3DS LAUNCH: Ubisoft's 3D vision

Ben Parfitt
3DS LAUNCH: Ubisoft's 3D vision

The original DS presented several new challenges to publishers.

Not only did they have to account for two screens, touch controls and other functions when it comes to crafting their games, they also had to consider the much broader audience that runaway hits like Brain Training and Nintendogs introduced to the market.

Some firms thrived on this new handheld business model, some didn’t. One of the most prominent successes throughout the device’s lifecycle has been Ubisoft – and now the firm is hoping it will strike gold again on 3DS.

Over the last seven years, the French publisher brought its biggest brands to the DS, including Assassin’s Creed, Raving Rabbids and various Tom Clancy titles.

More importantly, it crafted original franchises that tapped directly into Nintendo’s new audiences – and these efforts have most certainly paid off.

“We were pleased with the success of the original DS, especially as we had developed a range of titles that appealed to its large and diverse customer base,” says Ubisoft brand manager Jan Sanghera.

“The real success came from marketing to a new and younger demographic and providing the software to appeal to them. Our DS franchises like Combat of Giants, Imagine and Petz catered to this audience. In fact, 50 per cent of seven to 11-year-old girls who owned a DS owned at least one Imagine title, which illustrates how we were able to reach a new gaming audience through that platform.

“We also catered for an older demographic with our puzzle games like Classic Word Games and popular licences like Puzzler and Scrabble.”

So with a new Nintendo handheld on the horizon, Ubisoft is once again determined to make the most of any new opportunities it presents. The firm has a total of eight games due for release during the 3DS’ launch window – four of which will be available on day one.

GAMES FOR EVERYONE

It’s a line-up that forms the biggest third-party presence on the new platform, and ensures Ubisoft will have everyone’s attention as the 3DS takes its first steps. Learning from its experiences with the DS, the publisher has focused on variety to cater for every taste.

“We expect the 3DS to have a broad consumer appeal from launch and as such have ensured we offer a variety of titles,” says Sanghera.

“We’ve been able to take advantage of the 3DS’ innovations to develop exciting new games like Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, which is the first tactical, turn-based Ghost Recon game. This, along with Splinter Cell, will offer an immersive game experience, one that we see core gamers and early adopters showing an interest in when they first purchase a Nintendo 3DS.

“The family and kids market can enjoy titles such as Rayman, Rabbids and Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs Strike. Games like Asphalt and Driver Renegade can appeal to a more mainstream gamer, where the thrill and competitive edge of racing is heightened in 3D.

“Finally, James Noir’s Hollywood Crimes will also have broad appeal as a unique puzzle adventure.

“We’ve historically been a leader in games developed for new Nintendo platforms, and with eight games available during launch and more to come, we hope to maintain this position.”

Ubisoft has pledged to “strongly support the platform throughout 2011 and beyond”, with titles such as Assassin’s Creed: Lost Legacy already confirmed to be in development. Sanghera is confident that the potential of Nintendo’s hardware more than justifies such investment – and not just because of the 3D technology.

She says: “Nintendo are offering more than just something that appeals to the core. 3D itself will be a massive draw, but the connected digital features that allow both social gaming experiences and the ability to download and consume much more, we’d expect 3DS to compete strongly in this broader handheld category, offering a wide range of consumers good reasons to purchase.”

FOLLOW THE LEADER

Of course, Ubisoft is known for championing any new games platform – particularly Nintendo’s.

The firm was one of the first third-party publishers to embrace the Wii before it launched, it currently dominates the third-party space on Kinect and has quite clearly shown its faith in 3DS with its sizeable launch line-up.

The publisher’s close relationship with Nintendo has given it great insight into the 3DS’ key features, as well as how well the handheld can live up to the world-conquering success of its predecessor.

“Ubisoft have historically had a good relationship with Nintendo and achieved great success on both the Wii and DS platforms,” Sanghera says.

“We’ve worked closely with them again to ensure our titles fully utilise the 3DS capabilities, right from when we first started developing the games with an early development kit to implementing the full 3DS functionality.

“Given the innovation that’s inside a 3DS and what it has to offer, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where the 3DS isn’t bigger than the original. Therefore, its vital to have a variety of games and strong shelf presence at launch to appeal to a broad audience.”

With such a strong range of titles ready for launch Ubisoft is certain to fare well as the 3DS takes off. And with plenty more games in the works, you can be sure the firm will be a leader on the format, as it was on the original DS.

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