Ubisoft's massive Tom Clancy franchise has now shifted over 50 million units at retail – and in the year of its tenth anniversary too. Neil Long reports on the series that has become synonymous with Ubisoft – and what's next for the franchise going forward…
Can you get too much of a good thing? Depends what you think is a good thing. Clearly Amy Winehouse thinks smoking crack's a good thing, and look at the state of her.
For games retailers, sales and money are undoubtedly A Good Thing. And Ubisoft's series of military titles, under the umbrella Tom Clancy brand, have sold a phenomenal 52 million units worldwide – and counting.
Clancy's brand of manly military action might seem like all the other manly military action games out there. But there's a vital difference with the Ubisoft titles – sheer quality, says senior brand manager Phil Brannelly.
You know what you're going to get with a Tom Clancy game when you stick your hand in your pocket to buy one. Set in a modern or near-future universe you will receive a realistic war, swat, spy and now flight experience where – in this believable universe – one has to use cunning and guile rather than Rambo-style tactics to get the best from the game.”
But now, in game franchise terms at least, the Clancy brand is a veteran, the real challenge now for Ubisoft is to keep things feeling fresh. But Brannelly's not all that concerned.
In the early days Rainbow Six was all about one shot, one kill and strategically planning your mission before even a single shot had been fired. This really set the franchise apart from the competition and gave it a passionate and loyal fan base to build on. Of course as the brand and franchise grew, this gameplay style has been nurtured, but the likes of Rainbow Six Vegas 2, ten years later, still remains challenging and, with the dawn of 360 and PS3, more realistic than ever. The development of a robust online multiplayer feature, over time, has been another, more recent, core appeal to the game.”
And let's not forget there's plenty of different strands to the Clancy series. While it hit the big time with Rainbow Six, we've since seen Ghost Recon and Splinter Cell, and then there's the forthcoming End War and HAWX.
Strategically we will do everything we can to pace the release of Tom Clancy games. However, each title offers different experiences which can also appeal to different audiences,” says Brannelly. We always endeavour to innovate as well, and technically push the boundaries of hardware giving the gamer a new experience each time.”
So what next? End War and HAWX are leading the way in the video games space, but after Ubisoft's €60m acquisition of the Tom Clancy name, there's movies and further merchandise on the way too.
Nintendo has Mario; Microsoft has Halo; Sega has Sonic. Ubisoft's figurehead franchise might be a little more grounded in the world of reality, but that hasn't stopped Tom Clancy from becoming a similarly lucrative brand. And through continually re-invigorating its themes, it can continue to underpin the French publisher's meteoric rise to prominence – just going to prove that you really can't get too much of a good thing.