Ubisoft took me off to That Paris having for its Digital Day, an event for journalists (and me) to come and check out a lot of their upcoming releases on a variety of formats. The only caveat is that all of the games had a tie to the digital sphere, in that they'll either be available through download only or they've been created specifically for mobile devices.
This meant that things like the upcoming Assassin's Creed
or Rayman Legends
weren't on display you can buy them in shops, of course. But as I sat there, looking out across what was a really quite beautiful cityscape, I got to thinking about Ubisoft as a company.
The company has been around since the mid-1980s, churning out games for every platform you could possibly think of. From its base in the centre of the French capital it has amassed a group of over 30 studios around the world that are working on a variety and amount of titles that would make your average shovelware developer blush.
The thing is, this isn't crap Ubisoft is putting out sure, there's been a few duff titles here and there, but not everything can be golden - the vast majority of Ubisoft releases are really bloody good.
I went digging around the Internet to find out some facts and was honestly surprised to see that they're the fourth largest video games company in the world. To me, I think of Rayman
and my mind goes back to the first one on the original Playstation. Ubisoft is a plucky little company that are giving its best, making a really solid platformer that I enjoy... and then I remember that was in 1996. Now it's 2013, Ubisoft has more franchises than you can shake a stick at, and has somehow become massive.
To me and I suspect many other gamers Ubisoft is always going to have this reputation as the small underdog, despite the fact its revenue last year topped one BILLION euro. Our brains tell us that Ubisoft is a huge company with fingers in pies all around the word, but in our hearts its always going to have that more homely feeling.
I mean, this is a company that has its own conference at E3 that's held in line just behind the Big Three and despite Aisha Tyler's best efforts to bring the conversation around to girl wood
, we're always talking about what they unveil.
Digital Days had 15 different titles on show, plenty of which I wrote about last week. Child of Light
and Valiant Hearts
, both running on the UbiArts Framework that players of the new Rayman
games are already familiar with, are beautiful to look at, solid to play... but best of all, they feel different.
They feel like the company is taking a risk, but they're the two games that most of the people in attendance were talking about. While it's arguably true that Ubisoft can afford to take a chance on new IP, having the balls to do so is a rarity in the games industry. Look at a company like EA or Activision. When was the last time you saw them chucking money and publicity behind something that has the feel and passion of what's essentially an indie game?
Of course, its Ubisoft's bigger titles that give the company the freedom to experiment on such things. The previously mentioned Assassin's Creed
series continues to sell by the bucketload, and the announcement of the previously Vita-only Liberation
will add to those numbers.
Where other rhythm action and dance series seem to be failing, Just Dance 2014
goes from strength to strength by bringing in the latest songs they can get their hands on. Hell, there's a couple in there that haven't even been released as singles yet. Of course, you won't find me throwing shapes as I am an old man with terrible bones but watching people uncomfortably slow dance to Careless Whisper
is very entertaining.