In stark contrast to Quantic Dream’s David Cage and id Software’s John Carmack, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot feels that the time for a new generation of consoles is now. Although the excitement for Ubisoft’s next installment of the Assassin’s Creed franchise is at a fever pitch (if the volume of preorders is any indication), Guillemot is (oddly) discontent with continuing to milk the company’s flagship series, instead yearning for a new console generation to scratch his creative itch. Speaking with Gamasutra, Guillemot noted:
“We have been penalized by the lack of new consoles on the market. I understand the manufacturers don’t want them too often because it’s expensive, but it’s important for the entire industry to have new consoles because it helps creativity.”
The reason this is the case is that new IPs are a risky investment, and do not sell well at the tail-end of a console generation:
“It’s a lot less risky for us to create new IPs and new products when we’re in the beginning of a new generation,” he says. “Our customers are very open to new things. Our customers are reopening their minds — and they are really going after what’s best. … At the end of a console generation, they want new stuff, but they don’t buy new stuff as much. They know their friends will play Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed so they go for that. So the end of a cycle is very difficult.”
This jives with comments made by an anonymous employee at a big games publisher, with whom Kotaku held a Q&A:
Q: Can you please explain to people why megapublishers are holding off on releasing new IP until the next console cycle?
A: Because you’re holding off on buying new IP until the next console cycle. New consoles are where gamers and the public are most likely to take a chance on new IPs.
Indeed, though Guillemot himself told Le Monde that Ubisoft’s awesome-looking new IP, Watch Dogs, will be making its way to current-generation consoles, other comments from the publisher and the fact that it is only currently listed for PC on Ubisoft’s website would point to a release in the next generation. Further, Ubisoft is developing a new IP called ZombiU, which looks to be the most exciting title for the first officially-announced console of the next generation, Nintendo’s WiiU.
Interestingly, Guillemot focuses solely on the consumer demand in terms of the need for a new console generation, not acknowledging a need for more powerful hardware, which might indicate that he concurs with Cage and Carmack regarding the capabilities of current consoles, that is, that a big jump in hardware specifications is not necessary at this point. This again is a huge departure from the progressions of previous generations, wherein exponential increases in processing power were major selling points of new hardware. Gamasutra points out that ultimately, “there might be plenty of power left to exploit from [current consoles’] components, but from a consumer standpoint, people are ready for something new.”
I still maintain that there are advantages to be had by increases in processing power in terms of quality and creativity in games, but it would seem the attitudes of major developers and console manufacturers, which are ultimately shaped by the consumer who purchases the games and hardware, do not involve placing much emphasis on hardware specifications. Nintendo’s Wii, the best-selling console of the current generation, has sold nearly 100 million units worldwide. Though the exact technical capabilities of the WiiU are unknown, most are putting them on the same level or slightly above those of the Xbox 360 and PS3. The next generation Xbox and PlayStation will assuredly see a significant bump in their technical specifications as compared to those of the current generation, but at this point, increased processing power does not seem like it will make or break the success of the next-gen consoles.