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INTERVIEW: Geoffroy Sardin

Ben Parfitt
INTERVIEW: Geoffroy Sardin

I expect that from time-to-time, Activision’s Bobby Kotick and EA’s John Riccitiello will cast an envious eye over Ubisoft.

Here is a publisher that doesn’t have a FIFA or a Call of Duty in its repertoire, but has still managed to become the Wii’s most successful third-party publisher.

The likes of EA have tried to succeed on Nintendo’s home console. But it is Ubisoft that was the No.1 third-party on the platform over Christmas, and last year alone sold 10m Just Dance games on a single console. Take that FIFA and Call of Duty.

Now the publisher has set its sights on a new piece of technology, Kinect. And it’s off to a flying start, already the No.1 Kinect third-party in EMEA and the US.

So Ubisoft, tell us – and Mr Kotick and Mr Riccitiello – how are you doing it?

“Ubisoft loves new technology and we’ve been a consistent leader on new platforms,” says Ubisoft’s chief marketing and sales officer Geoffroy Sardin.

“The right word is anticipation. We want to be the first and best on new games tech. In 2008 we were working with PrimeSense – the technology used for Kinect – and that was even before Microsoft acquired it. So this gave us an advantage.”

Indeed, Ubisoft constantly toys with new tech and ideas at its in-house R&D department. And its software teams aren’t afraid to try news things, either.

Ubisoft had a unique mini-game collection and a first person sword fighting title ready for Wii on day one.

On Kinect, it’s already released a beat ‘em up (Fighter’s Uncaged), a fitness title (Your Shape: Fitness Evolved) and a sports compendium (Motion Sports). There’s still a dancing game (Michael Jackson: The Experience) and a rhythm action shooter (Child of Eden) to come.

But what else do you expect from a publisher that at E3 last year revealed an eclectic line-up of blockbuster games, quirky digital titles, a relaxation tool and a laser tag game.

“We will be bringing some of the industry’s most innovative offerings to Kinect soon,” says Sardin.

“I think we can propose Kinect versions of all the brands that we’ve got, but it is down to the production team. I can’t announce anything, but we will have something for everyone, that I can assure you.”

THE NEXT MOVE

Ubisoft may be the champions on Kinect and Wii, but what about Move?

“We have a strong commitment on Move,” assures Sardin. “At the launch we had two products, Ruse and Racket Sports. We didn’t release our games at the same time, which may have impacted our rankings. But we also propose Michael Jackson: The Experience on Move. And you will be surprised by this game.”

It’s not just motion tech, either. The firm has eight 3DS launch period games in the works, too.

“Ubisoft has always been big on new platforms,” continues Sardin. “We are already committed to 3DS, with the aim to be No.1 over launch.”

And that’s just it, perhaps the real key to Ubisoft’s success is getting to grips with the technology before anyone else. This is a company that launched a 3D video game before any other, and is unafraid to jump in with both feet when a new platform launches. It’s a lesson Bobby Kotick and John Riccitielo might want to take on board.

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