Ubisoft overhauls editorial team to try and make its games more unique

Written by Jon Sutton on Sun, Jan 19, 2020 1:57 PM
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Ubisoft is allegedly planning a huge overhaul of its editorial creative team in order to help ensure its games become more distinct from one another.

“We are reinforcing our editorial team to be more agile and better accompany our development teams around the world as they create the best gaming experiences for players,” Ubisoft told VGC.

The critical mauling and poor sales of Ghost Recon Breakpoint in October, following hot on the heels of The Division 2’s tepid sales, has seen Ubisoft delay a raft of titles and attempt to course correct. Now, VGC claims Ubisoft will be restructuring its editorial department with the aim of creating more unique titles.

Unsurprisingly, Ubisoft has discovered that saying a whole lot with the intention of saying nothing hasn’t resulted in a particularly interesting narrative output. What is surprising is to hear that a single small editorial team was responsible for the sweeping themes between all of its games. There are around 100 narrative designers and producers situated within Ubisoft’s Parisian hub. This core group is responsible for the narrative vision across all of Ubisoft’s games, as well as the big push toward open-world systems, co-op gameplay and RPG mechanics.

Ubisoft is certainly guilty of releasing extremely similar games one after the other, borrowing elements while blending in new additions. VGC claims there was a core of just one or two people who ended up getting their key ideas represented in each and every game. The ultimate result was Ghost Recon Breakpoint, a tedious mashing together of The Division, Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed that lacked any distinct vision. 

When the message from up high is to develop games which explore potentially interesting ideas and themes and yet avoid taking any political stance whatsoever, it’s sadly predictable the end product feels homogeneous and lacking in narrative weight. Throw in a lack of gameplay ambition and innovation, and you’ve got a financial disaster on your hands.

Ubisoft’s plan for its editorial overhaul is to give each vice president a single franchise to oversee, rather than a group of people having an influence over multiple games. Each franchise will then be given the opportunity to head into its own unique direction, regardless of what’s happening with the others. The next Ghost Recon could, for example, hark back to the ultra-realistic, tactics-based gameplay of the original series, rather than its current pivot to ‘The Division but in the woods’.

As a result of all of this, we can probably expect to see a bit of a slowdown on Ubisoft’s output for the foreseeable future. Watch Dogs Legion, Gods & Monsters and Rainbow Six Quarantine were all delayed late last year and there are reports of several games being reworked at Ubisoft in an attempt to make them feel more unique.

Have you been satisfied with the direction Ubisoft has headed of late? Do you think this could spell trouble for the next Assassin's Creed?

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09:09 Jan-20-2020

HERE'S an idea TAKE RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2 and copy paste that !!! Well Atleast Ubisoft doesnt take 5 years to make the game we all want!!!! never mind just remembered about Skull and Bones

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05:58 Jan-20-2020

Why, they can still recycle Wildlands into Ghost Recon: Cuba or Ghost Recon: Iran.

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19:34 Jan-19-2020

They need to create a new next-gen graphics engine. They use the same engine for all of their games (Except Dumia engine.)

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16:49 Jan-19-2020

But Ubisoft games are already pretty unique. You can easily recognise their open world games, they're empty and souless.

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18:22 Jan-19-2020

...but they are huge beautifuly made

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05:48 Jan-20-2020

That doesn't make things better

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08:15 Jan-20-2020

they should make a Mad Max Style Open world game!!!open empty and soul less but most importantly filled with MAD PEOPLE GIVING YOU TONS OF QUESTS no doubt the objective of MAX is to GET THE HELL OUTTA HERE!!!!!

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13:06 Jan-21-2020

Assassin's Creed and Far Cry are unique, but unfortunately The Division and Ghost Recon Wildlands and Breakpoint share more similarities. Breakpoint was released in a shocking state and still feels like they left it unfinished. Their standards seem to be dropping. They shifted to making games that you can co-op, or keep playing, and adding more content to it as the year goes on. But the wrong way to do this is to develop a product and break it up to sell in pieces. Worse is to make a game pointlessly repetitive and boring, and then sell time-savers.
Watchdogs, The Division and Ghost Recon's last 2 entries have all left me a bit disappointed in what they advertized vs what they turned out to be.
With W: Legion, they have innovated for sure. Now they just need to give it the required time to be finished and polished

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14:49 Jan-19-2020

Ubisoft are only marginally behind EA on my personal eff-them list, so-...
...yeah, I don't really care. Would be nice if they'd made less copypasta, of course, but, I'm not gonna get any hopes up

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14:46 Jan-19-2020

The way you guys feel the need to attack Ubisoft's stance on avoiding politics in their games as if that was a requirement for good entertainment is weirdly obsessive and detracts from the slew of other reasons that makes games such as Breakpoint bad, like the insulting technical aspects. Yikes.

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15:20 Jan-19-2020

Totally agree there. Is there any AAA publishers that heavily basks politics with their games? No, nothing more than a superficial level, mostly a political correctness issue and nothing beyond that.

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15:21 Jan-19-2020

But even that's only because political correctness is very easy to sell in this climate today and it generates a ton of headlines around being inclusive, but mostly around all the "haters" who don't like the certain change, whatever...

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15:21 Jan-19-2020

...or invalid reason they might have. They never mess with serious issues because that will alienate a huge portion of their audience, and alienating your audience is not a great business strategy. In order to politicize your game you...

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15:21 Jan-19-2020

...have to take a stance with one side, and the second you do that, you lose everyone on the other. And people complaining about lack of politics in their games are complaining about their views not being represented, and not politics...

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15:21 Jan-19-2020

...in general. And that's a big distinction there. Because those same people would burn the whole thing down if the game were heavily politicized but supportive of the other side. You'll never please everyone when messing with politics.

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15:21 Jan-19-2020

And those who live on selling products know that. That's why politics is often avoided like plague and any implications with something related are immediately denied, and that's how it'll always be, at least in a "free" world, so to say.

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09:16 Jan-20-2020

Metal Gear Solid, Wolfenstein, Outer Worlds, The Witcher, Mass Effect, GTA, BioShock, Half-Life, Deus Ex, Final Fantasy, Disco Elysium. All franchises with narratives steeped in politics, and all with far more interesting narratives than Ghost recon Breakpoint, The Division 2 or Far Cry 5. If you say nothing it means nothing, which is why the above franchises are infinitely more interesting (and sell rather well as a result).

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09:31 Jan-20-2020

I should add as well that many games are also historically right leaning and they don't seem to get shot to the ground. The hobby has a history of imperial values (conquering by force and supremacy) and conservatism (guns guns guns). These are just the over themes as well, there are also 'passive' political decisions which go into the creation of any game, whether you see it or not. Avoiding politics in a game is itself a political decision.

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10:36 Jan-20-2020

I don't think it's fair to attribute a natural human law (conquering by force) to one side of politics. Look at all the socialist regimes out there that were started by violent revolution and maintained via brutal suppression. And to boil conservatism down to guns is a similar issue. To quote notorious leftist mao ze dong, "All power comes from the barrel of a gun." Knowing this, the only difference is who has the gun (power) - the government (left), or the individual (right)

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11:07 Jan-20-2020

No I mean I'm keeping it brief in terms of conservatism and talking points, just highlighting that games absolutely aren't overwhelmingly left leaning. Nothing is cut and dry which is why they can be particularly interesting. Hacking politics out of games just sounds like a recipe for boredom. I just finished Frostpunk and the Book of Laws was probably the best bit, both in terms of gameplay and how it made me think about my actions (it turns out it's very easy to accidentally go full fascist )

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21:18 Jan-22-2020

That's actually a fair point Jon, I didn't think about it. You are right. I don't really have much to say to that.

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14:39 Jan-19-2020

Ubisoft games have been copy paste since black flag/far cry 4. An open world with a weak story, same gameplay and pointless collectables. Its coming close to the every yearly sports games. Now that their quality control has fallen behind (aggressive monitization didnt help) and people have taken notice, finally they might have to innovate more than not at all.

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