Polygon was able to sit down with Xavier Poix, managing director of Ubisoft’s French studios and talk to him at length about the Nintendo Switch. While he wouldn’t reveal any secret information or announce any new software, he does give some insight into what the developer thinks could happen with Nintendo’s new console.
“The biggest thing for us when we’re learning about a new console is ‘Does it change the way we play?’” Poix told Polygon during a visit to his offices outside Paris, France. “If it does not change the way we play, but it’s more power, it’s more memory or stuff like this then it doesn’t change a lot the way we design the game.
“But when it comes with something that really changes the way you play — for instance the Wii … then it’s a total change in the way we imagine our games. That’s why, in our case, it comes with new brands because this is the moment where you are totally creative and you want to design a game based on that new way of playing.”
So what’s the philosophy Nintendo is showing with the Switch and how is Poix reinforcing it with his French design teams? This time around it’s all about continuity of play.
“The Switch is very clear as a premise,” Poix said. “The way it changes the way you play doesn’t come necessarily with the controllers, because they were here with the Wii as well … but in the way it is mobile.”
“The way you can play it on the bus and go home and put it on your TV immediately and come back to your room because somebody else wants to watch TV, this is very interesting,” Poix said. “Not necessarily revolutionizing the way you play, but since we are world creators that try to put the players in our universe and find ways to keep them there. It’s very exciting to find ways of staying in this world.”
“I think it’s a good match for our style. And I think yes, this is a good evolution because for the first time you have a console that is bringing two worlds together which is the mobile-handheld and the usual console experience.”
To Poix’s eyes, however, there is a subtle shift in who the audience of the Switch will be. Where the Wii was targeted at families and non-traditional gamers, Switch seems to be intended for two previously disparate groups: casual adult gamers and hardcore console gamers.
“We are thinking that if Nintendo’s philosophy is really to gather those two worlds,” Poix said, “if adult players and console players could be the same community, then what’s the best user journey of one player that would own the Switch? Not necessarily only with the Switch mind you, but we tried to consider this in the way our upcoming games are being designed. We thought about the time needed for a play session in this game to fit the experience of a handheld.
“When you are playing a game, an adult console game or mobile game for instance, you are spending less time than you then when you are at home in front of your TV for hours. So that’s something that we have in mind for the games that we are producing right now.”
Read more of the interview at Polygon.