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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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  • I'm interested in... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bluesman ( 104513 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:26PM (#28339149) Homepage

    I'm happy with a system that can display good games in high definition and take advantage of my home theater setup. The PS3 delivers that for me, but I'd like to see better games available. That said, Rock Band 2 gets a lot of play, and I really appreciate that the PS3 can play just about any media you throw at it.

    The Wii has some fun games, and I have one of those too, but they look like absolute crap on a hi-def TV.

    An updated Wii makes sense, a new PS3, no way. The PS3 has all the hardware I need -- just make some games already.

  • by smackenzie ( 912024 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:26PM (#28339163)
    Actually, what we are most likely going to see is incremental -- but significant! -- updates to the existing consoles. Updates that are large enough to be considered a "new release" but small enough not to be totally new architectures. We know, for example:

    - Microsoft is planning an all-out marketing campaign + release schedule around Natal. It's not quite a new console roll-out, but Microsoft is treating it as such. Fully backwards compatible.

    - Nintendo needs to get on the HD bandwagon, but doesn't necessarily need to push the envelope for HD gaming. Expect something that meets 720p criteria and is approximately [some smaller integer greater than 1 but less than 5]x as powerful as the Wii. Fully backwards compatible.

    - Sony: not entirely clear. Open to suggestions. They have a PS3 slim in the works. No, not a new console. They released the PSP Go, dropping UMG support. That's interesting. The Cell is a pain-in-the-ass to develop for, but various shops are starting to get the hang of it. Maybe we will see a PS3, Mach II with 2 Cells, slim body and, of course, the now-mandatory motion tracking controllers.

    The fact that future games are going to cost somewhere in the $60M ballpark is precisely why we will NOT see brand new architectures any time soon. No one, except maybe 1st party entities, is going to give up all of the applied dev resources to hop to an untested platform.

    If you want to commence an interesting dialogue, I propose something like "What, exactly, constitutes a NEW console?"
  • by Gizzmonic ( 412910 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:36PM (#28339355) Homepage Journal

    This generation has seen console gaming taking the first painful steps into HD. Sony and Microsoft have lost billions on this step, while the comparibly simple Wii is far more profitable. So what are they going to do to increase profits for the next generation?

    That's simple-next generation consoles will be entirely DLC-only. Forget about exchanging games, bringing your games over to a friends' house, etc. All games will be download-only and you'll max out your broadband cap by downloading a single game, unless you switch to a certain broadband provider that has a deal worked out with Microsoft so that M$ downloads don't count against your cap.

  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:44PM (#28339451) Journal

    I think that both Sony and Microsoft would be insane not to build upon their current platforms with their next generations. Skipping to a new architecture (x86 + Larrabee has been suggested for Sony) would likely cost a lot to implement, and I think that both companies want to break even fairly close to launch this time.

    Sony's best path, in 2011, is to launch a PowerXCell32 based PS4. This is basically a Cell with 2 PPUs and 32 enhanced SPUs (although I think they could do a 4 PPU version). Couple that to a GT300 series GPU and you've got a 1080p monster.

    I also don't think that Sony can single-chip the PS3 unlike the PS2, because of the NVIDIA GPU. This might make it less economical to cost-reduce like the PS2 later in life.

    Microsoft can just have an octo-core CPU running at higher clocks and whatever ATI can come up with in 2011 - R900 at 3TFLOPS?

    Regardless, we'll only start hearing about the next generation when the current generation has had another price drop so people don't put off their purchase. I expect to start hearing concrete details in early 2010.

  • by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:44PM (#28339453) Journal

    This is the first gen of consoles that can really leverage the internet, so past performance is a bad indicator in this case. All 3 machines have digital money printing services and all 3 are acceptable. At this point there isnt a huge pent up need for more detailed graphics like in previous gens. We have reached the 'good enough' stage. Ill be conservative and say we are looking at a 6-8 year cycle on this gen of hardware.

  • Re:I doubt it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gbarules2999 ( 1440265 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:47PM (#28339497)

    the newer, overpriced machines languish on shelves for a couple years until everyone is ready.

    That's the word, right there. Microsoft is still selling Xbox systems as a loss, but do you know why the keep doing it? Two reasons: mind share and software sales. Software is where the big bucks are. Price matters more here than anything else, for the consoles; it's the gateway "drug," so to speak. If you get them to buy the unit, chances are they'll buy the games (unless they're buying a PS3 for BluRay...snicker snicker).

    Isn't it funny how, if you go back and look at the stats, the under-powered unit usually gets the better variety of software? PlayStation 1 and 2 were both the lowest common denominator, and they both did extraordinarily well compared to the superior (in some ways) Nintendo or Xbox offerings.

  • Re:Market not ready (Score:3, Interesting)

    by frosty_tsm ( 933163 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @03:53PM (#28339579)
    Not only is the market not ready, current-gen consoles are still really expensive. One of the XBox 360 models is $299.99 (first new, non-bundle one I found). The PS3 is $400. The Nintendo Wii is still $250 (same as it was 3 years ago). The gaming community is still waiting for their current generation systems to make up for their cost. In contrast, when the previous generation was on it's way out there were $129 PS2s and $99 GCNs.

    I'd argue that the high cost to manufacture the PS3 and the XBox 360 leave only Nintendo in any position to move to the next generation. They've been making a profit since the beginning and haven't needed to roll out new versions of their hardware. In contrast, if Sony and MS can't sell their systems for anything less than any next-gen effort would easily cost $1000.

    On a side note, the use of the CELL should be considered one of the dumbest design choices. I've worked with people who wrote code for it; it's a nightmare just to get things working. One day game system designers will learn that a simple-to-program system is the way to go.
  • Re:I'm not surprised (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gbarules2999 ( 1440265 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:03PM (#28339745)

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

    Graphics are not just there for "looks." Oftentimes they can add to gameplay, and change it, make it move in ways we haven't considered before.

    Just because you like the SNES graphics more doesn't mean the PlayStation wouldn't be valid. The added power brings more to the table for 3D than the SNES could ever do. I'd like to see you try to do Resident Evil, Gran Turismo, or Tomb Raider on the SNES, for example. Look at a game like Mass Effect, which use the increasing technology to make more believable characters and interesting worlds.

    This smacks of "Nobody's going to need any more than 647KB of RAM" to me.

  • by Stormwatch ( 703920 ) <> on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:07PM (#28339817) Homepage

    I love 2D platformers. The last one that truly impressed me was Astal on the Saturn. Imagine what today's machines could do for this genre; imagine a new Turrican or Shinobi, in high-res 2D, all hand-drawn, with multiple layers of parallax and translucency, with more action and animation than the old systems could dream of handling. To sum it up: something that would be to platformers what The King of Fighters XII is to fighting games.

    But sadly, no. These days, 2D platformers are relegated to portable systems. And I'm stuck playing a genre I love with emulators.

    Won't somebody think of the platformer fans?!

  • Re:I'm not surprised (Score:4, Interesting)

    by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:16PM (#28339945)

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

    Poor graphics is relative, especially when you take price into account. What I don't understand though is how "lots of shovelware" is anything but neutral. There's too much shovelware on ALL the consoles (and equivalents for TV, movies, music...), and it shouldn't get in the way of buying the good stuff.

    The 360 is reliable: you can rely on it breaking down.

    I kid, I kid. I'm only on my third.

    What though gives you any indication that next gen is going to be any better? For me it's all about a balance of price vs performance. If next gen has incrementally better graphics, and slightly better stability, but is 100-200 dollars -more- than the current generation, then delay it forever. The devil I know and have already paid for is better than the devil I don't know that is more expensive.

  • Re:I'm not surprised (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Talderas ( 1212466 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:20PM (#28339997)

    Personally, I think people are overrating the Natal. I don't think people understand the importance of tactile feedback. Right now the natal is riding the "Wow that is really cool" wave. Nothing I've read about the natal has talked about the tactile feedback issue.

  • Re:I'm not surprised (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bluesman ( 104513 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:31PM (#28340205) Homepage

    One thing I'd love to see is for a console to open up their development process and create an App Store similar to the iPhone.

    That's the future, especially if they made it simple (relatively) to develop for, say by including some 2-D API's.

    The Linux portion of my PS3 is promising right now, but it took a loooong time from launch for all of the hardware to work (controllers, wireless, etc.) such that development on the system wouldn't be a pain.

  • Horse Shit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:37PM (#28340327)

    With Ubisoft putting out such fantastic titles such as "Imagine: Horsez" by the bucketload, they'll need to show me their full financials before I buy into the $60 million argument.

    Developers had no problem jumping ship to the current gen and making money. Games went up $10 on average if you own a 360 or a PS3. They charge you for updates that used to be free, and they charge you to download unlock codes for maps, levels, game modes, costumes, and fucking furniture for your virtual corporate tool. Developers will work out plenty of ways to make morons pay through the nose to cover increasing costs.

    OnLive as competition?
    Yeah, and I hear that Apple is going to be seriously entering the game market aaaaaaaaaaaany second now.

    This is a fucking joke.
    The next generation will come around when the current players decide that it's strategically viable.

    Let's look at the charts, shall we?

    Nintendo has won. They want the current generation to last for as long as they are making buckets and buckets of money.
    Nintendo will be the last of the three to go to the next generation (in terms of hard announcements). The ONLY possible scenario that would cause Nintendo to be the first to announce would be the motion controllers from MS or Sony taking away from Nintendo's profits. Nintendo would then make an announcement merely to fuck with the competitors' time tables. (Hint: Natal and Sony's tech will NOT save the 360 or PS3.)

    Nintendo will be the last to announce.

    MS is in second place, and will likely be the first to announce their next console. MS really want to push Natal to try and steal Nintendo's thunder, but despite their lines about Natal being the next generation XBOX, the fact is the only way MS can capitalize on it is if it's bundled with ALL systems. MS will push this generation as long as it can sell Natal units or Natal + 360 bundles. They need to recoup major cash from their warranty fiasco. MS likely wants Natal to get an extra 18 months to 2 years out of the 360. I don't think it'll be the hot shit they want it to be, but who knows.

    MS will announce their next-gen hardware first.

    Sony is fucked. I own a PS3 myself and enjoy it, but there's no denying that it simply didn't have the success of the PS2. I think five hundred and ninety-nine US dollars may have had a part to play with that. And with the 360 a year ahead, no one wanted to learn how to develop for the Cell. The bottom line is that Sony will announce the slim PS3 this fall and try to get some momentum, especially in Japan. Sony can capitalize on the release of Final Fantasy XIII along with the slim PS3 in Japan at the end of this year. I don't know if they can do the same thing in the US, especially since FFXIII is on the 360 as well. I expect Sony to keep trying for the "year of the PS3" until someone else makes an announcement. Sony has lost so much cash with the PS3 that they need to get as much mileage out of it as they can and can't risk jumping ship too early. Once MS reveals their hand, Sony will be free to show theirs without much risk of cutting off the PS3 before it's prime, or being one-upped tech wise or timewise for the next gen.

    Sony will be second to announce.

    The timeline as I see it is basically:

    MS releases Natal and Natal + 360 bundles in 2010.
    Sales aren't great.
    MS announces E3 2011.
    Details about the PS4 "leak" in the fall of 2011.
    Sony announces E3 2012.
    Nintendo teases E3 2012, in response to Sony's announcement. Nintendo won't have a full reveal until E3 2013.

    Late 2013 MS launches.
    Early 2014 Sony launches.
    Fall 2014 Nintendo launches.

  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @04:44PM (#28340397)

    The dirty little secret of this generation is that the cost per unit revenue of the average game went down. Not up. And not by a little bit either.

    The big studios want us all to think the cost to make games goes up with each generation. That justifies cost increases, and big-name licenses.

    In reality, hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue has been generated by low to medium budget downloadable titles that have been the bread and butter of this generation of consoles.

  • by Hadlock ( 143607 ) on Monday June 15, 2009 @05:16PM (#28340851) Homepage Journal

    Considering the game engine, which is usually at least 40% of the programming (modifying it being the other 60%), and licensing the engine can't cost more than $10 million there seems to be a lot of hollywood style waste going on, which is what they're after it seems. Without the multimillion dollar movie star eating up a large portion of the budget.

  • I've never understood why console manufacturers don't try to make their consoles last longer. They're hugely expensive to make, hugely expensive for the consumer to buy, and have frequently made the manufacturer a net loss on sales.

    Competition. If they don't make a new console, someone else will.

    Nintendo learned it the hard way when the Genesis started trouncing the NES, and they still hate the fact that they have to keep developing new systems, and have a tendency to promise their new consoles a long time before they're actually finished in order to keep their fans from buying the competitor's new system. And they really liked the Gameboy development cycle. In fact, I remember a few cycles ago when they (and I think this was for the gamecube but not sure) actually had an advertising campaign complaining about the constant console development, and trying to convince gamers that their next console would be a long-term one that would focus on gameplay and not be dependent on cutting-edge graphics. Weirdest gaming advertising campaign I've ever seen.
  • I doubt that (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rocketship Underpant ( 804162 ) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @04:17AM (#28345375)

    Maybe Microsoft wants to go download-only and nickel-and-dime its users even more, but Nintendo relies heavily on its retail ecosystem (including the used market), which provides massive amounts of free marketing for the company. This is particularly true in Japan.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak