The mysterious amusement park that Ubisoft wants to open in Malaysia
The French video game developer is moving up a gear by announcing the opening of an amusement park in Malaysia in 2020. A strategic choice to say the least surprising and letting filter little information.
The French leader in video games is taking the plunge: Ubisoft has just announced in a press release the audacious project to open an amusement park centered around the most popular characters of its video games. A diversification of activities that, on paper, seems surprising. The park, which is not scheduled for operation until 2020, will indeed be located… in Malaysia.
Breaking the boundaries of video games
An amusement park entirely dedicated to video games: is it, behind the dream of many fans, such a good diversification strategy? Ubisoft certainly has some well-known brands (Rabbids, Assassin’s Creed or Just Dance) but does not have the same worldwide notoriety as Nintendo for example. The diversification strategy of the Montreuil-sous-Bois (Seine-Saint-Denis) company undoubtedly has its origins in the excellent results of its games… and constraints of success: “Once a game has passed a number of sales corresponding to its break-even point, the margins it generates are very high, because the production costs are very low. Producers are therefore left with very large funds to reinvest which pushes them into other activities. Electronic Arts or Sega had tried, for example, to launch into robotics, to reinvest their margins,” explains Daniel Ichbiah, video game journalist and author of The Video Game Saga. The boundaries of the game became too narrow for Ubisoft (which is also investing in the field of cinema with five films in the pipeline, adapted from its characters), so the company would embark on a new adventure. A situation that is not a first for her.
Indeed, since 2014, Ubisoft is already present in the field of amusement park attractions with the” Rabbids ” at Futuroscope which has revived the attendance of the site. “The park received 17% more visitors in 2014 and already 20% in 2015,” says Ubisoft. The press release announcing the creation of the Malaysian park even makes lovers of high-tech attarctions salivate in advance. While Futuroscope’s” Rabbids “offer an immersion in “4D”, the Malaysian park could offer attractions in”virtual reality”. Ubisoft has already offered a demo version of an attraction, “Rabbids VR Ride” requiring the use of the Oculus Rift but is sticking for now to a minimal communication on the subject.
The most mysterious aspect of the project (conducted in partnership with a local company, RSG) remains: why Malaysia? The country, although economically dynamic, is not strictly speaking a favorite land-at least for now-for Ubisoft brands, unlike Europe or North America. Contacted by Le Figaro, Ubisoft’s communication remains minimalist, content to speak of Malaysia as “the second most visited country in Asia”, and assures that the company wants to “stick to the statement”. Can’t find out more for now. For Daniel Ichbiah too, who knows the company and its strategies well, this choice is a mystery: “I would not be surprised if Malaysia granted facilities for the installation of the park to the company Ubisoft, which was able to compete between several countries for the installation of the site. But it’s just a hypothesis,” he says.
Last detail: the area of the park should be only 10.000 m2. An area to say the least… modest. For comparison, this is the equivalent of about 3% of the size of the Asterix Park. Ubisoft is therefore not in gigantism, especially since the site would be located in the heart of the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, which would tend to confirm the hypothesis of a park bringing together on a small surface of state-of-the-art attractions, rather than a real “traditional” park with a full range of attractions. A perspective that confirms Daniel Ichbiah: “They probably want to launch this park as a test, but above all as a showcase of their know-how for the whole world. With the idea then, if this initiative is successful, to export everywhere their model and their skills”. Pending clarification from Ubisoft, the projects in Southeast Asia of the company created in 1986 by the Guillemot siblings remain mysterious.