As a fan of driving games, and as the owner of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, I was thrilled to see the news that some of my favorite two-wheeled machines would be showing up in Ubisoft’s upcoming open world racer The Crew 2. I recently got the chance to ask a few questions of Tom Martin, Senior Project Manager at Harley-Davidson, about how this collaboration between Harley and Ubisoft came about.
Aaron: For this collaboration, who approached whom first? Did this originate from The Crew 2 development team, or with Harley-Davidson?
Tom: Harley-Davidson and Ubisoft have been in conversations since the release of the first game, The Crew. However, the opportunity and timing didn’t quite work out for that release. Fortunately, this time around the stars have aligned and we’re excited to be collaborating with Ubisoft on this version of the game, The Crew 2. It’s a great opportunity for both brands.
Aaron: Is this seen as part of Harley’s overall strategy to appeal to a younger Millennial audience, or more of a great one off opportunity?
Tom: The company’s long-term goal is to build the next generation of Harley-Davidson riders globally and this collaboration supports that by exposing players to the Harley-Davidson brand and offering them the opportunity to interact with Harley-Davidson’s product virtually. Harley-Davidson has always been passionate about helping people find their personal freedom. This collaboration is an extension of our mission. We’re helping fans of our brand and our products explore what freedom on two wheels may feel like through gaming. Even those who don’t ride yet will be able to get a taste of the riding lifestyle.
Aaron: Following up on the previous question, is The Motor Company looking to do more video game partnerships in the future?
Tom: New opportunities cross our desks all the time. If it’s the right opportunity, right timing, and aligns to strategic initiatives, we’ll definitely explore it further.
Aaron: Focusing more on the motorcycles in The Crew 2, the first announced H-D bike was the 883 Iron, available as a preorder bonus, and sitting there alongside nearly unobtainable vehicles like the Mercedes AMG C 63 and the Ford F-150 Raptor Race truck. What informed the choice of a more consumer oriented H-D product, one that a young buyer could realistically purchase today at an H-D dealership, versus a more aspirational model like a high end CVO?
Tom: The Iron 883 is one of our most popular motorcycles worldwide, and for good reason. It has a blacked-out, stripped down style that appeals to all ages and will be perfect for negotiating the urban environments in The Crew 2’s American motorsports playground. Both H-D and Ubisoft felt that gamers would enjoy personalizing the Iron 883 with the customization options we’ve decided to include, and we’ve been very impressed with Ubisoft’s ability to accurately portray the Iron 883’s look and sound in the early builds we’ve seen of The Crew 2. If players want to get the feel of the real Iron 883, they should visit us at a dealership, demo event or visit us at H-D.com.
Aaron: Were the major changes to the Softail and Dyna lines with the 2018 year too late to get into the game, or can we expect to see some of those bikes making an appearance?
Tom: We can’t share any details on models beyond the Iron 883 that will appear in The Crew 2 just yet, but we can confirm more models are on the way. The Crew franchise is known for making more vehicles and game modes available to gamers over time, and we look forward to making additional H-D motorcycles available to players to ride and customize in The Crew 2.
Aaron: What kind of asset needs did the production team have in terms of art and sound?
Tom: In order to accurately portray the Iron 883 in The Crew 2, we provided Ubisoft with a simplified version of the CAD file we use to style, design and manufacture the real-world Iron 883. Capturing the authentic sound of the Evolution engine in the Iron 883 required recording sessions both on and off the track with a variety of microphones placed in specific locations on the bike and rider.
I got my own opportunity to experience the 883 Iron during a demo fleet test event earlier this fall. Unlike a Ford Raptor or Mercedes-Benz AMG vehicle, the 883 Iron is readily available at practically any Harley-Davidson dealer, and they’ll be happy to let anyone with a current motorcycle license go for a test ride.
Like Tom said, I found it to be a nimble cruiser that would be perfectly comfortable in the urban jungle, while still having enough power for a longer freeway jaunt. Playing with the available configuration builder on Harley-Davidson’s website shows how versatile this bike can be, with factory options able to transform it into a light touring cycle, a stripped down café racer, a tall handlebar beachside cruiser, or anything in between. Add the massive aftermarket support for this motorcycle (one of the perks of having hundreds of thousands of these motorcycles in circulation) and the real-world 883 Iron is as customizible as any video-game version, with the only limits being the builder’s imagination and budget!
We’ll be following The Crew 2 as it gets closer to release in 2018, and looking forward to more announcements from Ubisoft and Harley-Davidson. Thanks to Tom Martin for taking the time to answer our questions.