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Making a modern triple-A video game is a massive undertaking — just ask Ubisoft.
It took six Ubisoft teams to make Assassin’s Creed III. The company spreads out development for its big games because it’s not viable to produce something so massive at one studio. That’s because, according to Ubisoft Reflections managing director Pauline Jacquey, it takes hundreds of people to make a triple-A title.
“‘There are games that Ubisoft specializes in, like open-world action games, with a lot of production value, and you need a team of 400 to 600 people,” Jacquey told Games Industry International in an interview. “That’s a lot, and the next-gen is increasing this.”
Jacquey goes on to say that not all games require such massive teams. Some games only require 100 people, but a next-gen console like the PlayStation 4, with all of its extra capabilities, adds to the amount of work.
“For the new PS4 console, you need teams of up to 600 guys so you can’t do it at just one site,” said Jacquey to Games Industry International. “So there’s organization within Ubisoft to make sure that collaboration happens and works.”
Ubisoft has teams all over the globe. For the aforementioned Assassin’s Creed III, Ubisoft Montreal led development, Ubisoft Kiev/Ubisoft Romania ported the game to Windows, Ubisoft Annecy designed the multiplayer, Ubisoft Singapore led development on the naval combat, and Ubisoft Quebec handled the Wii U port.
It’s a lot of effort and overhead, which increases the financial risk.
“Ubisoft is very generous with resources, making sure product quality is top notch,” said Jacquey to GI. “But then the outcome, the production revenue, should be much higher as well so it balances. It’s just the risk is higher, so if we miss it once or twice the impact is big.”
Big hits drive revenue in the games industry, but this certainly seems like a precarious position for Ubisoft to put itself in. If one of these juggernaut games flops, the publisher could take a huge loss. At the same time, gamers crave these immersive experiences, so the money is apparently there for any company that can capitalize on this craving.