​Ubisoft to open Montreal entertainment centre with Rabbids video game theme

The Rabbids Amusement Centre, which Ernst says represents a seven-digit investment for Ubisoft, will be able to accommodate several hundred people.

West Island centre slated to open in August

Ubisoft says the new centre is all part of a plan to provide "experiences that go beyond video games." (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Ubisoft's next bid to expand its brand is a family entertainment centre in Montreal drawing on the company's popular Rabbids video game franchise.

Slated to open in August on Montreal's West Island, the 1,400-square-metre centre is the brainchild of Ubisoft Canada
managing director Olivier Ernst, a father of two young kids who saw a "perfect match" between the Rabbids franchise and a place for families to have fun.

Rabbids are mischievous rabbits originally part of the "Rayman" video game franchise.

Ubisoft has spent two years researching and planning the pilot project, which is aimed at kids 12 and under. While Ernst is not ready to share all the details of the entertainment that will be available, he says parents will be able to participate with the kids or take a breather and watch.

"Rabbids are very wacky, (there'll be) lots of action going on," Ernst promised. "And at the same time very very funny. So it's a perfect environment for the family to spend a couple of hours."

The Rabbids Amusement Centre, which Ernst says represents a seven-digit investment for Ubisoft, will be able to accommodate several hundred people.

More theme parks to come

Ubisoft, which has its headquarters in France, has already announced plans for a "next-generation theme park" in Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia. Slated to open in 2020, the 10,000-square-meter indoor complex will showcase rides, shows and other attractions built around Ubisoft's games and characters.

The company already has the Rabbids Dark Ride up and running at the Futuroscope theme park located near Poitiers, France. Utilizing a train and 3-D glasses, it is billed as a trip through great moments in history.

"Since it opened, it has helped the park gain 20 per cent increase in attendance," Deborah Papiernik, Ubisoft's business
development director, said from Paris.

A feature film based on the made-in-Montreal "Assassin's Creed" video-game franchise is due for release in December starring Michael Fassbender with other video-game themed films to follow.

Papiernik says it's all part of a plan to provide "experiences that go beyond video games."

Ernst sees the amusement centre as a "proximity" attraction, primarily designed for local families rather than a destination attraction like a theme park.

Ernst was not willing to divulge pricing or details of the planned entertainment other than to say it will allow the kids to
expend energy, make use of Ubisoft's innovation and serve as a venue for parties and other special events.

'Montreal is like a second home'

Montreal is a major piece in Ubisoft's corporate puzzle. Ubisoft employs 2,700 in Quebec and Montreal is its largest studio worldwide.

"Montreal is like a second home for Ubisoft...The community in Montreal really welcomed Ubisoft with open arms when we created the studio a long time ago," said Papiernik.

"And when you combine that with the fact that Olivier is the one with the idea then Montreal was the perfect destination."

Ubisoft will look to build more if the centre proves successful.