A new generation of gaming devices means whole new ways to play, and Ubisoft is ready to level up players’ experience with Ubisoft Connect. An evolution and expansion of the Uplay and Ubisoft Club services that was unveiled today, Ubisoft Connect is the new Ubisoft gaming hub which introduces a host of cross-platform features, such as full cross-progression on highly anticipated titles like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Immortals Fenyx Rising, and Riders Republic, new social events and challenges for PC, console, or streaming devices alike, and much more. We sat down with Stephanie Perotti (VP of Online Services) and Charles Huteau (Creative Director on Ubisoft Connect) to talk about the new features, the reason for the change and what players can expect from the new cross-platform hub for player services.
Firstly, what is Ubisoft Connect?
Charles Huteau: It’s a new merge between Uplay, our current PC client, and the Ubisoft Club rewards system. We want to provide a more consistent experience across multiple platforms, so we’ve created this new ecosystem to bring our players together across multiple screens and devices.
Stephanie Perotti: We’re also building on what we learned in creating the Ubisoft Club and Uplay, and more than merging them together this is also an extension of those services. The evolution is that it will be a transversal, unified experience for players across all of our games and all platforms, including the existing PC, mobile and web experiences.
What are the key benefits of the new system for players?
CH: The new overlay is a really big benefit, the fact that it will be the same across platforms is a key aspect of the experience. It brings that fast access to everything players need to support their gaming. We’re also bringing several new features, including our Smart Intel system, which people may already know from using our AI gaming assistant SAM in our mobile app. It gives personalized tips, stats and videos to help players improve or overcome a difficult challenge or quest, and it’s really based on your personal gameplay stats and playstyle, it’s really helpful. We’ve been testing it on mobile for the last two years and we’ve had some great feedback, so we’re happy to bring that across the whole Ubisoft Connect system and to all of our players. There is also a new activity feed where people can see everything they and their friends have achieved recently, and that’s fully cross-platform too, so those can be seen no matter where a player is accessing it from. It really allows people to stay connected to their Ubisoft friends across platforms and games and help them in this transitional period where friends might be using different hardware. The idea is that the overlay is a foundation for future features, it’s just the beginning and provides a basis for new and great features we can add to support our players and keep improving and enhancing their experience.
What were some of the key things that were learned from the launching Uplay that have been integrated into Ubisoft Connect?
SP: Over the years we have tested and implemented various features, sometimes only on single platforms. The Ubisoft Club reward and loyalty program has always been at the heart of the system, and we’ve been rewarding all of our players with exclusive content for the last 10 years. The big change in that experience is based on what we learned from those rewards, as well as how our games have evolved in that time. What we’re making now is different to what we were making 10 years ago, players expect bigger, more packed experiences and want more diversity in the activities and challenges they are given. We’ve completely revamped the loyalty system to meet the kind of expectations players have and the kind of games we make today.
CH: One of the key changes in the experience is a new in-game overlay that will appear across platforms. There has been an in-game overlay in Uplay for a number of years now, and we learned that it’s the best way for players to interact with content; it’s directly in-game, it’s accessible with a click at the moment you need it, they don’t have to leave the game and break the immersion, and they also have quick access to key elements they want to see directly. The new in-game overlay is a big change in the way people can access information and services they want to see in a way that’s as close to the game experience as it can be. The reward system I think is another example where we implemented the system quite early and it’s paid off, rewarding players and giving them more out of their games has been successful on both sides. Our games and players have evolved over the years, and we’re adapting to that. We’ve reworked how players progress through Ubisoft levels, players can still complete challenges in all Ubisoft games but now we’re introducing time-limited challenges every week to give people even more rewards when they play. We’ve also changed the way we approach exclusive rewards, where previously we would create rewards and challenges at the launch of the game, now we want to make sure that we can follow the life of the game and drop multiple packs of rewards over time that are relevant to the community and how the game has developed.
Why roll out these changes, and why now?
CH: We’ve been developing online services at Ubisoft for about 10 years now, and we felt it was the right time to create something fresh for our players, something better adapted to the way people game today. The arrival of the next generation of consoles and gaming hardware was also a key aspect behind the decision, and a perfect moment to tackle the transformation because it’s changing the way people play, allowing them to interact with the same content on multiple platforms. It also helps to ease people into the new generation of devices, from the new consoles to streaming and cloud platforms, with something that is more adapted to suit that experience. When Uplay launched more than decade ago, we were one of the first people to offer that kind of service, and it was somewhat uncharted territory for us, but also for players too. We know everything wasn’t perfect, but we have learned a lot since then, always driven by the community’s feedback, and that’s how we’re able to deliver something that’s stronger and better adapted with Ubisoft Connect. There was some trial and error, we learned to listen and adapt to our players’ feedback and Uplay is totally different to what we started with all those years ago. But now we can take all of that and start fresh in a totally new ecosystem, making it available for more players with the benefit of a strong community and years of working together with them.
SP: We know that when Uplay was first launched 10 years ago it wasn’t received well by everyone, and there were some missteps for sure. We didn’t start out on the right foot with the PC community, but we have worked hard to make up for that and we can be proud of what the Uplay team have achieved in the last few years in improving community sentiment and appreciation, which have increased drastically since those early days. We aren’t seeing the kind of strong feedback we saw back then because time and effort were invested in improvements to Uplay, and to improving our PC games as well. Now we have a much better connection with our PC community, and more dedicated content and events just for them. We want to continue catering to those players, and just because the experience is more unified it doesn’t mean we won’t adapt to improve. We still want PC players to have what they need, and we still want to continue to develop the PC experience. It is also a time of transition to a next generation of consoles, and thanks to Ubisoft Connect our players will have access to cross-progression across devices in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Immortals Fenyx Rising and Riders Republic, and we intend to support crossplay and cross-progression as standard in as many future titles as possible. It’s important for players to be able to navigate between platforms, but also to be able to find and interact with friends wherever they play.
What does this mean for the future of Ubisoft Services?
SP: We’ve talked about the experience but running beneath all that is the new technology. The first really exciting thing is that everything in Ubisoft Connect is cloud based, meaning we can do things like update any game on any platform in a way that’s independent from the game itself. This makes it very flexible, allowing us to update and iterate quickly, add features without having to involve a game team to ask them to implement something or force a game update. It allows us to see what kind of new and emerging systems could be interesting for players in a new and more efficient, iterative way. The second thing is that it’s not just a unified experience but that it’s totally cross-platform, and things like cross-platform play and cross-progression are something that players expect now. We also feel there are a lot of opportunities to improve the way that the community can interact across devices, and a big focus will be around new social and community features in the future.
CH: It’s an evolution for the services, for the company and for our games. We’re building this unified ecosystem to really support our teams in building the best game experiences possible, and it’s the same for our players. We want anyone to have the same experience across different platforms, the same access to our service. We’ve done a lot of work to better understand what people want within quick reach, what their priorities are when they play. It’s a combination of those two worlds, players and game production teams, in a single interface. It’s super exciting and we will continue learning and developing on those same principles.
For more news on Ubisoft Connect and all things Ubisoft, keep your eye on the Ubisoft News hub.