No More Xbox 360, PS3 Manuals for Ubisoft

By  |  Monday, April 19, 2010 at 4:39 pm

It’s an old joke in video game culture — or perhaps culture in general — that nobody reads the instruction manuals. Realizing this, Ubisoft announced that it will stop including printed manuals with its games for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

The move is ostensibly an attempt to go green while reducing production costs. Along with scrapping the manuals, Ubisoft says it’ll start shipping games in polypropylene cases made only of recycled materials, reports CNet.

I don’t care much about any of that. To me, the move is more of an acknowledgement that the way we learn to play video games has drastically changed since the advent of home gaming consoles.

As a kid, I relished reading those little staple-bound booklets. You never knew what you’d find in there. The Super Mario Bros. manual revealed “secret tricks” — basically, chain-stomping Goombas and using Koopa shells to take out surrounding foes — and the Double Dragon manual had stylized illustrations of all the characters, which somehow made the 8-bit game seem so much cooler. And because old-school games were never very good at exposition, the manuals provided otherwise non-existent plots to Atari classics such as Berzerk.

None of that is necessary anymore. Games are considered a failure if they don’t teach you how to play within the game. If you need help, you’re more likely to consult GameFAQs than the instruction booklet. Fancy illustrations and written plot summaries aren’t necessary when the games themselves are spectacles of light and sound, with professional voice acting.

So, knowing things will never be the same as in childhood, I welcome Ubisoft’s decision. And yeah, I suppose it’s nice that the environment’s getting some love, too.

(By the way, if you’re feeling nostalgic, Vimm.net has a growing archive of old video game instruction manuals, which is where I got the above image.)

 
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7 Comments For This Post

  1. Angus Says:

    Fair enough, I guess. The printed manual has become redundant these days with in-game tutorials and the ability to call up the list of controls by pausing the game.

    Of course, the next step will be to remove the tutorials and instructions from in the game and make them paid DLC :P

  2. ShadowKeeper Says:

    No one reads the manuals because there is rarely information on/in those manuals. I have to go ‘on line’ to answer my questions when it should have been in the manual. Rarely does anyone go to the manual to find out game play but they do go to the manual to find out how to get the game to operate in key modes like ‘Link, Co-op, setting up a Private match, Split screen, ect’ if its a game that uses more then one player.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Somehow I get the suspicion that this is less about saving the environment and more about saving money.

  4. fnunez Says:

    I have never in my life used a damn instruction manual when it came to playing video games. Not once!!

  5. ReynaldoRiv Says:

    LAME! I use manuals often! There are sometimes useful thing you forget in there.

    For example, in Valkyria Chronicles I forgot a Lancer’s position in the power hierarchy and the manual give it to me w/o the need of firing up my PC or leaving the battle to open a tutorial mode.

    Another Example, in Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm there is deeper level of control for those who care to know it that involves context sensitive timing. Really handy to just randomly discover that while on the john.

  6. Goatboy9099 Says:

    Although I do agree with some of the other posters , that this move is probably more about saving money than the environment…. I applaud the move, as It WILL help save the environment and save ubi-soft some money at the same time. And lets face it.. as we all have stated already or thought to ourselves. "It's true" nobody reads instructions..
    My big question is this— Will any of these purported savings be passed on to "Joe Consumer" ?
    My answer — Probably Not.

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