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Games Entertainment Technology

Ubisoft CEO Says Next Gen Consoles Closer Than We Think 326

An anonymous reader writes "Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot tells CNBC that he believes the next generation of video game systems isn't as far away as the public has been led to believe. Guillemot noted that public demand for the best machine possible, as well as coming competition from companies such as OnLive could spur Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo to roll out new systems sooner than they want. That's not good news for publishers, though, as he says games in the next generation will likely cost $60 million to create."
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Ubisoft CEO Says Next Gen Consoles Closer Than We Think

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:11PM (#28338857)

    If you go back all the way to the Atari 2600, you'll notice a consistent pattern of 5 year console "lifespans" (most recently, the Xbox and PS2 broke the pattern a little at 4 and 6 years respectively, but not by much).

    Atari 2600 -1977
    Atari 5200 - 1982
    NES - 1986
    SNES - 1991
    N64 - 1996
    PS1 - 1995
    PS2 - 2000
    PS3 - 2006
    Xbox - 2001
    Xbox360 - 2005

    Of course, no one wants to admit that they have a new console just around the corner until they're pretty damn close to having it ready (within a year or so), lest it kill current-gen sales. But there is NO WAY it's going to be 2015 before we see a new Xbox 720 or PS4 (as some are trying to claim). Even with the economic downturn, there is no way we're no going to start seeing see ten year gaps between generations, when it's been 5 year gaps for the last three decades.

  • by Millennium (2451) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:18PM (#28339015) Homepage

    Yeah, right. More like "Ubisoft wants more easy graphics-are-everything cash-ins and the current crop of consoles is losing its marketing effectiveness."

    Some 50% of the marketplace currently indicates that public demand is not, in fact, for "the best machine possible": people just want better games, and they don't care very much about the technology used to deliver them. The only ones demanding "the best machine possible" are technophiles more interested in the hardware than they are in the games, and Ubisoft is looking to throw them a couple of buzzwords as an easy way to spur sales.

  • by RedK (112790) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:20PM (#28339047)
    Oh please, Project Natal didn't take off years ago when it was called EyeToy, what makes you think it'll take off now ?
  • I doubt it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Itchyeyes (908311) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:22PM (#28339089) Homepage

    Something tells me that if consumers aren't ready to fork over money for new hardware, console makers aren't ready to turn their backs on products that still haven't, or are just now starting to, turn a profit, and game developers aren't ready to start making games for hardware with even higher development costs, it's not going to happen. Anyone who jumps the gun here is going to see exactly what Sony did with the PS3, that is consumers and developers clinging to older hardware as long as they can while the newer, overpriced machines languish on shelves for a couple years until everyone is ready.

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:23PM (#28339097)

    "... there is no way we're no going to start seeing see ten year gaps between generations, when it's been 5 year gaps for the last three decades."

    I don't agree here, graphical horsepower of the next console or two away will push the limits of cost structure to develop a game that doesn't sell into the millions, while gaming has gone more mainstream it isn't like the movies, developers still complain about piracy on the PC when their games sell into the millions on console and PC (Call of Duty 4 dev's, I'm looking at you). Many games are totally viable if game developers would stop trying to be the movie industry, somewhere along the line companies started seeing themselves as movie-esque. I don't need my games to be realistic or have real graphics, what I've noticed as we've increased graphics the fun factor has stayed the same or has decreased in some games. I've passed over a lot of recent releases that I haven't even got around to playing because I simply wasn't that interested in these games.

    I mean think of mario the game as a concept, imagine you tried to sell it today: It's a game about a plumber that runs around stomping on turtle-beings called koopa's and these things called goomba's, and there's this dragon-turtle esque thing we call koopa who's invades the mushroom kingdom.

    Instead we see stuff like:

    Assasions creed
    Mass effect
    Gears of war
    etc, etc.

    All trying to be 'movie games' or 'be real'.

    I think Prince of persia is one of the only games that doesn't try to take the whole movie thing to far and be a game first. The original Prince of persia: Sands of time was one of my favorite games, I thought Warrior within was ok but I didn't overall like the second and third games as much as the first.

  • by Killer Orca (1373645) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:24PM (#28339121)
    Yeah they all have their flaws, honestly I got sick of how Microsoft has nickel and dimed me this generation: pay to play online, $60 wireless headsets, 20 GB HDDs for $100!, full game downloads with no discount, a disc check on games that you install every time, I would be happier if it was random, etc. They have pretty much guaranteed my return to PC gaming once they release their next system and stop supporting the 360.
  • by Speare (84249) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:31PM (#28339255) Homepage Journal

    Games don't take $60 Million to make. Spectacular extravaganzas with high-detail hero models, high-detail set designs, high-detail world designs, full-orchestral scores, full-cinematic cuts, companion toy merchandising, and highly-predictable-never-escapes-the-rails storylines. That's what takes $60 Million to make.

    The cat will enjoy a ball of tinfoil more than the eighty dollar robo-mouse. Give the player an enjoyable challenge, something they'll understand on the first play but want to play again and again. Don't try to reinvent the concept of gameplay.

  • Re:llaagg (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:35PM (#28339337) Journal
    You know how America's Army is a video game that is also a recruitment tool for the army? Onlive is a video game system that is also a recruitment tool for our clandestine precognition enhanced assassin program. Anybody who can get a decent score in a twitch game gets an interview.

    I honestly don't know why anybody has any hope for OnLive. The current best-available thin client connection mechanisms are discernibly worse than local even when running basic 2D office stuff on a 100Mb LAN. Unless they are bundling genuine magic in every box, I don't know how they could hope to make 3D gaming over even decent home ISPs not utterly suck.
  • by sopssa (1498795) <> on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:42PM (#28339413) Journal

    Its bad to compare games from 80's and 90's, because it was all new then so everything felt exciting, besides theres some nostalgia towards those early years that probably happened to be lots of peoples teenage years aswell.

    Besides, theres still Mario games released for Wii. Actually, Mario Galaxy was damn fun and it had working, not photorealistic graphics.

    Now I do enjoy [] the great [] graphics aswell. It makes you feel more in the game, in good and bad. It gives impressions and woah moments. But its not required to make a fun game.

    Btw, I enjoyed Assassins Creed even tho it got a bit boring quickly.

    Immersing graphics or movielike (where you feel like you're in a movie) doesn't equal to bad games, if done correctly. Great games are always great games, and good graphics make it nicer to play it.

  • by V50 (248015) * on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:42PM (#28339431) Journal

    I'd strongly disagree that all current consoles suck. Just for disclosure, I have all 7 Current (PC, DS, PSP, PS2 + 3 Consoles) game systems plus many games for all, but still lean toward being a Nintendo fan(boy).

    Considering all of this generation of consoles suck.

    Wii: Poor graphics, and lots of shovel ware -- this is the best console of this generation.

    I'd strongly disagree that "graphics suck" on the Wii. The Wii is probably somewhat more powerful than the original Xbox. The original Xbox that people were gushing about its "amazing graphics" just a few years ago. If said graphics were good enough then, they are good enough now. I still play PS2/GC/XBX games around as much as their successors, and do not find the graphics limiting or sucky.

    Actually the only generations that I tend to feel the graphics do suck on, are the 2600 and PS1 generations. (NES if you really are demanding). The most primitive 2D and 3D graphics. Beyond those, all systems have had graphics ranging from good (Wii, SNES, Genesis, GC, PS2) to amazing (PS3, 360). And yes, I do think SNES graphics were better than PS1 graphics. Good 2D > primitive 3D. OTOH, the PS1/N64 was the source of a great deal of innovation, because of the new technology.

    Shovelware comes with being the market leader. The PS2, PS1, NES and 2600 are infamous for having tons of shovelware. Just don't buy it. A new console wouldn't change the shovelware situation.

    Xbox 360: Horribly unreliable hardware, even after the jasper redesign.

    Fair criticism, though I have heard the most recent ones are semi-reliable. However, this is justification for a new model, a Slim 360, perhaps, not an Xbox 720.

    PS3: A BD player that can also play a few games.

    Largely accurate in 2007. Not so much in 2009. There are PLENTY of good PS3 games, many of which are exclusive (MGS4, KZ2, Valkyria Chronicles, Uncharted, etc.)

    The next generation of consoles can not come fast enough.

    I fail to see why. Actually, I don't really see any benefit from another set of consoles, almost at all. Other than even more mind blowingly amazing (and expensive) graphics, I fail to see what would be gained. None of your problems would be addressed, except perhaps the 360 reliability. The market leader would still get shovelware, and the PS4 may or may not have the games you want. I feel, and the sales of the Wii back up, that graphics became "good enough" with the PS2 generation, and moving beyond that is rather excessive, especially when only something like 30% of Americans have an HDTV and I'd wager most of them can't hook it up correctly. (Next time I see a 4:3 screen stretched to 16:9, or a store's BD-Player hooked up to an HDTV by SD component cables, I think I will cry.)

    I have 3 HDTVs, so I'd sort of like an HD-capable Wii, preferably like a GBC (IE, Wii 1.5, not Wii 2). But the Wii's graphics are still more than capable, and the PS3/360 are, if anything, excessive.

  • by 91degrees (207121) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:43PM (#28339433) Journal
    The 16 bit consoles were clearly miles ahead of the 8 bit machines, but each generation the improvement has been less significant. PS2 games and original XBox games still don't look that bad. The real advantage with the latest generation is higher resolutions. Reflections and shadows are just eye candy.

    Now, the question is, why will it cost so much more to develop for a newer generation? Doubling the number of polygons isn't double the work. A lot of effects have already been written so they just need to use existing libraries for them. Game worlds may well get larger but games themselves don't need to do so substantially.

    And the main point to realise is that budgets will not magically expand to match the cost of developing a game. The budget for a game is the amount that it can be expected to make in terms of sales so that the investors have a decent profit. The game will have to shrink to match that budget.
  • Re:I doubt it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MikeBabcock (65886) <> on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:50PM (#28339535) Homepage Journal

    Sony committed to 10 years on the PS2 just like they did for the PS1 in terms of continuing support. The PS2 is still a viable gaming platform at only $100 and during E3 they suggested they'd continue support past the 10 year mark if publishers were still wanting to use it as a platform. They'll most likely continue support for the PS3 long after the PS4 comes out as well.

    Microsoft's inability to make their hardware cheaper and long-lasting meant they had to blow away the xbox when the 360 was ready as they lost money on every unit sold right to the end. I'm not convinced they won't do something similar with the third version. If there's any hope, its that Microsoft usually gets things right by the third version (Windows, Excel, IE, etc.)

  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:58PM (#28339655) Journal

    I'd strongly disagree that "graphics suck" on the Wii. The Wii is probably somewhat more powerful than the original Xbox.

    I wouldn't say they suck, but they're not what you'd expect from a next generation console. You said as much yourself right there. If all I'm getting is last generation graphics with a nifty controller, why do I need new hardware?

    I still play 2600 and PS1 games regularly, so I'm not bothered by shitty graphics. I am bothered by the lack of technological advance between console generations however.

  • by CmdrSammo (1086973) on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:06PM (#28339781) Homepage
    3D motion capture is possible from one camera actually (I'm working on it for my PhD). There's only a small number of configurations a body can be put into to fill the same 2D silhouette as seen from a single camera.

    Besides that the demo's shown in the GP video really only need 2D motion capture anyway, except maybe the accelerator for the driving game. But seriously, why would I want to stand/sit with my leg in an awkward position when I could just hold "A" instead? For the same reason my Wii is also collecting dust.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:08PM (#28339827)

    I love how the default user action to to mod up trolls like this.

    The current generation of gaming is more or less the same as the last generation, which is more or less the same as the generation before that. I really don't understand how people can say that games are so much worse now than before when they're basically the same game as before, but with an increment, or better graphics, or better controls.

    As to the specific consoles, yes, we are all quite aware that each console has a downside, just as each console before had a downside. Yes, the wii has bad graphics. Yes, some 360s break (not all!), and yes, the PS3 library leaves something to be desired, but each console is pretty good.

    Wii: Innovative motion control/point-and-shoot style gaming. Granted, it doesn't work as well as it should, and the graphics are terrible. Honestly, my least favorite system.

    Xbox 360: Great catalog of games, solid online support. Everyone that's had their console break has also had a replacement, plus usually a free game or free month of live.

    PS3: Has a decently sized game library, plus several online titles. Online support is good (but not as good as the 360) and there are some interesting single platform titles out there. Truth be told, if you're looking for a bluray player, it's also pretty much the best one you can get (and for awhile was the cheapest one you could get). All in all, by no means a bad console.

    This generation has been far from a let down for any gamer willing to accept that trends change. Anyone that longs for the time of the playstation 1 or later needs a reality check. (problems with PS1: initial controller replaced with dual shock, which was necessary for some games. Each console more or less required a $20 memory card. the card held so little that everyone really needed 2 or 3 cards. The games had poor graphics even then, long load times, wired controllers, etc.)

    More to the topic: I seriously doubt that any new console will appear in the next few years. Here's my reasoning:
    1. People don't want to spend money right now. A new console has a sharp price increase for both the consumer and the producer of the goods.
    2. There's nothing really wrong with this generation. The graphics still look fine, the consoles still cost too much and the sale of consoles is still quite strong (or was last winter)
    3. The current generation is only about 4 years old. The last generation was an abnormality, but most generations last about 6 years or longer.

  • by V50 (248015) * on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:17PM (#28339951) Journal

    Fair enough, but I still don't see why that would necessitate another console generation.

    There is advancement in the Wii, much of it. It's just in a different direction than usual, and limited advancement in the direction of the PS360. (ie, they did upgrade the hardware a bit so now almost all games support 480p and widescreen, they did do some limited internet and DLC support, they have wireless controllers).

    The advancement is the motion control, and it's worked quite well. Sure some games overuse it, others made it look bad, etc, but the same can be said for early inroads in any field (many, many 2600 and PS1 games sucked ass). Looking at what Nintendo does with it in Galaxy and such, shows that while often more subtle, it can add quite a bit when used in limited and intelligent quantities. They could have released it as a Gamecube add-on, except then no one would have bought it, and the other legacy problems (firmware, internet, wires, etc) would have remained.

    Either way, I think sales show that Nintendo certainly picked up on a good percentage of people who wished advancement in a different field, other than pure horsepower. That's a good thing, IMO. I have a 360 + PS3 for when I want to play some Halo or MGS4, but the Wii provides a different, unique, and thoroughly fun experience, and I quite like variety.

    I'm sort of rambling at this point, but the TLDR is, I can see where you're coming from, but I don't see why that necessitates another console generation, especially from Sony/MS.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:26PM (#28340099) Homepage

    the most popular console is the weakest machine

    Which has, historically, almost always been the case. In reverse chronological order: PS2 over stronger Xbox and GC, PSX over stonger N64, SNES over weaker Genesis as a notable exception though it was actually pretty close instead of the usual landslide, NES over Master System, and finally the Atari 2600 vs everything else. In the mobile dept: DS over PSP, GBA over um whoever tried to compete with it, and the Gameboy over the GameGear and anyone else who tried to make a portable over the course of a decade.

    Now you can argue that optical disks were an obvious advantage for the PSX (or more accurately cartridges were a weakness of the N64), but in terms of the processing horsepower and "zomg pretty pictures" that most people refer to when talking about 'strength', no contest. In a way, though this is part of my point -- the winner isn't decided by who has the most FLOPS to throw up the most awesome pictures. It's decided by other factors. I don't even think cartridges were the primary reason N64 lost, there's also how Nintendo alienated (read: shit upon) 3rd party developers, and oh yeah the PSX having a year and a half head start to build up a library of games and gain name recognition and expand the market. In a way, the PSX was the original "casual gamer" machine in the sense that it reached out to millions of people who hadn't been gamers before. Today's complaints about how "mom & pop" with their Wii are polluting the market mirror 1995's complaints that frat boys playing sports games on the PSX were polluting the market for us "hard-core" gamers.

    So anyway, yeah. In a generation where, as usual, the consoles' success is ranked in reverse order of shininess, saying "teh market demands teh shinies!" seems quite misguided.

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:31PM (#28340195)

    Yeah they all have their flaws, honestly I got sick of how Microsoft has nickel and dimed me this generation: pay to play online, $60 wireless headsets, 20 GB HDDs for $100!, full game downloads with no discount, a disc check on games that you install every time, I would be happier if it was random, etc. They have pretty much guaranteed my return to PC gaming once they release their next system and stop supporting the 360.

    Agreed. Console ships without a game, one controller. So when you buy an Xbox it's:
    $350 for the box (depending on when you bought it)
    $75 for wireless ethernet card that wasn't built-in
    $60 for additional controller
    $30 for the recharager battery pack designed to work with the controllers but doesn't leaving you stuck with conventional batteries
    $x for cabling if you need hdmi or whatever.

    Wireless headphones are required in a household larger than one but I won't label that as equipment that should have come with the unit. Would be another $120 or something? Not required if you're pc-gaming at your desk but if the PC is a media center unit, you'd be spending the money anyway.

    And as you mentioned, the default 20gb HD is small and you want to buy a bigger one for all the DLC and shit but wait, it has to be MS-branded, you can't save your stuff onto a conventional usb drive. And you'll have to buy a flash-based card to serve as backup to your HDD because you know the HDD could crash at any time. Don't want to lose a hundred hours worth of gaming to a dead disk.

    And the worst part of all this is you know the peripherals will all change with the next system that comes out. Consoles were supposed to be for budget gaming and pc's for people with deep pockets. Console gaming remains extremely expensive.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:35PM (#28340299) Homepage

    Very good post.

    The Wii is probably somewhat more powerful than the original Xbox.

    I'd say it's indisputably more powerful than the Xbox at roughly 2x a GC, but not nearly the leap in performance we're used to which combined with time means it "seems" to be barely more powerful than last gen.

    And yes, I do think SNES graphics were better than PS1 graphics. Good 2D > primitive 3D.

    The PSX was basically the pinnacle of 2D game consoles. Sure it was highly underutilized for that, but when called to the task it performed extremely well and was what the SNES had always wished to be. See Castlevania:SotN for a shining example.

    But the Wii's graphics are still more than capable, and the PS3/360 are, if anything, excessive.

    The only thing excessive about the graphics on those consoles is the price attached. Both of the system (and no crippled "base" 360 systems don't count) and more importantly the costs of the developers. As long as they don't try to push the envelope of console graphics as much as they did this generation, the system price should be manageable. On the development side, that'll either require better tools/methodologies to lower cost (easy for me to say) or simply not utilizing the full capabilities. Which of course would kinda defeat the purpose of having them.

  • Nonsense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:47PM (#28340439) Journal

    he says games in the next generation will likely cost $60 million to create.

    What a load of BS.

    It sounds like someone is looking to convince consumers that a 50% increase in the price of games is reasonable.

    Isn't anyone learning anything from what's happening in the world's economy? People paid about the same retail price for Halo as for Oblivion as for Half-Life 2. Obviously, their production budgets were different.

    When I read that Grand Theft Auto 4 cost "$100 million" to make, I just have to assume that they must have used military contractors to produce it.

    What it basically means is that there are going to be a lot fewer games produced and most of them are going to suck. Then, someone will produce a game on a small budget that will make huge profits and then that developer/designer is going to get $100 million to make a game and it will suck.

    We've seen this wash/spin/rinse/repeat cycle in the movie industry for the past few decades. Tell me, for those of you who watch a lot of movies, how many of them are really the huge blockbusters and how many are the low-budget indie films. Now think of the ones you liked the best, the ones that stayed in your head long after the movie was over. How many of those were the huge blockbuster?

    Now, a show of hands: how many of you spent full price to go see the Tom Cruise movie where he plays the nazi with the eye-patch? How many of you saw Superbad? Which one did you like better?

    Why do entertainment providers think that huge budgets are going to impress us? Or is it, as I suppose, a matter of them looking to excuse their having to keep raising prices and using draconian copyright protection measures?

    100 million to produce a video game... They really believe all their customers are morons.

  • by PenisLands (930247) on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:50PM (#28340483) Homepage Journal

    If you ask me, hardware became good enough when the Sega Megadrive came out. I've had more fun with old Sega games than I've had with any PS2 game.
    After 1996, it seems like games are getting worse with each new game system.

  • by Toonol (1057698) on Monday June 15, 2009 @05:49PM (#28341217)
    The Wii saved this gen, in my opinion, and may save next gen. Games for the PS3 and 360 are much like big, expensive summer blockbusters. Huge budget, impressive, technically proficient, and with little creativity and absolutely no risk. Games for the Wii are like direct-to-video movies. Cheap, generally crappy, but often entertaining and innovative.

    Developers should be HOPING that the next gen follows the Wii pattern instead of the PS3 pattern. Except... maybe the big publishers view upping development costs as a way of eliminating their less-well-funded competition.
  • Its bad to compare games from 80's and 90's, because it was all new then so everything felt exciting, besides theres some nostalgia towards those early years that probably happened to be lots of peoples teenage years aswell.

    There's also the fact that the '80s and '90s saw videogames as a low-budget, high-margin industry. People came out with everything and anything for those original systems. Sometimes it stuck and became a franchise, sometimes it made money but didn't justify sequels, and sometimes it failed. But I remember much more sheer variety than we have today because developers had the freedom to try different things instead of all competing on how many polys they can push and how many innocents they can have the player kill.

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