Ubisoft Does Away With Tree-Killing Instruction Manuals

Is the grand tradition of colourful video game manuals coming to a close? It is for Ubisoft, as the company launches an initiative to replace tree-hungry paper manuals with in-game instructions for all PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 titles.

Killing trees just isn't in style anymore, and Ubisoft is taking steps to make sure it does its part to make sure we don't end up with a Lorax situation on our hands by doing away with paper manuals for its Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 titles entirely. In place of paper manuals, Ubi's games will come with extensive in-game instructions, which the company says is not only better for trees, but better for customers as well, saying that in-game manuals have the potential to be more robust, free of worries over printing cost and space limitations.

Internal Ubisoft numbers indicate that manufacturing one ton of paper used to create game manuals uses two tons of wood from 13 trees, enough energy to heat an average home for a year, 49,000 litres of wastewater and 2700kg of carbon dioxide.

Along with doing away with manuals, Ubisoft is teaming with Technimark to create a 100 per cent recycled polypropylene "ecoTech" DVD case, which will debut with the PC release of Splinter Cell: Conviction.

"Ubisoft is often recognised for making great games, but it's a special privilege to be the industry leader at saving trees," said Laurent Detoc, president of Ubisoft North America. "Eco-friendly initiatives are important to the global community and introducing in-game digital manuals on Xbox 360 and PS3 is just the latest example of Ubisoft's ongoing commitment to being a more environmentally conscious company."

Shaun White Skateboarding, due out around Christmas, will be the first Ubisoft title to ship without a manual. There is some irony there, if you look hard enough.

Whether or not other publishers follow Ubisoft's lead, it will be very strange to open up a DVD case and not see some sort of instruction booklet included. Where will we jot down our notes? Our own pad of paper? Preposterous!

We've contacted Ubisoft to ask why Wii titles are exempt from this new initiative, and received the following reply from a representative:

"Ubisoft is implementing its in-game manuals first with its PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 games, and we're looking forward to eventually having all of our games feature digital game manuals."

My theory? Many Wii owners aren't quite ready to take off their training wheels just yet.


    I myself am doing my part to help the environment. By not buying Assassin's Creed 2 for the PC and saving the box from being put in the trash after the DRM services are shut down.

    This totally has nothing to do with being environmentally concious at all and everything to do with saving money, it's just a positive PR spin.

    Anyway can't say it hasn't been comming, manual's have gonr from rich thick detailed full colour print books to a few sheets of black and white laminated paper stapled together.

    Another cool thing from gaming history thats died a slow death unfortunately.

      The paper is obtained from tree farms. Theyre not cutting down rain forests for it.
      When more paper is needed it doesnt mean they need to start hacking into the Amazon, it means they need to plant more trees in their farm.


        Reading the manual before getting into the game always fires me up for some awesome!

        I wore out our Legend of Zelda booklet from reading it from cover to cover day after day. Let's not forget there's some great toilet reading in those manuals...

        This is great fuel for an article I'm working on. Thanks Mike!

    I look forward to having to buy a 'limited edition' version of a game to get a manual! This could also open up some opportunities for strategy guide publishers.

    Now what are you supposed to read in the car on the way home from the shops?


    Oh wait I don't buy Ubisoft games :D

    I prefer in game instructiosn these days anyway, and feel short changed if I have to turn to a manual. Just show me what to do with a neat and fun tutorial than have at it!

    “Ubisoft is often recognised for making great games....”

    Here I was thinking you were recognised from your s*** DRM service.

    "saying that in-game manuals have the potential to be more robust, free of worries over printing cost and space limitations."

    Will those savings be passed onto us? No? Didn't think so.

    Ubisoft games will now be cheaper right? Oh wait, the recycled cases will "cost" more to manufacture thus keeping retail prices the same...

    Pfft, I can't remember the last time I flipped through a manual. Most titles have in game tutorials now days. Most that cannot be skipped IS frustrating. Having to perform a strafe, turn left, turn right, zoom, shoot, reload step by step tutorial drives me nuts.

    As a PC gamer the majority of my titles are steam based and have no manual or box anyway.I remember getting WarCraft II for Christmas and the Manual contained a full rundown of the WarCraft lore, detailing all the special characters. I was at my aunts for Christmas that day, and spent most of it reading the manual as I didn't have my PC.

    Manuals have deteriorated over time and now to get non digital content you need to buy a special edition. Which is a shame what was once a value add is now an expect to pay for. No worries I long ago stopped buying special editions which really aren't that special and leave me with trinkety junk lying around my house.

    Again with the stupid fucking carbon emissions bullshit. Why can't people get it through their heads that it's a scam?

      I'd argue, but I'd rather laugh. What does it hurt you if the cities have a bit less air pollution and the resource industries don't run out of things we might need like Oil for plastics?

      That said, if the paper farms are sustainable, I miss my old manuals and I miss the sort of games which were deep enough to require one, does this mean Ubisoft is shifting to an even more Hollywoodised experience where every title they bring out is going to be a variant on an action or FPS game so we're all familiar with the genre and controls? Isn't that going to make it hard to innovate from?

    Saving the environment, saving money and saving (our) time! So often, while I'm playing through several games (not simultaneously), I may forget some of the controls or combos, 50% of the time I'm reaching for the manual because there's no controller map in game - even if other devs/publishers don't do away with manuals, they should still take note.

    I'm in two minds, one being that I don't really mind, a good tutorial is all you really need, but then this is clearly nothing to do with 'saving the rain forrest'and is just another way to cut costs

    I remember getting PC games when I was younger and it felt like someone had put a lot of effort into the game before you even started playing, there was a big box with an extensive manual, including a back story and sometimes other things as well. When opening games these days with a manual of four pages gets kind of sad, as it feels like the people making the game didn't care enough about it.

    I'm all for going green and such but I shed a tear for the long lost game manual/story

    It's not for the trees, it's for their image. That said, it's not necessarily a bad thing.

    Well, as much as I enjoyed thumbing through a manual for a videogame as a kid when ma and pa were driving back from the mall, if I'm being honest I haven't spent more than three minutes with one since about 1998.

    Adios, manuals! We had some good times.

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