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Gaming Interview

PS4: Ubisoft's Yves Guillemot on costs, launch support and Watch Dogs

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Ubisoft has comfortably emerged as one of the biggest games publishers in the last few years, thanks to strong yearly sales of Assassin's Creed and Just Dance, and being a strong supporter of new systems.

It's also producing one of the most anticipated PS4 launch titles in Watch Dogs. We sit down with CEO Yves Guillemot about how it's approaching the PS4's launch, why Watch Dogs is important as a day-one title, and cross-platform releases.

What excites you most about PlayStation 4?
"The fact that they really went both sides; pushing move power, graphics and AI, and the other side which is the software part, where it took all the best features from the PC, the mobile phones and so on, and the connection with those devices being so easy by their functions.

PS4 reveal: New PlayStation 4 console controller

© Sony Computer Entertainment

The PS4 controller



"It's the double revolution I loved in this presentation. I think we know are using lots of them, but now we have to take advantage of that and create games that will be even more immersive and more social with your friends, and so on. That's what excites me the most."

Is the social aspect really important for Ubisoft?
"I think it's great, because that's what people want more and more, is to be to able to do things with their friends and be part of a community and express themselves with what they do, and share more with their friends.

"All those elements are needed by this generation of native internet users, and this will bring what those guys want."

A big part of the conference was how Sony was discussing with developers what they wanted from the PS4. What did you say?
"We said just what we said earlier, that we needed those consoles to be more open, that everything that was the creativity we saw on PC, we couldn't do it as much on console.

"If they could bring that capacity to the machine, it would be fantastic. They were very open and very much in that direction, they wanted to make sure the console remains at the right level for consumers to buy, but also on that, they were very open with all those possibilities."

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot

© Ubisoft

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot



Is this process of asking publishers for feedback common?
"It happens more and more now. We deal on a regular basis with them, so they tend to listen more to the creators. And they did pick up some very good guys who did games in the past, so I think that helps if they say, okay, we'll listen to what those guys want. They probably know more than we do."

How do you anticipate development costs to change?
"First, the power is positive and negative. Positive is that you don't have to squeeze the images to make them fit a small machine in memory and so on, so it's easier to go 60 frames per second without... having your engineers to optimise and optimise to make it happen. That's the positive side.

"The more challenging side is that using all those capacities will require more people and more work, and that would be bringing better cells, for sure.

"They would be more newcomers in the industry because they can see what can be done, they will be amazed. But it's what we've seen in the past, always, when a new console is coming with lots of pictures, it's more expensive to create games. But there's always more cells possible.

Aiden Pearce from the 'Watch Dogs' game for PlayStation 4

© Ubisoft

Watch Dogs lead character Aiden Pearce is a highly skilled computer hacker



How important was it to have Watch Dogs as a launch title?
"It's very important for us to use new-generation consoles to bring new brands, because people are a lot more open to novelty when the machine is new, and our creators are... it's easier for them to improve a lot on what's been done in the past, when there are lots of new features, new functions in the machine.

"Being early is enabling all the companies to learn about those features and to start to use them. It's a big plus.

Was Watch Dogs always planned as a next-generation project?
"We generally start our projects more on the PC, so that we can get to scale it smaller, and to scale it to take advantage of the size of those machines. Knowing those consoles were coming, we went in more on PC first and then we adapted to the different machines and their different possibilities."

Ubisoft has been a big supporter of console launches - the Wii U, Vita, even the Kinect, they had a lot of Ubisoft titles on day one. Is this something you're hoping to do again with the PS4?
"That's what we're trying to do. It's part of our DNA to be early, because we think it's the best way to put the company in the new features that are offered.

Screenshot from 'Watch Dogs' for PlayStation 4

© Ubisoft

PS4 launch title Watch Dogs



"With the Wii U, for example, the fact that we went touch on a new, double screen, all of those things you're able to do afterwards in all the creations you do. Being early on all the machines is making the company learn fast, and learn early."

Watch Dogs is a cross-generation game; it's launching on PS3 and PS4. Is that going to be a case with a lot of games from Ubisoft this year?
"For some of them, but not all. There will be specific games for certain types of machines taking advantage of specific features. As I said, it will be the case for some of the games."

How long do you anticipate that happening? How long do you think you'll support the current generation?
"It will depend very much on how... the price of the machines and how they can supply the demand. If they are very fast, we'll concentrate most of our work on the next generation."

'Rayman Legends' screenshot

Rayman Legends, which was recently delayed on Wii U into September



Switching to Rayman Legends - the Wii U version was delayed until later this year, and there was a lot of frustration about that. Was that something Ubisoft anticipated might happen?
"What's very important to see in this operation that our goal is to make sure is to make the best game possible.

"What was not understood is they thought we were not continuing to develop the game, they thought it was finished and that we will work on it, and what we wanted to say in the last communication we did was say, 'Guys, we are working on it, we are going to supply you with social features that are going to give you a great experience and we will continue to make the game so that you will love it when it comes'.

"We understand that each time you want to play something and you have to wait, there's frustration. But if we can really bring them that will be outstanding, then I think they will forgive us for that.


"And our goal is to make sure that the experience is just amazing, and the team is so good that I think I can make it."

Do you anticipate that it could release on more systems outside what you've announced? The PS4, for example?
"I don't know. At the moment it's more on the actual platforms [we've announced], we don't know."

Finally, I'd like to discuss the Vita. As mentioned, Ubisoft has been a big supporter at launch and released a dedicated Assassin's Creed game last year. I was wondering what level of support you're planning this year?
"We will have a few games coming, and you know Assassin's is going to continue to sell as well. So we think we will... like what we did on PSP, we thought that the games could sell for a long time, so we have a few that are going to come, but you will know more soon."

> PS4: Ubisoft talks 'Watch Dogs' improvements, "easier" development

Watch Dogs will be available as a launch title on PS4, as well as releasing on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U and PC later this year.

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