What is the behind the scenes of video game professions? This is the new theme addressed by Xboxygen! It was during the Horizon(s) Forum, held in the magnificent Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux that we had the honor of interviewing Yves Le Yaouanq. Now responsible for content: Publishing and Acquisitions at Focus Entertainment and having cut his teeth at Ubisoft, he was kind enough to answer our questions.
THE video game careers is an Xboxygen initiative which aims to highlight the men and women who work in the industry, and sometimes in the shadows. It follows our previous saga on women in video games. The Horizon(s) Forum aims to bring together professionals from the sector in order to together shape the future of video games. It allows interested parties to attend Masterclasses, apply for different offers on the market, but also learn more about the current state of the industry and its future potential. See you next Monday for a new issue.
Xboxygen – Hello Yves. Do you do this job out of passion or is it the chance of life that led you to do it?
Yves Le Yaouanq: Yes, it’s out of passion. Publishing can’t be done like selling cars.
Xboxygen – If I’m not talking nonsense, you spent ten years at Ubisoft, is there a big difference when you go from a juggernaut like that to a smaller structure like Focus Entertainment which doesn’t isn’t that small either?
Even eleven years at Ubisoft. Focus, when I arrived, it was 250 people. Today, we bought studios and there are around 500 of us. Ubisoft has 25,000 people so they are not the same issues, but both are listed on the stock exchange so there are similar issues.
The difference is that Ubisoft started having internal studios very early on, so this allows the publisher to very quickly have this link with production. It allows us to project ourselves more easily and that is still in progress, [chez Focus]that’s why we bought studios.
Having internal studios allows you to have better knowledge of development and to develop original IPs.
Xboxygen: If you had to define the bulk of your work every day, what would it be?
Yves Le Yaouanq: We receive around 1,600 game projects per year, so I will read them, respond, and support them until they are signed for those that correspond to what we do and that seem interesting to us.
For that, you need to have expertise in gameplay, game design, production, budget, that’s what’s interesting, we check everything. Is this the right team to make this play? Is this game interesting right now? For example, if I get a battle royale, is it relevant today?
It’s a position where you have the best vision of the state of the market, you travel a lot, you meet almost all the developers on the planet, and you also see developments and trends well in advance. Sometimes it will be genre trends, other times settings. It’s really exciting to be at the forefront of the future of the industry.
Xboxygen – It’s good that you are talking about the future of the industry, my question concerns this evolution of video games. How do you see things regarding season passes, game services, etc., when you are offered a project, do we systematically see the very long term or do short games always have their place? ?
Yves Le Yaouanq: It’s like always when there is a new trend, everyone jumps into the breach but today we have a lot of players who are 40/50/60 years old and who don’t have the same time available to play to games as service and to spend a hundred to a thousand hours on a single game.
People have children, jobs and, despite the excitement of game as service, we see that this trend is starting to decline. That doesn’t mean it won’t exist anymore, but there can’t be the same game model for everyone. We see that expectations are changing, just this year with Baldur’s Gates III, Zelda, Starfield, etc. people want experiences, even short ones, that end in 5/10/15 hours.
There is going to be a rebalancing with all these types of experience. Regarding the future, there are a lot of things emerging: NFT, Blockchain, Metaverse, all that. The only one I fundamentally believe in is transmedia.
We are really in a period where we see with Arcane [Série basée sur l’univers de League of Legends], The Witcher, The Last of Us, etc. and platforms like Netflix, Amazon or even cinema are interested in the video game medium and vice versa. And that, for me, is really one of the futures of video games.
Xboxygen: In any case, he’s really interested in it. Finally ! Because it was done before but it was rarely convincing laughter
Yves Le Yaouanq: Yes, there was Uwe Boll laughter
Xboxygen: Speaking a little about future technologies, everyone has only one word on their lips at the moment: it’s AI, which has really exploded in the eyes of the general public this year. Behind the scenes, do we see a difference? Will there be a before/after in the world of video games?
Yves Le Yaouanq: It’s like everything, they’re still tools. There are things that we see as quite useful about the use of AI. For example, for everything that is concept art: presenting the world, the universe, the artistic direction, etc. This makes it possible to transmit a vision, especially at a stage where we do not yet have specific funding because hiring concept artists is not within everyone’s reach, whereas thanks to AI , they share their vision.
As we can see, this is already a mature use. On the other hand, when it comes to replacing voice acting, I believe in it very moderately and we have an example with Baldur’s Gate III. Its quality of writing and voice acting, I don’t believe that it can be replaced by AI in the near future.
Xboxygen: My last question is going to be about the Internet. How do you go about controlling the image of a game that hasn’t been released yet when you see all the possible leaks? Do you care about it or do you let it pass?
Yves Le Yaouanq: Not everyone leaks and fortunately but it also depends on the excitement and anticipation of the project. It’s more of an educational work that will be done with the players.
There was a very positive movement around GTA VI when leaks, very early, [très tôt dans le développement] were released and the whole industry mobilized massively saying “this is what it looks like, this or that game that you all loved, around the same date”. This is normal, it is part of the production process.
There is therefore educational work for a better understanding behind the scenes. This is perhaps where the industry has a job to do, to better share how we produce a game. And it’s normal for a game to go through this.
Xboxygen: Yes, it was Double Fine who made documentaries alongside the design of their games to show everything behind the scenes, the good and the bad.
Yves Le Yaouanq: Yes, anyway, transparency is one of the best communication tools.
Xboxygen: Thank you very much for these answers!
Yves Le Yaouanq: Thank you, good luck!