GamesBeat

Why Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot believes Watch Dogs will be his company’s next giant franchise

Watch Dogs Multiplayer

Above: A mob of fixers run wild in free roam, but coordination is key in competitive multiplayer as well.

Image Credit: Ubisoft Publishing

Guillemot: It’s a good question. What we see more and more is that we need lead time to do even more polish than we have today. With open worlds, it’s very complex to adapt to all these criteria, so you have a real feeling of how people will like a game. With Watch Dogs, we did lots of traits at the last minute. We went between more weapons and less weapons. We changed the time until it introduces the system that allows you to change the traffic lights and so on. What we’ve decided is that we need to finish a game earlier, so we can test things more and more, and change a certain number of parameters.

We have games that can work for different people. What’s good about an open world is, people can do what they want. But we have to understand what each category wants and make sure that it’s good for all of them. Some people will love what we do, but others might play differently and not appreciate it as much. We have to make sure we identify those different types of gamers and give each category what they want. That takes time.

GamesBeat: Would you delay any new IP because of delays in other games as well?

Guillemot: Watch Dogs did put lots of pressure on other games. We had to push some games back.

GamesBeat: You were talking about re-using and recycling successful game content or game ideas. Isn’t it dangerous to use too many things in too many games?

Guillemot: What’s important is to create the engines that allow you to give freedom to consumers. We need to make sure to create A.I. that will react and so on. It’s a matter of layers. The more layers we can put into AI, the more freedom we can give to our customers, the more fun they’ll have. I’m not worried about that. We just have to make sure they feel good, that they feel they’re rewarded, that they have their own way to play that’s different from their friends. But they can also play with their friends when they want. There are plenty of possibilities. We just have to take the time to use all those tools and make a perfect game.

GamesBeat: Assassin’s Creed and Just Dance are annual releases. They’re doing very well. Do you plan to do that with other franchises, or do you think it’s better for some franchises to take a longer break between releases? Do you think Watch Dogs could be an annual release?

Guillemot: To start, we’ll take time, to make sure we can come back with something that takes full advantage of everything we’ve created in the first game. That’s what we did with Assassin’s Creed II. Afterward, it’ll depend on our teams. What we try to do is have different teams take care of a brand and give enough time to each other. We’ll see how it works out, depending on the availability of talented people to take care of the brand.

Rabbids Invasion

GamesBeat: What potential is there in interactive TV? You’re doing Rabbids Invasion. How do you view the potential of that? Because the market doesn’t exist yet.

Guillemot: Yes, the market doesn’t exist now, but there’s no reason why this generation won’t interact with movies or TV series. Starting around five years ago, I’ve had the impression that TV series and movies will become more interactive. They’ll give customers a chance to have more impact on what they see from one week to the next, in different types of linear content. It’s going to come soon now. We’ll see how kids react. All the playtests we’ve done have gone very well. They seem to love it, being able to interact.

GamesBeat: How many kids have PS4s and Xbox Ones, though?

Guillemot: Not too many, to be sure. That’s a trial. We’ll be doing things on mobile and tablet as well, though. That should do more volume.

GamesBeat: So, the Wii U. You were early strong supporters. Now, a lot of studios have backed away from it. Even though you keep saying you support it, there still seems to be a question about games like Watch Dogs. Is that still coming to Wii U?

Guillemot: It’s coming this November. As far as the Wii U in general, we’ll have Just Dance again, which is well-suited for the machine. We’ll have Watch Dogs. We have another couple of products that we’re waiting to launch. Specifically, we have one game where we’re waiting for the machine to be more mass-market.

GamesBeat: Is that time ever coming?

Guillemot: We hope so? We have a game that’s been done for six months now. It’s been on the shelf waiting for more families to have the machine.

GamesBeat: If you look at even Mario Kart, which is getting great reviews, it’s not going to sell as well as any other Mario Kart in history, because there aren’t enough Wii Us out there. It seems like a chicken-and-egg problem.

Guillemot: Nintendo is coming up with fantastic games, though. With the right price and good games, they can help the machine get started.

GamesBeat: Do you think a price drop is necessary?

Guillemot: I can’t speak for Nintendo in that regard. In general, it’s a difficult question to answer when you’re asking me what Nintendo should do. We don’t have specific numbers we’re waiting for. But the Wii U does continue to increase in sales. If that continues, it’ll quickly come to a mass market. Then we’ll have the volume that will justify more marketing, TV marketing and so on.

ZombiUGamesBeat: A game like ZombiU, it was for the Wii U only. At this point I assume you wouldn’t do a ZombiU 2. Would you consider bringing that to more platforms?

Guillemot: It was so adapted to the Wii U that it’s difficult to do for other machines. It might happen sometime, but not as a full game.

GamesBeat: This game that you have on the shelf for the Wii U, is there a cutoff point where you have to say, no, that’s not ever coming out?

Guillemot: It might never come out. It might come out in some other format that would offer the same experience. We’ll know this year whether the machine is going to pick up and take off.

GamesBeat: Is this the last year the Wii U has a chance to prove itself?

Guillemot: I think we have to wait for Smash Bros. to come. That’s always been a big, big property for Nintendo and for gamers. We all know that there are lots of Nintendo fans waiting for big games to come along. We know they’re coming. When I speak with the fans that come to E3, 90 percent of them are crazy for Nintendo. They love Nintendo and the games they do.

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More information:

Ubisoft is a leading producer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment products. Present in 28 countries with 26 studios and a distribution network that spans more than 55 territories, Ubisoft has won over gamers wor... read more »

Mr. Yves Guillemot serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Ubisoft Entertainment SA (Ubisoft S.A.). Mr. Guillemot serves as the Chief Executive Officer of UBI.COM SA, Red Storm Entertainment, Inc. and UBI Participations ... read more »

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