Ubisoft has announced it plans to change-up the structure of its editorial team–the group of individuals largely responsible for the design and story direction for all of the company’s games. By changing how the group is organized, Ubisoft hopes to better differentiate its games from one another.
“We are reinforcing our editorial team to be more agile and better accompany our development teams around the world as they create the best gaming experiences for players,” Ubisoft said, according to VGC. For context, in the past, the 100-or-so group of designers and producers that comprised the editorial team were the leading influence behind the similar design in Ubisoft games: open-world with lots of side quests, multiplayer or online in-game elements, and storylines themed around real-world issues, according to VGC’s report.
“In the previous system that editorial had, there were often the ideas of just one or two people getting put into every game,” an anonymous source told VGC. “That’s why you tended to see such similarity, because it’s the same taste and opinion being replicated.”
Granted, these design philosophies have been the basis for some of Ubisoft’s recent successes, such as Watch Dogs 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. However, as 2019 made abundantly clear, using a design that’s worked before for all of your franchises does not mean they’ll all be successful. Ubisoft reported disappointing sales numbers for both The Division 2 and Ghost Recon Breakpoint–later implying one of Breakpoint’s most significant flaws was that it was too similar to The Division 2. “While many of our titles are strongly differentiated, we need to ensure this is the case for all of them,” Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said in a conference call.
Following the reveal of the disappointing sales numbers, Ubisoft announced that it would be delaying Watch Dogs: Legion, Rainbow Six Quarantine, and Gods & Monsters so as to ensure that they all launch with the right amount of polish and are distinct–both from each other and what came before them.
Under the new set-up, Ubisoft chief creative officer Serge Hascoet will no longer solely lead editorial. Instead, he will simply oversee the group while seven vice presidents each lead individual teams within editorial that are devoted to one franchise. Under this new system, Ubisoft is hoping that all of its franchises will evolve in different ways, creating a more distinct feel for each.