Ubisoft’s Digital Games Strategy Has Nothing to Do With Acquisitions

Ubisoft has no plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on acquisitions to get big fast on Facebook.

It may be taking a longer route, but after spending a year or so experimenting, it says it is getting close.

At a press event in San Francisco on Wednesday, it unveiled plans to launch seven Facebook games over the next several months.

The games are being built in-house and some through third-party studios.

Meanwhile, other companies have gotten up to speed much faster, such as Electronic Arts, Disney and Zynga, which have spent millions, even billions, to get big quick.

“I’m not going to make hundreds of millions of dollars in acquisitions,” said Ubisoft’s VP of Digital Publishing Chris Early. “We’ll never stop looking for acquisitions, but it will be mostly smallish developers with great IP as opposed to buying our way into the market. We said let’s do it organically and understand it as we build.”

Over the past year or so, he said all of Ubisoft’s 23 studios around the globe have been able to experiment. “Five of them liked it and have devoted expertise to it going forward,” he said.

Ubisoft, which is headquartered in France with offices in San Francisco, hosted an event in the states to show off the company’s upcoming lineup of digital titles.

Currently, the company has two major games on Facebook including Smurfs & Co., which rose to the top of the charts in conjunction with the movie release, and CSI: Crime City.

Over the next several months, they have seven more titles planned, including CSI: Miami; House, M.D.: Critical Cases; NCIS: Major Crimes; CSI: New York; NCIS: Los Angeles and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon. Another undisclosed game is also in the works with Loot Drop, a studio founded by John Romero, known for Doom and Quake.

It also announced several more mobile games, which are also being built in-house or through a partnership with Gameloft. As part of that, it plans to launch its first Android games to join Apple’s iOS. Some of the games include Assassin’s Creed Rearmed, Rabbids Go, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, Michael Jackson the Experience and Monster Burner.

Early said in the past month alone, Ubisoft’s digital revenues have increased 45 percent.

Digital revenues include social and mobile games and digital downloads on consoles.

Early said the company’s strategy with mobile and social is to leverage its existing games from the videogame console market to make what he calls companion apps.

Last year, it experimented with its well-known franchise Assassin’s Creed. The Facebook game was called Project Legacy, and the only way of discovering it was if you played Assassin’s Creed on the console. By playing both, users could earn currency, earn points and unlock treasures that could be carried back and forth from console to Facebook.

This year, you’ll see Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon overlap between the console, the PC and Facebook games in the same manner.

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