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Ubisoft announces new digital publishing business

Games for Windows boss Chris Early to lead focus on online and mobile phone games

Ex-Games for Windows boss Chris Early is to head up a new digital game publishing business for Ubisoft, with a focus on online and mobile phone games.

In an interview with website VentureBeat, Early indicated that "Our focus on digital publishing will be about operating games as an online service."

"We have some catching up to do. What we lack is a consistent breadth of experience. We can draw upon what we have learned. What we bring to the table is experience in making great gaming content and great game brands," he added.

Early will be given his own development resources and budget, but will also coordinate with existing Ubisoft efforts to create titles for iPhone, Facebook and other digital formats.

One goal of the new business is to launch its own digital games on the same day as major console and PC releases. However, no indication has been given as to what properties will be targeted first for such promotions.

Early's initial goal is to claim 10 per cent of the online game market in the West, although he has set no time limit for his ambition. He has also refused to comment on whether Ubisoft intends to acquire existing digital-focused developers to help with the new business.

After achieving success with its Imagine range on the Nintendo DS and various casual titles on the Wii, including blockbuster Just Dance, Ubisoft has become increasingly engaged with casual and non-traditional markets in recent years.

For example, at the imminent E3 event in LA Ubisoft has just announced plans to unveil a new family friendly range of games in conjunction with US retailer Target. These will include Wii fitness titles Gold's Gym Dance Workout and Dance on Broadway, as well as adaptations of television game shows, Who Wants to be A Millionaire and Hollywood Squares.

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