Ubisoft Only Creates New IP’s That Can Be Franchised
As gamers, we’re always wanting new IP’s. Something fresh and different with exciting characters that we’re unfamiliar with or a hook/gimmick that adds a neat twist to things. Then again, we’re also quick to lash out against new IP’s because our hopes were too high or it’s lacking in certain areas. Simply put, we want new things but just as easily make it difficult for developers to create something new with our heavy criticisms. Sleeping Dogs was by no means a great, genre redefining experience but it was a solid open-world third-person shooter with solid gameplay, a well handled plot and plenty of fun. It’s a great springboard for a franchise. Enter Ubisoft, a company that doesn’t even consider new IP’s unless there’s some potential for expanding it into a franchise.
Ubisoft’s senior vice president of sales and marketing Tony Key has said in an [A]list Daily interview that Watch Dogs, the upcoming new IP from the company will definitely expand into a series of games. Remember what happened when Assassin’s Creed was franchised and Ubisoft decided to milk the name on an annual basis?
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Key said that while the game is putting Ubisoft “in a really good place,” the company will not be satisfied with just the first entry. “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 – [starting and releasing one is] too expensive.”
Key also explained the difficulty in launching and building up new intellectual properties. “There’s no proven DNA for people to latch onto for people to say ‘I understand what that brand is about.’ Especially when you’re annualizing something like Just Dance or an Assassin’s Creed, you understand that experience and you either want to be part of that community or you don’t. We can tap into that and get a faster start.”
“With Assassin’s Creed IV, we start with those 4 million users on our Facebook page. With Watch Dogs, we’re in acquisition mode–we’re trying to find people who are intrigued by the concept of what Watch Dogs is all about, about the surveillance and the hacking. It’s a whole different strategy in the social space–we’re trying to acquire people, where with Assassin’s Creed we’re trying to get more engagement.”
Key added that despite the press being excited for Watch Dogs, there are people outside the gaming community who aren’t aware of the game’s existence. “We’re in blockbuster world, and Watch Dogs needs to be a blockbuster because it deserves to be and as a company that’s what we need it to be. It’s the most ambitious production in the history of Ubisoft, and we need to make sure that everybody who likes video games has a chance to decide that this game is going to be hot. That’s the hard part about a new brand, that awareness outside the core needs to be created.”
It’s good to look ahead to what can be done with a concept and there’s certainly more room for exploration in the basic concept of most new IP’s but if you’re turning everything into an ongoing series, when will you have time to actually produce any new IP’s? Ubisoft certainly doesn’t subscribe to the theory of ending a franchise or slowing it down at any rate. They also don’t know when to stop beating a dead horse.
Some of the greatest games of this generation have been standalone titles and we need those but on the other hand sequels and franchises produce a stable income base, something you can rely on to bring in money while taking risks elsewhere. Activision knows Call of Duty will sell faster than Kryptonite flavoured meth in Metropolis so they can afford to take a gamble on titles such as Deadpool. Ultimately there needs to be some balance. Keep your franchise ticking away while using that stability to try new things. Oh and let’s not forget quality because why bother keeping a series alive if you’re not going to maintain quality?