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Long life-cycle of consoles damaging industry, says Ubisoft boss

By: Muhammad Qasim Hassan

  |   November 27th, 2012   |  
E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo

It is not a rarity to find a publisher, developer or gamer voicing his frustration over the extended life-cycle of Sony’s and Microsoft’s current-generation consoles.

With neither of the two console makers showing any clear signs of giving in to the popular demand for a new system, the frustration continues to prevail in the gaming industry, with the stakeholders becoming increasingly worried about the damaging effect on the industry due to the reluctance of introducing a new PlayStation or Xbox into the market.

Voicing his concern during an interview with Polygon, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said that the extended life-cycle of PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 is having a deteriorating effect on the overall gaming industry.

He pointed out that since the console has been there in the market for over half a decade, there are hardly any new intellectual properties (IPs) or experience to offer, which is driving the consumers away from the consoles to explore other options.

“I think that what has happened is the transition has been very long,” he told Polygon. “You know, in the industry, we were used to changing machines every five years. This time we are in the seventh year of the 360. We need new consoles and at the end of the cycle generally the market goes down because there are less new IPs, new properties, so that damaged the industry a little bit.”

The lack of new IPs in the market is associated with a number of things. The first and fore-most reason for the lack of innovation in the industry is due to the unwillingness of the publishers to invent in new ideas at the tail-end of a console, since there is a risk of new consoles being announced anytime.

The new projects also do not ensure desired results in terms of commercial success, something that is most important to the publishers at the end of the day as they are answerable to the investors.

The developers, on the other hand, do not prefer to work on new IPs because the technology does not allow them to fully realise their creativity or successfully transform their ideas to video games. The technological constraints keep them within a certain boundary, thus limiting their degree of freedom to a certain space.

Guillemot said that introduction of new consoles into the market allows publishers and developers to “reinvent” themselves. The former shows more willingness to take risks, while the latter is able to work with more advanced technology.

The Ubisoft boss expressed his hope to find the life-cycle of consoles to become shorter in the times to come so that the industry continues to see risks being taken and greater amount of importance being given to innovation.