If We Ran Ubisoft

April 4, 2010

In If We Ran, we look at what we’d do if given control over game companies to get them going in a positive direction. This month we’re taking on Ubisoft, a company with phenomenal successes but a serious consistency problem.

Ubi has decided that the Raving Rabbids are their new mascots, and that’s fine, but you know it’s going too far when they’re the unlockable characters in a Ninja Turtles game. Rayman 2 was arguably one of the best 3D platformers of its time, and as its peers (Sonic, Banjo-Kazooie, Crash, Spyro) have failed as of late, the market’s much less crowded and more hospitable for the genre. It can coexist with the Rabbids.


Gamers want this game. I’m pretty sure Ubi wants to release it too, since the original was a critical darling and the new title will boost the company’s reputation. (Not to mention that finishing a game means you can stop spending money to make it.)  But with Splinter Cell: Conviction out of the way, it’s the game that’s in development hell. Get it released! Hopefully there’ll be an announcement at E3.


For a company that releases Assassin’s Creed, they have a bad reputation. Why? Junk movie games. They’re lucrative, but if they at least limited the release platforms, the quality would increase. That’s something. It’s not about budget, either: Ubi threw a lot of money at the Avatar game (and even made it in 3D), but there’s a fundamental problem with top-down licensed games: the gameplay comes second. That’s the only thing that makes it different from the movie itself, so if it isn’t good, I might as well just be watching.


Capybara Games, creators of iPhone sensation Critter Crunch, worked with Ubisoft to release a puzzle RPG late last year for the DS. The game became a cult hit, and like their first game, they’re creating an HD downloadable version for consoles. This shouldn’t stop here. The game has legs, and new versions with innovation, variety and even further levels of strategy could bring the Might & Magic moniker back to the levels of prestige it once carried.


There are three big series for Ubi that keep making lots and lots of money and are critical successes as well: Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed. We don’t want series run into the ground, but these series’ developers have managed to keep things fresh and interesting without suffering from sequel-itis. We say keep ’em coming, because there’s no reason not to.


Okay, we had to make sure we weren’t already in charge of Ubisoft subconsciously when we heard this one.  The tie-in game is actually an interesting concept on its own, playing off 8-bit nostalgia and featuring a soundtrack by chiptune master Anamanaguchi. There are many places where this could go wrong, but on paper, this seems like exactly the kind of game we’d make.


We couldn’t get through this list without mentioning the infamous Imagine series of games for the Wii and DS. They’re horrible, have ill-advised concepts, and they’re spreading like a plague. Except here’s the problem: they make money. We wouldn’t want to get laughed out of the room for cutting off a crucial revenue stream, so we’re forced to just reform the series to make it less embarrassing. First, spell things correctly. We don’t need any more “Babyz” here. Then take it back to the original concept: female-focused casual titles. Take a few gameplay tips from FarmVille, Style Savvy and Diner Dash, and these games might be bearable. (Of course, we still wouldn’t play them.) 

What do you think? Are these moves good ones? Is there something we forgot? Let us know in the comments!