At Ubisoft’s Ubidays showcase in Paris last month, the firm reiterated its well-documented plans to grow its studio headcount. MCVUK.com editor Tim Ingham caught up with the firm’s head of global development Christine Burgess-Quémard to get the full story. Here's part two of their chat…
Have you seen a migration of UK developers going abroad – and is this a danger to our domestic industry?
We do have a recruitment team that is very efficient and covers the whole world, and they have tapped into the UK market. I would say yes to that question – much impressive talent has left the UK already, especially to the US or to Canada and even countries like China.
Have you seen that increase in the last few years?
I don’t have any statistics so I couldn’t say for sure, but I think it’s been pretty constant. There’s definitely a trend every year, however. We always welcome British people on board.
Do you plan to have a bigger worldwide operation than EA or Activision-Blizzard – and how long will this take?
We want to expand our business. We want to continue our strategy of innovation, and in order to do that, we need to have more people and generate more business. Every blockbuster we work on, we invest in new studios, new teams and new projects. So, to your question, yes. We are in the race, definitely – and we’re not in it to come last.
Are you keeping a close eye on EA/Take Two movements – and will that affect your strategy on the studio side?
We’re watching like the rest of the industry is, because obviously there’s been a few marriages before that have had an effect. We’re always happy to see newlyweds, but it won’t affect our studio strategy in terms of what we want to bring to consumers.
You’ve made a point of making partnerships with the education sectors. How important is that in terms of where to expand your studios?
It’s important to us because we know that when it comes to graduates, we need people who are interesting to us. We’re trying to work closer with universities. In Canada, we worked closely with them to ensure that when people actually leave they will be trained with some of the engines we use.
There’s been criticism in the UK of some courses saying that graduates aren’t learning the actual skills they need. Do you think educators need to work with real studios in that territory?
I think so, because you need to understand it’s a huge industry out here. We have lot of convergence and synergy – and we’re going to have more and more with movies, animation and TV. It’s a very big industry that anybody of university level should look into our market because there will be jobs to hire and they need to realise that.
Ubisoft has taken advantage of the Quebec tax credits and backed France in getting a similar deal. How important are these to Ubisoft network – and how would you handle it if these were removed?
We’re not the only ones targeting these territories – especially in Quebec. As I said, it’s important to keep our competitive edge, but it’s not possible without the talent. We’re not going to go into a country where we get huge help from the Government if we don’t have the right talent and they don’t have the knowledge we can train them on top of. It’s secondary to the fact that we have the opportunity to find educated people to join the industry.
Ubisoft’s core titles have a very high success rate. What’s the secret? Does it come from studio level?
I would say yes it comes from studio level, but don’t tell the others. [Laughs] No, we do a great job of selling and marketing as well as development. We work together very closely and above all that’s a big help. The success of Ubisoft is because we have a good analysis of where the market is going at all times. We’re very skilled at being close to the consumer and anticipating their needs. That said, you need to surprise the consumer – and innovation is key for us.