Ubisoft has a huge portfolio of games for Sony and Microsoft's new machines, including a number of major new IPs.
MCVspeaks to UK boss Rob Cooper on the publisher's sky high expectations for the next-generation.
Ubisoft is supporting PS4 and Xbox One with some big new IPs. What are you expectations for the new consoles?
Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are set to reinvigorate the market. They'll attract current gamers, bring back lapsed gamers, and appeal to new audiences. Microsoft and Sony have both confirmed high pre-orders. Past market trends and our own internal estimates indicate that within 18 to 24 months the install base of next- gen consoles could double that of the previous generation over a comparable period.
Was the decision to delay Watch Dogs a difficult one to make?
It was a tough decision but the right one. The team has been working so hard to create a truly outstanding video game. The extra time is enabling the team to fulfill their vision and ambition.
The reaction to the Watch Dogs delay from the media was of huge disappointment. What do you think this says to Ubisoft's role over the next-generation?
I disagree – yes, there was some disappointment, but the overwhelming majority understood the decision because it is in the best interest of the game. This game is a benchmark for next-gen: we won't compromise on quality, and we want to exceed the expectations of people who are going to play the game. And I think that is what players see as Ubisoft's role in this new generation: consistently delivering the highest quality, most innovative games. With titles like Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Just Dance 2014, The Crew, and Tom Clancy's The Division coming, you can see why that's the expectation.
Is it a problem that there isn't much new IP at the launch of these platforms?
This year we'll be going through a period of transition.
At least 30 newIPs have already been announced for next-gen – which will continue to attract new gamers and keep console owners happy. Ubisoft has a reputation for bringing innovative IPs to the market and we will continue to do so throughout the next-gen lifecycle. We know that consumers want new experiences.
You have three big new brands in The Division, Watch Dogs and The Crew. How much investment is Ubisoft placing in new IP, and why take the risk?
Current consoles have been around for eight years. The capacities of those machines has been more or less tapped and that's why franchises like Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed have become the go-to purchases.
History shows that with new consoles, players are looking to try something new. It's the right time to bring new IP like Watch Dogs and The Division to the market, since they have a better chance of becoming one of those go-to brands for the new generation. We are one of only two or three companies that have enough talented people on board to create these new blockbuster IPs and still keep our established franchises fresh.
Was the current lifecycle too long?
It has been a long one and there have been many advances in the industry and new gamers that have joined the market over the past eight years. The next-gen has the opportunity to take all of these factors and reinvigorate the market. We're hoping that because of the long wait there will be pent up demand that leads to a faster transition to next-gen consoles.
How do you expect the way we sell games to change over next- gen? Will the role of retail diminish?
The market is evolving in terms of how games are delivered to players. Digital purchases and downloads will continue to grow and make up a larger part of overall industry sales. Customers will still go into stores, seeking advice and offers. Remember a high proportion of our consumers don't use debit/credit cards. Retail is still a relevant channel.