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Industry “penalised” by extended console cycle: Guillemot

Monday, 23rd July 2012 09:05 GMT By Patrick Garratt

It isn’t just gamers finding the wait for new console hardware excruciating, according to Ubisoft head Yves Guillemot.

Ubisoft head Yves Guillemot has told Gamasutra that a lack of new console hardware in recent years has been bad for the entire games trade.

“What we missed was a new console every five years,” he said. “We have been penalized by the lack of new consoles on the market. I understand the manufacturers don’t want them too often because it’s expensive, but it’s important for the entire industry to have new consoles because it helps creativity.”

The exec added that old hardware means creating new IP becomes more difficult, as referenced by the amount of sequels we’re seeing crammed into the back half of this year.

“It’s a lot less risky for us to create new IPs and new products when we’re in the beginning of a new generation,” he said. “Our customers are very open to new things. Our customers are reopening their minds, and they are really going after what’s best.

“At the end of a console generation, they want new stuff, but they don’t buy new stuff as much. They know their friends will play Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed so they go for that. So the end of a cycle is very difficult.”

The next PlayStation and Xbox consoles are expected to launch next autumn.

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51 Comments

  1. GwynbleiddiuM

    load of bullocks, that’s what this is. They’re only after the beginning period of a new generation, because let’s face it when a console is new and there aren’t many titles out there yet, any SHIT can be sold. That’s a fact. People will continue to buy new titles if the titles are worthy of their money. And the end of an era is not determined by publishers, when Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo decide it is time to introduce a new machine to the market, they’ll do so.

    Nintendo did with Wii U, and they’re new generation in terms of hardware is in par with current gen PS and Xbox, there are innovations that remains to be seen where can take the console but as far as the tech goes, there’s nothing you can make for Wii U that you can’t bring to 360 or PS3 and vice versa, unless it’s heavily based on Wii U’s controller which is not something that can’t be fixed.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Patrick Garratt

    I think we’re going to see some proper rushing towards the end of next year. One good thing about extended cycles is that teams have proper time to prepare games for the new machines. I think we’ll see some very cool launch titles for 720, etc. I already know of one. Can’t wait for the end of next year.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. G1GAHURTZ

    ^ Have you seen it?

    If so, how is it looking?

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Dragon246

    @2,
    Is it the exclusive crytek is developing?

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Ge0force

    Innovation and creativity are not limited by the current hardware generation, only graphics are. New ideas are almost always refused by publishers because they don’t sell as much as the 37th sequel for CoD.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. SplatteredHouse

    @5: If only this was a wider accepted fact. We could all use it as a counter to complacent, copy-paste publishers crying about graphics any time they do. You never know, one of these times, the rebuke will be loud and wide enough that it actually gets through.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. G1GAHURTZ

    But why should a publisher pump £millions into a new idea, when new ideas hardly ever sell?

    If I was still in the games industry, I think I’d feel much safer working on CoD 37 than I would working on Dingley Dupert’s Cheese Factory, or some other random, unknown, ‘new’ game, which would probably sell less than about 600k.

    It’s better to feel job security for at least the next few years, than it is to feel like your studio will have to close if your game doesn’t sell.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Da Man

    Shadow of the Collossus could’ve run at a steady framerate, and probably could’ve realized even more of the creative ideas if only it was on another platform.

    You’re right though, #5. Why make another Bayonetta when you can churn out Gods of War. Notwithstanding that CoD happens to be a video game which hardly used much of the current gen graphical capabilities.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. SplatteredHouse

    @7: “If I was still in the games industry, I think I’d feel much safer working on CoD 37 than I would working on Dingley Dupert’s Cheese Factory, or some other random, unknown, ‘new’ game”

    Why is the new game a random, unknown? Wasn’t there already a mistake if that happened? Games industry should aspire to be more than games production plant. What makes the new game stand out? Why would people want to play it, what does it offer and how? These kind of things in the new mainstream are brushed over, replaced by marketing gimmicks…It’s disheartening.

    It’s unlikely to challenge CoD numbers on first out, but CoD challenged something else, at one time.
    Why don’t the names of our biggest-selling publishers not just equate to another conveyor belt? Why aren’t they held now in high regard from the paying critics? (The players)

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Deacon

    I really despise people like Guillemot for coming out with shit like this.

    We get it, you want to rape the consumer for easy cash and you can’t do that so much right now. I completely agree with GwynbleiddiuM’s first paragraph.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. stretch215

    @5 You’re wrong. The limited memory of the current-gen consoles can seriously limit creative vision. What we end up with is a watered down version of “what could’ve been”. It’s not only about the graphics, homie. I’m ready for the next gen.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. OlderGamer

    I tend to agree with what he is saying. I am just not too sure how much change will actualy take place with the next gen, in terms of same ole same ole. I suspect that mostly we will get the same brand name franchises but with a new coat of paint. I don’t know if things will be much different.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Cobra951

    Thanks to the first few posters above for saving me the typing time, particularly:

    “Innovation and creativity are not limited by the current hardware generation, only graphics are. New ideas are almost always refused by publishers because they don’t sell as much as the 37th sequel for CoD”

    Mr Guillemot, if you give new IPs a chance *at any time* during a console cycle, you will see a lot more creativity. Don’t blame the hardware makers for your lack of balls.

    One more thing: We are quickly approaching the point of diminishing returns with graphics power. Anyone remember the last time audio-hardware updates were a big deal? Been a while, hasn’t it? Audio is a fully solved problem. No need for hardware cycles there. Once graphics and physics get good enough to allow full creativity and realization, hardware cycles as we’ve come to know them will fade too. This is the biggest reason the current generation has lasted so long.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. Gheritt White

    The things is, out of all the major third=party pubs, it was Ubisoft that *totally* misjudged the launch timing of next gen. They genuinely thought, for quite a while, the new gen was going to launch in prior 2012! Which is surprising really, as any old industry muppet has known these dates since around 2009.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. roadkill

    actually it’s just Industry “penalised” by consoles period!

    #15 2 years ago
  16. Hellhound30x

    I just want good games.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. JB

    @16 Go on, give us some examples of that, please!

    #17 2 years ago
  18. osric90

    So graphics are more important than music, character development, story, gameplay, artistic design, acting and other aspects, huh? That’s as shallow as thinking good books have nice font design and movies have sex symbols and CGI all over. If they want ever-evolving graphics then they should make games for PC only and period. I’m a console user so I’ll be happy as long as my current console lives, if developers aren’t smart or talented enough for bringing such beautiful graphics to a still amazing system then go eff themselves.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. Phoenixblight

    @19

    Its not about the graphics. Its that with new hardware, more Ips come into the picture.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. Ireland Michael

    I’m just going to leave this here.

    http://www.notenoughshaders.com/2012/07/02/the-rise-of-costs-the-fall-of-gaming/

    #20 2 years ago
  21. OlderGamer

    That was a hella good read Mike. I kept noding my head in agreement the entire time I was reading.

    I did a few posts in a thread awhile back saying I really liked Nintendos hardware aproach. Nintendos model is sustainable. MS and Sony, not so much.

    In short, if you can’t afford to make something and turn a profit when selling it, you can’t afford to make it.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. JB

    @21 nice article ^^

    It would be nice if they broke down the different teams into, GFX, animation, cinematics, sound, tech, desgin, etc…

    As an example Diablo 3`s end credits had an army of people to thank, and I seem to remember one of the biggest was for peeps on the cinematics.

    And I seem to remember an article claiming Resident Evil 6 had more than 3 hours of cinematics…

    It seems like a lot of developers think they`re making movies.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. Phoenixblight

    MS and SOny have made a profit off this gen. And the article uses closed studios that failed because of redundancies, poor performance, poor management or being bought out which are just proves that developers can’t do it like they could a decade ago. They have to be more lean and versatile in order to make a profit.

    The author does a great job with the evidence but its painting a pretty biased picture.

    WiiU won’t be in a better place with devs saying that it is harder to develop for than the PS3 at launch. Nintendo is just delaying the inevitable.

    This article just shows that developers and publishers will have to look at more versatile and modular way of doing things instead of just throwing more money, people and wanting it done faster.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. bitsnark

    @21

    Christ. Talk about prying your eyes open with matchsticks.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. THEDON82z1

    This is time to rejoice,for this is the time were true developers who have mastered the current hardware and are now fully design oriented create (the end of cycle) ps2 style games that go into history books .All developers who complain about this long life cycle are not true developers ,because this is when they should really shine the MOST – current consoles now have a large install base , matured sdk , and support from Sony (at least) to push current tech to a new limit !!! STOP TRY TO JUST CASH IN, AND FOCUS ON DEVELOPING TOOLS THAT WILL LAST YOU 2 MAYBE 3 GENERATIONS IN THE FUTURE !!

    #25 2 years ago
  26. Erthazus

    @26, yeah man. 256 mb ram machine with 7900 geforce? To a new Limit!!111OneOne

    Lol.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. Ireland Michael

    @27 You, my good sir, are what is killing the industry.

    And you’ll be the one left in the smoke at the end.

    #27 2 years ago
  28. Gheritt White

    @ 28: Very true. Ultimately, the upper limit of GFX will be determined by bitrates circa 2020 when everything gets streamed anyway.

    FACT.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. Erthazus

    @28, “what is killing the industry”

    So how am i killing the industry full of shitty sequels?

    #29 2 years ago
  30. freedoms_stain

    I’m inclined more or less to agree with what pb said in #24, i.e. I’m not convinced that the high cost of modern game production is inherent and that inefficiency has to take a lot of the blame.

    #30 2 years ago
  31. OrbitMonkey

    So the high cost of top end graphics will kill gaming? Yet PC games look better and are cheaper… Wut?

    Someone somewhere is chatting shit.

    #31 2 years ago
  32. monkeygourmet

    Building new engines costs a shitload.

    However, we have about 3/4 main engines fully ready to go now. The rising costs are greatly exaggerated.

    Even flash supports unreal 3 now, and that’s easily adequate enough to make good looking indie games etc…

    Risk for studios on new Ip’s versus tried and tested formulas present a much bigger problem so anyone continuing to use this false arguement is frankly talking crap.

    This gen it cost shit loads to produce games because all the new engines were still being created or modified. It’s no coincidence that the most profitable game (COD), uses old tech… It’s maximising profit at every turn.

    Next gen we have:

    Unreal 4
    Cryengine
    Frostbite 2
    Square engine
    Id tech 5 (thanks gherrit!)

    All ready to go. Of course these aren’t going to be free to use but these engines are SCALABLE, we’re already technically in the next gen.

    So frankly, using the ‘better graphics stunt growth in the industry’ arguement is complete bollocks…

    Costs of developing increase in exactly the same ratio potential profits can be harvested.

    Costs go up, distribution becomes easier (downloadable content etc…) is a good example.

    #32 2 years ago
  33. Gheritt White

    Don’t forget IdTech 5!

    #33 2 years ago
  34. OlderGamer

    MS hasn’t turned a profit in four straight years folks. Earnings and profit are different. If I had more time I would hunt down the link. Some of you guys need to lift your head out of the sand. As why PC games look better but cost less? Overhead? Production cost? Liscensing fees? Multiplatform versions? PC self publishing? I can tell you that most games coming out for PC are NOT big budget trip A titles. I honestly don’t know. But…

    If the same very loud message is coming from multiple sources, all saying the samething, at what point do some of you folks start listening? People aren’t making it up. Studios are closing left and right because they feel it is a cool thing to do. Devs and pubs arem’t jumping to other platforms because consoles make them so much money. People aren’t losing jobs because they want to. It is the writting on the wall and all of that such stuff.

    But if ya want to be in denial…. just saying.

    #34 2 years ago
  35. monkeygourmet

    @35

    It’s long haul investment dude…

    If you don’t understand that then your only looking at the here and now…

    MS have spent an absolute shitload trying to ensure next Xbox becomes your homes way you access media. Windows 8, surface, smart glass and gaming is all being primed as the goto solution when it comes to how you interact with your media…

    Apple, Sony and to a lesser extent Nintendo are all doing the same thing.

    To build that kind of infrastructure costs a shitload… Not including the cloud solution in all this.

    If you don’t realise how much these companies are preparing themselves for all out media war then you don’t really understand the situation.

    It’s not gaming anymore… It’s media and what percentage you can infiltrate homes….

    MS and Apple have a clear advantage in those stakes with Sony next then Nintendo.

    I’m sure Ninty understand that which is why they are championing the all in one media solution less than the others.

    A loss in profits for 5 years is bad, but to a company like MS, the potential payout for setting up this all in one media solution is a lot more attractive.

    It means total control, the most beautiful thing for advertising, gaming, movies, dlc, etc…

    Just not so great for gaming. The graphics arguement and high cost of production is bollocks really, compared to all the more important corporate discussions that must be going on concerning gamings future…

    #35 2 years ago
  36. manamana

    @21 thanks for the link, Ire. Outstanding read.

    #36 2 years ago
  37. OrbitMonkey

    Hasn’t it already been mentioned in this thread what simple bad management has cost various devs? Theirs a lot of devs who sink money into a surefire *hit* that simply doesn’t happen.

    Sometimes you just gotta know your limitations and chase the right audience within your budget.

    #37 2 years ago
  38. monkeygourmet

    @37

    Really?!

    That article had a lot of figures but completely missed the point of MS etc… Main strategy…

    Remember, when I was younger gamers cost MORE to purchase… Street Fighter 2 released for £64.99 in the uk. So complaint about the cost of games prices is a tad unfair.

    Snes games were generally all 39.99 – 49.99 and quite a few N64 games released for 59.99.

    Even gameboy games were about 30 quid if I remember rightly. Compared to today, if you shop around, most new releases can be purchased for 29.99…

    And comparing videotapes to movies is fair. Games can sell a lot more and the cost of entry is much higher than watching a movie. Games will clearly merge with movies in the future, or overtake them as the most popular form of media.

    I like the fact that no movies show advertising budgets in their list either…

    Marketing for avengers etc… Must have been insane, taking it way over 220 million.

    The main engines have been created now, budgets will reduce greatly over the next few years. The biggest costs will be employing Hollywood a listers for voice acting etc…

    Christ, look at Infinity Blade on iPhone, they just showed the amount of profit they have raked in compared to cost of manufacture. And that looks outstanding even on a phone!

    #38 2 years ago
  39. Ireland Michael

    @33 “Costs of developing increase in exactly the same ratio potential profits can be harvested.”

    Not even close. The available audience on the PS3 and 360 combined is about the same as that of the PS2 alone at this point in its lifecycle.

    #39 2 years ago
  40. monkeygourmet

    @40

    But avenues of potential profit can be increased: dlc, avatar items, add ons, backgrounds, merchandise, soundtracks, compared to ps2 era.

    Remember, devs can still make simple games if they want. It’s just if they’re trying to chase big bucks it becomes more difficult.

    A new generation doesn’t have to mean higher budgets, that’s just scaremongering…

    #40 2 years ago
  41. Ireland Michael

    @41 “But avenues of potential profit can be increased: dlc, avatar items, add ons, backgrounds, merchandise, soundtracks, compared to ps2 era.”

    Yes, but they only reach a percentage of the audience, and the profits from those don’t even come close to the profits from the simple upfront sales of the retail product.

    “A new generation doesn’t have to mean higher budgets, that’s just scaremongering…”

    No, it doesn’t *have* to, but gamers are so fucking desperate for bigger, faster, brighter, more explosiony games than the developers and publishers have little choice if they even want to be noticed.

    There are maybe a handful of games out there that have ever had the luxury of genuine creative freedom. And we all know how rarely those turn a profit.

    #41 2 years ago
  42. monkeygourmet

    @42

    Your going to wear out your rose tinted specs…

    Let’s face it, you’ve grown up playing games and are now just seeing the industry for what it has always been…

    Nothing’s changed, your just seeing things from a different perspective…

    Fuck me, Nintendo invented Pokemon, that is the most horrible cash cow of them all for poor parents the world over,

    Companies make money, end of.

    Indie is the new darling, even though it was always their to begin with…

    With indie gaming, you’ll have all those quirky old skool experiences just like ol gran pappy used too on his NES…

    #42 2 years ago
  43. freedoms_stain

    @42, I don’t think that’s what gamers want, I think that’s what the business men who control the money think gamers want.

    #43 2 years ago
  44. Gheritt White

    @ monkeygourmet: You seem to know what you’re talking about. However, for the first two to three years of the next cycle, AAA games will likely be much, much more expensive to develop as you’ll have an *additional* two to three SKUs to develop for, rather than *replacement* SKUs. MS and Sony are committed to keeping the X360 and PS3 on shelves so that they can carry on turning a profit while it takes time for the manufacturing costs of the new hardware to decrease in price (all under the guide of giving the consumer “choice”).

    For devs, this is a bit of a nightmare situation. Sure, if you’re up-resing an X360/PS3 game to Durango or Orbis then fine, it won’t be *too* expensive, ‘cos it’s essentially just a port. However, taking a Durango/Orbis game and trying to squeeze it onto the X360 and PS3 will be very expensive, almost as expensive as developing an entirely new game, minus the design cost. Neverthless, many big publishers will actively want to do this – one, because of media match spend promises from the first-parties, but also because of the larger install base.

    Lastly, having an engine will get you so far, however generating the art assets for the next gen is likely to be a very expensive task indeed. With greater graphical oopmh comes the need to create a greater quantity of art assets, all of a higher quality than before. This costs a lot of money; I foresee the outsourcing of art asset generation (a la Heavy Rain) becoming a big booming industry over the next few years, even above and beyond what exists already.

    I haven’t even touched on the additional cost of higher quality anims either, but I foresee less and less hand animation and much a greater reliance on middleware solutions, such as Euphoria and Morpheme, being used in conjunction with mo-capping. This saves time, time equals money and animation by hand is typically a very time consuming task.

    That’s why the next gen will cost more to develop for in real terms.

    #44 2 years ago
  45. monkeygourmet

    @45

    I understand what your saying, but a lot of games discussed on the link that Michael provided were doomed to failure from the get go….

    Remember Sony’s deal with Gaikai, MS will likely start a streaming service mid way through next gen, coupled with digital distribution and the destruction of 2nd hand sales as we know it greatly helps to increase overall profit for a dev.

    Then merchandise and dlc, subscriptions etc… Can help provide the rest.

    It’s not something I particularly like the sound of, but there’s def ways of getting around dev costs.

    There are still Risky games around:

    Asuras Wrath
    Dragons Dogma
    Binary Domain
    Excite bots
    ICO
    Endless Ocean
    Catherine
    El Shaddai

    Etc.. Etc…

    Agreed, a lot of these bomb (I always purchase! :) ), but people don’t suddenly lose there skills. They move around, create new studios etc…

    I think well still see a lot of niche games next gen…

    #45 2 years ago
  46. OlderGamer

    “But avenues of potential profit can be increased: dlc, avatar items, add ons, backgrounds, merchandise, soundtracks, compared to ps2 era.

    Remember, devs can still make simple games if they want. It’s just if they’re trying to chase big bucks it becomes more difficult.

    A new generation doesn’t have to mean higher budgets, that’s just scaremongering…”

    30% drop in year on year profits. What they are doing isn’t working. The industry has been in decline 4 straight years.

    Which leads me to my answer for a response to my post…

    I fully understand the biz model and strategy, esp where MS is concerned. My point has been all along that both are flawed. To a point where the biz model is out dated and the strategy is unsustainable.

    In the end your going have a small handfull of big budget brand name franchise games and not much else. Because the waters are going to be so deep that only a few of the players will be able to keep afloat. Thats going to be what will happen to Trip A titles on consoles.

    The rest of the market will continue to migrate to other venues. That is already something that can be messured now. That is why mobile and PC markets are exploding.

    #46 2 years ago
  47. Gheritt White

    “MS will likely start a streaming service mid way through next gen, coupled with digital distribution and the destruction of 2nd hand sales as we know it greatly helps to increase overall profit for a dev.”

    Seems likely, I can’t for the life of me figure out why MS haven’t bought OnLive yet – that company was formed more or less so that it could be bought out by MS. Obvs they know something we don’t.

    “In the end your going have a small handfull of big budget brand name franchise games and not much else. Because the waters are going to be so deep that only a few of the players will be able to keep afloat.”

    100% true, but only if you replace “franchise games” with “publishers and developers”.

    #47 2 years ago
  48. guapo

    Regardless of all this bickering, the next Gen is coming. Just enjoy the fucking ride. Shit.

    #48 2 years ago
  49. G1GAHURTZ

    “30% drop in year on year profits. What they are doing isn’t working. The industry has been in decline 4 straight years.”

    What does that mean?

    The number’s intentionally all inclusive, I feel.

    Has the ‘industry’ been in decline, or has the Wii been in decline?

    You know, the console that sold tens and tens of millions of units to non-gamers…

    The Wii has always skewed traditional gaming figures, IYAM. There was a huge bubble that was unsustainable, and it’s burst now. To put the 360 and PS3′s sales figures together in the same number is being somewhat sensationalist.

    I could just as easily turn around and say that console gaming is fine, because MS just posted a 20% increase in revenue YOY, with full year revenues of $1.78 billion for it’s entertainment division.

    #49 2 years ago
  50. OlderGamer

    “While sales were up, profits were actually down for both the fourth quarter and the fiscal year. Q4 saw a net loss of $263 million (as compared with a net income of $11 million a year earlier). On the bright side, the full year finished in the black with total income of $364 million (down from $1.26 billion a year ago).”

    Gamesindustry.biz, in regaurds to MS.

    We could spin numbers all day long.

    I think at least some of the decline(industry wide) is due to Wii. But we also need to look at stock prices(and sales numbers) and value of alot of major publishers. Most of whom don’t have a heavy hand on the Wii at all. EA, THQ aren;t in the tank because of the Wii. And Vivendi isn’t looking to unload its game stock in Acti/Blizz because of the Wii either. I think on the whole game investment is seen as a large risk right now. And I believe that is because of the over all picture.

    Sure Nintendo profits are down, but so are almost everyone elses.

    #50 2 years ago
  51. G1GAHURTZ

    “We could spin numbers all day long.”

    That was exactly my point.

    The ’30% decline’ means nothing. You have to put every company’s figures into context, and then put those figures into the context of the global economy. You need to look at other industries, and not just put gaming in isolation.

    It’s just sensationalist journalism that paints a convenient picture.

    Oh and THQ most certainly are heavily invested in the Wii. Just take a look at the uDraw disaster story for just how much of an effect the Wii had on them.

    All of the big players are still making lots of money. It might be less than last year, but people have had to put a lot of money into R&D and development costs for next gen consoles.

    I’m certain that if you look at profits projections for 2013, they are all up significantly.

    #51 2 years ago

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