Ubisoft Executive: The Lines Between Live Games and Sequels Are Blurring

Ubisoft often leads by example. The Assassin’s Creed publisher willingly takes risks, many of which result in commercial success. Some of the boldest moves have seen them double down on live service games. In doing so, Ubisoft is beginning to implement live game practices into single-player properties; Assassin’s Creed Odyssey serves as one example. According to Ubisoft Canada’s executive vice president, Lionel Raynaud, the publisher will continue to blur the lines between live experiences and single-player games.

Raynaud explores the topic on an Ubiblog post. Discussing the company’s growth over the last three decades, Raynaud ponders, “Creatively, how does Ubisoft decide how long to keep creating new content for a live game after launch, as opposed to moving on to a sequel? Where does that line get drawn?”

He answers his own question with the following statement:

This line gets fuzzier every year. We have bigger post-launch periods, longer lives for each of our games. Even the ones that used to be solo-oriented games, like action adventures, they now have a very strong post-launch, and people are staying in our worlds for a long time. So this line is absolutely fuzzier and fuzzier. We all see a future where a game will stay [post-launch], and new experiences will come in the games. But we will have technology that will break the [current] limits of memory, for instance, because of new technologies that are arriving. We would be able to – in the same world – have several historical periods, for instance, in Assassin’s Creed, and use the Animus to travel from one to the other. Or have different areas of the world linked by travel systems, so that a Far Cry game or a Watch Dogs game could happen in different countries in the same experience, seamlessly.

The executive’s proposal indicates that Ubisoft one day intends to release an Assassin’s Creed where the experiences of Ancient Egypt and Renaissance Italy are divided by a mere button press and loading screen. This takes away the need for sequels, and could potentially do away with what we now know as annual $60 releases.

ubisoft live games

Raynaud expands upon this idea when asked about Ubisoft’s shift from delivering “finite experiences.”

What drove this is the will to not give finite experiences. The idea was that you have this conflict, and the resolution, and then it’s finished – you’ve killed the bad guy, for instance. We build a strong nemesis, and the goal of the game is to kill him or free the country, we’ve done that a few times in our games. But when you succeed, you have to leave the game, because there is nothing else to do. So the goal was to break this, and say that you will be the hero of a region or population many times, not just once. And if you get rid of a dictator or an oppressor, something else is going to happen in the world, and you will have a new goal.

This is why I talk about having several fantasies; not only being the hero who’s going to free a region, but maybe also the fantasy of having an economic impact, of being the best at business in this freed country, or even having a say in how it should be governed, now that you’ve gotten rid of the dictator. And I think we can have several different experiences with different game systems in the same world, if the world is rich enough and the systems are robust enough.

Ubisoft games, then, may eventually abandon the formula of a finite beginning, middle, and end. Therefore, once a Watch Dogs conspiracy is settled and the bad guys are out of the picture, the player continues living in that world. New threats arise, the city in which the story takes place either thrives or suffers because of actions in the game’s narrative. Thus, the Watch Dogs game in this scenario is a living breathing world, an endless experience.

At its core, this sounds akin to an MMO with a single player driving the narrative and the game world forward. Could Ubisoft pull off such an arduous task, especially in one of its bigger franchises? We’re bound to find out sooner rather than later.

[Source via GamesIndustry.biz]