Few video game companies' PC release practices are as reviled as Ubisoft's. From titles that require always-on internet connections to security-compromising DRM, attempts by the Assassin's Creed publisher to stop people from illegally obtaining or running their games on PC have met with strong criticism. Their responses haven't always helped.
However, Ubi CEO Yves Guillemot says that most people playing the company's games on PC don't pay for them. In an interview over on Games Industry International, Guillemot explains how the desire to circumvent piracy is shaping their development on PC:
"We want to develop the PC market quite a lot and F2P is really the way to do it. 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."
"It's a way to get closer to your customers, to make sure you have a revenue. On PC it's only around five to seven per cent of the players who pay for F2P, 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."
Of course, not every publisher shares Ubi's views on piracy. Paradox Interactive—publisher of War of the Roses—have been vocal before about their opposition to DRM. This morning, Paradox producer Shams Jorjani tweeted his take on Guillemot's comments:
Ubisoft is rumbling about Piracy...again - Fun fact - At Paradox we never, ever look at piracy numbers - we're focused on our gamers.— Shams Jorjani (@ShamsJorjani) August 22, 2012
Honestly, during my 3 years I've never had a conversation with— Shams Jorjani (@ShamsJorjani) August 22, 2012
@thewesterfront or anyone at Paradox regarding "piracy" as a problem
Ubisoft's newest PC strategy is to launch their own uPlay client, which would be a storefront/launcher combination like EA's Origin. It's too soon to say if uPlay will change how many people pirate Ubisoft titles. But it's fair bet that uPlay will be the distribution pipeline through which Ubi tries to make money off their free-to-play games on PC.
Guillemot: As many PC players pay for F2P as boxed product [Games Industry International]