If there's one thing that's typified this generation so far, it's a huggy, snuggly sense of bringing everyone together in warm, soft-focused harmony and togetherness. Whether it's Nintendo uniting all of your relatives in the fun of videogames and the shared joy of dealing with Granny's Wii-induced popped hip as a family, Microsoft getting the whole world playing together over Live, or Sony making us all get cute and co-operative with Little Big Planet, it's been one big, gooey, Christmas special-style love-in so far.
The latest company to turn into a bunch of big hippies is Ubisoft. During his speech at the Edinburgh Interactive Festival today, CEO Yves Guillemot revealed that a secret project is underway at the company, focusing heavily on user input and centering around consumer-created content. He stated that "We need to put gamers in the spotlight and recognize their creativity and make sure that our consumers are the stars." as he described the multi-platform game in which Ubisoft will encourage and reward users' involvement. Guillemot also went on to describe the game's heavy emphasis on community:
We are making sure that the consumer is rewarded for his creativity and that he is judged by the community, and these elements will encourage this person to continue his creativity. And once he knows how to use our tools he will create more.
We are going to put a mentoring program within our games whereby new consumers can get help and the player helping will be rewarded with points or free games.
Community-created content is far from a new idea of course, but the way Ubisoft seems to be considering it as the whole raison d'etre of its new project is definitely interesting. Let's hope it will turn into a worthwhile game in itself rather than just another dabbling in the current zeitgeist.
Also mentioned by Guillemot at the EIF today was Ubisoft's forthcoming venture into cross-media production by way of its new Digital Arts Studio. Hit the jump for what he said on why Ubi is branching out and how the new media projects will relate to its games.
We are moving towards launching books, games and movies at the same time. The movie industry creates more ideas than us at the moment, but the more they work, the more they are coming up with the same ideas. We are working more and more on re-using the same graphics [to reduce costs], and we are going in that direction, especially for AAA products.
We will have to start making movies, because if we don't do it, we won't be able to take advantage of the power of the next generation. In creating movies and games at the same time, we see what we have to improve to make better games as well.
We try to make the products complementary in different media. The goal is not to do the book of the game, but a quality product in itself, that will help you feel more immersed in the game because you know more. It's the same in the movie.
Maybe it's just that it's late and I'm tired while I'm writing this, but Guillemot's comments strike me as a bit less exciting than what we last heard about the studio. Back in June, talk was of converging the film and gaming media to create new hybrid experiences, and while news like that is obviously best served with kilo or two of salt on the side, it was ambitious and certainly enough to raise an interested eyebrow.
The new comments seem to imply some more standard spin-off merchandising at the moment, although obviously the fact that these projects are being created in-house rather than farmed out to Hollywood bodes for much better results than those enterprises usually yield. We may well eventually see the kind of converging media that has previously been spoken about, and I certainly hope we do, but I get the feeling it's going to take a period of learning and experimentation from Ubisoft before it happens. Once again my friends, we shall have to wait a while and see how well this talk translates to reality. Though that doesn't of course, mean that we can't have fun speculating wildly in the meantime.
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