Ubisoft Montreal received the ultimate praise from Nintendo: they were to be treated like an internal developer. Ubi Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat talks about creating casual games on Nintendo systems.
Posted by James Brightman on Wednesday, February 20, 2008
As part of an in-depth interview to be published on GameDaily BIZ in the coming weeks, Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat talked to us a bit about his "rules" for making Wii games, among many other topics.
While Ubisoft Montreal is known more for blockbuster hardcore titles such as Prince of Persia and Assassin's Creed, the studio also has a casual team (which hasn't gotten much publicity) that as it turns out was very excited to work on games for Nintendo's Wii and DS, Mallat said: "We were working in secret on a game called My Word Coach... and we had the chance to show the game to [Nintendo of America President] Reggie Fils-Aime, and he saw the game and said 'You got it. You guys got exactly the type of game we want for this machine.' "
The effusive praise didn't stop with Fils-Aime either. When Ubisoft next met with Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, the studio received an even greater compliment. "He told us, 'Alright, we are going to treat you as if you were an internal Nintendo team.' And obviously it was an honor. I guess that [Nintendo] decided to do that because they felt that maybe we captured the spirit of what a 'casual' game could be or should be in a way," Mallat said.
Mallat added that he and his team then headed back to Montreal with all sorts of "rules, dos and don'ts and game system philosophies for [Nintendo's] systems." So what are the rules?
"There is a simple rule... especially with those games... they have to have a consumer benefit," he said. "Strong, obvious and accessible. Because they are designed for people who were not used to playing games, they have to be accessible. They have to have a consumer benefit because those guys, if they don't play games... they usually do something that matters in a way... they're used to making the most of their time. Even when they are doing crosswords, they are doing something valuable for them... So those are two of the main rules that a casual game should fulfill."
The full interview delves into emotion in games, Hollywood and gaming convergence, taking risk on new IP, and more.