During Ubisoft Tuesday earnings call, it was revealed the company will be shifting its focus from AAA titles to free-to-play titles. This shift comes as no surprise as the industry evolves to a new player base and business model.
Ubisoft’s recent strategy was releasing 3 to 4 large AAA titles like Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry. These big-budget projects would rely on massive launch sales. A trickle of income would come in from post-launch sales and DLCs. This was a common business model for the industry but relied on large gambles. If a title flopped, the company would suffer until the next quarter’s launch.
Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone dominate the market, and the gaming world has taken note. The free-to-play model allows for the release of a smaller game. And development continues with additional content overs several years. The slow release of content means the studio invests less in upfront expenses and uses a leaner team. A new skin, map, or event re-sparks interest in the game and pulls players back. Season passes lock some plyers in for an entire quarter. They pay a third of the old market’s price for a 3-month season pass. Many continue to pay that third and purchase additional cosmetics along the way.
Ubisoft promises their franchise will still see new titles from their long-established franchises. They are also creating free-to-play games that fit in each IP.
“Additionally, we are building high-end free-to-play games to be trending towards AAA ambitions over the long-term.”
As a gamer for over 30 years, I tend to get stuck in my old way. I prefer the big AAA titles that become a part of the geekdom conversation. People discuss the story, innovations, and what may come in the next installment. Free-to-play is here to stay; Fortnite locked it in place.