Ubisoft have made comments to suggest that Ghost Recon Online will be something of a guinea pig project for them, testing out the waters of viability when it comes to extending the franchise to free-to-play, and exploring business model in that arena, not to mention bringing F2P to consoles too.
"We need to learn how it works: how to make free-to-play successful," creative director Jean-Marc Geoffrey stated.
Geoffrey is no stranger to the Ghost Recon brand, having been with the series since 2001, but he suggested that now was certainly the time to explore free-to-play options as the road ahead was somewhat uncertain.
"We don't know how the future will pan out, the business is changing," he added. "It's business design research."
Geoffrey outlined the transmedia tactics Ubisoft are using to wden the brand's appeal, citing the development of a $10 million, 20-minute short film, not unlike those that were used to good effect to bolster the Assassin's Creed series.
"You've got the 3DS game, the film," Geoffrey continued. "The idea is widen to brand, to eat up more of the market."
The effect, therefore is designed to be complimentary, but with Ghost Recon Online and Ghost Recon Future Soldier releasing within a matter of days of one another in the States (no word on GRO's European release as yet) is there a worry that Ubisoft will cannibalise its own business?
Geoffrey thinks not. "If [Ghost Recon Online] is good, it's good. Maybe some will people will only play one and not the other, but we'll see."
Ubisoft Red Storm's creative director, Tommy Jacobs, went further, outlining that although the two games are both Ghost Recon experiences on PC, there are things that make them two distinct entities.
"The experiences are different," Jacobs explained. "Ghost Recon Online is free-to-play and has things like the exo-skeleton and the gameplay systems that Future Soldier had before it refocused itself two years ago. It's still a cover shooter and still objective-based, but there are little different nuances." [Eurogamer]