|Raymond: Free-to-play 'expensive and unproven', goal is "to become a pastime"|
|Posted: 13.03.2012 12:40 by Simon Priest||Comments: 1|
Ubisoft's Jade Raymond of Assassin's Creed-fame, is very busy with her Toronto studio. She's looking ahead and says they "have to get started" on the next technologies.
Mobile and social experiments have to keep going too; the industry is "changing rapidly." Home consoles aren't dead, she says, there'll always be a market for "very high end".
People will always want what gives them the greater experience, and most likely that isn't going to be just mobile devices. If the holodeck were invented people would want it.
Ubisoft's Splinter Cell debuts soon and Ubi Toronto is finishing up Rainbow Six: Patriots. The next project under the care of Jade Raymond is beginning to start up but it's far too soon to discuss it. Will it be on next-gen?
"We, for sure, have to get started on the next technologies moving forward," said Raymond. "And that's not just consoles. We have to start experimenting with mobile and social also. The gaming industry is changing rapidly."
Home consoles aren't going anywhere near extinction yet, she argues. "There's always going to be a market for the very high end, whatever that high end is," she says. "If consoles eventually become the holodeck – and I can only have that at home, I'm going to want that. It's going to be something you can't get walking to the bus."
"That high-end experience needs to be beefed up with our top hardware – but more and more we're going to have to think about what people's experiences are." Triple-A development has much to learn from the appeal of mobile apps.
"I think a lot of things being done on those platforms are smart and can be integrated into our console experience to make them better," Raymond says. "A great example is Zynga's games, which are a very lightweight way to interact with friends. Some people who normally wouldn't play other Zynga games play Words With Friends. It's a very easy way to have an experience - and I think we need to think about those sorts of things in our area of games."
User-generated content like level editors are still alien to most gamers - another area to improve.
"We'll ship this game with a full map editor, but who has time to download that and who has the skills to create a good map?" she continued. "I think there's interesting hints of what we can do in Dark Souls."
"I think there's interest in how we can recreate worlds that let people impact other people's worlds and leave a stamp without having to sit down with an editor. I think that's the key to hooking the next generation."
What about the rise of free-to-play titles? Jade Raymond isn't sold on it.
"Everyone's experimenting with free-to-play, but a lot of those are expensive to create and unproven," she says. "To me, that's a big business question that I'm struggling with. It's not clear to me that people will pay or how much they’ll pay."
"When you have that business model of a $60 box, you create a buzz and people buy it and may just play for 5 minutes and still pay $60. But then the minute you start thinking 'we're doing episodic content' – maybe one episode is enough for people. They can spend $5 and say 'ok, I got the experience'."
A middle ground has to be found between the 'epic' of triple-A and 'simplicity' of portables titles.
"Your objective is not to become a big event," says Raymond.
"It's to become a pastime that people can share with friends and go back to. Obviously, Call of Duty has a great recipe with that. And that game does appeal to the new generation of gamer, offering a quick in and out." Do you agree that Call of Duty - a colossal triple-A property - has captured some of that middle-ground, video gamer?