Ubisoft Boss Hopes The Next Console Generation Doesn't Last As Long As This One

Many of us would consider a long console lifespan to be a good thing, but Yves Guillemot, the CEO at Ubisoft, says it's bad for the industry.

Bemoaning a "very long" transition to new hardware, Guillemot told Polygon that "we are used to changing machines every five years." At the end of a hardware cycle, the market dips because publishers are unwilling to invest in new properties if new machines are on the way.

Guillemot added that the transition to new hardware is typically when studios and publishers try to make a fresh start of things. "When a console is out for a long time ... you don't take as much risks on totally new IPs because even if they are good, they don't sell as well."

While I'm not keen on buying a new console every three or four years, what he's saying does have some merit, particularly from where I observe things in sports. Annual sports titles are a great example of a product whose owners won't take risks with at the end of a console cycle — NCAA Football 13, criticised as a bland follow-up to 12, is a prime example. Scuttlebutt holds that developers aren't inclined to push through new concepts because they'd either have to re-engineer them on new hardware.

Ubisoft: Long console life-cycles bad for the industry [Polygon]


    I think it's probably also because the current consoles don't have the balls to run AC3 properly. They're being held back big time.

      Don't worry, the PS4 comes with 9 balls.

        PS3 has 9 balls already. I assume by balls you mean processor cores.
        Conversely I always refer to my balls as processor cores, and the ladies love it.

    Amen, I really don't think this generation needed 4 gears of war games,5 assassins creeds and 7 COD's all using the engine on the same hardware.
    This Gen peaked 2 or even 3 years ago.

      the consoles have been putting uot better and better looking games so it didnt plateau 2-3 years ago

        They look better, but framerate issues are getting more and more prominent. AC3 from all accounts has major issues running properly at many points in the game.

      You're right, we should have had 8 GOW, 10 ACs and 15 CODs spread out across two generations in the same amount of time.

    Yeah as nice as it is to not have to buy new ones often, the hardware is getting a bit long in the tooth.

    I think there can't be that big a loss at the end of cycle. Its not like everyone who buys a ps4 or xbox720 will throw away their older machines. At the end of a cycle is when a market is the largest.

    You guys really buy into what he's saying? A more disposable console in shorter periods will not only mean console manufacturers give you pre-crippled machines at full price, but publishers like Ubisoft will sell you the same game more often in 'HD'.

    In any case how does an old console mean less new IP's? The biggest no brainer example would be Naughty Dog's super fresh 'Last of Us' at the very end of the generation.

    This is absolute rot, for a number of reasons.

    First of all, some of the best games of each console generation tend to come toward the end of its cycle, because develops are better at optimising for the particular hardware, and launch titles are more likely to be lacklustre for the reverse reason.

    Secondly, we've just seen the launch of a new console, and by far the bulk of games have been ports of titles from the 'previous' gen.

    Third, given the obscenely high price of new generation consoles, people are less likely to be in a position to upgrade at a higher frequency.

    If anything is stifling creativity it's the policy of developer/publishers, such as Ubisoft, insisting on yearly iterations of major franchises. I'm looking at YOU Assassin's Creed. I think both sides of the market - creators and consumers - are suffering from franchise fatigue.

      You sir are spot on. How about this, a collective install base of 145 million PS3s and 360s. If that is not enough for this guy I think he needs his frigging head checked. Here is a tip Mr. Guillimot make better god damn games that are bloody well innovative and worthy of my 70 bucks. If you ARE going to release a sequel or iterative title it had better be damn well good. The reason you might see a down tick in sales, particularly the AC games, is because you shat out 4 in THREE YEARS! That's why people get so excited for an Uncharted, Halo or Dragon Quest game, there is more than 12 god damn months between them.

      The reason individual games see reduced sales now is because there are more great games coming out. This arse wipe just wants to have 24 months on his own with EA and Activision because the smaller devs and publishers can't afford to play ball yet. This lets him crap out drivel that is just an up-res of a previous gen game with a new name and art style.

      Absolute rot indeed.

      Last edited 25/11/12 5:44 pm

        I cannot feel you both are taking the biased view of a consumer. For a consumer, a long cycle is a very good thing. It leads to less expense over time (only having to upgrade once every 7-8 years instead of every 4-5 as has been the industry standard, or even every 2-3 as it was when PCs dominated the gaming market). This means more consumers have the hardware required to run the software for each new release, which means more games produced over less time for greater profit (great for the gamers out there). However, from the developer/publisher point of view, it means limitations as to the new mechanics and standards they can introduce due to limited processing and rendering power. This means they may have to hold off on releasing a new IP because they simply cannot achieve what they want to achieve on the current outdated technology. The reason that sometimes new IPs take a while to develop on new consoles is because it is not an instant transition. It takes time to design a game around a given system's framework, and accommodate for the capabilities and limitations of that system. However, a lot of developers will aim for this provided the publisher allows it.

        Oh, and Nintendo don't count. They've released the same game about 7 times now (ocarina of Time) under various names. Hell, sometimes they don't even change the name. Pokemon is another example of Nintendo's laziness. Take the previous game. Throw in a couple of new pokemon. Shiny up the graphics a fraction, change the name/graphic of the protagonist and the setup of the game-world slightly, maybe throw in 1-2 new mechanics, and call it a new game. Same story, same routine. They've made an industry out of recycling games. And given their success in doing that, it's hard to fault other publishers following suit in the form of AC: Revelations and other such games.

          The only logical flaw that needs to be addressed in your argument is the suggestion that technology in any way, shape, or form, limits the extent of creativity. There has been only negligible evolution in the physical dynamics of player-game interaction since the days of the first Playstation (especially if we ascribe to your suggestions that Nintendo doesn't count). Just look at the Sony controller: unchanged. And have we really seen any genres develop purely due to technological freedom?

          What the good CEO of Ubisoft is really saying is that, without the introduction of slightly upgraded technology, there is little grounds to sell games purely on the basis of gimmicky new features (six-axis anyone?).

          Just ask yourself whether Crysis 2 or Minecraft offered the more emergent gameplay vs technological requirements and you have your answer.

            On the contrary, I'm not saying that technology directly limits creativity. I'm saying that technology limits mechanics and rendering capacity, which in turn limits the ability to appropriately express the creativity in certain areas. Some developers will hold off for the next gen rather than do a game that they cannot make to their satisfaction (Chris Roberts, just for one example, was unable to make the game back then that he wanted, so he left the industry for a while. Others just make sequels instead of new IP to allow them to make the new IP ground-breaking in some way that the current tech doesn't allow.

          Dont count Nintendo? WTF. The only reason they have 'Zelda 7' is because they have been around longer then either sony or microsoft in the console market. Give sony and microsoft long enough and i would expect them to hit halo 7+ or GT7+ etc.

          Secondly as long as people are interested in buying a game i dont see why people bitch and moan about sequels. Yes COD has been selling and people like to bag it. But guess what, its what more people want, you may not want it, but there are others that do. What makes your opinion better then anothers? Answer - nothing. Hey i feel the same about ipads, i dont like them but hey there are people that do, so i have to decency to respect peoples opinions and rights to choose.

          Also you think Nintendo is the only one that slap 1-2 game mechanics and call it a new game? Sheesh talk about bias. You think that all other developers your the developers you love are the only ones that make amazing new gameplay mechanics that totally revitalise a game make it completely new. What a rot. Sure Nintendo do that, ie recycle franchises, but all developers do it. If a new game/story becomes popular with the masses the developers will always milk them because, hey it sells. Thats the bottom line. If it sells they will milk the franchise for all its worth. Its not a problem Nintendo is guilty of only, all developers are guilty of. If you think otherwise your seriously in denial. Who could blame them for doing this anyway? I mean you cant be a major player in the games market unless your a massive corporation like Ubisoft, EA, Activision, Nintendo, SEGA, Microsoft or Sony etc, every single one of these big companies have made it big by milking their most popular franchises.

          Final note, its funny how people used to berate the Wii's 5 year old graphics when it launched and hey it deserved some of the criticisms but when the ps3 and 360 pass 7 years old its suddenly ok to use old tech?

          If old tech is suddenly ok, why arent these people accepting this using a ps2? after all it has the biggest games library and has the same standard controls as the ps3 and 360 (kinect and move are not standard) why is it all of the sudden ok when ps3 and 360 use 7 year old tech and when Nintendo does it its suddenly unacceptable?

            Actually people have been commenting on how dated the tech was for the last 2-3 years. It's just taken them this long for the sales to drop to the point where they can justify releasing the new generation of consoles.

            And if you read my final comments, you will note that I have mentioned how the serial sequels policy is becoming more and more the standard. I was simply using Nintendo first as an example of a company that is critically known for it, and secondly as an example of how a console maker has influenced the field of games on that console by being the only recognised publisher allowed on that console, leading to the serial sequel and repetitive porting of old games becoming a trend on that platform (afaik, I'm not 100% on this point though so if someone can use evidence to correct it please feel free).

            Additionally, I did not say "Zelda 7". I said the same game 6-7 times, implying criticism at their lack of evolution with the series storyline, mechanics, and general way of doing things (read: reusing the same ones repetitively).

            As for your stance regarding the lack of innovation in series such as CoD, I deliberately did not mention that, but since you brought it up (ty btw, I do feel this is a door that needs closing), yes, a lot of fps games have a definite same-y feel to them. However in a genre such as modern-day fps, there is only a limited amount of innovation you can do. It's a fixed storyline, there's only so many ways you can drive a jeep or fire a gun, and ultimately, you're there to blow shit up with said gun, not talk to people and make friends with them. RPGs by their very nature imply a variety of ways to do things, and offer a lot more freedom to what you can have the player accomplish and how they accomplish it. Failing to utilise this and instead re-hashing the same tired old storyline time and again is widely recognised as being a very "Nintendo" trait.

    Here's what Yves fails to grasp. In 2006 the PS2 outsold the 360 and PS3 combined.

    Mostly because the new hardware was prohibitively expensive.

    Also it wasn't until 2007 that great games started appearing in these HD systems.

    Hell I didn't buy one till 2010 when I could find one for $200 instead of $450 and up!

    Now the reason that sales have declined in the last few years has nothing to do with new hardware and everything to do with the US and EU recessions.

    What person with no job is in the mood to spend another $500 on a new console when the one they already have can put out photorealistic images?

    Hes right IMO. Both sony and microsoft thought that having the most powerful console and packing as much high end components as possible would guarantee themselves success of being no1. But it didnt.

    What this did for both companies was massive billion dollar debts, high launch price and longer console lifecycles. None of which are good for the console market.

    Again i must point out phones/tablets/PCs and even TVs keep evolving every 6months/year/couple of years and consoles want to last for 8+? In 2 years the technology of anything starts to get superseded by new CPU/GPU/RAM technology, so if we wait 8 thats alot of features that long life consoles will miss out on.

    Secondly console sales will decline after about 4-5 years. The only reason why ps3 and 360 sales have continued up to this long is the inclusion of Move and kinect. But now thats been around for a couple of years sales of hardware and software have nose dived, with some months showing as much as 30% decline from last year. Thats massive. And guess what its not gonna get any better, with nothing new to keep interest alive its gonna get worse. Trying to force longer this next generation will be harder, because lets face it what will both sony and microsoft have up there sleeve to revitalize sales after 5 years of the ps4 or 720s lifecycle? Move and kinect did that for their respective companies for ps3 and 360, what will do that for ps4 or 720? I dont see a gamechanger coming out for the new generation of consoles that will get Wii like wow factor.

    Finally thirdparty support. ps3 and 360 had it all, so Nintendos console was never a threat to them losing all those AAA third party titles so they always had the games that kept their console more appealing when compared to the Wii. Thats another reason why interest has continued for so long for both consoles. However what if Wii U gets those AAA third party titles? Nintendo have alot of things going for it this time round for the Wii U compared to what it had with the Wii. Firstly Wii U is coming after the successful Wii, The Wii was coming after the relative failure of GC. Wii U has traditional analog controls and HD capability. Wii had new motion controls and SD capability. With the Wii U, Thirdparty support has improved thanks to Wii being the no1 selling console, which means thirdparties are gonna take Nintendo more seriously this time round, compare that to the Original Wii, where thirdparties had largely ignored Nintendo thanks to how poorly the GC did in the previous generation. You see if the Wii U can get the majority of thirdparty support that ps3 and 360 had got they wont be 'forced' to stay with the ps4 or 720. The Wii U becomes a serious alternative for thirdparty titles, something the Wii wasnt.

    Finally thanks to the Wii U being profitably from day one we can expect a replacement Wii U in about 5 years.

    Last edited 25/11/12 5:49 pm

      I will be surprised if its even 5 years, could be less.
      Nintendo obviously look at companies like Apple who put out more expensive gadgets that are higher priced and manage to sell a new one every year.

      Do you know ANYONE with a Move controller? Because I sure as hell don't...

    I don't see why everyone's so pissed at this guy.

    With the innovations that computer tech has made within the last few years, it's about damn time we get an upgrade. No, I don't want to see new consoles every three or five years, but for the love of god, please make something that can run anything in native 1080p. I've been doing that on my computer for the past five years.

    The 360 actually had its 7 year (American release) anniversary 3 days ago. 7 years seems like enough time for a cycle to be over. I'd be amazed if both Sony and Microsoft didn't already have what would be close to the final version of the dev kits out to at least the first party developers.

    I think new hardware just gives publishers an excuse to put out unoptimised titles quickly that will naturally look a bit better due to better hardware, and any and all problems with it will be quickly forgiven since it's a "next gen" title. "Developers are still getting to grips with the hardware" etc excuses are like a magic wand to dismiss first wave releases.

      But that's always going to be the case with new hardware, regardless of whether that happens every five years or every ten years.

        But if it's every ten years, people are less likely to forgive them for putting out crap later in the cycle.

      Pretty much right on the button there dude. Sounds like someone has a case of the "I want to charge more for a lower production cost game to pad my wallet"

    How much money do these developers think we have? I love my Xbox and glad Microsoft are still trying to innovate rather than giving up and waiting for us all to fork out up to $700 for a new console. SmartGlass seems cool so far and I can't wait for the new Xbox karaoke channel. I also love being able to watch ABC iView and I still download new songs for my Rockband kit. It's going to take me a few years to upgrade to the next gen and these people need to realise they will make a lot more money out of me developing for the gear that I have. Congrats to Rockstar for bringing out GTA5 on current consoles. They are going to make a lot more money because of that decision!

    He won't take risks on new IPs due to the long lifespan of the current console generation, but he's more than happy to churn out 5 almost exactly the same Assassin Creed games which have made him millions in that timeframe... BRILLANT!

    So according to his reasoning, publishers will be less likely to publish games close to the end of a console's lifetime which means they will stop faster and move on to the next console quicker, leading to market churn. Consumers won't know which console to buy because kids won't want the "old" console that came out two years ago and the backwards compatibility support will only be for one or two generations, meaning old titles will quickly become obsolete.

    Really, it seems to me as if he's saying that the console generations should start moving to a digital medium. That way you can chop and change your consoles as much as you like, and all you have to do is download a new graphics pack or engine for your game.

    It'd be kind of cool if there was some way to have a kind of console system that allowed you to upgrade the individual components so you didn't need to buy new ones every generation... But I guess that's why consoles are still popular, standardised hardware and no need to have technical knowledge of how to build a PC.

    Personally, I want to see games have better quality gameplay before they start looking to the next graphics generation.

    Words from Ubish!t itself saying that it doesn't try.

    So what is it now? Internet pirates or not trying to improve and making clone games or console age for lack of sales?

    Srsly just go bankrupt.

    Honestly I don't think we will see much more powerful machines next gen I think the Wii U will lead and that the more powerful MS and Sony entries will be not that much more powerful launching for around $400 and being a year or two away.

    I damn well expect to see or hear about the new systems at E3 2013. If Sony or MS launch really far above that price they won't see much growth unless the graphics are sooo much better. Your not going to pay $800 for something only slightly better than a $350 Wii U are you? And if the it's a launch title excuse comes out well why should I buy it for this price when the launch titles are so lacklustre.

    Yves is making a ridiculous argument here. New console cycles don't offer opportunities that developers don't otherwise have. If anything, it makes it harder for them. They need to learn new technologies, they need to sell to a smaller consumer base - things are easier for them in the current market. Even on console. I have no doubt that the current generation has gone long, but both Sony and Microsoft have created new technology and new software to keep things relevant. Don't forget things like Kinect and Move came years after the launch, and created new franchises like Dance Central and Kinect Sports. And again, Sony and Microsoft are committing themselves to new experiences so late in the cycle - which is why we're seeing titles like The Last of Us at this point, rather than later on. Third parties haven't backed off either - games like Bioshock Infinite and GTA V are committed to current technology, and that hasn't kept them from being innovative, and yet staying true to their franchises. If Ubisoft has taught us anything, they're very willing to try anything new, but they are quite happy to milk anything that does well and do disservice to their more loyal fans. You need only look at the situation with XIII and Beyond Good and Evil to see what I mean.

    So many "experts" commenting. I don't even think I have the time or energy to "praise" everyone with their flawless arguments on why they're oh sooo right... Well except for a couple.

    I guess Ubisoft would know what is bad for the industry.

    Yves Guillemot, I think is concerned about the slowing increase in his salary.

    Ongoing development in the optimization of games means an ever increasing quality in the software being developed for the machine.

    More machines being owned over time means a larger base of sales for the developers.

    A larger base of players would mean a bigger multiplayer community in the long run.

    I call bullsh1t.

    PS3 has 1 more year
    both looked pretty amazing
    xbox is the culprit here

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