How Ubisoft is transforming Hollywood, TV and the next generation

Ubisoft’s next-gen titles may have dominated its E3 headlines, but the firm also showed off an interactive TV show, a new movie, and smartphone apps linked to its games.

Michael French spoke to CEO Yves Guillemot to find out more…

Xbox One and PS4 were quite aggressive at E3 this year. What did you make of the show?
What I like very much is that those guys are competing strongly. It’s cool that there’s a big fight. Normally they sell more machines when they fight against each other, and that’s good for a third party publisher like Ubisoft.

But you’re still hedging your bets. By making your games cross-generational, you will reach a large audience, no matter how the next-gen consoles perform.
For sure. The goal for this year is to have games that are on next-gen, but can also can be played by the number of people that want those games, but aren’t ready to go next-gen. That’s why Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed and Just Dance are on all the machines.

When do you stop doing cross-generation games?
Starting next year, not all of the games will be multiformat. You will have to use the capacity of the machine, and to do that you will have to do specific next-gen versions.

Any specific franchises that will then skip PS3 and Xbox 360?
We don’t have anything to say on that right now. But we know that some of our franchises will be next-gen only next year.

We are now seeing companies like SuperCell, Gungho and King develop games on mobile that are close to being a $1bn brand. As a CEO of a big games business, what do you do?
We are doing a few games on mobile, and we’ll do more. It’s a new business that shows the depths of this industry. What it is doing, which we love, is that it is making more and more people play. And the more they will play the more they will want the best experiences. And some fantastic experiences will be there on Xbox One and PS4.

So the advantage of these platforms is that it introduces more people to next-gen?
Actually, yes. With next-gen you will be able to play with your mobile as an interface. It will blur the line between console and mobile.

"Normally the platform holders
sell more machines when they fight,
and that’s good for publishers."

Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft

You’ve developed such companion apps for Watch Dogs and The Division. Is this a gameplay feature??Or more a marketing device?
Gameplay. It started last year as more of a marketing initiative. But what we see, as the possibilities are immense, you can have a character played by those devices, and you can have so much fun with them. You will see a lot more happening using those devices.

Is that because those devices are getting better and converging with consoles? Or just because they are so popular?
It’s both. Because they are so popular, we have enough customers that will buy the consoles but also have iPhones or Androids or Windows Phones. So we can develop features for these devices knowing that lots of gamers will have access to them.

Rabbids Invasion is a TV/game concept. What was the thinking behind this product?
What’s happening to TV is that more people are going to PC to watch things. They are going to PC because of the likes of YouTube, they can view what they want at the quality they like. And you can also view all this through smart TVs, or if you have a machine connected to your TV. And on top of that you can bring a level of interactivity. There are more intelligent machines sitting under the TV, so why not use them? We did a few play test with kids, and they loved the possibility of interacting with a TV series. You will see more and more of that over the next few years.

Now that the next-gen is finally revealed, what do you expect to see at E3 next year?
It will be the second year of the machines, which will be a fantastic time. In the second year you are at a new level in terms of quality and graphics, and you will see games that you will be amazed by.

You’ve now announced a date for the Assassin’s Creed movie.
May 2015. That’s exciting. And we also have Michael Bay working on a Ghost Recon movie.

Ubisoft has a big role in the Assassin’s Creed movie. You fought for control. What about the Michael Bay project?
With Michael Bay, it’s not the same. But we are going to work closely with him to make sure the movie fits with what we expect.

Do you have to align the franchises around those movies? As in, build a game ready to sit alongside a cinema release?
At the moment we are really looking at how to do a good game and a good movie separately. We will see if they happen to hit at the same time. We want high quality in film and we are interested in seeing what we will create.

In terms of boxed games, Ubisoft is the No.3 publisher worldwide. Are you happy with that?
We aim to create games that can make a difference. And if we make enough, then maybe we can get closer to those other two guys. That will happen only with the quality of the games.



Formats: PS3, 360, Wii U, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Released: November 22nd

The reveal of Watch Dogs was a show stealing moment at E3 2012, and the game’s two demos this year very nearly did the same. This is one of the most highly anticipated games amongst core gamers.


Formats: PS3, 360, Wii U, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Released: November 1st

The fourth pirate-themed Assassin’s Creed game suffered an on-stage breakdown at Sony’s press conference. But the fans cheered anyway. Critics suggest this could be a return to form for the franchise.


Formats: PS3, PC, Xbox 360
Released: October

The music genre is dead, is it? Well the first Rocksmith went on to sell 1.4m units. Now Ubisoft wants to take this further with a 2014 version of the game, which was part of the opening announcements at Ubi’s E3 conference.


Formats: Xbox One, PS4, Mobile, PC
Released: Early 2014

The first big new IP revealed on stage at E3 by Ubisoft was the open-world racer The Crew. Developed by the team behind the original Test Drive titles, the game prides itself on its advanced online connectivity.


Formats: PS4, Xbox One
Released: 2014

This open-world RPG ended Ubisoft’s E3 press event, and is developed by the firm’s Massive Entertainment studio. Like most games these days it is a ‘persistent online’ world. Whatever that really means.


Formats: Xbox One, Mobile
Released: 2014

The Rabbids Invasion TV show launches this year, and next year – by teaming up with Xbox One – it is coming to next-gen consoles with interactive elements. Viewers can take part in the TV show by using Kinect and touch mobile devices.

Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Rayman Legends received their final showings ahead of their August launches, South Park: The Stick of Truth received a new Christmas release date, complete with comedy trailer. Ubisoft announced a release date for its Assassin’s Creed movie (May 2015) and has partnered with Michael Bay for a Ghost Recon flick, and we saw more from free-to-play title The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot.

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