Technonlogy

Ubisoft thinks it knows what millennial gamers want

What do today’s millennials look for in games?

Ones they can play together, says Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot.

“Millennials are asking for games they can play with friends more and more, so that’s why we’re going increasingly into multiplayer games. 

“We see that the industry is changing towards a more community-oriented one,” Guillemot told Mashable at the company’s Singapore studio.

Skull & Bones, Ubisoft’s upcoming game that’s produced almost entirely out of Singapore, is one example of the company’s efforts to increase its range of multiplayer games.

Unlike the previous solo-only Assassin’s Creed installments that inspired Skull & Bones, the new pirate-themed game can be played both as a single player, and multiplayer game.

This is but one tactic in a bigger strategy to simply make its games stickier. Facing shorter player attention spans, Ubisoft figures that the community pull will make people hooked on each game for a longer time. 

“It’s important that we provide an experience that can be consumed for a long time,” Guillemot said. 

The way he sees it, this aim to draw users in for longer is meant to fill a “new need” in the market. Rainbow Six Siege, for instance, is one of the company’s multiplayer games that tries to compel players to “invest in it for the long term.”

“Players want [the time] to improve their skills and therefore perform better, [so] we have to come up with games that can fit this new need,” he said.

Short attention spans and limitless distractions

Game makers like Ubisoft have to balance the fine art of keeping a player hooked for more, while not making a game so meaty that it’s daunting.

According to Keith Fuller, a production contractor for Activision, 90 percent of players who start a game don’t finish it.

“People have short attention spans and limited time now,” Jeremy Airey, head of U.S. production at Konami told CNN.

“The amount of digital distractions now is far greater now than ever before. People need time to check Facebook, Twitter, their blog. If they feel as though the end is far away, they’ll simply say, ‘I don’t have time for that’ and stop playing.”

Justin Ng, a game developer in Singapore, added that it’s harder for makers to cater to different tastes, because video games are played by a wider audience now.

“Gaming today is no longer a niche medium, it has a huge audience — what we find is that it’s increasingly difficult to identify and predict trends,” he says.

Diversifying ahead

Ubisoft has one more trick up its sleeve that it hopes will draw players in — gender diversity. 

It has in the past been criticised for a lack of gender diversity amongst its playable characters.

In 2014, the company was heavily criticised for its decision to drop a female playable character from Assassin’s Creed Unity. The company had controversially said that it would have been too expensive to animate female character models.

They’ve fixed that. Skull & Bones prominently features a female character in its trailer.

Image: ubisoft us/youtube

But Guillemot insists that the company has always had a long track record in diversity and female representation.

“I think we’ve probably been the pioneer [in that field],” he said.

“There are more and more women playing games, and so more of them want to be able to be a woman in the games they play. 

“What happened in 2014 was one specific game, and it didn’t take into consideration all the diversity we’ve had before that in our games.”

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