Taylorism and globalization, the new pillars of video game production

Developing a video game through a network of studios located around the world: this is the method chosen by the French publisher Ubisoft to create a new “Mario + Rabbids”, illustrating the globalization of this industry.

“Thanks to technology, digital (communication) systems, we are organized in such a way as to be able to work with remote studios, even at different times. For a long time now, whether it’s +Far Cry+, +Assassin’s Creed+ or +Just Dance+, that’s how we worked,” Xavier Manzanares, lead producer on Mario + The Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, which comes out in Thursday.

Merging the world of Nintendo’s famous plumber “Mario” with the world of crazy “Rabbits”, this game, which has been worked on by more than 300 people, was piloted by two studios in Milan (Italy) and Paris.

Also with three subsidiary studios: Chengdu (China), Pune (India) and Montpellier for both creative and development.

“There is a creative interest (in this organization) because each studio has its own culture, its own approach and different people, which each time adds something to the concept. This is a real strength,” emphasizes Xavier Manzanares, insisting on the “autonomy” of the work of each studio.

Sofia (Bulgaria), Montreal (Canada), Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) or even Kyiv and Odessa (Ukraine)… Ubisoft claims a presence on five continents with over 45 studios led by a network of 20,000 employees, of which over 90 nationalities and 65 different languages.

The typical mode of operation for large video game studios is “organized with companies around the world, with available (local) teams,” Cédric Lagarrigue, market expert and former head of Focus publishing, explains to AFP. entertainment.

There is a creative lead team, often based in North America or Europe, “then all content creation, like 3D character or environment creation, can be done anywhere in the world. You don’t have to do it in the same geographic location,” he adds.

– Work department –

For example, the 2023 edition of Fifa, the acclaimed soccer game developed by American publisher Electronic Arts, was developed at its studios in Vancouver and Romania.

In the case of Mario + The Rabbids, this international division of labor forces each studio to contribute bricks to the huge technical building needed to run the game smoothly: in Montpellier, responsibility for animation and various cutscenes; in Chengdu, the development of one of the “planets” of the name; in Pune, part of the test and quality.

“They made sure that the quality, from production to the end, was (…) what Nintendo expected from the quality of the game,” explains Xavier Manzanares.

Apart from creative diversity, what else is the interest in expanding video game production to the four corners of the world?

“You already have costs that are much lower in certain territories like India or the eastern countries. This allows you to outsource many things, ”Cedric Lagarrig emphasizes.

“This happens with many +AAA+ games (big budget, editor’s note), as well as smaller games (…) because there is talent, skills in territories where labor costs are much lower,” he adds.

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