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Ubisoft: Rocksmith’s frosty reception blamed on “lack of enthusiasm for something that is new”

Tuesday, 1st November 2011 14:51 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Ubisoft’s North American executive director Laurent Detoc feels the reason Rocksmith was met with a less-than enthusiastic response from the gaming community along with tepid review scores is because “as much as [gamers] claim they want innovation, they don’t.”

Speaking with Gamasutra, Detoc feels Ubisoft’s guitar game, which claims to be able to teach people the instrument, didn’t deserve such lukewarm reviews.

“As much as [gamers] they claim they want innovation, they don’t,” he said. “What I see when I read the reviews is a lack of enthusiasm for something that is new. We, as human beings, tend to like what we know. But more importantly, we call ourselves gamers. Are we gamers – or players?

“I think the ‘gamer’ label has actually been hurting the industry. As our industry evolves, we need to be more mature and find a way to look at content and judge it as if we were real consumers instead of as gamers.”

Detoc relayed to Gamasutra that when Ubisoft’s causal title Just Dance came out, some reviews of the game were merciless, and even entreated the public to not purchase it. However, he said Ubisoft will continue to make games that appeal to all markets, not just the triple-A crowd, and not just what critics prefer to review.

“[Review sites] are a part of this industry,” he said. “We need to judge the products for what they are. You can’t compare, say, Just Dance to an Assassin’s Creed. We can’t expect critics to be experts at everything.

“[Casual and core] are businesses that can exist side-by-side. We’re going to continue to make games that appeal to a lot of people who don’t need to be experts with a gamepad.

“Time will enable us [as an industry] to stop bashing casual games.”

Rocksmith is currently out in the US for PS3 and Xbox 360. It will release in Europe during 2012 once “music licensing and other external factors” such as trademarks are sorted.

A PC version is expected in December.

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31 Comments

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  1. Ireland Michael

    “as much as [gamers] claim they want innovation, they don’t.”

    Truest thing I’ve heard in forever.

    Gamer scream about a lack of innovation all the time, yet as soon as their favourite nostalgic franchise tries to change any element (see the new Hitman for a perfect example) in even the slightest fashion, they kick and scream like little children, begging for an identikit rehash of the very same game they played a decade ago.

    People don’t know what they really want, that’s the problem.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Joe Musashi

    @1 Totally agree.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Stephany Nunneley

    @1 It reminds me of how people complain when their favorite indie band is signed to a big label – they are accused of “selling out” instead of “congratz on achieving your dream” and putting food on the table. I suppose they would rather them continue living in their vans and living off Ramen.

    I dunno. Maybe my analogy is flawed. But that is my thought process on it at any rate.

    /goes back to being seen and not heard

    #3 2 years ago
  4. viralshag

    @1, That’s not entirely true. They know exactly what they want. And that is everything that was before, plus everything that is in everything else now, as well as everything that is to come in it today.

    If it’s not got all of the above it’s rushed, ported, money stealing, DLC riddled, mega-corp, for the shareholder sell out piece of crap.

    Apparently.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Ireland Michael

    @2 And this is why we ended up with Call of Duty being what it is.

    @3 Indeed.

    I remember when one of my favourite bands was an obscure bunch of foreign singers, using synth and the like to replicate orchestral music in their songs. When they eventually broke out and became popular, they were finally able to afford to employ real orchestras in their songs, and the music improved as a result.

    But I all I ever hear from the older fans anymore is whining because they didn’t stick to their pretentious “Power Metal” routes, instead choosing to diversify their music with different sounds and styles.

    Of course, most people assume that all popular musicians are rich, so clearly they must be “sell-outs”. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The myth of the millionaire rockstar died alongside the introduction of Napster.

    It’s exactly how I see video games right now.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. DSB

    Blaming your customers, rather than yourself, is the most pitiful excuse for failing there is. It’s the professional equivalent of having the dog eat your homework.

    The reason why Guitar Hero was such a hit was because it allowed people to think they were playing guitar, even though they really weren’t. Breaking down the 4th and adding a real guitar completely annihilates everything that was ever fun about it.

    Learning an instrument is a chore more than anything else, and would quite predictably be somewhat hard to sell to people.

    Try making a Batman game where you have to physically grapple onto ledges and toss yourself up. Package it with a thug that they can fight in hand to hand combat.

    Protip: People won’t want to do that either.

    If anything this says everything for just how lost Ubisoft is these days. They have absolutely no clue what they’re doing, they have no clue how to reach gamers, and apparently they’ve completely lost the ability to recognize their mistakes in doing so as well.

    @5 Well artistic corruption doesn’t have to imply economic ditto. Selling your soul is a lot worse than selling your product.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Ireland Michael

    @I can agree with that, at least partially.

    They barely advertised it. It wasn’t even listed on their official website unless you went out of your way to find it. That probably didn’t help any.

    That said, the reactions from those who actually bought has been almost nothing but positive. As an actual music teaching tool, it definitely works.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Phoenixblight

    Trick of being a designer is giving the customer what they never knew they wanted. When you go directly for innovation this is exactly what you get, developers blaming the customers because they failed to sell to their audience. Also advertisement would probably help, I have only seen a commercial for this one at 1am on Comedy central.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Freek

    And just because something is new doesn’t automaticly make it good.
    It has to be both and that’s a tricky thing to get right. Especially with something as boring as learning to play guitar.

    Wich is unfortunatly true. Learning guitar takes allot of dedication to practice the same thing over and over and over again.
    They tried to turn that into a game, and partially succeeded but that doesn’t make it Guitar Hero. And it diden’t want to be, but that still means you’re never going to be “super fun”. It’s more like a learning tool then a game.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. DSB

    @7 I have a lot of opinions about that whole thing, but while I’m sure it might be fun, I just don’t see how anyone could think it had massive appeal.

    If something gives people a stepping stone into music, then that’s great, but in terms of creating real music, I don’t think that sort of thing can come through DVDs and videogames.

    This sort of hobby item lasts right up until the kid who bought it has his first jam session, and then realizes that he has far more to teach himself, by himself, than anyone else ever could have.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Stephany Nunneley

    @6 “Learning an instrument is a chore more than anything else, and would quite predictably be somewhat hard to sell to people.”

    I agree, 100%. But, there is a small audience out there, like me, who would LOVE to be able to play the guitar, but who cannot afford the lessons and doesn’t have a schedule that permits setting aside a specific time every week to drive to lessons – let alone find someone who wants you to learn “Oh Susanna” or “She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain” when you want to learn your favorite rock songs.

    I have been seriously contemplating purchasing Rocksmith as a result of this all of this, IF it really works. I don’t think it has been out long enough to determine that yet.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Kabby

    This is just one of those failed ideas that never should have gotten out of the lab.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Cygnar

    I think the review system in general is broken. Metacritic only lists eight reviews of Rocksmith, as compared to Uncharted 3′s fifty-eight and Arkham City’s thirty-four. When a game as (commercially) major as Skylanders somehow ends up with just six reviews on Metacritic, it’s clear that many sites treat reviews as discretionary–they review the games they feel like reviewing, instead of reviewing the games that are important, innovative, newsworthy, etc.

    It is therefore not surprising that Rocksmith has been met with such apathy. Reviewers are not interested enough to try it. The game therefore gets fewer stories on the reviewers’ blogs, less discussion in the comments about the merits of the game, and so on. The game falls out of customers’ consciousness and fades into obscurity, because it’s not ‘important’ enough to review compared to an Uncharted or Gears.

    The lack of advertising could not have helped Ubisoft, either. Maybe the company should take responsibility for its own product, and stop expecting blogs and review sites to advertise and promote for it.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. joshua nash

    imo the reason why this game hasn’t caught fire like ubisoft hoped is cause they forgot that activision pimped the genre out until it was dead and then beat the corpes until it was nothing more then dust, so its not entirely the fans fault, its just that we as gamers have just gotten tired of the music game genre and don’t really see a need or desire to play or buy this game

    #14 2 years ago
  15. Phoenixblight

    @10

    This game is actually that a stepping stone for those that curious about playing a guitar. And there are actual studies that support the fact that learning from video games has a much higher retention rate than the typical lecture and power point.
    But with this game they were expecting it to sell well for whatever reason with no advertisement and going purely off the idea of innovation while trying to ride on the Guitar Hero/Rock Band trend which is dead at the moment.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. DSB

    @11 Oh I’m not calling for a boycott, and I can see the idea.

    I guess I’m conflicted because I love music and once tried to make a career out of it. There’s definitely a serious side and a silly side to it, and once you’ve passed over into the former it’s kinda hard to see the other.

    While 90% of the guitarists I’ve known have started playing because of the pussy, every musician I know who’s really gotten into it, has done so because it spoke to them on a deeper personal level (although I suspect some just didn’t want to give up the pussy). That’s the kind of connection that’s probably easier to get out of a book, than even from most teachers, and certainly DVDs and videogames.

    Maybe I am a total snob in viewing it that way, but I’d say solitude and a book (to be replaced by curiosity and imagination once the basics are down) is the best way to get into music any day.

    The best musicians I know claim to never even have used books.

    @15 Maybe if you’re learning a craft, but personally I consider music a lot more than that. It’s peoples imaginations more than their methods.

    I do admire musicians who play without their souls, because they work a lot harder than anybody else, and I also love Erik Satie for being a crazed mechanical and methodical genius, but ultimately I think the people who pour their hearts into it are the ones who get the furthest with it, and I believe that benefits from as little interference as possible.

    A bit like the philosophers who say they never want to read other peoples philosophies, for fear that it might infect their own.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Phoenixblight

    @16

    You have to learn the basics to learn how to play it goes for all things you learn. You can’t read until you know the alphabet. This game is just for those that are curious about playing once you have the principles down you can do whatever you want with it to further your skillset. You have to know the basics if you don’t have that you are just making noise.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. DarkElfa

    @4, you just gave me a headache, cheers. ;)

    #18 2 years ago
  19. DSB

    @17 Right. I’m just skeptical about it, in terms of what it tells kids about music.

    Looking at things like X-Factor or other musicshows that try to paint an image of music that has nothing to do with reality.

    If it teaches them things like timing and stuff like that, that’s great, but there’s a lot more involved with it. I don’t think you can engineer a game that teaches kids to use their imagination, or test the boundaries of what they can do, in terms of exploring a musical language.

    It should avoid lulling them into a sense of linearity or logic, which is often exactly what games rely on.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. Stephany Nunneley

    @16 “I guess I’m conflicted because I love music and once tried to make a career out of it.” – me too but everyone wants a soprano instead of an alto with tenor tendencies in a lady. But that is derailing the subject here so I will hush. :)

    I can read music, because I was forced piano lessons until I loved it, and I can play a bit of cello, but I always wanted to learn guitar and since like I said earlier, I cannot afford the time or the price of “personal” lessons, like @17, I think this is a good idea to get folks started to see if they are interested enough in the long run to decide if they want to put more into it once the basics are down.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. DarkElfa

    I’m not against learning it, but I prefer my games to stay games.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. pukem0n

    people dont want innovation, they want 12 call of dutys a year

    #22 2 years ago
  23. SplatteredHouse

    @13: You make a good point, about reviewers being discretionary, but it’s probably by necessity.
    They don’t think they’ll get the traffic and participation from a Skylanders, as they might from something they see their readers are more drawn to.

    You mention the Skylanders, and the Rocksmith – but maybe they’re not the most easily distributable because of their peripheral requirements, that will cost to ship to publications, and, there’s the point of the source’s existing workload to consider too.

    What would you rather expend finite resources to covering? Detoc’s painting a skewed picture, and as much as I’m for the broader coverage of more games, and better visibility – A site’s a service, too. If it doesn’t cater appropriately, its former readers may go elsewhere.

    To the top few posters in this thread, I find a pertinent question to be when the last time was that they supported a more mainstream (icky term, but w/e) focus, by going to read articles and commenting intelligently/constructively on games they saw covered that was outside of what they considered the site’s core focus – how’s the view from the pillar, now? :/

    @1, particularly. If a publisher demonstrates a game, if they pre-arrange and release footage to promote it, then they expect feedback. They’re literally asking for that to happen. So, I don’t see the harm, or what’s wrong in a viewer after seeing the clip expressing their disapproval of some factor or other.
    Also, when they do “scream” for innovation, what they’re usually actually saying is there are parts of the game that are putting them off from playing it, but if it were more like…, if it…, they’d find it easier to support. That can be constructive, even if it’s not always expressed as such.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. drewbles82

    not every game has to be the same, so let these guys go down the learning route. I will buy this when it comes out in the Uk cuz every1 learns differently and learn better through fun. I dont have money for a tutor and i tried the whole teach myself method and didnt get anywhere.

    I do think though, Rock band should have tried to buy them or something, then Rock band 4 cud include this tech whilst having both the huge game elements and pro mode.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. Gadzooks!

    I think it looks great. It’s not had ANY publicity though, I’ve seen no previews and no reviews so far.

    #25 2 years ago
  26. orakaa

    I don’t know how to play guitar. I bought a beautiful Epiphone Les Paul 5 years ago, but barely touched it.
    I got a job, a wife and a 4 years old daughter. I spend a lot of time with them and I work for an association during the weekends.

    The only moments where I’m available to play video games, watch movies, etc. are from 9:30 PM until I go to sleep.

    I’d LOVE to learn how to play guitar, but not to become a professional guitar player: I just want to learn how to play songs like “Sweet Home Alabama”, so I can play for myself, or for my mother, my daughter and my wife. So THIS game appeals to me, A LOT.

    When it arrives in Europe, I’ll definitely buy it (I would have imported it if there weren’t restrictions for buying additional songs).

    #26 2 years ago
  27. X2468

    The game has only been out for a couple weeks. A lot of people don’t even know it exists. A game like this isn’t going to explode out the gate. If anything it will build steam over time. Especially with its price and required patience. If ubisoft keeps up with updates and remains patient I think it will pay off. I know I want to get the game.

    #27 2 years ago
  28. mojo

    “I think the ‘gamer’ label has actually been hurting the industry. As our industry evolves, we need to be more mature and find a way to look at content and judge it as if we were real consumers instead of as gamers.”

    wtf is he actualy talking about?

    “We can’t expect critics to be experts at everything.”
    Yes we can.
    Thats a major point in reading reviews. To get the judgement of an supposedly expert in the relevant genre.

    the problem is just that very often non-experts review titles.

    to the devs:
    could the problem with ur learning software be that gamers want games? If they wanted to learn guitar, well they would have taken lessons allready – without the need of ubisoft telling “Now u can learn guitar – because we have a game for it”.

    @innovation-debate: my arguement since years. and interesstingly its solely the videogaming sektor who insists on the need for innovation.
    take a look at card or board games. Sure, they introduce new rule sets from time to time, but they ie. they dont make u look like a complety moron infront of ur friends – lets face it, most motion based games do just that. And sure, theyve adopted to modern life but basicaly u can buy the same games today as u could 20, 30 years ago. and they continue to sell, because theyr good games, not innovative ones.

    Sure without innovation at all, gaming would be very very dull, but regarding once “perfected” games: Dear Industry, pls, leave them be. U messed up too many times allready.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. Jerykk

    @1

    Hitman fans aren’t criticizing Absolution simply because it’s different. They’re criticizing it because the demo appeared to be completely linear and scripted and had unavoidable confrontations, which goes against the very foundation of the series. The games have always been about open-ended level design and letting the player execute a hit in any number of ways. This is what people loved about the Hitman games. If Absolution is removing what people loved about the previous games, it’s unsurprising that fans would be angry. If you can’t understand, I can only assume that you were never a fan of the series. Now, it’s entirely possible that the demo was misleading and that the full game will be much more open-ended. However, fans have no way of knowing until the game is released. People can only make judgments based on what has been shown thus far and what’s been shown thus far has been completely linear and scripted.

    Think of it like this: take your favorite game, then make a sequel that removes everything that you enjoyed in the first one. Should you be happy? If you aren’t happy, then obviously you just hate innovation, amirite?

    #29 2 years ago
  30. Quiiick

    @#3
    “/goes back to being seen and not heard”
    / … oh bondage up yours!

    #30 2 years ago
  31. Phoenixblight

    @29

    I consider myself a fan of the series and I am definitely looking forward it. I have to ask this how in the hell are fans supposed to know if its Open-ended within a trailer or even a gameplay video? The player for these will be playing his way and only his way, there would be no way to illustrate the level design being open since from the last I heard the map is removed and not only that they are showing the beginning level and from last time I played Blood Money and Hitman 2 all the first levels were very linear so their point is moot.

    #31 2 years ago