Watch Dogs 2, An Essential Franchise For Ubisoft

The video game of the French publisher is marketed from this Tuesday and changes dimension. More humor, more sun, sumptuous sets, the new title has everything to please on consoles but also on the big screen and in comics.

It’s D-Day for Watch Dogs 2. Ubisoft’s new flagship game, which is released this Tuesday, aims to make people forget the absence of a new Assassin’s Creed game this year. Launched in 2014, this new AAA franchise has sold more than 10 million copies. By opening up a new area of ​​play: the world of technology, hackers and computer hacking. The first opus, in open world, plunged the player in the heart of Chicago, in the skin of Aden Pierce, a vigilante fan of technology who attacks the incarnation of Big Brother, ctOS, a software which has taken control. from the city of Illinois (for more information, click here). For the second opus, a change of scenery and climate, still in open world. The adventure takes place in San Francisco. And the hero this time is Marcus Holloway, a young urban hacker. Thanks to a community of coding enthusiasts, the DedSec, it will have to drop a new ctOS 2.0 which takes advantage of the advent of connected objects to control everything.

The French video game publisher, in open conflict with Vivendi, still has no room for error. Each misstep can be exploited by the media group which has risen to its capital in a “hostile” manner (up to 24%), according to Yves Guillemot, the CEO and co-founder. He is counting a lot on his new title for this end of the year, pending the launch of these new licenses Steep (released December 2), For Honor (February 14, 2017) and Ghost Recon Wildlands (March 7, 2017). A little scalded by the first opus, “the players are in ‘wait and see’ mode. The quality of the game will be decisive for good word of mouth. […]. The good reviews [une note de 85 sur Metacritic] could increase sales and create surprises in relation to the first objectives set [9 millions d’unités vendues d’ici mars 2017] », According to Bryan Garnier analyst Richard-Maxime Beaudoux.

For Challenges, Stéphane Decroix, executive producer of the brand at Ubisoft Montreal, discusses the new Watch Dogs signature in the world of the French publisher and the challenges of this release.

Once again, the release of Watch Dogs is timely, especially with the French debate on the TES mega-file. …

Effectively. There are also the problems of algorithms in the presidential election and the victory of Donald Trump. Our goal is to be anchored in reality. And we are quite happy with this news. For the first Watch Dogs, we benefited from the Snowden affair. With this second opus, we are more about predictive, big data and how we can shape it. It is a perilous exercise.

How did you manage to faithfully reproduce the world of hackers?

We have dedicated teams [à Montréal et en France] who are passionate and who are in contact with experts. It is a world that has its secrets. But the idea for us is to be credible and not to fall into Hollywood loopholes. We had everything validated by people who have expertise in this field.

Was the choice of San Francisco, with Silicon Valley, obvious to you?

Yes. With Chicago in Watch Dogs, we were more on surveillance themes. For this second episode, we wanted to focus on hacking and step into the shoes of a hacker. Aiden Pierce was not a hacker, unlike Marcus Holloway. San Francisco sticks more to this culture. There is a more ironic and more secondary dimension in this new character. We take up the specific humor of this environment. It’s lighter than in the first opus. And then with Silicon Valley, there are all its people who work on the world of tomorrow and who are convinced that they will change it. An ideal setting. And a full dimension in the game.

Do you want to spread a message with Watch Dogs 2?

I’ve been working for Ubisoft for nine years and it’s something that has always been advocated internally. We want to introduce new worlds to players. Here, we seek to show the impact of hyperconnectivity and how the entire ecosystem around hyperdata plays out on a daily basis. The Internet of Things and connected cars are becoming potential attack surfaces for hackers. So if this allows players to ask questions, so much the better.

With the risk of making hackers into superheroes?

This is not completely wrong. The hacker is the one who can enter the system. He has abilities that a normal person does not have.

How has the gameplay evolved since the first game?

We tried to give more depth and richness to hacking, to make it something natural by making it as accessible as possible, while offering several possible levels. The player can be more or less aggressive and be closer to the hacking. We leave this freedom to the player. It is a great tool for interacting with systems.

You play it because you can hack Ubisoft’s offices in San Francisco and see the teaser of a new game there, right?

I have no comments to make on this. On the other hand, with a game set in San Francisco while Ubisoft’s US subsidiary is there, it was difficult not to exploit it.

After Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dogs will be adapted for cinema, When?

We don’t have a date. We are currently working on the creative part, the choice of actors, but we are looking to have a different angle than the two games. We want to change the communication around the hack culture by doing it justice, by showing the creativity of these people. We want to do something other than what Hollywood movies can offer on the subject. It’s a very rich universe that we also use in a comic book. And this time the story takes place in a favela in Rio.

With the absence of Assassin’s Creed, has Watch Dogs 2 become the big issue of the end of the year for Ubisoft?

The first opus went very well. It integrates the category of titles which sell 10-12 million copies. The pressure is related to the size of the game [un budget global de 130 millions d’euros: 80 millions de production et 50 à 60 millions en marketing]. And to be able to develop such games, you have to keep this financial aspect in your head, but without turning it into a sword of Damocles. It’s important, but we have an investment vision. We must not block decisions with a purely financial vision. The impact could be counterproductive.

Watch Dogs 2, available from November 15 for PlayStation 4 (Sony) and Xbox One (Microsoft). On PC from November 29. From 69.99 euros.