For years, Ubisoft has extolled the potential of convergence between Hollywood and games. During its E3 2009 press conference, the publisher indicated its intention to take its investment into cross-media development further than it ever has, partnering with such figures as James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, and Peter Jackson.
"Ubisoft is going from a simple developer and publisher company to a full 360-degrees content provider," said CEO Yves Guillemot on the company's plans for drastically broadened scope. "The true convergence is the one that happens in people's mind when they experience our IPs."
In early 2006, following the success of its King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie
-- entrusted to Rayman
and Beyond Good & Evil
creator Michel Ancel -- Guillemot said he wanted to see more than 25 percent of Ubisoft's revenue derived from movie-based games.
Drawing significant applause from the crowd, the company revealed a partnership with Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment to release a video game based on Steven Spielberg's 2011 film Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, produced by Peter Jackson and Kathleen Kennedy.
But now it appears the company would also like to drive convergence in ways more symbiotic than a simple licensor-licensee relationship.
For example, Ubisoft is developing "over 100 shots" for what Guillemot described as "this year's most anticipated movie:" Avatar, by Aliens and Titanic director James Cameron. The collaboration is borne out of Ubisoft's 2008 acquisition of Hybride, the effects studio behind films such as 300 and Sin City.
"We are for the first time ever bridging our VFX and game development expertise," said Guillemot.
Cameron himself took the stage for a surprisingly long time to speak in-depth about his upcoming film as well as the close relationship he has had with Ubisoft in developing its associated game. At his request, the Avatar game has been developed from the start to support stereoscopic 3D graphics -- it's "the first major stereoscopic title," Cameron claimed.
The noted director seemed to be in full agreement with Ubisoft's stance on convergent media.
"When entertainment succeeds in today's market, it does it by combining games, films, books, toys...where you can visit the world and characters in different ways," Cameron said, implying his intention to bridge all of those forms with Avatar-related products. "There should be this sense of enlarging the world ...The world of the Avatar game is in some way richer...than what you'll see in the film, but at the same time it doesn't contain any spoilers. ...This is the perfect consonance between these different media."
Ubisoft's stated direction is particularly notable in contrast to major competitors like Electronic Arts and Activision, both of whom have indicated a desire to become less license-dependent than they have been in the past. Even explicitly Hollywood-tied publishers like Warner Bros. and Disney Interactive have attempted to move more towards internally-generated properties rather than relying on licenses from their corporate relatives.
Of course, Ubisoft also plans to create its own film media based entirely on in-house property: later this year, the company will release HD short films set within the world of Assassin's Creed 2