A Far Cry from normal

Why Ubisoft enlisted street artists to help branch out from the typical male gamer demo for its next launch.
FC4 Mural- MTL

Ahead of its Nov. 18 release date, Ubisoft embarked on a street art initiative for Far Cry 4 to give something unexpected to both its core audience and members of Toronto and Montreal’s art scenes.

The Far Cry series – developed by Ubisoft’s Montreal office – is known for two things: its open-world gameplay that gives players freedom to do what they want, how they want it, and its expansive, picturesque landscapes. So, to reflect that, Ubisoft enlisted a handful street artist to create murals inspired by Kyrat, the Himalayan world Far Cry 4 is set in.

Last Tuesday, Alex Produkt created a mural in Montreal. On Saturday, Ubisoft enlisted Nick Sweetman, Bruno Smoky, Shalak Attack and Blackburn to do the same near Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto. Both events were promoted via social media and had playable demos of the game on-site.

Outside of Canada, the game is being promoted with a series of interactive, live-action short films on a dedicated microsite that allow users to choose their path as the videos go along. That campaign is more focused on the open-world gameplay of Far Cry 4, which is different for every person that plays it.

Lucile Bousquet, director of marketing for Ubisoft Canada, says the company wanted to do murals in Canada because it gave it a chance to convey that personalization as well as the “beauty” of the game’s environment.

“We want to promote the beautiful scenery of the game and at the same time give [the artists] freedom to have personal, individual expression when they create,” she says.

Bousquet says besides trying to do something that will stand out among all the marketing that gamers are exposed to, the murals are an attempt to connect with non-gaming elements of each city’s culture.

“A lot of the artists at Ubisoft are tied into [the art] scene, so the two worlds were going to collide at some point,” she adds.

Bousquet says the Far Cry series has always overperformed in Canada, with past installments reaching 15% of U.S. sales, surpassing the 10% mark she considers a success for a videogame in Canada. Despite getting about the same slice of the budget as the next Assassin’s Creed game – also developed by Ubisoft Montreal and also hitting shelves in mid-November – Bousquet expects Far Cry’s following to help it deliver better results. With a strong, built-in following, the game’s visually appealing environment gave it an extra element that allowed Ubisoft a chance to try and branch out to a new audience.

“We want to have people who are not familiar with the game to come see us,” she says about trying to reach beyond the core, male-skewed 18- to 34-year-old audience with the murals. “The market with this campaign is wider because we also want to reach the community of artists and fans of urban art.”

Aside from the murals and interactive online ads, Far Cry 4 will have a more traditional television and online push that focuses on the freedom of the gameplay, plus a transit-centred out-of-home campaign that will attempt to convey the beauty of the landscapes, as the murals do.

Bleublancrouge handled creative while ZenithOptimedia took care of media.