By Glenn Chapman (AFP) – Jun 8, 2012
LOS ANGELES — Ubisoft flexed its muscles, embracing new trends in digital play while rolling out blockbuster titles for consoles and handheld gadgets at the E3 industry extravaganza that ended here Thursday.
The France-based videogame titan's creations took center stage before the big three console makers -- Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony.
Ubisoft's booth on the show floor was perpetually packed with press and industry insiders eager to try upcoming games, including "Watch Dogs," in which players can hack the networks that control a futuristic "smart city."
"Not only do you play in an open city, but for the first time the city becomes your weapon," said Ubisoft's Montreal studio creative director Jonathan Morin.
"You will experiment with the power of control, with every citizen's darkest secrets at your fingertips."
"Watch Dogs" was one of the rare, daring new videogames at an E3 conference rich with captivating sequels to winning franchises and updated revivals of beloved titles from years gone by.
Ubisoft also had a starring role in Nintendo's campaign to build excitement for the next-generation Wii U console, to be available worldwide in time for the year-end holiday shopping season.
Ubisoft plans to release eight Wii U games in the eight months after the consoles hit the market.
Ubisoft's Wii U lineup includes eagerly-awaited action videogame "Assassin's Creed III" along with dance, fitness, adventure and sports titles.
A "ZombiU" zombie killing game geared for mature audiences was lauded as perhaps the most ambitious approach to using the GamePad tablet controller that is a key feature of the Wii U.
Ubisoft designers turned the GamePad into a "survival kit" for players in the horror-action game.
"Part of the strategy at Ubisoft is to be first on each new console," said Xavier Poix, manager of the global game company's studios in France.
"We have a long history with Nintendo."
Games being tailored to take advantage of the touch-screen controller in Wii U included the company's iconic "Rayman" and the slapstick "rabbids."
"Our goal with Wii U is to provide new and engrossing game experiences for every type of player," said Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime.
"Perhaps none has adopted the something-for-everyone approach more than Ubisoft."
Ubisoft has aggressively extended its offerings to handheld gaming devices, smartphones, tablets, and online communities.
"We are getting out of the only-console experience and will be able to connect games to more and more devices," Ubisoft chief executive Yves Guillemot said while discussing game play trends. "This evolution is coming."
Instead of opening its E3 press event with the usual theatrical movie screen trailers of new titles, Ubisoft got pulses pounding with women in tight-fitting gym outfits dancing on-stage with a popular rap star.
Ubisoft has seen success with "Just Dance" videogames that tap into motion-sensing capabilities of consoles to challenge players to keep in step with on-screen choreography set to high-energy music.
"Ubisoft is a trailblazer in developing innovative, unique content for new platforms," said Guillemot.
Ubisoft pushed another kind of boundary in its riveting action sequel "Far Cry 3," with the introduction of a topless native woman who helps the hero become a warrior on an "island of insanity."
While action videogames have unabashedly featured mutilations, executions, decapitations and other violence, they have been cautious about sexual content for fear of being branded with "adult" ratings that might curb sales.
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