Darren Bowen, UK sales director at Ubisoft, takes MCV on a globetrotting trip through its MCV Award-winning export team's operations
The UK, as always, is one of the first and strongest markets in new-generation gaming. There is a strong desire to own the newest technology within the UK but the demand is also strong right across the world.
For a number of years we have had a dedicated export team which uses the experience gained at UK- and export-level to utilise the skills it has honed with the whole catalogue of products.
Over the last four years we have also started spending more on creating bespoke plans to suit each country. By doing so we push our brands that little bit further.”
Investments this year included TV sponsorship of Game of Thrones in South Africa, courtside advertising during the FIBA Greek Basketball Championship Final and Silver Spot cinema adverts during Interstellar showing across all cinemas in the MENA region.
"Each of these media initiatives ensured our brands would reach a targeted, yet wide, audience pushing not on the title, but video games as an industry, in the local markets.”
We are always looking to make the most of new opportunities with all of our partners in all countries, and whenever we think we can grow the business we will try.
"In particular, we are looking closely at the Balkans, as this is another interesting and varied region which a lot of potential for growth.”
Far Cry has now become one of the top gaming franchises, especially in South Africa, as Far Cry 2 was set in Africa."
Darren Bowen, Ubisoft
Far Cry has now become one of the top gaming franchises, especially in South Africa where it is firmly positioned as one of the leading brands in the market since Far Cry 2 game was set in Africa.”
Our Russian business was growing at such a fast rate that we felt it was important to maximise this opportunity and have a local presence in the territory, so we opened an office in Russia last year.
It encourages growth not just with the Ubisoft business, but it also opens up so many opportunities for the market itself.
The political and economic backgrounds are less stable now than they have been for some time, which is making it more challenging to create and maintain a stable business plan. It is therefore crucial that we work closely with our local partners, to be able to navigate through shock events such as the currency crisis last year, so that business can continue to grow.”
NEXT-GEN RULES THE WORLD
We continue to see the growth of next-gen penetration with the success of PS4 and Xbox One, whilst also seeing a steady decline in current-gen gaming.
Within this change certain export territories are growing exponentially, such as Russia and MENA, and this is expected to continue.
We need to make sure we are anticipating these changes and reflect this with our personnel and marketing spends.”
"We launched a less-sensitive version of Watch Dogs in MENA post-launch and are set to repeat this with a sanitised version of Far Cry 4."
Darren Bowen, Ubisoft
The markets have all grown in different ways over the last five years. The retailers and distributors have grown and some really strong specialists have emerged in each territory, creating great systems, customer relations and a strong business.
Ubisoft has expanded its export team to include extra sales people to focus specifically on each country, with trade marketing, PR and marketing specialists, as well as an analyst, to make sure we maximise every opportunity in the best way possible. Along with this, we depend on our European team to help with localisation wherever possible.
Marketing investment has also increased in importance, as we are no longer solely about putting boxes in distributors' warehouses, but creating brand awareness. We are strategically planning marketing campaigns specific to all countries, making sure we use our marketing expertise alongside distributors' local knowledge to get deeper market penetration. Increasing our marketing investment in key consumer touch points such as TV, cinema, digital and social media has helped to grow market share in all of our territories.”
WATCH DOGS WORLDWIDE
The biggest achievement for last year would be Watch Dogs. The open window in May for the release date gave our partners a real opportunity to make the most of this exciting new IP. It was listed in the Top Three products for the year in key export territories and Top Five across all.”
We established a MENA territory manager in 2014. It has grown to be a high percentage of our export business and the install base is comparable to many of the key countries where Ubisoft has established offices.
With a territory manager in place we are forging stronger relationships and developing a greater understanding about acceptable limits and how to overcome risqu subjects.
We launched a less-sensitive version of Watch Dogs post-launch and are set to repeat this with a sanitised version of Far Cry 4, exclusive to the MENA region. The importance of localising cannot be underestimated and we are working on making sure our key franchises and new IPs are being localised whenever possible. For example, we are fully localising The Division so that this amazing new IP can be enjoyed by everyone within the region.
We are always looking to improve on our results and the MENA region will be instrumental to our future growth, with the hardware install base already being significant. We believe there are still plenty more opportunities with our new structure in place.”