As soon as Ubisoft realised it needed to rethink development for Rainbow Six: Patriots, it had no choice but to scrap the project.
That’s according to CEO Yves Guillemot, who explained that in today’s market games firms cannot wait to rectify mistakes or hope that titles will sell well enough without major revisions. They need to make the right decisions at an early stage, and restart if something is wrong.
His comments were made to CVG, just hours before the company revealed Patriots had been redesigned as the multiplayer-centric Rainbow Six: Siege during its E3 press conference.
"In a way it was difficult because you have to say ‘OK, let’s do a write-off’," he said. "But the business has become a bit clearer; if you don’t make the right decisions, it tells you at the end you’ve made a big mistake. The longer you wait, the bigger the mistake is.
"The decision is easier to make now than it was before. Before we could say, ‘OK, we’ll still sell a couple of million units and monetise our investment’. Today if you are not at the right quality level, nobody will buy. Nobody will like it."
Rainbow Six: Patriots was first announced back in 2011, positioned as a Call of Duty-style single-player FPS centred around a story campaign. But back in December, it was revealed the game had been taken back to the drawing board, resulting in last night’s Siege announcement.
Guillemot insists that the decision was not influenced by the negative feedback to the arguably homogenised Patriots, but by a dramatic shift in development ethos. Where the company usually focuses on single-player and uses those mechanics to construct the multiplayer, it was decided that Rainbow Six would be best served if developed the other way around.
The results could be seen in last night’s reveal, with a tense battle between two teams of five showing terrorists and Rainbow members fighting to either hold or save a hostage.
The Ubisoft boss also stressed that the decision was as much to keep the developers happy as it was gamers. While internet backlash is inevitable with any franchise beloved by fans, low sales are a greater threat to studio morale.
"There are lots of factors to take into account," said Guillemot. "We know that with all of our teams, when their game doesn’t sell, they are unhappy. It’s not only about succeeding with gamers, it’s succeeding with the teams. When they spend three years of their lives making something, they want to see success at the end."