Interview: Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot
We talk exclusively with the CEO of Ubisoft to discuss a potential future where his company publishes Grand Theft Auto, plus chat about casual games, innovating in the NEXT generation and more.
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By Adam Doree
Everyone goes on about how much they like Yves Guillemot. In fact, as Ubisoft Shanghai's Julian Gerighty put it to us recently: "He's such a good guy - honestly, I wish our boss was NOT such a good guy; it would give us more reason to justify our bitching! But he is such a nice man."
Yes, everyone likes Yves and everyone likes Ubisoft. You never hear gamers bitching about Ubisoft. And it's largely down to the company's dedication to making high quality games, and its ability to honour and reinvigorate its existing IP, while at the same time innovating with new and ambitious IP.
But Ubisoft, currently the world's number three publisher, is not stopping there. It has a clear vision and big plans for further growth. We spoke exclusively to Yves at the recent Ubidays 2008 showcase, at the Louvre Museum in Paris, to get some insight.
Kikizo: Thanks for talking with me Yves. We're interested in the rapidly growing casual market. I've spoken with the head of EA Casual too and everyone wants a piece of this huge market. What is your competitive advantage going in against the likes of EA who are obviously very serious about casual as well?
Yves: Being first is a very important element, because you get into the business and you understand it, and then the products you create are responding to what your consumers want. So being first is a big advantage, and the second element is we have the teams and they are building the engines now to do lots of very high quality games. And it's true there will be lots of competition coming, but you know, there is a big market as well, so normally there is space for everybody.
Kikizo: Ubisoft is keen to keep a lot of its engines in-house where others look to outsource aspects of development, what is the advantage of continuing to do that?
Yves: I think for all the creations in games, you have to make sure you concentrate on what is the most important, and when something will make a difference and somebody cannot do it as well as you would do it, you go for in-house.
Kikizo: On that topic, there has been a recent rumour that Ubisoft might acquire Take 2, again similarly to EA. I see one of Take 2's most valuable assets right now as the engine that runs GTA from a technology standpoint, which obviously Take 2 owns. If I were Take 2 I would be licensing that engine out tomorrow. It could be as popular as Unreal.
Yves: It could be, it could be. But they would then be giving away the competitive advantage that they have, so it's better to keep it.
Kikizo: I would love to see a European company own what we currently know as Take 2, as opposed to EA buying it and getting even larger. Wouldn't you like to see a European company take ownership of it?