In between the Rainbow Six Pro League matches, we catch up with Steve Miller, Managing Director of Ubisoft SEA and Ubisoft Japan. We had met with Miller before, too. What insights does he have for us today?
If you were looking forward to Taiwan’s Ubiday, Miller can’t provide an update yet. They’re currently waiting on release schedule for games, before they’ll be able to set a new day for Taipei, then the rest of SEA. Bringing the Ubisoft experience to as many countries and fans as possible is part of Ubisoft’s way of thinking, after all. He gives an example of Japan’s Ubidays; in Osaka, Tokyo, then moving on to Seoul, so the next step would be for Southeast Asia. They’re hoping to have Ubidays in every country where there are Ubisoft fans.
Miller believes that the development in Singapore and Philippines is quite good, and they’ll happily open more places in Asia or SEA should they see developing talent there too. A mobile phone development is also opening up in Vietnam, so the option is definitely open.
Asia itself is quite dominated by the mobile platform, and consoles have typically been a smaller part in the market except for Japan. Miller believes the biggest opportunities, especially in SEA, would be in regards to mobile. Ubisoft hasn’t necessarily optimized their PC products for these gamers in how they play or purchase content. Content restrictions is also another thing they will have to tackle. It’ll be a while yet, but the company will get there.
Now that Sony Interactive Entertainment announced a development studio in Malaysia, would Ubisoft also look to having a similar setup? There’s currently no plans for that, but we’ll know should it happen. Moving on to Just Dance, the game celebrated its 20th anniversary. The game has a big following in the Philippines, perhaps especially because of the K-pop songs. They’ll be happy to add more K-pop songs – Just Dance 2020 has 2 songs – since it’s popular for both East and West, and Miller considers himself a big fan too. For some, the choreography in the game not being a match to the actual songs could be a let down, but it’s often due to content restriction that prevents them to exactly reproduce the relevant content.
Rainbow Six saw some presence in the Philippines at ESGS. The game isn’t that big in the country, but Miller thinks it can get big in every country in Asia. It’s a matter of the pace of growth of popularity being different in every country. It got popular quickly in Japan, followed by China then Korea, and the rest of SEA is taking longer. He mentions it being a question of timing, in terms of available content and ease of access. He’s excited for it now with an employee focus on esports in the SEA region, so we’ll see where it goes from here. They could begin with having a SEA-based Operator. The development team is continuously working on it, so the possibility is there.
One last thing, on exclusivity concerns. From Ubisoft’s point of view, using The Division 2 as an example, though it is on the Epic Games Store, it’s also on Ubisoft Store, Playstation Network and Xbox, so it’s not “exclusive” per se. They’ll be looking at the partnership case by case. For now, they’re quite satisfied with the Epic partnership, so we’ll see how it turns out.