Back in June at Ubisoft’s E3 press conference, buried amongst the slew of new trailers, game announcements, and the awesome Aisha Tyler, the publisher quietly discussed its plans to introduce a TV show based on the Rabbids franchise that would have an interactive element. Viewers at home would watch the show and choose the outcome on a second screen, whether that was a tablet, smartphone, computer, or even a controller like the Wii U’s GamePad.
The announcement was a minor footnote in the grand scheme of things, more a discussion of something that may happen in the future rather than something that was confirmed to be on the way. Judging by comments from Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot to Bloomberg at Gamescom, that plan is just a matter of finding the right partner. And with the next-gen consoles coming soon, the new technology will make it easier than ever.
“Game consoles could help make TV smarter,” Guillemot said. “The point is to make the audience more involved, by letting it decide what happens on-screen, for example. That’s something the video-game industry is very familiar with.”
The original example used was a TV show based on the Raving Rabbids property, which was developed by Ubisoft’s new motion picture department and debuted in the U.S. this month on Nickelodeon. Imagine watching a fictional show where you choose how it ends. On a simpler note, it’s not a stretch to think that this technology could easily be incorporated into reality TV. American Idol fans vote on contestants every week by sending text messages. Being able to cast votes on your console as part of a reality competition and seeing the results instantly? It could change the nature of television.
Ubisoft’s motion picture division, which also includes television programming, has been remarkably busy of late. It recently announced production on a Watch Dogs film, which joins the previously announced Assassin’s Creed starring Michael Fassbender, a Splinter Cell adaption, and a Ghost Recon movie. There’s more to come too.
“Content producers are using special effects [that] we use in gaming, while we’re hiring actors, and creating characters and story lines deep enough to build a movie on,” said Guillemot. “With next-generation consoles, we’re moving a step further toward bringing these two worlds – films and gaming – together.”
Guillemot’s vision is to let people steer a show using a second screen device. That could mean each viewer gets their own unique plot to follow, or it could mean viewers vote and the majority decides on direction. The technology for this exists today, but the advent of the next-gen consoles will make it much easier to implement.