Ubisoft going green, ditching paper game manuals

In a move that is sure to upset gaming purists, publisher Ubisoft announced that in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of their packaging, they will no longer be including paper manuals with their Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 titles. This initiative will start with this holiday's Shawn White Snowboarding.

In lieu of paper manuals, games will have digital manuals provided in-game. In a statement the publisher said, "Including the game manual directly in the game will offer the player easier and more intuitive access to game information, as well as allow Ubisoft to provide gamers with a more robust manual."

Driving home the environmental impact of paper manuals, Ubisoft also said, "Internal data shows that producing one ton of paper used in Ubisoft’s game manuals consumes an average of two tons of wood from 13 trees, with a net energy of 28 million BTU’s (equivalent to average heating and energy for one home/year), greenhouse gases equivalent of over 6,000 lbs of CO2, and wastewater of almost 15,000 gallons."

Ubisoft PC games will also be getting the environmentally friendly treatment.  Although they have not included paper manuals since last month, in a partnership with Technimark, Inc, the publisher will be shifting to 100% recycled polyprylene cases. The first game to feature these new cases will be Splinter Cell Conviction on April 27th.

While the environmental aspects of this move are certainly commendable, it is probably safe to assume that this is also a welcomed cost cutting measure for Ubisoft. In a statement to IGN, Ubisoft addressed the financial issue and said, "The digital game manuals will be for Ubisoft games going forward. While the company will save money on paper, it's unclear if these costs will be offset by the labor of the development team to create a more robust game manual within the game."

As physical media continues to inch towards obsolescence, reductions in the physical components of packages shouldn’t come as a surprise. With the win-win nature of this kind of initiative, expect other publishers to follow suit.

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42 Comments

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Oh Oh! Another idea Ubi, why dont you also stop imprinting cd's with color images and just grab a sharpie and brand the cd, also enclose it in a recycled paper envelope. Wow imagine how green this move would be!

Poor Ubisoft, we see right through you.

I must be old (fashioned?) but when I buy a game I want a package. For a PC game that includes a box, a CD, a jewel case with insert, and a paper manual (at a minimum). Sierra (in its glory days) was excellent - they would include bar napkins, "buckazoids", maps, notepads, scratch'n'sniff cards, and more. Companies like Ubi start cutting corners and it's no reason piracy has become so rampant. Well I can help Ubi save even more... by not supporting their cost savings cover up and taking my money elsewhere. Nice going!

Sure, they're not doing it to be "Green" though it's something that should have been done a long time ago. There's no need for print manuals, print it yourself (PDF or whatever) if you need it so badly.

Hmm, we can save a few bucks if we stop producing printed manuals for our games. Hey, somebody call marketing and tell them we need to spin this into a positive, you know, something the kids support because they believe anything.

even better, make games cheeper and offer a download service, so that game sfrom there servers can be signed with your console ID and burnt to disk, so they only work in one system. perhaps this is some thing microsoft and sony should look at when disignig the next consoles.

They already do that with smaller games minus the whole "burning" part. IE: Xbox Live Arcade Games. PSPGo, etc.

Edited by Tha Bloo Monkee, Apr 20 2010, 1:29am :

xSuRgEx said,
even better, make games cheeper and offer a download service, so that game sfrom there servers can be signed with your console ID and burnt to disk, so they only work in one system. perhaps this is some thing microsoft and sony should look at when disignig the next consoles.

What if my console dies or I wanna carry over my game to play at a friends house?

xSuRgEx said,
even better, make games cheeper and offer a download service, so that game sfrom there servers can be signed with your console ID and burnt to disk, so they only work in one system. perhaps this is some thing microsoft and sony should look at when disignig the next consoles.
They already offer a service like this! Xbox Live Arcade and On Demand and Sony offer similar features with PSN. No need to go backwards and burn discs, MS just need to work on including larger capacity HDDs (for a more affordable price) to store them all on

I was wondering about this yesterday. Now that there are no manuals, why don't they use the slim type DVD cases? Like the ones one finds in box-sets and the like. That will cut down almost half of the plastic as well. Both materials and transport ill be much cheaper, and you can still keep the standard DVD size for multi-disc games.

I wondered years ago why game developers weren't doing this. And no, it isn't to "go green", that's the coverup. It's just because they'd save a good amount of money by not printing millions of manuals that never get used anyways.
Smart move.

Tha Bloo Monkee said,
What? There are huge non-greedy corporations out there??

Most aren't so painfully obvious about it

Hoodie Wilson said,
Agreed. Money-saving move for Ubisoft. Meanwhile prices at the register continue to creep ever upward...

Someone should ask Ubisoft if they're planning on dropping the prices of their games to make this fair on the customers.

Edited by Haegr, Apr 20 2010, 2:37pm :

Matt Hardwick said,
This is not a green initiative, it's a money saving one.

Exactly since a LOT of manuals I've read say "Made on Recycled Paper" on them anyway.

Nintendo needs to do this some of their packages are so full of warning manuals larger than the game manual the case barely close.

exotoxic said,
This will save them money but i bet they wont reduce the price of the games...

the manuals probably worth $2. i doubt dropping $2 would stop someone that htinks games are overpriced from complaining

exotoxic said,
This will save them money but i bet they wont reduce the price of the games...

No, they will charge us more for the programming cost....

exotoxic said,
This will save them money but i bet they wont reduce the price of the games...

Your right, they will probably rise the cost because they are "green". I love it. Today companies can cheap out on packaging and call it green. Hey look at our new green water bottle with less plastic and less water all for the same bargain price. Companies often do things to cut cost and never say anything because they know customers will not be happy. Then years later they say... hey, we could finally come out about our cheapness and badge it green. How about that climategate? How's that going?

It's nice that by ditching the manuals, they also 'go green', but there's no way this is anything other than a cost-cutting measure with some PR upside.

Tha Bloo Monkee said,
*Technically* they wouldn't because computers are less green than paper. lol.

The computer itself, running is less green then the paper. Each days, the power consumption and radiation emition from the server is worst then paper. So in the end, removing a server is far superior then removing paper manual. Also, those same computer can be use for something else or by someone else. Recycling is a green move.