Ubisoft Goes Green: Vows to Stop Printing Game Manuals

Dennis Faas's picture

A major video games producer says it will begin phasing out printed manuals in a bid to cut down on waste. Ubisoft, makers of the acclaimed Assassin's Creed and Splinter Cell series, say the move will save both paper and the energy used in production.

Beginning with the next Shaun White Skateboarding game sometime before the end of 2010, Ubisoft will include the manual, along with safety and legal information, within the game itself. The company says this will offer an easier and more intuitive way of accessing the information. (Source: gamespot.com)

That will certainly be easier to achieve in modern games which can process information more quickly, making it possible to switch back and forth between a game and a manual without disruption. As lengthy text does not translate so well to the on-screen experience, it could mean game instructions become more interactive, perhaps with video demonstrations rather than written explanations.

Gaming Instructions More Complex

The role of game manuals has arguably diminished as games become more detailed and less linear. For example, the manuals for the largely open world (or "sandbox") Grand Theft Auto series have been presented as guidebooks to the fictional city settings, with the game information limited to a list of button controls. The games themselves have so much content that most information is instead available online.

Similarly, fighting games, such as those based around pro wrestling (for example), often have manuals which simply list the basic controls, with special moves left up to the player to discover.

Good News For Second-Hand Gamers

The dropping of paper manuals will also be something of a boost to the used games market.

It's a fairly common experience to find second-hand games without a manual, either being sold at a bargain price as a result, or in the case of some online auction deals, coming as an unwelcome surprise. While many manuals are available in scanned form on unofficial sites, users can be left either having to consult them on a computer screen or print them out, which can be time-consuming. Building the manuals into the game disc itself would eliminate this problem.

As part of the environmental program, the company will also be working towards using more eco-friendly packaging. From next week on, Ubisoft will release PC games in cases made of 100 per cent recycled polypropylene. (Source: gamasutra.com)

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