In a rather eye-opening interview conducted by GameIndustry.biz, Ubisoft’s director of subscriptions Philippe Tremblay made a rather bold statement about what the company expects from its revamped Ubisoft+ subscription service. More than access to titles on demand and even offering Ultimate Editions for no extra cost, Tremblay is looking at shifting the customer perspective around owning games outright.
Likening the rise of gaming subscription services to companies such as Netflix, Tremblay explained, “One of the things we saw is that gamers are used to, a little bit like DVD, having and owning their games… They got comfortable not owning their CD collection or DVD collection. That’s a transformation that’s been a bit slower to happen [in games].” He tries to upsell the benefits to Ubisoft+ by stating how your save progress carries over between systems and that you can resume your game at any moment before dropping this bombshell.
“So it’s about feeling comfortable with not owning your game.”
Is Ubisoft giving more power to the player?
To give Tremblay the benefit of the doubt here, he mentions some positives to subscription services. You can access streaming, which allows you to sample a game before you commit to downloading it. You have cloud saves that can carry across different platforms. There’s always something new to try without you having to shell out full MSRP. Tremblay even states that Ubisoft’s main goal isn’t to replace ownership but to give customers a choice between buying the full version or going through a subscription.
The problem starts to arise with Ubisoft’s history of live-service titles. Not even a month ago, Ubisoft announced it would be closing servers for The Crew, a live-service open-world driving game that was released in late 2014. Ubisoft has also routinely shuttered servers for its older games on a yearly basis, rendering them either unplayable or lacking in features. It makes Tremblay’s statement about the benefits of Ubisoft+ ring hollow.
“But as people embrace that model, they will see that these games will exist, the service will continue, and you’ll be able to access them when you feel like,” Tremblay said. That is comprehensively false with regards to The Crew. Not even owning a physical copy will allow you to play the game as the entire title lives on its always-online DRM.
Ubisoft’s subscription service
While it seems as if Ubisoft won’t be winding down on selling its titles to players piecemeal, it would very much prefer if you sign up for its subscription service. This is pretty similar to Microsoft’s approach with the Xbox Series X and Game Pass. You can still buy games on discs and not bother with signing up for Game Pass, but you’re very clearly going to be spending more money for the privilege. Microsoft hasn’t come out and directly said it would like to make customers comfortable with not owning anything though.
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