This week I attended the Gaining a Global Advantage event at the Business School, where VP of Customer Management at the Ubisoft CRC, Stéphane Catherine, delivered a lecture on how Assassins Creed has ‘Gone Global’. I stopped by after his talk to take his card for an interview about the great work he and his colleagues have been doing at their Haymarket site, and of course, what he likes most about Newcastle!
JO: What aspect of Newcastle have you enjoyed the most since moving from Paris? How different is the culture?
SC: The people! They are much more friendly & relaxed than in Paris, which is a pretty stressful city.
Also I love outdoor activities, so I enjoy the quality of air (no pollution!), the seaside, and Lake District.
JO: You have a wonderfully diverse and multicultural team at your disposal at the CRC, what benefits or challenges do such a range of backgrounds and cultures bring to the company?
SC: It is a direct benefit to engage with our consumers: we have employees who speak the same language and perfectly understand the consumers’ expectations. It is very important for us to act in a global way while adapting to the local culture.
And when Euro 2016 starts, we’ll surely have some fun times watching it on TV!
JO: Most of your work has been in engaging fans and ensuring consumer satisfaction. How important is it to establish a sense of clarity and honesty with your fans on social media?
SC: Today’s consumers expect transparency & regular communication from the brands they love. They also want to have direct engagement, and be able to speak to them through Social Media. This is especially important for video-game fans who are very passionate and thus have high expectations on that side. Also our games now rely on Online Services, which means we need to provide gamers with live support, i.e. 7 days / week with super quick response time.
JO: Grow Home has become a worldwide hit after starting out as a small internal game at the Reflections studio. Do you think we could see more independent efforts being published at Ubisoft as well as the big AAA franchise games?
SC: Well in fact Grow Home is not the first game of that genre. Take Valiant Hearts or Child of Light for instance, they are not AAA blockbusters per se but have been very successful and managed to appeal to a certain audience. So Ubisoft wants to keep on investing in such creative projects and I suspect we’ll bring new surprises of that genre to our fans in the future!
JO: Finally, after your many years working at Ubisoft, what is your favourite game to play when you have free time? Have you ever tried your hand at making games yourself?
SC: I remember with nostalgia some nights spent with Splinter Cell, which was probably my favourite Ubisoft game ever. I haven’t tried making games, there are many other Ubisoft employees who do that much better than I would!
To finish, I want to thank Stéphane for taking some time out to answer my questions, and say good luck to the whole team at the CRC!