Interview with Clement Nicolin of Nacon, Publisher of Rugby 22

Rugby 22 is out now, and despite its fair share of flaws and missing licenses, I still had a good time with it. The folks at Eko Software and Nacon keep improving upon each entry, despite the clear budget and scope limitations stemming from the fact that the sport isn’t as popular as football or basketball.

I had a quick chat with Clement Nicolin, product manager at Nacon (the publisher behind Rugby 22), and got to find out a bit more about the company’s strategy when trying to market the game to markets where rugby isn’t very popular and to those that are, as well as other questions regarding the game’s development cycle and plans for the future.

Rugby 22 All Blacks Team

The inclusion of the All Blacks is Rugby 22’s main highlight.

Rugby is a tricky sport. It is widely popular in many countries around the world, it’s growing in popularity, but it’s still far from being a hugely popular sport in the Americas, with the exception of Argentina and Uruguay.

With that being said, it’s hard not to develop a game nowadays with a global audience in mind. What is your strategy in order to attract a player base from these other markets?

As you’ve mentioned, rugby is a growing sport in multiple markets, including the Americas, and a video game can be a nice entry point to learn more about the sport as well. Rugby 22 was made by rugby fans for rugby enthusiasts. Being able to include some of the best teams around the world in the game is important to please all fans, and having the chance to get the All Blacks (the New Zealand national rugby team) and the Wallabies (the Australia national rugby team) this year, in addition to many European nations, was fantastic news.

Rugby 20 was mostly focused on Northern Hemisphere licenses. Is that still the case in Rugby 22? Did the team manage to acquire licenses from leagues and national teams from the Southern Hemisphere for this brand new iteration of the game?

In Rugby 22, we were able to add the New Zealand and Australian national teams, as well as South African clubs playing in the United Rugby Championship. We want to develop a game that would please fans all over the world, and we work hard to be able to add more content each year.

You deviate from the norm by not releasing your sports titles on a yearly basis. What is the thought process in this strategy, and what has the team done to make up for this longer waiting period in between releases?

Developing and improving games takes time, and as sport fans, we always want to take the decision that will lead to better quality games. If it means we need to skip a year, we’ll do it. It doesn’t mean it will always be the case though; it is a decision taken after each project, to see what our objectives for a potential future game would be, and the time required to achieve it.

Could you tell us a bit more about the brand new career mode and the possibility of creating your brand new team?

Of course! First of all, you have the traditional “Quick Play” mode, where you can compete with friends and family at home. The main mode, however, is the solo mode, where you will have to build your team with an initial budget, play short seasons versus other teams trying to finish at the first place in order to move up to a better division, getting more money to improve your team, and ultimately trying to access the best division available and build your dream squad.

Rugby 22 Career Mode

Create a team, start from the bottom, just like the good old Winning Eleven Master League days.

Rugby 22 is the first game of its kind to be released on next-gen consoles (the PS5 and the Xbox Series X/S systems). How do these versions differ from the PS4 and Xbox One versions in terms of visuals and performance?

We are in this particular moment in the generation where players are still transitioning from old to new gen consoles. It was important for us to offer a coherent and complete gaming experience on all platforms. Regarding the next-gen versions, you can mainly expect a better resolution, more fluidity, and faster loading times.

Furthermore, are there plans on releasing the game on the Switch further down the line? The idea of having a rugby game on the go sounds like a dream come true.

Well, this isn’t something planed for the moment, but it is of course something we have in mind… maybe in the future!

Finally, are there plans on turning Rugby 22 into an e-sport, with its own tournaments and events?

We believe that turning any game into an e-sport is a decision that needs to come from the community first and foremost. With that being said, several communities and sport organizations are looking at the opportunity to run competitions on Rugby 22, and we support them as much as we can in this initiative.