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Ubisoft: "You need to find the golden nugget"

Executive Vice President of EMEA Alain Corre on emerging markets, taking risks on new IP, and leveraging VR

Last month at E3, Ubisoft's executive Vice President of EMEA Alain Corre sat down with GamesIndustry.biz to explain how AAA titles are breaking down the divides between territories and how the company continues to push into the mobile marketplace. We also, inevitably, spoke about virtual reality.

"We all play now on anything, on smartphones, whatever, but if you want to be really immersed, if you want to go into a deep story then the console game or the PC game for big AAA is the best route. We think that brings some emotion that you can't find elsewhere," Corre explains.

"The AAA games, it's true that [their] quality has helped us in convincing [fans] in every country of the planet. There are some cultural differences in some of them; in Japan, for example, the market and the fans like anime, but they more and more appreciate the games coming from the West. The quality produced by some games like Assassin's Creed or Watch Dogs, all these games are now having very big success in Japan as well, which wasn't the case before.

"If you have fun in a game then I think it goes across borders"

"Quality is really making the difference and everybody in the world recognises that. If you have fun in a game then I think it goes across borders."

He points to Far Cry 4 as evidence of this shift. A few years ago, a AAA title from a western studio would have struggled to find a place on the Japanese charts. According to Media Create the game sold 36,239 units on PS4 and 18,366 more on PS3 in its debut week, putting it at number two.

"Something is happening. I think it's a combination of the quality we are bringing and also the Japanese fans are more open to foreign culture," he says.

As Corre's job title suggests, he is a man very familiar with the European market, and he sees countries that in the past have been very focused on PC grow their installed bases on console.

"Countries like Poland, for example, are booming - also countries like Czechoslovakia, Slovakia, Hungary, all these countries also are now more and more open to home consoles and next-gen consoles, which wasn't the case before," he says.

"If we speak about Russia, Russia is also a country where people love playing games and they are very open also to high-end consoles, and we see that the installed base on PS4 and Xbox One in Russia is rocketing. So these are new markets that we are interested in. We have built a proper office, Ubisoft Poland, a few years ago and we now have an office in Moscow because we feel that they are new countries where we will have more and more fans for the future."

He adds that it was important for Ubisoft to have offices in these emerging territories, as they're a calculated investment in a growing market.

"That will be four new brands in two years and I think that no other company in our industry has done that"

"It is very important to understand what the consumers wish to have, what the retailers want to have, how to market a game because there are some cultural differences."

One market that is crossing territories even more quickly is mobile, and that's again something Ubisoft has seen fit to invest money and manpower in over the last couple of years. Corre calls the market "very, very competitive" and he notes that, "you need to find the golden nugget and we are working on that."

He cites the success of Future Games of London's Hungry Shark, Trials and the CSI spin-off as success stories for Ubisoft.

"It's still the Wild West in the sense that there are plenty of new games coming every week. You need to emerge, you need to be unique, recognised and you need to market your game with certainty and efficiency. But there are plenty of opportunities in this business and we are going on investing in creation internally, also in licensing. We are getting some licenses more and more like CSI or NCIS, for example," he says.

"The mobile business in the world is growing and I think that as a creator Ubisoft has some role to play in this area. We like creating games, we like creating brands, and I think that is a particularity of Ubisoft. It can be a risk. We have created four new brands in the last two years, The Crew and Watch Dogs last year, we have just announced For Honor, and The Division is coming also. So that will be four new brands in two years and I think that no other company in our industry has done that."

Of course, mobile isn't quite the sexy new trend that it once was; that title now belongs very much to virtual reality. Ubisoft's E3 stand was home to a number of virtual reality products, including the chance to fly through Paris as an eagle or to risk motion sickness on the Raving Rabbids Theme Park Ride.

"We want to be part of it; we are known as innovators and VR will be at the forefront"

"At Ubisoft we like to try new technologies, we like to iterate and we like to see what we can bring to the party," he says with a smile.

"I think that what Sony is bringing and what Oculus is bringing, and Microsoft also with HoloLens in AR, is really something different than before, it's really concrete. So we are iterating on that, we have four projects that we are showing here.

"We think VR is poised to grow. There's a lot of investment from a lot of companies and manufacturers and I think ultimately games will be at the centre of it, but there will be a lot of other applications for this technology. We want to be part of it; we are known as innovators and VR will be at the forefront."

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Latest comments (9)

Aleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager 5 years ago
Maybe its the tuesday blues but anyone else think that Mr Corre is just stating the blatantly obvious for most part of this piece?
Few Examples that were taught the first second of any business school class, or maybe even elementary school in this day and age.
- Quality is really making the difference and everybody in the world recognises that.
- It is very important to understand what the consumers wish to have, what the retailers want to have, how to market a game because there are some cultural differences.
- Corre calls the (mobile) market "very, very competitive"
- It's still the Wild West in the sense that there are plenty of new games coming every week. You need to emerge, you need to be unique, recognised and you need to market your game with certainty and efficiency.
- We think VR is poised to grow

He talks about iterating, VR/AR being intresting and poised to grow (well starting from 0 ofcourse it is) and a bunch of other things we have heard coming from execs, developers for the past 6-12months. Share with us something we dont know!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Aleksi Ranta on 14th July 2015 12:18pm

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Thomas Dolby Project Manager / Lead Programmer, Ai Solve5 years ago
I kind of share your viewpoint, Aleksi. it sort of sounds like Mr Corre doesn't quite understand who his audience is for this interview. Anyone that's been reading GamesIndustry.biz for the past few months will have heard these things many times over. You would really hope that Ubisoft would have these kind of understandings about their own market, so I guess at best it's just re-assuring to hear them say it out loud and what they're doing about it.

There was nothing of note in the second half of his interview for me, but there were a few interesting notes he hinted at in the first half. It would be interesting to see some more solid numbers and examples of how things are changing in the Eastern European market.
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Olek Lebiedowicz Quest Designer, CD Projekt RED5 years ago
I would very much like to see how a country like Czechoslovakia is booming right now ;)
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Show all comments (9)
Aleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager 5 years ago
Everything is booming if you start from absolute zero presence or share in a said country or market. Or if microsoft moves more than 100Units of XBOX1 in JPN it would certainly be booming. Its all got to do with where you set the bar... :)
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Olek Lebiedowicz Quest Designer, CD Projekt RED5 years ago
My remark was more about the fact that Czechoslovakia has not existed for almost 20 years ;)
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd5 years ago
Ubisoft games selling in Japan can probably be explained by the same reason they sell in the West: the top tier publishers don't release big games frequently enough to soak up consumer demand, so Ubisoft's 'tv movie' quality games are able to pick up the slack.

Good to hear they're jumping into VR. Being quick to embrace new platforms has worked out well for them and usually results in some interesting experiments (Red Steel, ZombiU, etc.).
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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises5 years ago
Aleksi, as I read it I was mostly wondering if Ubisoft Russia would be taken over by organized crime there, and then the leaders thrown in jail. Like that British investment business, I think it was Hermitage Capital Management.

Then I was thinking about all the different new IP that Ubisoft has published in the past, they make a lot of decent games in their search for golden nuggets.
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I would say Ubisofts golden nugget is their marketing/hype dept/ world champion force multiplier before a product is even out the door :)
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Aaron Brown BA Computer Science Student, Carnegie Mellon University5 years ago
@Dr. Chee Ming Wong

It definitely has a lot more to do with the quality of the games Ubisoft put out. They obviously spend a ton of time on the creative and technical development processes.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Aaron Brown on 15th July 2015 7:34pm

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