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THQ: A sub-par UFC 2009 wouldn't have sold over 4m

UFC producer talks marketing of new 2010 instalment and why there's no motion control

UFC franchise producer Neven Dravinski has told GamesIndustry.biz he doubts UFC Undisputed 2009 would have sold over 4 million units worldwide had it not been of a high enough quality to satisfy a "vocal" MMA community and UFC president Dana White himself.

Talking ahead of the release of a successor to the game this May, Dravinski added that it had been difficult to produce a sequel within a year, but that he was happy that it would "crush the memory" of last year's commercial and critical hit.

"The term sequel has this inherent stigma attached to it for whatever reason," he said. "As a developer it's somewhat difficult to create a whole brand new game within a year's time but we understand that people demand a lot and I think they'll be very satisfied with what we've been able to deliver within that short amount of time."

Good review scores for 2009's instalment were "nice" and THQ was able to capitalise on them, he added, but "it's a tricky thing because we've certainly seen games that have been reviewed poorly but sell well, and there's plenty of games that have been reviewed incredibly well but don't sell at all."

"We owe a lot of [the success] to the UFC brand but I also like to think we made a compelling gaming experience," he said.

"I think people, and Dana White himself, are quick to point out if something sucks or not. And in my experience the MMA community is very vocal and outspoken about their perceptions of quality and who's better than who etc.

"I think you would find very quickly if we were to put out a sub-par product that we wouldn't have enjoyed the success that we had. That puts a certain amount of onus on us to repeat the performance this year."

On the subject of marketing, a relationship with the UFC had been important in order to represent the brand effectively, said Dravinski.

"You can definitely say that that this is one of the premier titles for THQ. We work with the UFC ad agencies to mimic and have a synergy between our messaging and their messaging.

"UFC really gives us access to not only everything that makes their production what it is, but also to their people and their fighters. They recognise how important we are in terms of global brand representation. I think we were very successful last year with how we did our media buys around key sporting events and you can expect to see similar aspects of that this year as well."

Speaking about the game's new competitor - a mixed martial arts title from EA, which the publisher has announced but is yet to reveal more information on - Dravinski admitted it had forced the company to step up its game.

"Having a competitor out there obviously means we have to step up our efforts and make sure that we're pushing this as much as possible. But as far as what they're doing - we really don't know what they're doing.

"We do know what they're looking at - the best MMA game made to date was UFC 2009. Our goal this summer when we set out to make the 2010 product was, 'Okay, critically we've just created the best MMA game ever made and now we have to destroy it. We have to crush any memory of it with the 2010 product.'"

Dravinski said that making UFC 2010 compatible with Sony and Microsoft's respective upcoming motion hardware had been a consideration and that it wouldn't rule out motion control as a feature of future games.

"We're very big on making sure that we don't include dynamics for the sake of it, to have it as a back-of-the-box feature. The important thing for us is whether it improves the gameplay and is fun and something that our customers want.

"We certainly looked into utilising the motion dynamics and there are places for it and there are arguments against it. So while we're not closed off to the possibility it didn't make it in this year but that's not to say we can't find a space for it in the future."

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