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Ubisoft's Guillemot On Bringing The Best Of Facebook To Console Games

Speaking to Gamasutra, Ubisoft president Yves Guillemot says he's been so impressed with the gaming features brought to the industry by Facebook that he'll bring a lot of the platform's best features to the company's console games.
Speaking to Gamasutra, Ubisoft president Yves Guillemot says he's been so impressed with the gaming features brought to the industry by Facebook that he'll bring a lot of the platform's best features to the company's console games. By next E3, we'll be seeing many (if not all) Ubisoft console games using features like asynchronous gaming and easy friend-finding to improve the social experience, he said. "[We're] taking advantage of all the great ideas that were developed for games on Facebook,” he said. "Social gameplay is something we've used in the industry for a while, but now I think it's something we really can take advantage of [on consoles]." For Guillemot, this continues a long tradition of the console space taking the best ideas from the world of PC gaming, just a little later. “The consoles have always been following what the PC was doing,” he said. “[Online] multiplayer games you saw first on PC, [and] we took them on console when we were actually able to add voice [communications]. ... This was one evolution that made the multiplayer games easier to play on the console for more people, and I think this is the same thing that will happen [with social gaming] on consoles." Social gaming has helped increase the potential audience for games from 300 million to 1.2 billion, Guillemot said, and that means a whole new universe of potential play partners that aren't necessarily captured by the current console networks. "On Xbox Live, sometimes you don't know who your friends are, where on Facebook there are friends that you didn't expect to play with you,” he said. Connecting that console network to your Facebook network allows you to “play with more friends, because you will recognize them," he added. Asynchronous multiplayer is one of the biggest features of Facebook gaming that Guillemot says he hopes to emulate in Ubisoft console titles. “The fact that you don't have to be there when your friends are there is a huge thing that we're going to use more and more in video games on consoles as well,” he said. But there's also the potential to go “a lot deeper into the experience and into the concept of social gaming” on consoles, he said. Guillemot gave the example of Ubisoft's PC sim Anno, in which players have to manage a limited, game-wide market for gasoline with prices that go up and down with game-wide demand. He also pointed out how Assassin's Creed players can work together across the network to decrypt a secret language, with each player uncovering a small part of a much larger puzzle. “You play alone, but you have an effect on more players,” he said. “You still are interdependent, and this interdependence on killing enemies or managing power supply or a limited amount of resources are just a few examples of what's possible with the future of gaming." When players connect to Ubisoft's social network, the company will also be able to learn more about their play style, and adapt the gameplay to suit them automatically, he said. "If you play all the Clancy games, and you are very good at Clancy games, we are not going to ask you to do all the early steps in the game,” he said by way of example. “You will go directly with the possibility to have very powerful weapons and to go very far in the game, to the levels that correspond to yourself. It's a way to customize the experiences to your abilities.” Not just that, but Guillemot envisions Ubisoft pairing up gamers based on their individual strengths, so that the play group has the right mix of skills to give the most enjoyable experience. “They can learn that in combining with that group of people, they will be better to solve that challenge,” he said. “So they will get to know them better and see what they're good at, what the others are good at, and they can work together to get better. I think it will be extremely interesting for our customers. They already do that together, but in making it more automatic and easier to understand for everyone, I think it will help to have a better experience when you play." “Those guys at Facebook are learning who you are, and that gives them an advantage. In games we will learn more and more who you are and use that to your advantage when you play,” he continued. While some privacy-minded players might be concerned about a game publisher knowing this much about their profile, Guillemot said he doesn't expect such concerns to be a major issue in practice. “What we have seen is that people are interested to share more than what we always thought they would share,” he said. "Very quickly you will not want to [play anonymously],” because of all the benefits that come with connecting to their network. "Or maybe many people will have many accounts as well, so they will want to have one personality in one thing..."

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