By David Radd
In the first two parts of our interview Tony Key, SVP of Sales and Marketing at Ubisoft we discussed keeping the momentum in Just Dance 4 and bringing out the third and debatably most important Assassin’s Creed game to date. We conclude the interview, talking about ZombiU and digging into Far Cry 3, which may have transformed the property into Ubisoft’s latest hit IP.
[a]list: Ubisoft led on PS Vita with Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation and they did so similarly with ZombiU, one of the few third-party titles designed exclusively for the Wii U. Was it conscious to have a prominent spot at the system’s launch much like was done with the Wii and Red Steel
Tony Key: We had dev kits for the Wii U and got to see what the second screen experience was about pretty early. We saw an opportunity there to create something unique. ZombiU it’s not the sort of game Nintendo makes. It’s a unique game and it’s somewhat polarizing. Some people can’t get get around the fact that to play this game, you will die! The idea is you die and have to hunt down your former self, because your backpack with items stay with you. I think that idea is unsettling to some people and you can see that in the certain way people perceive the title. Some people, however, say it’s a cool experience. It’s one of the top sellers for the system and it will sell as the system’s base expands. There’s only a certain amount of units that will sell until the Wii U itself sells more!
It might seem depressing, but I think seeing your former self as a zombie with a backpack is kind of cool! Zombies are hot in pop culture right now. It will be interesting to see how zombies evolve, and I never saw zombies run fast before the World War Z trailer [Editor’s Note: Tony clearly hasn’t watched 28 Days Later] – they’re always these slow moving beings. So it will be interesting to see it evolve as a trope.
[a]list: Turning to Far Cry 3, that game saw a release very late in the holiday schedule. Did Ubisoft do this for development reasons or or the timing to give it some breathing room from other prominent releases
Tony Key: Far Cry 3 needed polish in order to present the experience people wanted. It wasn’t a decision to keep it out of the way of other games; it wasn’t a late shift game. We have one more great series now and the challenge is to find a voice with fans of shooters to convey that we have this special product. That’s the reason why we had the early reviews, because we were so confident that we have the top shooter. So many people have bought so many games already this year, and without that polish, Far Cry 3 might have gotten lost in the shuffle. I think we’ve delivered an awesome product.
[a]list: Talk to me about the advertising for Far Cry 3.
Tony Key: Along with the ad spots around launch, we’ve had extensive digital presence and we’ve had a cool trans-media Far Cry 3 experience video series that we’re doing with Machinima, starring Christopher Mintz-Plasse from Super Bad and Kick-Ass. That series has done really well right now, and has Michael Mando as part of the live action experience. He’s Vass and he recreated the experience from the game very well. He should win acting awards for what he did in Far Cry 3. He did of the best character acting in this game where there are so many great characters.
[a]list: Far Cry 3 was at late release, but it’s seen wide acclaim. Were there concerns it might not be recognized for game of the year awards because of the late timing
Tony Key: We were concerned that people had decided, because we do think it should be considered for game of the year awards. We don’t want to be a sleeper we want to be a big brand. How many games are 90 percent on Metacritic Among shooters, its the top rated this year. The game deserves game of the year considerations and that’s our challenge as marketers to help make people aware of the praise.
Far Cry 2 had pretty good critical acclaim but it alienated a lot of customers since didn’t fill the world with things to do â that was the biggest piece of feedback – the emptiness frustrated people.
[a]list: Were those lessons things that were applied from the Assassin’s Creed series
Tony Key: Absolutely, the Far Cry team is in the same studio in Montreal.Â Open world design is a learning experience that’s shared among all the teams. We learned that you have to fill the world with things to do. Far Cry 3 is a clear step up in quality for the series.
[a]list: Thanks Tony, and look forward to seeing what you guys have cooking next year!