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May 23, 2024

Ubisoft Overhauls Subscription Service, Draws Criticism Over Ownership Comments

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Jan 16, 2024

Ubisoft announced this week a complete revamp of its Ubisoft+ subscription service, renaming it to Ubisoft Premium and launching a new cheaper tier called Ubisoft Classics. The move aims to consolidate Ubisoft’s subscriptions across platforms and attract new customers, but has also sparked backlash over comments from a Ubisoft executive regarding game ownership.

Ubisoft Premium Offers Day-One Releases, Ubisoft Classics Focuses on Back Catalog

The new Ubisoft Premium retains the $17.99 per month pricing of Ubisoft+, but expands the library from 100+ games to more than 200 games spanning new releases, DLCs, deluxe editions and more. It also now offers games on day one of their release.

Ubisoft is also launching the new Ubisoft Classics subscription for $14.99 per month. This appears to focus more on Ubisoft’s back catalog rather than new releases, offering 100+ games but no mention of titles on day one.

Both tiers will be available across current-gen consoles Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 in addition to Windows PC, Amazon Luna and Google Stadia where Ubisoft+ was previously available.

Tier Ubisoft Premium Ubisoft Classics
Price Per Month $17.99 $14.99
Games Offered 200+ 100+
New Releases on Day One Yes No
Platforms Windows PC, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, Amazon Luna, Google Stadia Windows PC

The goal seems to be providing options to reach both players willing to pay more for early access to new Ubisoft games, as well as those simply wanting access to play older titles in the back catalog.

Executive Comments Spark Controversy Over Game Ownership

Alongside the announcement of Ubisoft Premium and Ubisoft Classics, comments from Ubisoft’s VP of Live Services, Stéphanie Perotti, in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz have sparked controversy.

Perotti stated that it’s important to make gamers more “comfortable” with not actually owning games:

“What we say at Ubisoft is that we offer access — we don’t say ‘ownership’… It’s really important for people to understand and get comfortable with ‘I’m accessing this game’… It removes the notion of owning something, which is I think a barrier when you want to reach new potential customers.”

Her comments quickly drew criticism from media outlets and gamers alike, many of whom pushed back on the idea that people shouldn’t expect to truly own the games they pay for.

Over at Kotaku, journalist Ethan Gach wrote:

“The digital revolution was supposed to put consumers back in charge, but more and more it seems corporations just view it as an opportunity to solidify their stranglehold on our entertainment.”

Others on Twitter and gaming forums echoed similar sentiments about ownership:

“If I pay for a game, I expect to OWN it, not ‘access’ it as long as the publisher decides to allow it.”

“This anti-consumer push for subscription-only services needs to stop. Let me buy and OWN games!”

Perotti’s stance clashes with what many gamers feel should be a basic consumer right – to own and retain access to any digital products they pay money for, rather than just “accessing” them temporarily via a subscription.

Premium Library Offers Plenty for AC and Far Cry Fans, Questions Around New Releases

Those willing to look past the controversy around ownership may still find appeal in what Ubisoft Premium’s expanded library of 200+ games has to offer.

Ubisoft’s flagship Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry franchises feature heavily, with 15 Assassin’s Creed titles and every mainline Far Cry game from Far Cry 3 onwards. Tom Clancy fans are also covered with Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon entries.

The promise of day one access to new releases like Assassin’s Creed Mirage could be a strong draw for die-hard fans eager to play those games as early as possible.

However, Ubisoft’s recent track record of game delays and unfinished launches has some questioning whether its newest releases will actually launch in a complete, playable state if they’re being added to the subscription immediately on release day. 2020’s Hyper Scape battle royale game, for example, flopped due to launching too early.

Recent Ubisoft games like Far Cry 6, Riders Republic and Rainbow Six Extraction also faced criticism for feeling rushed, unpolished or lacking content at launch. It remains to be seen if pressure to pad out the Premium library with the latest releases results in more of those same issues.

What Happens Next? Pushback Could Force Strategy Change

The backlash over ownership comments indicates Ubisoft still faces an uphill battle getting gamers comfortable with subscription-only access over purchasing games to own permanently.

If the market pushback continues, Ubisoft may need to rethink its subscription-centric strategy to offer both subscription access AND a purchase option for its newest games. Rival publisher EA has taken that hybrid approach with its EA Play subscription, while still allowing users to buy games like FIFA and Star Wars Squadrons outright if they wish.

Adopting that hybrid model could be the best way for Ubisoft to expand its subscription reach while respecting gamers who still expect full ownership of titles they pay top dollar for.

Of course, Ubisoft Premium has only just launched and it remains to be seen how many gamers find its library of 200+ games and promise of day-one releases compelling enough to subscribe at $17.99 per month. But the service faces clear challenges around ownership perception it must overcome to truly succeed long term.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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