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The Ubi-Soft Effect

posted on January 19th, 2007 by matt

Remember when Ubi-Soft was all gung-ho for the Wii? They jumped on the Wii like it was a free ticket to Pleasure Town.

For the uninformed, Ubi-Soft bet high on the Wii. They thought getting a head-start with the Wii would help them become the top publisher in gaming, besting the almighty EA. Since the launch of the Wii, Ubi-Soft has released 7 games in total, which is three more than Nintendo themselves(based on American release lists).

Interesting thing about this situation is the mentality behind making these games. You’d think after seeing Red Steel being showcased in Nintendo’s conference at this year’s E3 that Ubi-Soft wanted to bring gamers a more quality-centric release list, but has in fact done the complete opposite. After tallying up the average scores from Metacritic, Ubi-Soft’s titles have averaged a score of 54.

The highest score garnered was for Rayman Raving Rabbids with an average of 76. Then came both Splinter Cell: Double Agent and Red Steel at 63. GT Pro went on to get a 52, while both Monster 4×4 World Circuit and Far Cry: Vengeance achieved a terrible score of 41. Open Season wasn’t even graded, seeing as how it still needs three more reviews to be listed with a score. Based on the three scores it did get, it averaged a 43.

So what can be said about these scores? Basically, Ubi-Soft is not interested in giving gamers a worthwhile experience with their Wii. Any gamer with a shred of common sense can now see that Ubi-Soft was more interested in having a large number of games at launch, rather than quality ones. If Ubi-Soft plans on confronting EA for publisher supremacy, they need to go at it from a different angle. I can’t imagine a gamer with some extra cash buying a Ubi-Soft game with scores like this.

At some point you’re going to hear Ubi-Soft back away from the Wii. They’ll talk about how the Wii was probably a bad choice to set its targets on, and that it is still hard to make successful games on a Nintendo platform when you go against the likes of Nintendo and EA. Of course, we know better. No one is going to buy their games because they suck. Plain and simple. You won’t get ahead by dumping garbage onto the platform. If Ubi-Soft doesn’t realize this, then I feel sorry for them. Gamers are not that dumb.

Some may disagree and say that some Ubi-Soft games are indeed fun (I even gave Red Steel a favorable review), but the averages speak for themselves. With scores like these, I can’t see Ubi-Soft being much help.

Any vl readers out there want to share their opinions on Ubi-Soft’s efforts? Are the averages fair or completely missing the mark?

6 Comments

  1. tony said on January 19, 2007:

    I think that on a few of those scores the averages are crap.  Rayman is a much better game than a 76.  Especially for a launch title on a new system with a radically different control scheme.  Every single person I’ve shown Rayman to has had a blast.  It’s a great party game.  Playing alone – as most of those reviewers probably were – yeah, the score might suffer, but that’s like reviewing Battleship by yourself.  I have to admit that most of the reviews I’ve read for Wii games have been off in my opinion.  I really don’t think people are taking into account the entirely new control system before they make their judgements.  I’m quite willing to give a mediocre game a good review if it uses all of the Wiimote’s functionality in an interesting way.  Rayman would be incredibly boring with a regular controller.  Red Steel would be just another shooter.  Before getting the Wii, my friends and I were trying to figure out how first-person shooters would work on the system, and Red Steel (being technically the first FPS on the system) accomplished control quite well.  I view the first batch of UbiSoft games as more of a tech demo (like Wii Sports – another game that gets insanely low scores in reviews) and their second batch will be much tighter.  I mean, these are the guys that made the Splinter Cells, Prince of Persia, the Rainbow Sixes, the Ghost Recons, Beyond Good and Evil, XIII …  Of course they have some crap games, but what company doesn’t.  The fact is, they have the balls to try something new with a brand new system and they’re getting hammered because they have sub-par graphics or poor voice acting.

  2. Christian said on January 19, 2007:

    For the sake of discussion, let’s try to put a different spin on the scenario.  Maybe Ubisoft knew damn well what they were doing.  Maybe when they said they were going to capitalize on the Wii market before everyone else got to the show, they meant "We know how easy it will be for us to make some lazy ports and a few original games for the launch, and since there’s not much else on the console we’ll still sell pretty well".  Its possible that they’ll continue to be poor and lazy games in the future – I actually think Matt’s scenario of Ubi dropping away from the console is frighteningly plausible – but it also be a deliberate tactic in order to establish themselves as a strong force on the Wii market.  Wonder what the sales numbers are for some of these games…

  3. Stefan said on January 19, 2007:

    I’m going to second Christian’s wondering about sales numbers.  Theoretically, if all the really crap games were also very cheap to produce, then it should be easy for them to break even or make profits, and if Rayman and Red Steel are huge sellers (and I get the impression they are), then whatever the average review, UbiSoft will be pulling in some good money from the Wii market.

  4. Matt said on January 19, 2007:

    Yeah, the sales will probably justify Ubi-Soft’s intentions, but they were praying on the weak and less fortunate when releasing semi-crappy games at launch. Launch time is, I think, the best time to do this, as most people want to get a lot of games for their new consoles. With so many Ubi games at launch, they were betting that at least one of their games was picked up by one of these people. But by not giving the person a quality game will hurt them later, as people will probably stay away from Red Steel 2, or GT Pro 2. They will tarnish themselves by doing this. Even though EA is hated in many circles, their games are not that bad. It’s mostly a preference thing with EA. The games are still rather good. Ubi-Soft basically was going for quantity not quality here. EA has a good balance of both. You can feel ok when buying an EA game, but will probably hesitate picking up anything Ubi-related now. For the most part though, as Tony tells us that some of the averages a bit off.

  5. pat said on January 19, 2007:

    stupid european ubisoft reports in french, which i dont speak.  and the video game sector seems undercovered.  they seem pretty to be doing pretty well though.  in terms of wii launch sales, red steel was second in both the us and europe.  rayman was third in europe and fourth here.  also november was a great month of sales for them, and they’ve had a great start to the new year.  this is all circumstantial evidence, but it seems like their strategy has been working.  it makes sense too, come to think of it.  there are never many launch games so theres little competition for their games.  they bet people would buy the wii and want something to play. 

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