Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Harsh Critics

Gamers are harsh critics. It is pretty difficult to find an online gaming forum where participants are lauding Ubisoft's decision to take The Two Thrones, port it to the Wii focusing only on the controls but leaving the game content as is. At best I see people who maintain a neutral stance, witholding judgement until they see/hear whether the new controls really do indeed add value to the experience.

A few days ago I was asked to do a Q&A for POP:RS on 1up (read it here) and I said that RS is my favorite version of all POP games made. I meant it. I really do believe that the Wii controls add an excellent layer to the experience that simply cannot be reproduced on traditional controllers. POP gameplay translates very well to the Wii and I would jump at the opprotunity to do a new POP game from scratch for the Wii. Maybe someday...

It can sometimes be hard to read the critical reception of a project you were involved in when you believe (as I do in this case) that you really did the best job you could have given the project contraints. 'Ports' to the Wii are rejected on principle, it seems, which is unfortunate as I think people who didn't already play T2T (and even some who did) could be pleasantly surprised by RS.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ben! Nice to see you have a blog. It's Romain Gauthier from Gameloft here (if you do remember me).

You know, I understand your point but I also understand the gamer's position. It's hard to accept that a publisher puts the same game out twice, it must feel insulting to some players. I also doubt many people who bought the first version of the game will rebuy the Wii version at full price, there are so many great neew games on every systems these days.

9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben, I think the problem is that fans of the Wii are scared of owning a console that is home to ports and nothing else. Undoubtedly, you've seen the latest reports at GamesIndustry and IGN about how publishers are wary of the Wii.

Fans of the system have, no doubt, noticed this as well and being one myself, I can understand where they're coming from. If all we see are ports on the Wii (and a large number of Wii games have been ports so far), the chances of the console bringing about any change in gaming would be lost.

Then again, I can see why Ubisoft would choose to do a "port" at this point in time. The Wii is new, the control mechanics take getting used to. Rather than making a game from scratch, using a port to assess what you could do with the Wii controller seems like a logical decision.



10:38 PM  
Anonymous mister slim said...

I'm giving the game the benefit of the doubt, but based on the reviews of some of the other ports I'm not tremendously optimistic. One thing that would make more interested in the game would be if Ubisoft had included all three modern PoP games in the package. They were all released on the GC and all used fairly similar control schemes, so releasing them as one package would have increased the perceived value. Especially since I'm fairly apathetic towards Two Thrones but would happily play through Sands for the 10th time.

5:44 AM  
Anonymous Prime said...

I agree with what mister slim said, especially the idea of the entire trilogy for Wii, that would have been a better idea.

With the Wii games from Ubi so far though, apart from a couple of brand new games (Red Steel and Rayman, which have been very well received), everything else seems to have been either bad ports of good games (Splinter Cell, Far Cry) or reasonable ports of poor to mediocre games (Monster 4x4, GT Pro Series, Open Season). Though I don't own a Wii yet (so I haven't played these games much if at all) I'm just going off what I've read. I'm optimistic of the Prince port however, seeing as it wasn't being rushed for launch. I do think it's a bit weak that the PSP version gets extra content but the Wii version doesn't though.

6:15 AM  
Blogger Ben Mattes said...


Some very good points here that are worth addressing. I have to run out the door now for the weekend but will do a follow up post on Monday.

Very quickly, though:

1) The question of whether or not POP gameplay would translate well onto the Wii was a very big one for us. As a company, we certainly want to test the waters with a first test before jumping into a larger production initiative (original game or trilogy, for example). Hopefully the answer once people try Rival Swords is: Yes, there is enough here to warrant Ubi investing more money into a larger package.

2) re: Wii recieving nothing but ports. I can't speak for other publishers, but I can say that Ubisoft announced early on (internally and externally) that we wanted to get behind the Wii in a big way. The strategy always involved a combination of both original IP, new creations on existing IP, and 'ports' of existing games but with new control mechanics.

The ports were never meant to sere as an insult to fans of either the Wii or fans of the game in question. The fact is there are a lot of gamers out there and a port of T2T to the Wii with new controls could well appeal to an as-of-yet unserved demographic. For those who played T2T and liked it on the GC, perhaps RS isn't for you. For those who played T2T on the GC and LOVED it, then I would say you should give RS a try. I stand by what I said earlier in the 1up interview -- this is an excellent way to play POP and should be experienced by fans.

Ok -- more on Monday.


11:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm definitely glad to see that Ubisoft is intent on backing the Wii. I love the studio and I think you guys have made some of the best games I've played (consoles and PC, both) so far. I have very high expectations of original IP for the Wii from Ubisoft.

Just that apart from Ubisoft and Electronic Arts, there aren't too many studios showing very strong support at the moment and that really has to change.

I recently started up a smalltime game blog of my own (nothing very fancy) after I stepped down from my previous place of employment (Destructoid.com) and if you're ever free, I'd love to talk to you about a few of the nuances regarding developing for the Wii, and also discuss some non-Ubisoft titles.

Do let me know if you think that would be possible. Thanks!



1:01 AM  
Anonymous Sloth is a Sin said...

I can pick up Two Thrones for $10 at a local game store. Asking gamers to pay 30-40 extra dollars for nothing more than the same game with wii controls is the insult. I have good reason to be "harsh" and I believe you are plenty smart enough to realize that.

11:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with sloth. Charging a gamer full price of a game, which is over one year old is kinda hard to swallow with no enchanment or added bonus other than using the wii control. Its not enough new content to make players go out and buy it, when considering they probely own the Gamecube/ps2/xbox version.

I belive players would perfer to wait longer if Ubisoft was to add more contents to the game than getting it sooner with nothing new other than using a different control style.

Need something more to justify spending 50 or 60 bucks on a same game.

1:43 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home