Whether we like it or not, the mainstream gaming industry is progressing towards a stronger focus on live-service games and free-to-play monetization models. Many franchises have seen massive success via these strategies — League of Legends, Fortnite, and Genshin Impact, to name a few. While Ubisoft has dipped its toes in the F2P with less competent titles such as Hyper Scape, the company is deciding to shift its primary focus from developing single-player AAA games for its franchises to the more broadly accessible (and easily monetizable) freemium of video games.
However, this does not mean that Ubisoft is reducing its AAA offer by abandoning the development or releases of its premium games. Rather, Ubisoft’s “intention is to deliver a diverse line-up of games that players will love – across all platforms.” A Ubisoft representative stated the following:
“We are excited to be investing more in free-to-play experiences, however we want to clarify that this does not mean reducing our AAA offering. Our aim is to continue to deliver premium experiences to players such as Far Cry 6, Rainbow Six Quarantine, Riders Republic and Skull and Bones to name a few while also expanding our free-to-play portfolio and strengthening our brands to reach even more players.”
“We are building high-end free-to-play games to be trending towards AAA ambitions over the long-term,”
“This is purely a financial communication evolution and doesn’t change the fact that we continue to expect a high cadence of content delivery including powerful premium and free-to-play new releases.”
The gaming community wasn’t exactly thrilled with this news. The Game Awards host, Geoff Keighley, tweeted about the information on Twitter. A quick scroll through the comment section will exhibit some rather mixed responses, the majority being more skeptical than optimistic.
Video games: evolving and changing.
– Just 26% of EA revenue came from premium game sales. The rest was from live service, DLC, mobile, microtrans.
– Ubisoft is shifting away from 3-4 premium AAA titles a year, plans to launch “high-end free-to-play” games.
— Geoff Keighley (@geoffkeighley) May 11, 2021
Popular independent YouTuber SkillUp regrettably acknowledged the general direction of the games industry that Ubisoft is now pursuing. Creative director of God of War Cory Barlog posted the following response below the SkillUp’s tweet.
— #1 Faye Stan Account ? (@corybarlog) May 11, 2021
Ubisoft’s shifting business strategy is understandable in a world where free-to-play mobile franchises run by microtransaction rule the gaming landscape. On the flip side, it’s not the sort of sight everyone wishes to see, especially for a company that used to make genuinely unique and innovative story-driven single-player titles. Instead of developing shamelessly long AAA games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Ubisoft could create shorter but more meaningful experiences rich with content. Only time will tell how profitable Ubisoft’s free-to-play venture will be and if the gaming community will follow suit, conforming to its freemium mobile-oriented ways.
What are your thoughts about Ubisoft’s decision? Do you personally prefer premium AAA titles or free-to-play games? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!