Ubisoft to focus on f2p titles

Ubisoft recently announced in their yearly earnings call that they are going to shift its focus from AAA games titles towards creating more free-to-play games. Additionally promising that this decision will not effect the number of AAA paid titles released.

The Ubisoft share has plummeted during Q1 2021 and took another nosedive after announcing their future projections in their latest earnings report, despite the report exceeding last years quarterly report by a wide margin. On the negative side, the future projections are not looking as great, with f.e. open-world pirate game Skull & Bones being delayed into 2022. It is likely in the light of this forecast they are aiming to transform the model in which their earnings are achieved.

CFO Frédérick Duguet: “Our FY22 line-up will be the most diversified we have ever had, with ambitious post-launch plans as well as premium and F2P new releases. Our financial targets reflect these growth initiatives which are intended to generate significant value over the long term.”

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot: “Additionally, we are building high-end free-to-play games to be trending towards AAA ambitions over the long-term.”

Only the future will tell if these promises will be kept or not. And most interesting, exactly what kind of micro-transaction models will be implemented in the games?

Ubisoft sugarcoating Trials loot boxes

In a recent post in the Steam community forums Ubisoft responds to the community backlash regarding loot boxes in Trials Rising which is released on February 12th in 2019.

Ubi_Warlock responds:

As has been pointed out, these loot crates are purely cosmetic. I do appreciate why players feel the way they do about them (not a huge fan myself), however, as it was also pointed out, you can always just not buy them.

Ultimately, they’re intended for players who want something to help them stand out from the crowd when playing online, or even just those who are big fans of the game and want to support us further.

I get the feeling game companies have understood how gamers feel about the pay to win model, with the Star Wars Battlefront II debacle being the prime example, as it really back fired on EA last year. But they haven’t just yet understood how gamers feel about cosmetic items locked behind pay walls. Ever so often the best looking cosmetic pieces are behind these walls, being unobtainable if you don’t suddenly get the urge to be ripped off to acquire the item.

Yes, it means that some players end up spending more on our games than others and that does result in increased profits for us. It also helps us to put more money into new titles and to understand what players look for in their games. If players simply didn’t buy these crates, they would not be added into games in future.

In essence, loot crates are gambling, and they are advertised and sold to anyone, even preying on consumers under the age of 18. Saying that the loot crates help you understand what players look for in their games is a very strange statement, because we are pretty clear about how we feel about loot crates. We don’t want them in our games.

All in all, loot crates / cosmetic items in general have been a huge boon for the Gaming Industry, being a driving factor in the increased popularity of Gaming over the past decade or so.

Wow. Loot crates and cosmetic items have been fantastic for Game corporation revenue, nothing else, squeezing as much money as possible out of sometimes all to young consumers. Claiming that loot crates and cosmetic have been “a driving factor in the increased popularity of Gaming” is a bizarre statement with no backing evidence what so ever. If anything, it is slowly suffocating the art of creating new, unique and rewarding games.

They aren’t a bad thing if done right.

Your feedback on the topic is still very much appreciated as this is a hotly debated topic. I do hope you consider the impact it would actually have on your enjoyment of the game though.

The thing is, loot boxes can never be done right. They feed on the essence of what makes a good game. The sooner the game industry understand how gamers feel about this, the sooner we will all be playing better games which are rewarding real game play progression.