PLUS MORE GAMING SECRETS AND RUMOURS: Sony and a Sonic film, developers helping on other developers' games, Facebook and advertising on gaming consoles
Like Beyond Good & Evil 2, Ubisoft continues to insist Rainbow 6: Patriots is progressing along, even if development seems to be at a standstill. But there appears to be evidence the game is still a thing: in his resume, a Quebecois security professional says he has been consulting on Rainbow 6: Patriots since January 2013, lending his expertise on "intelligence, terrorism and counterterrorism" and assisting in narrative and gameplay design. In the cover story interview for the fall 2013 issue of a local digital trade magazine, the consultant said he "participated in the brainstorming stage [and] brought a vision with respect to the psychology of the main characters, like how to think and react to a terrorist in a given situation … [which is] information [that] has been useful to creative director. [The creative director] was able to create choices related to these aspects and bring them into the game."
Rainbow 6: Patriots still being in the "brainstorming stage" in 2013, long after its initial reveal, is perhaps a troubling sign, and there are numerous further indications the game's development is seemingly an outright mess.
As you may recall, in March 2012, Ubisoft took the Rainbow 6 team's leads off the project, removing narrative director Richard Rouse III, creative director David Sears, lead designer Philippe Therien and animation director Brent George, all of whom later left Ubisoft Montreal. The replacement creative director — Jean-Sebastien Decant, a former Quantic Dream designer who calls himself a "Creative Swiss Army Knife" — left the project in January to join the Assassin's Creed IV team as lead game designer. Other high-level people who worked on Rainbow 6 and either left Ubisoft or moved to another project include: a lead programmer, presentation director, realisation director, another presentation director, project manager, multiplayer art director, technical lead, lead level designer, lead multiplayer designer, another lead multiplayer designer, another lead level designer, art director, yet another lead level designer, producer and production manager.
It's unclear who is currently leading Rainbow 6: Patriots, but an art director on the game changed his title to creative director the month Decant joined the Black Flag team. Whatever is the case, it seems like that the game has had a significant overhaul since the last time we saw it.
Also of note: A Rainbow 6 technical designer says on their CV that they moved to an unannounced Ubisoft Montreal next-gen title in January described as a "online multiplayer open world FPS game focus on social activity and replayability," and last year, a Rainbow 6 designer moved onto "an unnanounced [sic] Ubi shooter" with "item strategy and character progression / RPG mechanics." Additionally, a former high-level Ubisoft Montreal employee who was integral in getting a greenlight for Rainbow 6: Patriots says he also "Researched new avenues for transitioning a key AAA action-adventure brand (Assassin's Creed) into online RPG space and proposed a new product in collaboration with the brand Creative Director."
Last week, Sony Pictures, who has never been never been involved in the Sonic franchise, registered the domains sonicthehedgehog-movie.com, sonicthehedgehog-movie.net and sonicthehedgehogmovie.net, seemingly hinting that Sony acquired the feature film rights to the character.
Given that Sonic is an anthropomorphic hedgehog, I would venture to guess Sony Pictures Animation is involved. The most likely form a Sonic the Hedgehog feature would take is probably something fully animated about Sonic and his buddies, but I could easily imagine Sega wanting to reinvent the character for a modern family audience through an live action-animation hybrid with Sonic and his friends in some fish out of water real-world scenario on our planet. The latter is, of course, the conceit of Sony Picture Animation's very awful but very successful Smurfs franchise.
However, video game film adaptations, like any property or script a studio acquires, have a tiny chance of actually happening. Sony Pictures has a long list of video game films that are either dead or stuck in development hell, including: inFamous, Twisted Metal, Metal Gear Solid, The Getaway, Uncharted, Devil May Cry, EverQuest and Shadow of the Colossus. And it is not just live-action films: three years ago, Sony Pictures Animation bought the rights to Rollercoaster Tycoon as a possible live-action/animation hybrid for the director of The Karate Kid remake to possibly direct, but nothing has been heard of the project since.
There is probably no possible way a Sonic the Hedgehog film could be any good, so hopefully it will be stuck in development hell like every other film adaptation of a game.
The little-noticed credits for two of this fall's AAA games contain some interesting revelations. For Call of Duty Ghosts, a dozen staffers at High Moon Studios, the developer of recent Transformers games, are credited, and 27 names from DJ Hero creators FreeStyle Games are in the credits, as are 11 people from Treyarch. Battlefield 4's credits contain 106 people from Visceral Games — including all of the studio leadership, perhaps a hint of considerable involvement in the game's development — and nine names from BioWare.
Facebook is apparently quite bullish on the prospects of console gaming. The social networking giant recently posted two openings on its careers portal for dedicated regional advertising persons for console gaming to "help develop and sell Facebook advertising solutions to the world's largest console game brands," as well as develop and maintain relationships with existing and new advertising partners in the console gaming space. Seeking full-time people to handle console gaming advertising clients indicates that Facebook believes there is a tremendous potential to make money selling ad space to console publishers, developers and manufacturers.
With the rise of web and mobile game storefronts and background downloads, there could be something to a play for increased gaming advertising dollars. One of Facebook's current three major categories of advertising offerings is mobile app promotion — essentially inserting links into a user's feed to download often free mobile apps. It's pretty easy to imagine links to download a game on PSN or Xbox Live in a feed, especially F2P games on next-gen consoles seeking to reach users. Among Facebook's major selling points to advertisers is the ability to reach audiences by interest, ostensibly leading to higher user engagement than other venues as people see ads relevant to them.
Last year, Facebook struck a deal with a startup called Datalogix to couple real-world purchasing data (attained via rewards programs) with user profiles to help brick-and-mortar stores better target their advertising. It does not seem like much of a stretch to imagine this philosophy extended to the gaming sphere, where Facebook could work with console game companies to combine its masses of user data with their telemetry — a combination that could allow game companies to better target advertising or even inform how they develop products. Facebook is already doing this to some extent in mobile gaming. In late July, Facebook announced a pilot mobile games publishing program for mobile developers, in which the company would take a percentage of a game's revenues in exchange for promoting games and "[sharing] best practices [and] analytics insights [with developers]." Could Facebook monetizing similar specialised insights for console companies be far off?
Superannuation is a self-described "internet extraordinaire" residing somewhere in the Pacific timezone. He tweets and can be reached at heyheymayday AT gmail DOT com.