Friday, February 09, 2007

Ubisoft Announcement

Today, Ubisoft announced the creation of a new CGI movie studio in Montreal and an even more aggressive growth strategy then our previous, already ambitious plans.

I worked closely with our local High Res cinematics department while working on POP3 and was very impressed with the quality of their work (see first embedded video below). Others, too, agreed, as the VES awarded one of the game's cinematics the Best Pre-Rendered Visuals in a Video Game.

If you haven't already seen it, the E3 2006 Assassins Creed (done by the same team) is even more impressive.

The team that made both of these movies are going to be creating the core of the new CGI studio, so expect to be floored. I am obviously biased, but I think Ubisoft ranks up there with Blizzard as creating some of the best high-res work in the gaming industry so I can't wait to see what this new studio creates.

Update: I realise I didn't add much in the way of my own thoughts or analysis into this post, and perhaps there might be one or two people out there interested to know what I think. So, in no particular order, some of my thoughts:

  • The demand for online video is exploding and business models are maturing. For now much revenue is generated simply through add revenue on services like YouTube, but recent marriages of distribution and billing systems (Apple, Xbox Live, Google Video, etc) means content owners can charge the consumer directly. By the time Ubisoft is ready to release the first product created by this new studio, there will likely be a variety of services who will happily host (and likely feature) our content for sale.
  • In addition to revenue generation, though, the digital video space has served as fertile grounds for marketers for years now. Is a truly successful viral marketing campaign worth the investment for a short 2-5 minute CGI movie? I'd bet yes.
  • Several major development studios (LucasArts and Sony Pictures come to mind) have already gone on record as looking for ways to find 'synergy' (awful word I know, but it is appropriate here) between their film and game studios. With a growing trend towards Hollywood and Game convergence, it could serve Ubisoft well to start developing the expertise to create film (even if only short ones) ourselves. If nothing else, it will benefit us to have internal expertise in the world of feature length CG movies so that we'll be able to better work with movie production companies should another King-Kong type partnership come up in the future.
  • Finally it seems like a brilliant way to grow our game development studio! We've reached something of a saturation point in Montreal in as far as the super rapid growth that has defined our studio for the past years. Ubisoft is aggressively exploring ways to help get new blood into the Montreal game development industry (Ubisoft school, etc) and by opening a cinematics studio we can suddenly appeal to talent that might otherwise have ignored Ubisoft because they consider themselves film animators (or modellers, or technical directors, etc). With time, though, and close collaboration between the game and cinematics studios, cross pollination between the two is sure to happen.

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Blogger The Zombie said...

Very interesting indeed. "Assassin's Creed" looks awesome. Looking very forward to that game. As for the new expansion plan involving making CGI short films--I'm not sure how this will make Ubisoft more profitable. Would anyone pay to see a short film? Seems like a big waste of cash to me. I do not get this move at all. What do you think? Can you please explain this film making idea to me? Thanks for your time.

11:10 PM  
Blogger alimokrane said...

I must say the Cinematic work in The Two Thrones was one of the best I have seen and Im glad Ubisoft is doing this. Just one more thing, I still think Square Enix's cinematics work in the final fantasy series is still on a league of its own ... let's see if ubisoft can catch up ;)

9:36 AM  
Blogger The Zombie said...

Thanks for the comments, Ben. I'm still a bit concerned that the cost of such an undertaking might eat into profits in the intermediate term. Long term, who knows. It would depend on how many hits the new studio can crank out. Assassin's Creed can alleviate some of my concerns by being a huge seller. I'm not sure what they projected, but I know that sales of Creed need to be much more than originally anticipated to cover the costs of expansion. The buzz surrounding the game is getting loud. I'm still not sure Creed will appeal to those that are not hardcore gamers (mass appeal will be needed to get GTA Vice City type sales #s). Ubisoft stock has cooled since the expansion plans, which leads me to believe I'm not the only shareholder concerned. As a gamer, I'm thrilled.

9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first short film for Assassin's Creed will be available a few months before the game," said Guillemot. "We'll supply this content digitally via the Internet. We're looking at outlets like iPod and Xbox Live Marketplace. What's allowing us to create this content is the fact that digital distribution is a common system to distribute product. Digital distribution will allow us to reach a large audience quickly and efficiently.

9:20 AM  

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