How Ubisoft approached revitalizing The Division, Siege, and other live games
"Now that games have live elements, the smart way to handle them is to keep working on them to maintain engagement. That way you can build toward the next game, too."
- Ubisoft's Laurent Detoc explores how the company has used live support to help its franchises thrive
Speaking to VentureBeat, Ubisoft’s North American executive director Laurent Detoc says that the comeback arcs many of Ubisoft's live games have seen in recent years wouldn't have been feasible just years ago, noting that the changing nature of the game industry itself made those recoveries both possible and necessary.
“It hasn’t happened in the past because this just isn’t how publishers have historically approached engagement and retention in games,” said Detoc. “We didn’t need to. A game was done and it shipped. There weren’t live elements to a game. Now that games have live elements, the smart way to handle them is to keep working on them to maintain engagement. That way you can build toward the next game, too.”
While this kind of support can bolster engagement for an already-released game, he notes the particular attention Ubisoft has paid to The Division years after release have helped put The Division franchise in a favorable position with players, boosting excitement for the upcoming second game in a way that wouldn’t have been possible without this level of post-launch support.
“You keep on adding to the experience, and you see people talk about it later. After a year and a half people said that The Division was the best it was ever been, and that helped bring in even more new people. A lot of the people who’ve played The Division came to the brand after patch 1.4. They saw the game in a much better state. When you look at that sentiment going from 30 to 80, a lot of people first came to the game when it was doing better. Now we’re looking at Division 2 with a super happy community, very engaged and satisfied, and they’re looking forward to the sequel.”
Detoc notes that he’s not “too much in the business of praising his competitors,” but that Blizzard’s Diablo III had a similar arc, and received a good number of patches following release to bring and keep the series in players’ good graces.
“But it’s the same spirit. Whether the game is broken or it’s missing some elements, it creates a similar kind of frustration from the player, and you address that the same way,” he said. “You continue to work on it.”
The full interview on VentureBeat explores these topics further, additional diving into the changing relationship between single player and multiplayer modes in games and why Ubisoft employs upwards of 12,000 developers worldwide.