Ubisoft Toronto GM Jade Raymond has said the industry trend to copy games that sell millions of copies due to being risk adverse is disheartening. In her opinion, more companies should shy away from the status quo and shake the medium up a bit.
Speaking in an interview with Eurogamer, Raymond said it “takes a real belief in the medium,” for a company to be willing to step outside its comfort zone, but at the same time, “whenever you see a big success it’s because somebody took a risk.”
This isn’t the first time Raymond has called upon the industry to be more adventurous and innovative. In April, she told CVG that it was “time for our medium to grow up” and stop relying on a blockbuster mentality. With that said, she is pushing her team at Ubisoft Toronto to make something more meaningful and creative.
“I am pushing our creative teams to think about meaning and to say something deeper than at the surface level,” she said. “One thing I am certain of is that the creative teams who occupy the top spots in our industry should be taking the greatest risks.
“Activision has the recipe and all of the money. I’m like: ‘You guys mess with it a bit!’. I am going to get a phone call from Bobby Kotick now…”
Raymond’s had many at Ubisoft come to her stating they no longer interested in churning out another shooter, an assembly line she feels needs updated or even re-purposed for something more meaningful.
“More and more people come to me at Ubisoft and say: ‘I love games. I came into this industry with so many ideas. But I can’t continue to make shooters over and over again. I’m not even in line with the messages’,” she said. “I have that meeting a lot these days. Yeah, it’s time to give our teenage medium a kick in the balls.
“I think it can help to look at what’s been big in media over the past 12 months. Interesting topics that have been in the news include the Arab Spring, internet freedom, the growing class divide. I think games could explore religious beliefs in a fascinating way. For example, imagine a game in which death or save games are aligned with the Hindu belief in reincarnation. Perhaps you could retry levels as animals, or humans with different skill sets upon death?
“Beyond that? What about the way the way the system is stacked against the poor? If you lose your job, especially in the States where there’s no healthcare, your debt can grow out of control very quickly. It’s remarkably easy to become homeless. That meta-gameplay loop could easily be brought into a game I think. Sexism, too. That could easily be brought into a franchise like Call of Duty. If you could play as a woman you could bring in some perspectives to what that might be like.
“I don’t know when we decided as an industry that in order to sell five million copies of a game you have to make a Michael Bay film. There are other options.”
Even with all these cracking ideas floating around, Raymond is painfully aware that innovation is seen as a “luxury” by the larger companies – what with increased costs of development and production. However, she remains optimistic and feels in order for the industry to thrive, it has to move forward, otherwise, what’s the point of it all?
“Ultimately, if we are not moving things forward then why are we working here? If you’re going to create something then you have to go above and beyond what’s gone before,” she said.
“It’s the only way.”