is from Mallat and the other comment is from Sundberg.

goggles123456
goggles123456

@abHS4L88 I agree.  Every AAA game that I've played recently was only played for a matter of minutes...maybe 20 to 30 minutes and then never picked up again.  I don't know what it is, but I never feel compelled to sustain playing them.  So, on those grounds, they were unable to offer me value.

Nightrain50
Nightrain50

@Nys04 Why not pick them up on the cheap I rarely spend more than  $20 on games. Only if it's a proven commodity and I need it for some reason. Other than price, good part about waiting is you know what to expect from extensive info online.

famekiller
famekiller

@Baron_B  you missed my point man, spend as much cash as you want, doesn't give you the right to claim its AAA.

schesak
schesak

@JBo796  DRM stands for Digital Rights Management and it refers to any of the various methods used to restrict people from access to digital media (be it video games, music, movies, or whatever).  

In the case of Ubisoft and PC Games, the DRM is that in order to play their games, even single player games, you need to log in and stay logged in while playing.

ck10304
ck10304

@simonbelmont2 But the question is would Tomb Raider and Sleeping Dogs have sold the same number of copies if they had lower budgets? That is the conundrum we live in

cuddlyfuzzle
cuddlyfuzzle

@famekiller @Baron_B I think that's a matter of opinion. The consensus of views define AAA as having a huge budget. but that's debatable as well. For me, triple-a titles don't have much to do with quality.

have a nice day.

famekiller
famekiller

@Baron_B that's cool man, whatever.  we're just going around in circles! 

Baron_B
Baron_B

@famekiller @Baron_B But there's nothing to claim! :P
A game is either AAA or it isn't. It doesn't have anything to do with quality, but with budget. High budget = AAA. And most Ubisoft games are high budget games (there are some exceptions like Rayman Origins).

I_are_Cake
I_are_Cake

@awhite33 Fuck off you contarian hipster shit bag. People like you are what this industry needs less of.

abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@simonbelmont2 @ck10304 

They probably wouldn't have BUT I think they instead, they would've been seen as successful games instead of flops if they had sold around 1-2m as lower budget games.