At the 2019 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, we got a chance to learn more about Ubisoft's proprietary Snowdrop engine. Developed by Ubisoft Massive, Snowdrop is best known for its use in Ubisoft's The Division games but can be seen in other past and future Ubisoft games. And when next-gen comes, it'll be ready for that as well.
Snowdrop was most recently used for The Division 2, but will also be the game engine for Massive's Avatar game based on the James Cameron film series, and The Settlers by Blue Byte. And Ubisoft Massive production manager Ola Holmdahl says it's already been tested for next-gen hardware. "We've done thorough benchmarking and we're quite confident that it's in the top bunch when it comes to sort of future-proof, or future-ready game engines," says Holmdahl. When we asked if that means it's already ready for next-gen consoles like PS5 Holmdahl says, "yes."
According to Holmdahl the Snowdrop Engine was developed almost immediately after the Swedish studio was acquired by Ubisoft in 2008. As an agnostic engine, it was developed as a future-forward piece of tech, even as it was being used to make the first Division game. At the same time as development on the 2016 title, Snowdrop was used for South Park The Fractured But Whole, Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, and Starlink: Battle for Atlus.
There are proprietary game engines, like EA DICE's Frostbite, which have a history of reported difficulty when used to develop different genres of games that aren't shooters. When asked if Snowdrop faces similar issues, Holmdahl says one reason Snowdrop is so flexible is because "the engine doesn't make too many core assumptions on what type of game runs on top of it."
As a result, Ubisoft can use Snowdrop across a variety of genres and games rather easily. That's why it can be used across games like The Division 2 and Mario + Rabbids, and future titles like Avatar and The Settlers.
There's no release date for any of the future Snowdrop titles, but The Division 2 is available now. You can check out our The Division 2 guide for more coverage, including walkthroughs, tips, and impressions so far.