Ubi revs up Driver as next mega-franchise

A fresh blockbuster franchise will join Ubisoft’s roster when Driver returns on September 2nd.

The firm has told MCV the revamped Britsoft driving game can reclaim former glories and be as lucrative as stablemate Assassin’s Creed.

Driver: San Francisco arrives in September, but Ubisoft fired up the hype engine this week, kicking off with trade demos followed up by E3 activity, and a promotional launch blitz.

Driver as a brand has been massive in the past, and there is no reason to suggest that it couldn’t be just as great in the future,” said Murray Pannell, UK marketing chief.

Ubisoft bought Driver and its Newcastle-based UK creator Reflections Interactive from Atari in 2006, but the game hasn’t seen a fully-fledged sequel in the five years since.

Pannell added: Despite the fact there’s not been a Driver game for over five years, it is still in the top five Ubisoft brands in terms of awareness.”

Ubisoft wants to build on that and turn the game into the driving genre’s equivalent of Creed, said Pannell.

Of course Driver and Assassin’s Creed are two very different types of game, but they both have mainstream appeal and the ability to capture the imagination of a wide spectrum of core and casual gamers.The ambition for all our studios is to make games that have the scope, depth, lasting appeal, enjoyment factor and sales potential of games like Assassin’s Creed.

"From an investment point of view we are treating both franchises like true blockbuster titles, so the ambition is there.”

The marketing plan is still to be finalised, but the firm said E3 will play a big part in raising trade awareness as well as a mass market push.

We have a real opportunity to take this mainstream due to the broad appeal of the franchise,” said brand manager Jan Sanghera.

Driver is most definitely back and the marketing campaign will make sure it stays firmly on the map for this year.”

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