Ghost Recon is one of Ubisoft’s most acclaimed franchises under their Tom Clancy label. However, there hasn’t been a PC or PS3/Xbox 360 release since Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 back in 2007. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier has been through at least one major revision, but while Ubisoft has been searching for the right direction in that game, they’ve been taking a whole new tack with another game in the series;Ghost Recon Online will boldly take the franchise into the realm of free-to-play shooters. We caught up with Thomas Seris, Senior Brand Manager at Ubisoft, who talked about this new direction for both the French publisher and the Ghost Recon franchise.

[a]list: How are you looking to draw in long time fans of Ghost Recon with the promotions for Ghost Recon Online?

Thomas Seris: Simply by communicating on a legitimate, pure and visceral Ghost Recon experience, going back to the tactical and strategic roots of the franchise original PC game.

[a]list: Can you give some examples?

Thomas Seris: From realistic weapon customization, to classes special abilities, the choice of location for the maps or cover mechanics, every feature we highlight, every asset we release is made to get players to feel like soldiers from the ultimate elite military unit.

[a]list: Tell me about how you’re communicating that, even though Ghost Recon Online is free-to-play, it’s a retail quality multiplayer experience?

Thomas Seris: As a player, it’s difficult for me to accept that business models are relevant criteria to judge the quality of a video game.  Some MMOs switched from a subscription to a free-to-play model, so it’s purely a perception issue. Because of this, Free is sometimes synonymous with low quality products, games that publishers cannot charge for.

[a]list: We understand that, but how do you convey that to players who might be less familiar, or are at least wary, of the model?

Thomas Seris: The real question is to understand how the free-to-play model is impacting gameplay. The development philosophy behind Ghost Recon Online is to ensure payers are not given a specific advantage over players. This is great, because the game is all about competition, and it requires fairness. As a consequence, Ubisoft Singapore is focusing on providing players with a great AAA Ghost Recon game, regardless of the way it generates revenue.

[a]list: So what’s the message to players?

Thomas Seris: We simply won’t hide from our free-to-play nature and this message will be prominent in our campaign. We’re also looking forward to leveraging a franchise history made of various memorable extremely well-reviewed games. Ultimately, the promotional support behind the game, the quality of PR and advertising assets, or just simply the type of campaign behind Ghost Recon Online will definitely be on par with a AAA boxed product campaign.

[a]list: What sites and online methods are you looking to use to draw people into the experience?

Thomas Seris: Being a free-to-play game, Ghost Recon Online has very little barriers of entry. So you can expect a mix of different activities all driving trial. Online campaigns are obvious, but we also want to meet our community of players during events and take the game on the road as often as possible!

[a]list: How will the console versions of Ghost Recon Online be marketed differently?

Thomas Seris: I’m assuming you’re talking about the Wii U version. Details regarding this specific SKU will be unveiled at a later time.

[a]list: Why do you feel Ghost Recon Online is the right response for the PC market?

Thomas Seris: The Ghost Recon franchise is currently developed on various platforms from Console to PC, Facebook to Mobile. However, the franchise itself started on PC with the original Ghost Recon and the free-to-play is a popular model and it shines primarily on PC. Competitive multiplayer shooters always make great PC games. These are some of the reasons that make Ghost Recon Online a perfect fit for the PC platform.

[a]list: Thomas, thanks.

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