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With Just Dance Now, Ubisoft Swaps Smartphone for Console

Don't worry -- there is no video of Re/code writers dancing in this post.

Ubisoft / Just Dance Now

In August, Activision said it would bring a console-equivalent version of its blockbuster franchise Skylanders to iPad. Well, here comes another one.

The franchise is Just Dance, made by Ubisoft, and the new mobile version is called Just Dance Now. It’s not a 1:1 recreation of the console version, which has sold 50 million copies since 2009, but does most of what that game does while cutting the console out of the picture. Instead of using a motion controller like the Wiimote or a motion camera like the Kinect, Just Dance Now uses the accelerometers in a smartphone for input, with each user’s app logged into an online “room.” As dancers move their devices, the app tells the online room who’s moving and how, which is then aggregated on screen.

That means that rather than a TV, players may be looking at an iPad, a laptop or anything with a Web browser that can open the game’s website and display HTML5. Set-top boxes like Apple TV and Roku are not included, at least “for now.” Another notable difference from the console game is that Ubisoft claims this one supports “unlimited players” in the same session. At a test of the feature at this year’s Malmö music festival in Sweden, technical director Bjorn Tornqvist said nearly 200 audience members danced in the same game.

Tornqvist said Just Dance Now works on all iPhones, 3GS and up, and on Android phones running version 2.7.2 and up. The game is also planned to work with one smartwatch, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear. Game producer Oliver Merlov said on iPhones, it integrates with HealthKit in iOS 8, counting the calories burned while dancing.

Just Dance Now uses a rotating library of five free songs, with the rest behind a paywall. Because people often play the games at parties, Ubisoft opted for a tiered subscription: $0.99 for a one-hour pass, $1.99 for one day, $3.99 for one week, $8.99 for one month, $21.99 for 3 months or $54.99 for one year.

Preorder versions of the boxed console version, Just Dance 2015, range from $40 to $60 depending on where you look online. However, it’s worth pointing out a big difference between the games: Just Dance Now launches with 50 songs and is planned to have more than 300 eventually, but will not include the 40 songs that are new for the console version. Ubisoft declined to say if those songs will eventually be added to the mobile version.

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