FOCUS : INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Tommy Francois took a long and wending career path before accepting his role as Ubisoft’s IP director, taking in journalism at Canal+, game production with Shiny, and manager at MTV’s GameOne channel. He joined Ubisoft in 2006 and today is the first port of call when work begins on a new game.
“Our motto is to try to make the best videogames in the world. There’s no secret sauce to doing that, and we have a process that’s a framework, but it’s there to be bent,” he explains. “Each creation is organic and different, comprised of different humans, problems, themes, and [interactivity]…”
The process begins with creative workshops designed to flesh out the game’s design and world, which take place outside of the office at venues arranged by French seminar specialist Chateu Form. “We go there for three days,” Francois says. “And the producer, creative director, art director, scriptwriter, game director, game design, lead game design – people like that – all attend. Execs don’t have more power in a workshop. It’s about everyone’s opinion. Good ideas don’t come from the [top]; they can come from anywhere. IP development is about finding the identity of a project. If it’s not finding it, then it’s creating it, or supporting it, or enhancing it and showing it in games. It might be surprising to you to think that inside Ubisoft at some point we were like, What the fuck is Far Cry?’”
After thrashing out the initial character of a game, Francois’ team aims to keep that identity focused. His staff will step in to produce trailers and art if asked to by the production team, and help with brand extensions such as comic books and novels. “As much as we are head office, I prefer to be a service,” he says. “Someone’s going to think about what The Division means in book form. What does it mean in movie form? Someone has to think about that, but you’re busy making the game, so let us think about that.
“It’s funny, the editorial thing. A lot of people think our job is [to say], ‘Do this; implement that.’ That would never happen. If you don’t agree on something, your heart is not going to be in it. That’s just the process of creation in any media form. Even in a band, you start off with a riff, and by the end you work together to make a song. It’s being creative. It’s working together and seeing what the opportunities are.”