Ubisoft Goes More Casual

Major video game publisher Ubisoft has announced an expansion into the ever-growing and lucrative casual games market. The company says it has made significant investments and formed an internal development structure dedicated to the creation of games that appeal a wider audience than the hardcore gamer set. In addition to beefing up its hit Petz franchise, the game maker will introduce a new game series called My Coach.

“Ubisoft has a proven track record of publishing and creating video games for non-traditional gaming audiences, with multimillion-selling brands like Petz and Rayman,’ says Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot. “The timing is right for us to leverage our creativity and to open up the video games market to new consumers who will be attracted by content that can help them learn, grow and feel better in an entertaining way.’

Ubisoft’s new casual games structure will be led by Pauline Jacquey, exec producer of casual games. Jacquey joined Ubisoft in 1998, working as a producer on such best-selling brands as Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon and Rayman. Ubisoft will also continue to partner with third-party developers to publish casual game titles for the mass market.

My Coach will be a series of games designed to allow players to improve themselves and learn through interactivity. The first two titles are My Word Coach and My Life Coach. Developed in collaboration with linguists, My Word Coach will help players improve their verbal communication and vocabulary, while My Word Coach is being developed by a behaviorist to help people develop positive habits. My Word Coach will be available for the Nintendo Wii and DS platforms this fall and My Life Coach for Nintendo DS will hit retail in time for the holiday season.

The Petz series, which helps youngsters learn how to take care of their domesticated animal pals, will make its way the Wii for the first time as part of the expansion effort. The franchise sold more than 3.5 million units worldwide in fiscal year 2006-07.