Say “Hello” to Sam, Ubisoft’s New Personal Gaming Assistant

The Ubisoft Club wants to make it easier than ever for you to get more out of the games you play and find out more about the latest and greatest from Ubisoft. To do that, the Ubisoft Club created Sam, a personal gaming assistant embedded in the Ubisoft Club mobile app, which leverages the power of Google Cloud’s Natural Language Processing and Dialogflow Enterprise Edition to get you the information you need in a speedy fashion.

Maybe you want to know more about Assassin’s Creed Origins Hidden Ones DLC or are looking for some general advice for your Egyptian adventures? Perhaps you just want to know when a certain game is coming out, or see how many hours you’ve spent playing Ghost Recon Wildlands? Simply type or speak a question for Sam and it will surface the relevant details, videos, stories, and sites almost immediately. You can also keep the conversation going with Sam and discover some of its fun Easter Eggs; try asking it what you should cook for dinner.

The Beta for Sam is now available in English on Android and iOS (Canada only), and while it’s the first public test of the system’s accuracy and responsiveness, the team is also using the opportunity to showcase Sam’s ties to your Ubisoft Club account with the Daily Login feature. Rolling out first for Rainbow Six Siege (with plans to include other games in the future), the Daily Login analyzes your in-game behaviour and stats and then surfaces content – like a community video with tips for an Operator you recently played – designed to help you improve based on the information it retrieves.

We spoke with Damien Moret, brand director at the Ubisoft Club, to learn more about the beta for Sam, how the Ubisoft Club service has grown over the past several years, and why Sam is a key part of its future.

What was the original purpose of the Ubisoft Club when it launched?

Globally, when the project started, we wanted to explore new ways to interact with our players. We started with a very simple idea: Some of our players are very active and play our games a lot, so we should find a way to thank them. We also saw that many players are playing a lot of our games on many different platforms and we should also thank them for that. That is what led us to create a cross-platform, cross-game reward system.

What has changed about the service since then?

The roots of the system were in place in 2009, when we started our first reward system in Assassin’s Creed II. You play the game and unlock units that you can use to redeem rewards in any game on any platform. Since then, we have grown the service by providing more and more personalized benefits. We have added user data so that you can compare with your friends. We have added badges and XP so that you can see your global achievements. We created a system of in-game challenges, and we launched our mobile application last year so that you can access all of our news and reward data at any moment.

Tell us about the Ubisoft Club audience.

I would say that our audience is as diversified as the game community can be. We have players from all over the world who have different ways of playing our games. Some are constantly connected to one game, while others play many different games from time to time. To address this, we have always focused on delivering personalized interfaces and services. Each time you connect to the Club, it shows your specific benefits, your gaming data, and the information about the games only you play.

What have been the major trends since the Ubisoft Club launched? What do people interact with the most?

Obviously, our most invested players are interacting the most with the Club. They love rewards, like unlocking outfits from former Assassins in each Assassin’s Creed, or they love having exclusive emblems in For Honor. They look at each new rewards we reveal, and it’s always funny to see how people react to some rewards. For example, we created a special Viking costume in Watch Dogs 2, exclusively for For Honor players. It was quite unusual, and we were not sure people would like it – but as soon as it was available, we immediately saw videos on YouTube with Vikings in the middle of San Francisco. They just liked to have a funny costume and do crazy things with it! Anything that mixes our different worlds generally creates the most excitement.

Another big component of the Ubisoft Club is the Star Player program. Why is it so important and how has it grown?

Beyond playing our games, we also see other players who are doing extraordinary things. They create content. They help others by creating walkthroughs, or they moderate big communities around our games. We just wanted to have a way to say thank you to them, and we really wanted to do something great for them, as these people are truly exceptional.

I remember, for example, a person who created hundreds of tracks for Trials Fusion, and he did a YouTube video for each of them so that players could check what the track was before downloading it. Imagine the number of hours he spent for other players! For that kind of dedication, we really needed to do something exceptional. That is why we created the Star Player label. We offer these exceptional people an all-expenses-paid trip to one of our consumer shows, where they can play our games and meet our production teams. Over the past three years, we have invited nearly 300 Star Players to different shows, including E3 in Los Angeles, Gamescom in Germany, Paris Games Week, Igromir in Moscow, or Brazil Game Show in Rio.

We are very proud of this community program, because it gives recognition back to exceptional players, and every year we meet great people that also inspire our developers.

Let’s talk about where the Ubisoft Club is going. The mobile app seems to be a core part of its future, along with a very cool new feature it’s getting soon called Sam. Before we get into specifics, where did the idea come from?

Yes, we are continuing to develop the app to give access to many services and lots of information, whether it’s while you’re playing or at any other moment in your life.

For Sam, it comes from two different ideas. We wanted to find a way to give the data back to the players, and show it in a meaningful way to enhance their gameplay experience. Another key idea is that players are increasingly looking for answers to many subjects around games, like tips, general info, or even just a release date… and it takes more and more time to find that information. We wanted something really accessible so that they could spend less time searching and more time playing. And that is how Sam came to life.

What makes Sam different from other services that might be similar?

Sam is a personal gaming assistant, which means it gives you personalized assistance based on your profile information and focused on your games. So while other AI, like Siri or Alexa, can search for information about anything accessible on the Internet, Sam focuses on a narrower range of subjects, honing in on relevant information to your gaming behaviour because it knows your profile. As an example, for our beta version, we’re testing the Daily Login, a personalized notification for Rainbow Six Siege players that is pushed when you launch the game. So each time you start the game, Sam analyzes your profile, your game patterns, and game behaviour. It will then give you links to video tips from the community that specifically fit your profile. It might explain how to use a specific weapon better or leverage map strategies. Sam is a deeper and fully personalized service dedicated to games.

How will the Beta roll out? What kind of features will be included?

We need to test and iterate to really see how efficient Sam is, and how it can progress. We’re starting with a launch of the Beta exclusively in Canada with a limited set of features. Beyond the Daily Login for Rainbow Six Siege, you also have access to the chatbot. You can type or speak directly to Sam and ask any question about our games. It can propose help if you are stuck in a game (try Assassin’s Creed Origins or Black Flag during the Beta), lead you to the appropriate FAQ, or you can even ask how much time you have spent playing a game. This chatbot is accessible at any moment, whether you play or not, and is available in English language only for the time being.

More games will be supported post-beta?

The Daily Login is currently only implemented in Rainbow Six Siege, with plans to add other Ubisoft games. Concerning the chatbot, it already answers a lot of question about your profile, so it covers many games and Ubisoft services. In addition, we regularly keep enriching the bot with additional subjects thanks to user feedback.

What kind of information will you be gathering in the Beta? How will it be used to improve the service? Can users provide feedback?

The biggest challenge is to be sure that first, we are focusing on the subjects that really matter to our players, and that the system can deliver the right level of information. With this first round of testing, we check those needs and how our artificial intelligence can adapt to them.

Users can also provide useful feedback to evaluate the relevancy of the information they receive. For example, in the Daily Login, you receive a video tip from the community and you can up- or down-vote to tell us if the video was relevant to you. That will enable us to adjust the AI so that we can improve its performance.

Since Sam actually has AI of sorts, how will it grow and evolve over time?

To build Sam, we use the natural language processing power of Dialogflow Enterprise Edition from Google Cloud. This enables Sam to understand and interpret questions the users ask. This tool also learns and improves to better understand the user input, so the system can better answer it. At the same time, it gives us a lot of data and indicators that enable us to feed and improve the system. For example, we can directly access the list of unanswered questions that the systems gather without recording who asked them.

How do you see this working in tandem with our current customer service teams?

We believe it’s important to maintain our personalized human interaction with players to understand who they are, what they want, and what issues they may have. AI can also serve as a complimentary service by, for example, answering a high volume of standard questions.

Sam and our Customer Service system will be interconnected to help quickly resolve any issues. If a player has a specific problem, it will provide a direct link to the Customer Support Service page dedicated to the issue at hand.

Any plans to make Sam accessible via PC or consoles?

We created Sam on the premise of being able to ask questions whenever you want and wherever you are, even when you don’t play. Depending on players’ feedback, we will see if it makes sense to extend Sam’s presence on other platforms.

What’s been the most rewarding aspect of seeing how the Ubisoft Club has grown over the past couple of years?

We are seeing more people going to the Club and redeeming rewards – more than half of our Club members took one or several rewards in many of our most recently released games. And the messages of thanks we get from them are what makes us the proudest.

The Author

Phil is so incredibly old that his earliest gaming memories involve those late-70s TV Pong clone machines made by Binatone, typing BASIC games into the one-piece keyboard of a Sinclair ZX80 from magazine listings, and the static burble of Commodore 64 tape loading. He does Marketing things in Ubisoft's Guildford office. He's been at the company for 20 years. The numpty.