Free To Play A Priority
Ubisoft's Gamescom press conference revealed a massive new commitment to the burgeoning free to play market, which is apparently in response to a shocking statistic. CEO Yves Guillemot believes that "93 to 95 percent" of PC gamers who play Ubisoft's titles obtained them without paying, making free to play a more attractive option thanks to its global penetration and ease of access.
And yes, I had to read that statistic twice.
“We want to develop the PC market quite a lot and F2P is really the way to do it," Guillemot told GI.biz. "The advantage of F2P is that we can get revenue from countries where we couldn’t previously – places where our products were played but not bought. Now with F2P we gain revenue, which helps brands last longer.”
“On PC it’s only around five to seven per cent of the players who pay for F2P,” he continued, “but normally on PC it’s only about five to seven per cent who pay anyway, the rest is pirated. It’s around a 93-95 per cent piracy rate, so it ends up at about the same percentage. The revenue we get from the people who play is more long term, so we can continue to bring content.”
That figure sounds
ridiculous a little high to us - since digital PC sales figures are fragmented across multiple distribution platforms, we wonder whether Ubisoft are overlooking a sizeable proportion of their player base.
If true, though, Ubisoft aren't doing themselves any favours. Their draconian DRM engendered a huge amount of ill will in the PC community, from the earliest 'always-on' disasters to server outages and Anno 2070's finicky install issues. Though free to play is absolutely going to be a major player over the next few years - perhaps even the biggest gaming sector if its exponential growth continues - we can't help but feel that taking a leaf out of CD Projekt's book might be a good idea in the short term. Guillemot tempered their enthusiasm with a suggestion that companies need to treat the market with respect and caution rather than rushing to grab as much cash as possible, which is music to our ears.
Ubisoft announced several new free to play titles at Gamescom, including Might & Magic Raiders and Silent Hunter Online. Check out the details here.