If you eagerly tuned in for the Nintendo Switch Presentation yesterday, you probably already know that we will be bringing Just Dance 2017, Steep and Rayman Legends to the new console! More than just upcoming Switch titles, these three games have something else in common; they’ve all been developed by teams in our French studios. Ubisoft, and the French studios in particular, have enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Nintendo, developing games including Rabbids, Red Steel, and ZombiU for Nintendo consoles. We sat down with Xavier Poix, Managing Director of those studios (Annecy, Montpellier, and Paris), to discuss the Nintendo Switch and look back at the special partnership Ubisoft has shared with the Japanese gaming giant.
What’s the story behind your partnership with Nintendo?
Xavier Poix: Our partnership with Nintendo is a long-lasting one, as we’ve been working together for more than 10 years. It all started with the creation of Red Steel, which was developed by Ubisoft Paris to be released at the same time as the Wii. It was the first core game to use motion controls. We also developed Raving Rabbids for the launch of the console, which had more of a “social” focus. The idea was to create games that stood out and pushed the boundaries of the Wii.
We continued this partnership with ZombiU, specifically created for the Wii U, by integrating gameplay that really made use of the console’s unique features, especially the double screen. This ended up being a great tool to create fear. We showcased the most interesting features of the console at E3 to demonstrate how powerful it could be with Killer Freaks (which later became ZombiU). Since then, our relationship continued to develop and we’ve decided to adapt some existing games, as well as develop new ones, which I’m really looking forward to showing you.
Is the Switch going to revolutionise the market like the Wii did?
XP: The Wii attracted a very large audience – including kids and families – because it offered, on one hand, the motion controls, allowing for intuitive interactions with the console and on the other hand games with a strong social component. These aspects gave us the opportunity to develop Rabbids and Just Dance, for example. The Switch will probably have a similar impact, thanks to the mobility offered by the console. You don’t have to have a home console and a mobile console anymore; there’s one console, which is mobile, that you can bring anywhere.
With this console, Nintendo follows its philosophy centred on accessibility and social activity with video games. It even goes beyond that with some aspects: keeping the best of the Wii, with the controllers, and offering mobility. On brands like Just Dance, we already share this philosophy of being playable anywhere with anybody, and the Switch will push this even further. It’s also something to keep in mind when creating new games, so they are developed with this philosophy. Rayman Legends was an obvious choice: not only was it very well received, but at its core it is a social game that you can play with up to four people. By adding mobility, Switch will bring the experience to another level.
What were some of the milestones of your work so far with Nintendo?
XP: I think we can talk about all the meetings we’ve had in Kyoto with Miyamoto, with the teams, and the quality of the games we’ve released that have created a really trusting relationship. The release of Rayman Legends on Wii U, one of our highest-rated games, is just one example. This mutual inspiration, the quality of our brands, as well as the trust and quality of our relationship, is what enables us to go even further today.
What are your most memorable moments working with Nintendo?
XP:The most important moments are the ones to come! [laughs] But looking back, I would say the way our partnership developed, as well as the mutual trust and respect between us, especially now with the Nintendo Switch, this has been very important for us.