-They have a 50 person dedicated team at Ubisoft Quebec making the tablet companion apps.
-They want both experiences (console and companion app) to feel fun and complete when played alone. This is an especially large concern for the tablet apps since they're often afterthoughts.
-They think the tablet apps will be more accessible to people who aren't as comfortable with a controller or maybe don't even have a console.
-They see this as the future of gaming (even at the CEO level) and thus it will be in most of their projects going forward.
-Currently they're focusing on PS4/XB1 with this, but will consider the Wii U if it makes sense. They said working on AC3's Wii U features was a big help in learning how to do this though.
-They feel that tablets are catching up to consoles pretty quickly so it will help them make companion apps easier as tablets can support next-gen engines.
Originally Posted by GamesIndustry.biz
At an earlier interview with Ubisoft chief executive officer Yves Guillemot, GamesIndustry International had a chance to ask him about the company's second-screen experiment.
"I'm convinced it's the future," Guillemot told us. "What I like in second-screen play is its accessibility, which means different types of people can play. Those who don't know how to play with the [controller] or don't like to play with it can use touch. So that's the first good element."
"The second one is it gives you an opportunity to play from outside the home with your friends who are playing from their homes. So I'm in an airport, and I can play with my friends using my iPad if I have a good connection. We think this is going to open lots of new possibilities to the industry, and to the type of gameplay that can occur."
The publisher decided that for its next-generation second-screen effort to work, most of the work needed to be done at a single studio with the right expertise. That studio is Ubisoft Quebec, who's handling the second-screen apps for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Watch Dogs, and The Division. We spoke with Ubisoft managing director Nicolas Rioux about the studio's new drive.
"In the last three years, we had this vision in mind," said Rioux. "The vision of the studio is to be a leader in the creation of mobile, online, and connected universes. For The Division, we were involved from the beginning of the project. This is really our key for success, for our team to be involved with the design team on the console project. If you want to have success with this kind of experience, you must be there early."
"The way we see it, it really gives the players the choice and opportunity to have a great experience when you want, where you want, at the time you want, on the device you want. For us it's a great feature, it's a must-have for the new generation of consoles," added Rioux.
"Some features and gameplay in these apps can provide you with a standalone experience. We believe in the benefits of connecting mobile players with console players in the same universe. It's really where we innovate, with this new generation of mobile applications connected with the console experience. We always mention second-screen, but we need to have in mind that for a lot of people, the games on tablets will be their first screen."
You don't need either the tablet or console part to have a full experience," he added. "For the person playing on the tablet, maybe for him that game is more accessible. Honestly, we give the players new opportunities. It's not a big issue for console players to play the tablet version to have a more complete experience. I'm a console player and a gamer on tablets; for me to have these new possibilities is not a constraint."
"With Assassin's Creed III, we were involved on the Wii U version. The Wii U was kind of the pioneer of the connected tablet interface. This gave us some ideas for the first iteration of tablets connected with console games," said Rioux.
Unfortunately, while the Wii U was the beginning, Ubisoft Quebec's current focus is creating a cohesive experience between the Xbox One/PlayStation 4 and mobile devices. The studio is not committed to bringing some of these new experiences to the Wii U platform.
"It's not confirmed yet, but if it's possible to do it and it makes sense, yes we will provide some kind of experience on the Wii U. Our focus is on the new generation of Microsoft and Sony consoles," explained Rioux.
"I expect maybe in three or four years from now to be able to have mostly the same engine running on tablet and the main console. On The Division, we are using the same assets on the console and the tablets. In the future, it will be easier for us to provide this kind of experience," he said.
And here's an example of one of the tablet apps: