So any gamer in the modern era is familiar with the “live services” model in video games. This persistent style of development is paired with often very aggressive monetization schemes to turn a steady profit for the publisher behind said title. Although it’s a strong idea on paper, the execution is often muddied by various factors. The introduction of extreme crunch and tight release schedules often leads these games to be more buggy and to have less refined gameplay loops. Combining that with the general negative reception of the monetization within the live services market, and gamers are less than nonplussed over the whole affair.
Ubisoft in particular has made a pretty strong showing with this model for a few years now, with most of their recent AAA games going in on the idea whole hog. But with the tepid launch reception and sales of The Division 2 and Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Ubisoft has decided to change course. Previously, the company delayed a variety of titles, like Gods & Monsters, Rainbow Six Quarantine, and Watch Dogs Legion, leading some fans and analysts to question their commitment to the idea of live services and long-term development. What did show through for certain was that the ground was shifting beneath our feet, and Ubisoft was being proactive, although it was unclear what would come next.
“While many of our titles are strongly differentiated, we need to ensure this is the case for all of them,” said CEO Yves Guillemot during these delays. “We are already acting on these learnings and tackling these issues head on. We are implementing today the first change at the group level to improve execution. We have [inaudible] our processes already a few times in the past with remarkable effect and we will focus our energy to ensure we deliver again.”
And now we finally know what the next phase of this plan is as Ubi has announced some internal reshuffling to help refocus their efforts on generating new and exciting game ideas.
Internally, Ubisoft employs a crack team of around 100 designers who move from different projects, helping to offer experience and support to different teams, mostly in order to maintain a “cohesive vision across all Ubisoft titles.” Now, it is said that Ubisoft will begin the process of shuffling things around and shaking things up. What exact form these changes will take is unknown, but it looks like they’re taking a more hands-off approach and letting development teams be a bit more fluid and free in their ideas. Current chief creative officer Serge Hascoet will remain at the head of this supervisory effort, but he will drop in to projects at various milestones, instead of monitoring their course throughout development.
Various sources have reported a statement being issued by Ubisoft that reinforces the idea of making future games a little less formulaic. We are reinforcing our editorial team to be more agile and better accompany our development teams around the world as they create the best gaming experiences for players,” it read. The biggest change for in-production projects so far is that one title has been confirmed to be cancelled. Apparently, it fell too closely to that formula that the publisher is trying to move away from, and was canned. Ubisoft has yet to officially confirm the cancellation, but we will report back when we know more.