Ubisoft and History Hit tie-up brings gaming and history audiences together

Ubisoft and History Hit tie-up brings gaming and history audiences together
History Hit and Ubisoft's branded podcast for the latest launch of Assasin's Creed about the history of feudal Japan. Credit Little Dot Studios.

Gaming developer Ubisoft and content platform History Hit have agreed an “always on” partnership which brings together the genres of gaming and history.

The deal follow a seasonal agreement which turns the Assassin’s Creed Echoes of History podcast into a weekly show with long-form monthly videos distributed on YouTube.

But what does each side get out of the new partnership arrangement?

Etienne Bouvier, senior transmedia content manager at Ubisoft, told The Media Leader, it represents “a partnership of mutual growth”.

He added the partnership feels “very organic” and “natural”, given Dan Snow, who founded History Hit (part of Little Dot Studios), and Matt Lewis, the host, love the game. Bouvier said it has been “a very successful collaboration” with Assassins vs Templars last year becoming the best season in terms of listening figures.

Bouvier explained: “We saw at that moment that there was a very good intersection between History Hit audience and our native audience of gamers, so we started to discuss something a bit more ambitious, and took us a year because these discussions take time, but I think we ended up in a position where it’s really an equal-to-equal partnership, something where we both have something to gain from.”

The Echoes of History podcast is not a typical gaming podcast talking about gameplay itself, but explores different parts of history featured in Assassin’s Creed games hosted by historian Matthew Lewis, with the most recent series covering the history of feudal Japan in line with the newest Assassin’s Creed Shadows game.

Jen Bennett, History Hit’s commercial director, told The Media Leader that the partnership not only adds another podcast to the network slate but also helps grow its reach and develops new fans “without bearing the full risk of launching a new IP from scratch.”

From a History Hit perspective, Bennett also said that “with sufficient demand for the IP”, it could also “look at more traditional video content” or “TV style documentary commissions” with this kind of deal.

An intersection of audiences

The Echoes of History podcast, while based on Assassin’s Creed IP, is not solely aimed at gamers.

For Bouvier, it is “an open door” for the brand to engage with people who are not necessarily interested in playing the game, but interested in learning about a topic that is interesting for them.

The podcast serves an education and entertainment need, as Bouvier described history as “a cross-over place” where gamers can satisfy needs for educational content, and history enthusiasts can do vice versa.

“It’s a good way to mutualise two audiences who have a proven terrain of cross match,” he added.

He added that Ubisoft was “one of the most active transmedia brands in the industry” with “tonnes of formats” from books to TV, so being “innovative” and going where audiences are and addressing communities were important focusses.

Bennett told The Media Leader that History Hit saw a lot of its audiences interested in gaming, with fans regularly emailing suggestions to feature or discuss specific games based in history, with Assassin’s Creed being the most requested.

She added: “We believe our audience who loves history but is not yet a player or familiar with the worlds of Assassin’s Creed, would appreciate the level of detail, accuracy and authenticity the podcast brings to creating these worlds.”

A new avenue for advertisers

For Bouvier, the fact that this podcast is not a traditional gaming podcast “opens a very interesting avenue for advertisers” wanting to speak to harder-to-reach gaming audiences with more depth in a way that is “not so present” in the industry currently.

While there will be traditional programmatic podcast advertising and host-read inventory, Bouvier said Ubisoft is “very open” to looking at sponsored content and developing “an even stronger relationship with an ad partner”.

He said: “What sets us apart from the existing profile for advertisers in podcasting is that we are not the typical gaming podcast, specifically talking about a game which can feel a bit more promotional in its own way.

“What we are creating here is really content with an added value where people learn something and I think that’s an edge for advertisers.”

Similarly, Bennett sees the partnership as providing an opportunity for advertisers to go beyond the traditional ad placement or podcast host reads to create sponsored branded content under the IP of Echoes of History for “the benefit of relevant brands” that are interested in accessing this audience.

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