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E3: Ubisoft's Detoc Looks To Game, Film Convergence
E3: Ubisoft's Detoc Looks To Game, Film Convergence Exclusive
June 4, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

Ubisoft has been spending a lot of time looking into the future. It sees the world of film and games getting ever closer, and so it's getting a head start.

That was the motivation behind the company's 2008 acquisition of Hybride, the effects studio behind films such as 300 and Sin City, and was a key component of the company's 2009 E3 briefing.

"We figured that the industries are going to become more and more close every year," Ubisoft North America president Laurent Detoc tells Gamasutra. This will mean "more sharing of assets, reusing of assets, the ability to optimize."

Detoc says the two industries have more abstract best practices to share, like approaches to storytelling. Moves toward cross-media have "made sense for us; we thought that was the direction of the industry."

Detoc says Ubisoft had a similar degree of prescience ahead of the unveiling of camera-driven controller solutions by Microsoft and Sony at E3.

In recent months, CEO Yves Guillemot has made widely-publicized statements that a portion of the publisher's strategy going forward was to place investment behind "the future generation of consoles," prompting lots of speculation on the length of the current hardware generation.

It seems that both Guillemot's warnings to prepare for next-gen and EA CEO John Riccitiello's assertions of a long console cycle may both be borne out by the revelations of new input technology in the works.

"Sure enough we've been working on camera tech for a while," says Detoc. "And we are going to be the first... that's what [Guillemot] meant. There is also a possibility that the machines continue to evolve."

So why's the film parallel so important to the company's strategy? "It's important because we want our brands to live longer and elsewhere than just games," Detoc explains.

"There's an ulterior motive... where wouldn't it be interesting if the next Rainbow Six, or, years from now... the big event was the game, and the ancillary product was the movie?"

"If you look at GTA, or massive titles, if you ship enough units -- 10 million units of a game at $60, [games are] a $600 million-dollar business," he adds. "The movies? They don't gross that. The game is the centerpiece, because it's a gaming franchise."

Tech, asset and process sharing at the early stage makes this more possible, says Detoc, and also ensures the "ancillary product" correlates on every level with the game.

"To us, it's important... to the direction of the business that we are closer, but it's also important to the development of our brands long-term," he says. "50 years from now, who is Ubisoft? Are we a giant media company that started as a video game company?"

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Bruno Dion
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I can see them going that way. The CG movie for ACII they showed at E3 was some real high quality. Almost felt real.

Raul Chavez
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CG are in my opinion are really the way to go. escape the boundaries of gravity time and space to create the ultimate game experience/short or long movie depending on how long it takes to finish a game.

Gabriel Lievano
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It's surprising to me not to see Ubisoft announcing Cellfactor: Psychokinetic Wars in the E3. I just saw it in XBox Live and PSN and downloaded the demo and it is very fun. Anybody know anything about this game?

Noah Falstein
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Next week I'm speaking at a conference that is blending Serious Games and Documentary Filmmaking, which strikes me as a nice parallel to standard Games and Films. But there has always been an uneasy blend between games and movies, particularly in the FMV days of the 1990's, and I think that serious games and documentaries are a better match.