We talk to Sergi Berjano, producer on Ubisoft Barcelona's latest mobile title Might & Magic Elemental Guardians, about working on the iconic franchise, the potential of AR and how its shiny art style makes it different from other titles in the same genre.
Why did you choose the Might and Magic universe for this new title?
From the very early stages of the project, our vision was very clear. As huge RPG players ourselves, we wanted to build a mobile RPG in a medieval fantasy world. Might & Magic looked like the perfect fit! Therefore, we decided to pitch the idea internally with the brand team and it was a quick match.
In Might & Magic Elemental Guardians, players will be able to discover a fresh twist on the classic IP, featuring iconic creatures from the franchise as well as brand new ones.
How was it to work on the iconic franchise? What challenges did you overcome when adapting it for this title?
The Might & Magic franchise is over 30 years old; it represents many opportunities and challenges. One of the biggest challenge we faced during the production was to adapt the classic PC franchise to mobile. The most iconic games like the Heroes series have always been ‘hardcore’ strategic PC games with a very dark and realistic style. We needed to move away from that and try something new to fit with the mobile platform constraints. We also wanted to appeal to new players.
The title launched on May 31st on iOS and Android - how has it been performing so far? Is it in line with your expectations?
While we cannot reveal this kind of information, I can share that the team is very pleased with the results and overall feedback received so far!
Can you tell us more about your monetisation strategy for the title?
Might & Magic Elemental Guardians is a free-to-play game. Everything the player needs to finish the game is unlockable through gameplay without paying a dime. The experience is designed to be delightful for players without forcing them to spend real money.
The game offers players various ways to enhance the specific parts of the experience they care about most (progressing more quickly, customising the game...) through optional payments. Players can also unlock some of the items available for purchase via in-game currency.
How do you differentiate it from other titles in the same genre?
I would say that we have worked really hard on the production value: our graphics are shiny! Our talented team designed all 400 creatures with a lot of love and care, from spell design, to the art style and the animations. This is one of the most praised aspect by our players.
Gameplay-wise, we do offer the avatar system. A fully customisable character, in appearance and gameplay, which can greatly influence the outcome of the battle. In addition, we have the newly released Guild feature. We do believe that the Guild collaborative quests we offer is a strong feature and we do have big plans to enhance this feature even further.
Lastly, the augmented reality brings a whole new layer in the game. Players can take snapshots or selfies with their favorite creatures by their side. They can also choose to play PvP battles in augmented reality.
What made you want to include an AR mode? Is there a key gameplay reason, or is it just to make it stand out?
To be completely frank, it started as gimmick feature from the team but finally ended up into something great. All players are now praising the AR mode. It also has a big potential for social: pictures sharing, competitions and so on.
After seeing what the first parties like Apple and Google have in mind for their AR technology, we are also very excited to see what we will be able to do with the upcoming AR features, like the shared environments. Stay tuned!
In terms of design, how did you find a balance between trying to satisfy long-standing fans of the franchise and being welcoming to newcomers?
We want every Might & Magic fan to enjoy the game, thanks to its faithfulness to the saga and the huge work that has been done to replicate on mobile the key components of the Might & Magic universe. Since the game is both accessible and complex, the game completely fits with newcomers who never played any game of the series and RPG mobile gamers.
Even though we introduced big changes in regards to art style, we always had the fans in mind. We shared our vision and the game early on with some of them during soft launch and we took note of their feedback. Even if the first reaction from some of them was not over positive at the start, they changed their opinion after playing a bit, and we are proud of that!
What are your expectations and ambitions in the long run for this title?
We are planning to support the game as long as players keep playing it! The updates will include free additional content such as new levels, new creatures, new events, but we also plan to add many other elements that we hope will please our players.
We have big plans for the future and we will follow the same strategy as we did during soft launch. We are going to listen to the player’s feedback and include it in our production roadmap.