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Ubisoft: Long console life-cycles bad for the industry

Long gaps between new consoles may be good for hardware makers like Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony, but they're bad for game makers and the industry, Ubisoft co-founder and CEO Yves Guillemot tells Polygon.

French publisher Ubisoft has had a strong year powered by big titles and a surge in its efforts to expand beyond traditional gaming to casual and free games and even to movies, books and toys.

But Guillemot says the company's successes have come despite what he sees as an industry being hampered by a long gap between new gaming systems.

"I think that what has happened is the transition has been very long," he said. "You know, in the industry, we were used to changing machines every five years. This time we are in the seventh year of the 360. We need new consoles and at the end of the cycle generally the market goes down because there are less new IPs, new properties, so that damaged the industry a little bit.

"I hope next time they will come more often."

Specifically, Guillemot said, many publishers and developers use the transition to a new console as an opportunity to "reinvent" themselves.

"Transitions are the best times, are the best ways, to make all of our creators take more risks and do different things," he said. "When a console is out for a long time ... you don't take as much risks on totally new IPs because even if they are good, they don't sell as well."

The opposite is true of the people who play games at the beginning of a console cycle, he said.

"Everybody who is taking risks and innovating is welcome because there are lots of hardcore gamers and those guys want new things, where the mass market will be more interested in having the same experience and doesn't want to take as much risks because it's not aware as much of what is going to change its experience.

"So, the beginning of the machines is always a good time for innovation."

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