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In many ways, one of the most surprising success stories in games over the
previous few years has been French-headquartered Ubisoft, who rode a quirky
European-centric mascot character (Rayman) and a burly all-American license (Red
Storm's Tom Clancy-centric universe, now expanded into multiple individual IPs)
all the way to a position as one of the world's leading publishers.
So, at the recent Ubidays press event in San Francisco, Gamasutra had a chance to sit down with Ubisoft co-founder and CEO Yves Guillemot, and had a chance to discuss a multitude of high-level topics on the publisher's future, from next-gen plans through Electronic Arts' holding of Ubisoft stock, right through to the firm's plans to produce CG films alongside its movies.
Ubisoft seems to be making a big push for original IP right now, like Assassin's Creed. Why such a push toward an original direction right now?
Yves Guillemot: It has been the case for a few years, but this year is a special year. We are coming out with six new IPs this year. Some are coming this year that we expected last year. It's nothing really special, it's just the new consoles are more difficult to work on, so some have been delayed.
Do you feel that the new consoles are selling enough to recoup the costs that you are putting into developing these games?
YG: Oh, definitely. We're in the third Christmas for the 360, so it's going to be a big year for that machine, and it would be the second Christmas for the PS3. I think we can sell enough to make good money with those products, and most importantly, to reach enough customers.
Has anything further happened with the EA situation? EA is still talking about how they would like to buy Ubisoft, and I know that's not something you want to happen.
YG: We're still considering. The first option for us is to manage our own company and grow it. The second option is to work with the movie industry, and the third is to merge. We think the market is going to grow fast, and we can take a big share of that market, so we don't have to change the way things are done at the moment.
How is Ubisoft approaching Asia now? I know you have the Shanghai studio. Is that mostly for insourcing, or are you also developing games indigenous to the Chinese market?
YG: No, we are not developing games for the Chinese market, just for the world. It's probably too early to do specific Chinese games at the moment.
So are you mostly using them for assets for other games that you're developing, or are you developing anything fully there?
YG: EndWar is being developed there, and Splinter Cell 4 was also done in China. They're developing specific products.
Do you mostly have Chinese staff there?
YG: We also have lots of people coming from the U.S., Canada, and Europe. They represent fifteen percent of the staff, so it's still 85% Chinese.