Interview with Yannick Theler of Ubisoft
He will be the man in charge of Ubisoft’s Abu Dhabi studio.
We had some pretty big news coming out last week when Ubisoft announced their plans to open a studio at twofour54 in Abu Dhabi. Being MEGamers, we had to dig deeper and managed to score a phone interview with Yannick Theler who will be acting as the General Manager of Ubisoft in Abu Dhabi. We asked him questions on what to expect in the next few years.
What was the reason behind selecting Abu Dhabi as the place to open Ubioft Studios?
Why Abu Dhabi – there are 3 main factors that led us to Abu Dhabi for Ubisoft. The first one is that Abu Dhabi and the region has a combination of readily available resources that we can foresee. The second one is the comparatively limited financial risk because we have the government backing and the third point is the gross potential in the region because, again, we foresee the region growing fast in the industry. These three factors make us believe that Abu Dhabi is an excellent choice for Ubisoft to open it’s latest studio.
Ubisoft has an office in Morocco as well. Is that going to continue or are you guys going to shift operations from Morocco over here?
Yes we have a studio in Casa Blanca that is going to continue operating in Morocco. I don’t know yet if we will have people from Morocco coming over to Abu Dhabi. We also internally announced at Ubisoft that we are going to open a studio in Abu Dhabi and I am going to have a core team of experienced people that will set up the office with me- especially on the production side. But it is not defined exactly which studio people are going to come to Abu Dhabi yet.
Can you tell us how big of a team are you planning on being based out of your Abu Dhabi office?
We are going to start in December- we move there in December. Then, we work on renovations for our office which should hopefully end by the first quarter of next year. At that time, we will have the first set of people coming in. Then the objective is to grow to 100 people by the next 3-5 years.
Are you planning on nurturing and recruiting local talent or bringing people from outside?
First we will have Ubisoft people coming to Abu Dhabi, but the objective is to train and hire people from the region.
Can you tell us a little bit about the relation with the twofour54 gaming academy?
Yes, for the academy the Ubisoft’s implications will be to commit time and resources to support the training that takes place in the academy. It will include time from local hires as well as visits from other Ubisoft experts teaching here.
What kind of games can we expect to come out of the Abu Dhabi office in the next few years?
First of all it is a new Ubisoft studio. We will work on the existing Ubisoft brands and we will port games. That’s mandatory at the beginning because we are going to be new team with new people- people from the region may be they never worked with such product. We have to do that at the beginning- to learn and to grow the expertise and the experience of the people. That’s the step we have to take, it is important. After that, it can take one year or two years- you know standard production cycle can go up to three years. Then we will see what is going to come out from Abu Dhabi in the next few years but for now it is really too soon to speak about specific titles.
So am I correct in assuming that we probably won’t see any new IPs to start with and that it will be more of development work on your current games that will happen in the region?
Yes you are right. I wish we could start with new creations but it is impossible. I mean you know people who work on our previous IPs have a seniority of 5-7 years. It is important to reach a duration in the project. But of course the objective at the end is to think about our own title from Abu Dhabi.
We want to thank Yannick for his time and wish him the best of luck with his Abu Dhabi studio. And we can’t wait for them to start working as they will be our neighbours at twofour54.