News Article

Ubisoft Will Only Make Games That Can Be Turned Into Franchises

Posted by Andy Green

The policy must have come in after ZombiU...

Ubisoft has plenty of titles coming up for Wii U and all of them are installments of a franchise, apart from one - Watch_Dogs.

However, that may not be the case for very long as the French publisher has said it will only be producing new titles that can become franchises, such is the volatility of the market.

In an interview with The A List Daily, Ubisoft's senior vice president of sales and marketing Tony Key explained the cost of creating games has become so high the company has little interest in creating standalone titles.

Asked if Watch_Dogs would receive any sequels, Key responded by saying:

Absolutely. 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 - it's too expensive. We feel like we're in a really good place with Watch_Dogs, but until we're the biggest game of the year we're not going to be satisfied.

Although future sequels for Watch_Dogs will most likely depend on its sales, Key is confident the game will do well, especially considering the theme of the game and the recent talking point surrounding the NSA PRISM scandal:

Last [year] we cleaned up at E3 because we were pretty much the only next-gen game around. Watch_Dogs for us is really a franchise because we're tapping into something people really care about.

It's not clear how long this policy has been in place at Ubisoft, but it appears ZombiU will not be getting turned into a franchise - at least not on Wii U - as Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot revealed the game was "not profitable" and therefore a sequel will not be coming.

What are your thoughts on this policy? Is there room for standalone titles in the games industry? Let us know your opinion on the matter in the comment section below.


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User Comments (61)





Standalone games are cool too With that as a constraint on games it'll be harder to make cool games and they'll always be looking for a game that can go on. Some cool game idea might be shot down b/c of this and that seems cold. Ubisoft goes too far w/ their series anyways...



DualWielding said:

Nothing new here, I think most if not all developers hope their game will become a top franchise when they release a new IP



Shworange said:

I get it, but it something about that franchise only approach seems to me to be creatively stifling. That being said, you can't just continually make a labor of love with no return on your investment.



Peach64 said:

Personally, too many sequels can actually diminish my memories of an original game, but I understand that this is necessary, and to be fair to Ubisoft, when one of their big games has really sucked, like Assassins Creed did, they went back to the drawing board and came back with the improvements to make it a real AAA game.



jogobom said:

I used to work for Ubisoft and this is a long-standing policy. They wouldn't green light a project without some idea/hope that it could be built into a franchise if things went well. The lack of sequel to ZombiU will be because things didn't go according to plan with the sales.

Look at Academy of Champions: Football on Wii. Loads of work went into designing that to support the possibility of sequels, with the "brand" being one of the main design issues (i.e. "being inspired by" another popular brand...), arguably at the expense of more important things.



jogobom said:

They nailed it with Assassin's Creed. Establish the brand, then work on the game content. A new franchise is a big, expensive risk for them. Planning a franchise doesn't necessarily mean they're being cynical.



Akira_1975 said:

I'm really starting to miss games you can pickup and play for a few minutes at a time.



bezerker99 said:

Ubisoft is releasing The Smurfs 2 this week in the European Nintendo Download. I see where they are going with this whole "franchise" commodity.



Luffymcduck said:

I want a sequel for ZombiU damnit. But they won´t make that since first one "wasn´t profitable enough", meh.



Moshugan said:

''The policy must have come in after ZombiU...''
Nobody said anything about a policy!
And he said that they make a game if it could be turned into a franchise. ZombiU had every change at becoming a franchise, but it just happened to have dissappointing sales.



ricklongo said:

Well... was there ever a game released that couldn't be turned into a franchise? What characteristics would even make a game be unable to receive sequels?

Which is to say: d'uh.



Kyloctopus said:

Ubisoft is really turning into a milking company, with Just Dance, Rabbids, Rocksmith and Assassin's Creed. I don't want to see yearly Splinter Cells and Raymans that could use much more quality.



C-Olimar said:

@Luffymcduck Yet they won't even try it on other consoles. Why kill an entire potential game series just because the CONSOLE it isn't successful enough yet? I believe the attach rate of Zombi U was around 1 in 6 to 1 in 8 Wii U owners - amazing for a niche genre such as survival horror.
Bring it to other consoles!



Darknyht said:

We complain that Ubisoft is stating this, but Nintendo does the same thing. Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Donkey Kong, Pokemon, Animal Crossing, Mario Party, Mario Kart and Smash Bros are all major franchises that Nintendo draws from every console. Then they have Kid Icarus, Star Fox, Pikmin, Fire Emblem, Earthbound/Mother, Nintendo Wars, and Mario Sports being minor franchises. How is that different? Ubisoft is stating nothing but the goal of every company, to make iconic characters that people make a connection to.



hYdeks said:

when I read the article header, what I really read was "Ubisoft isn't taking anymore risks" Very sad that most companies aren't willing to try anything new, and opt to do the same thing to get high amounts of money. Something has to change in the gaming industry, cause I'm starting to enjoy the indie games more cause of the creativity.



micronean said:

Goodbye Ubisoft.
This is the same reason why I don't watch hollywood movies anymore. Franchises are both derivative and boring! Ubisoft might as well buy CoD and develop it, or Madden, or GTA. Why even beat around the bush?



WaveGhoul said:

Why don't these companies that are afraid to take a gamble with a fresh new & unique franchise make smaller budget new IP-based titles on the eShop which require FAR less people and time? test the waters cry babies. Mega Man 9 was amazing, LostWinds was great, the new Ducktales & Shovel Knight look better than anything on the PS4 & One for crying out loud.

Big massive budgets, voice acting, story driven, realistic graphical showcases aren't required to make amazing games, look at many of the classic in the NES & SNES catalogue. WayForward seems to be the only western dev that realises this. Those classics for example imo are far more fun than any of this new 3D Batman sh**. I'd take the NES SideScroller original in a he-man heartbeat over these new ones!



C7_ said:

This isn't something a company should admit...?
It's pretty much flat out admitting that they're more interested in exploiting franchises until the consumer stop buying them until they work on new ideas. Not to mention now they're designing the first game with the second one in mind, which is NEVER a good design philosophy. You plan for it to be a stand-alone game, but prepare yourself if it's enough of a success for a sequel. You never start the first game thinking it will definitely be the the first in the series; it raises the chances of intentionally leaving parts out or leaving the story unfinished.



WaveGhoul said:


Seems like we only get so see that originality and fantastic use of creativity when the budget is small and the dev teams are tiny. cough eShop cough.Shovel Knight looks really neat, and Little Inferno is another nice example of something different.

I truly miss the days when videogames were crazy-experimental. Most videogames these days are turning into hollywood action movies.



sinalefa said:

Read this as "we will develop the game with the franchise in mind, and if it does not succeed in our first try, then we will ditch it"



SanderEvers said:

Well, so long Ubisoft. But you've become the zombies of your ZombiU game. You really out of touch with the user base, and really, I will not likely ever buy anything from you again.

Ubisoft really wants to be the EA of 2013, so yeah, I'll treat them just like the trash that EA is. By not supporting them.



banacheck said:


PlayStation 3 has Ducktales Remastered, ibb & obb, Cloudberry Kingdom, Stealth Inc. A Clone in the Dark, plus 20% Discount for PS Plus members on all of them.



SCAR said:

Ya, ZombiU needed a little more work for sure, but it was good for what it was.
Perhaps they should have been thinking this way about ZombiU, and honsetly, I don't really care much for Assassin's Creed.
I played the first 2, and it ain't my kinda game. Maybe they could just make a 3D Rayman, or buy back the Evolution series and make that an even better RPG.



Hetsumani said:

@Darknyht The problem is not that they take a franchise and use it over and over again, the problem is that Ubisoft's aproach to franchises is direct sequels which brings lots and lots of f***** cliffhangers.



R_Champ said:


Yeah, that's why the gaming industry is really strange right now. People demand graphics: development costs go through the roof. People demand originality: then they don't buy it so it doesn't make a profit. Then we get stuff like FF XIII-2, CoD MW3, and Assasin's Creed Brotherhood...gaming in general is becoming too much like Hollywood.



Einherjar said:

"Ubisoft will only make games that can be milked indefinitly"
Aproaches like that are the enevetable downfall of gaming, as we will be fed the same game over and over and over.
Stupid (but true) example: I like a lot of food, like Pizza, all sorts of pasta etc.
But if my weekly diet would look like this: Mo: Pizza, Tue: Pasta, Wed: Pizza, Thu: Pasta, Fri: Pizza, Sa: Pasta, Su: Pizza or Pasta
I would go on a hunger strike. The occasional franchise is absolutely fine, and to be honest, sometime more is defenitly merrier (looking at you MegaMan).
But without a one shot Title here and there that tries something new, something fresh that doesnt get turned into a franchise for so long, that the once outstanding features quickly turn into "the thing that all these games do".
Your game ideas and concepts can be as fantastic as it gets, if you repeat them over and over just for the cause of it, every thing will get stellar and boring.
The best inhouse example would be Assassins Creed. The first one wasnt the best game ever, far from it, but is was something interesting. It was something like the Sands of Time PoPs with an open world scenario mixed with stealth elements. It was great. Then, there was a much needed pause till AC2 came out, and its was a phenomenal leap forward. But there started the problems. The pauses between games got smaller and smaller until a sequel is announced the same day (if not sooner) its prequel hits the shelfes.
That leeves almost no room for evolution, for innovation or any other kind of fresh air for this series.
Assassins Creed slowly becomes gamings equivilant to a daily sitcom. Its fun the first few episodes, but gets tedious and boring after that.
In short: Franchises: Yes, please. But with MUCH longer pauses between games, filled with the occasional one shot game. Im sure that you development team will also thank you for that.
There was an interview a couple of years ago with Team Sonic and how maddening it was for them to only work on one sonic game after another. And look how theyve turned out...



unrandomsam said:

Ubisoft doesn't make anything worth having regardless of how well it is reviewed.

They are like the banks. Want all the profits with none of the risk.

The thing is they are big enough to handle the risk because they make so many games.

Them doing what they did with ZombiU has killed it for other dev's on the Wii U.

(Or made selling something at full price much harder. As the customer will think as it is not Nintendo it will get a price drop straight away).

Nintendo should enforce NES era type rules :

If it is on NIntendo it cannot be on any other system. (They killed TG16 in the West using that method).

Then what dev's are left will have a better chance to succeed.



Stuffgamer1 said:

Standalone games work just fine if you can build a great reputation for your development team and make a truly excellent game. I think The Last of Us (at least, I'm definitely in the boat hoping it WON'T get sequels...doesn't really make sense to IMO) is a prime example of that.



KAHN said:

that's stupid. Standalone titles are just as good. Pixar said they only want to make a sequel to a movie only if they strongly felt it would be a good movie, and the same principle should apply to games. make a GREAT game and everyone will love it, but only make the sequel if you strongly feel it's good enough. otherwise, can it. make a new game. bad sequels aren't worth anyone's time.



CAM290 said:

It would be cooler if the main character was using a 3DS to send out those electronic scrambler things instead of a smart phone xD



Midnight3DS said:

Ubi has 3 Assassin's Creed games currently in development. I fatigued of the whole thing partway through AC 3.



hYdeks said:

@WaveBoy agreed, especially with the hollywood movie feel to games. I will admit I played the first two Uncharted, and I did find them fun, but I actually think I would have enjoyed them more if they where actually movies Lets take out the movie parts in Uncharted, what do we have left? Well, you scale things like Prince of Persia, but that game did it better, than you do puzzles, Zelda does that better, and than we shoot people in first person, kinda feeling like GTA in a way. So yay, it was an ok game, but I would have rathered watched it as a movie.

To all the Sony and Microsoft fan boys, my views above are why we basicly love Nintendo over Sony/Microsoft any day, fyi



DarkNinja9 said:

ppl still havent bough enough WIi Us wait till the holidays im sure more ppl will be picking up zombiU with their console along with the new games



FineLerv said:

@WaveBoy "I truly miss the days when videogames were crazy-experimental. Most videogames these days are turning into hollywood action movies."

That's why I support Indie. Trine, Toki Tori, Mighty Switch Force, Runner2 and Little Inferno are all essential purchases for anyone who wants a quality Wii U library.



FineLerv said:

@Darknyht It's different because there's generally only one game of each Nintendo series in a single generation. Two max. Ubisoft released, what, six Assassins Creeds this gen?



Senario said:

I used to like Ubisoft back when Assassin's creed 1 was released. I genuinely enjoyed the first and second games. But any of the games after brotherhood I felt they just fell into the trap of milking the franchise. Ubisoft still "supports" the Wii U...but do they really? They pulled rayman from being an exclusive on the console and not only that they are doing what other third party developers are doing only with a little less insult. They are waiting for the Wii U to sell more to release games...even though to sell more the Wii U needs more games. Holding off on games because a console isn't selling many units due to less games seems like such a contradiction to me.



JaxonH said:

So where is Beyond Good & Evil 2 in all of this? Are we to expect the game to turn into a franchise like Assassin's Creed? I think not. I would imagine that game will be a one trick show (for the second time, but it's been a decade), a damn good one, but I don't really see Beyond Good & Evil getting annual installments.



Magikarp3 said:

Kind of reminds me of what happened with Capcom and their 90% sequels policy. And then their top developers will break off and form their own studios, with blackjack and Playstation Vita's.

Calling it!



Zombie_Barioth said:

Isn't this the same company that said the AAA market is unsustainable? I highly doubt they're talking about smaller, more niche franchises so appearantly they have no plans to practice what they preach.

If smaller companies like Atlus and XSEED can manage to be successful with niche games why can't the bigger fish in the industry make non-AAA franchises work?



hYdeks said:

@Zombie_Barioth because Ubisoft is quickly turning into EA and Microsoft I'm looking forward to Watch Dogs and Assassin's Creed 4, but if there not willing to take risks like they use to, I can't see me buying many of their games in there future.



Shambo said:

Yeah, Red Steel would be nice. We've had a Chinatown-ish setting, we've had the awesome retro-futuristic Ninja Western setting, we could have like... Steampunk Space Samurai or something.

In all honesty, I'm not really looking forward to the next AC. I will get Splinter Cell and Watch Dogs though. Spies vs. mercs is awesome!

I do hope -when sales go up- they'll give Zombi U the second chance it definitely NEEDS. I love the game but it needed a bit more work. Still, it's a keeper.



AtomicToaster said:

So they'll make a couple good games in a franchise and then when it sells like hotcakes they'll totally screw it in a focus test group and it'll be a shadow of what it was. Kinda like TV after three seasons you know it's down hill!



RantingThespian said:

This is one of the things really wrong with the video game industry right now. It's things like this that have lead to predictable games and the over-saturation of the market. It is also the reason why most of the best games tend to be indie games now or games from small companies.

If this becomes the norm for all video game companies, I think there will be another video game crash like back in the 80's.



Araknie said:

This is a really sellout statement, really you do only games to have sequels you don't deserve to be a gaming company.

Ubisoft was just now getting better and now they go back right at 2006 when they didn't even care about creativity.



AJWolfTill said:

Don't overreact guys, although a couple of self contained stories might get scrapped this isn't a big deal.
Assasin's Creed is very clever as a franchise for designing a narrative which allows the series to go into any historical setting giving the series a huge lifespan, however from what I have seen the individual games stand by themselves and the main stories are self contained. Now take something like Zelda or GTA, although there are certain franchise trademarks which will alwaly exist each entry can focus on completely different individuals with very different settings. It's not Ubisofts fault that the cost of making blockbuster videogames has become barely sustainable.



erv said:

I like that, as they think both about how to make a game great and how to keep its soul alive.

I think it is a policy that suits them and it allows for higher quality games as sequels would be "cheaper" (in a way) to develop and less risky to publish, making an otherwise normal selling game a bit more profitable in the long run.

They've got some great games and franchises in their library already



MAB said:

Because we need more games where we walk 10 metres then cutscene, walk another 10 metres and cutscene, run up a building with a cutscene, more talky cutscenes, loading... loading... freeze horn crash



Dogpigfish said:

Most AC games are really just expansions of the previous installment. In many ways, Watch Dogs feels like a continuation of that formula. I think it's a good business model because you know what to expect and get value out of each game. GRAW was kind of a step back, though.



element187 said:

", but it appears ZombiU will not be getting turned into a franchise - at least not on Wii U - as Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot revealed the game was "not profitable" and therefore a sequel will not be coming."

Come on, can you please fact check.. the guy who originally wrote this story you are mentioning never had an exact quote from the CEO of Ubisoft that ZombiU was unprofitable, he just claimed that without anything to back up his story to get get hits to his article... it was hyperbole and sensationalism strictly to get hits.

Please don't feed into this nonsense... Unless you think ZombiU really cost more than 10 million to make?? Craziness.



element187 said:

@Luffymcduck There is no proof the CEO of Ubisoft said it wasn't profitable... the guy who wrote the original story never provided an exact quote.

Why do we let gaming journalist get away with this crap?



element187 said:

read the whole article.. the author CLAIMS Yves SAID ZombiU wasn't profitable but provided no such quote, anywhere in the article... This author came to the conclusion about some other quote that had NOTHING to do with ZombiU in particular.

They may have said sales were disappointing but that is not the same thing as "not profitable"... A game can make all the money it cost to make it back, but still be a disappointment because the profit was weak..... Please read articles instead of taking the bait from integrity challenged games journalist that are only looking for hits.



unrandomsam said:

@Darknyht It is limiting. Some time soon someone will take the risk and displace them. (Nintendo are not the worst but they are not innovating right now might not ever do so again).



unrandomsam said:

@element187 Yep they claim all sorts of things. (Hell I could put something on a webserver somewhere and get all the gaming websites to copy paste it and then loads of lemmings would believe it).

Here is the thing these companies think they deserve all the rewards with none of the risk. Any market working like that is not natural. (No matter what it is).

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