Free-to-play gaming is the next big thing, so publishers keep saying – but maybe not for the most obvious reason. According to Ubisoft, PC piracy rates are so high, that – somewhat paradoxically – there’s actually more money to be made with free games.
“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,” Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemont explained in an interview with GamesIndustry.
“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.”
With free-to-play titles also being cheaper to develop and distribute, there’s added incentive for publishers to move into the market, but there’s still a lot of space left over for regular boxed games.
“We must be careful because the consoles are coming. People are saying that the traditional market is declining and that F2P is everything – I’m not saying that. We’re waiting for the new consoles – I think that the new consoles will give a huge boost to the industry, just like they do every time that they come. This time, they took too long so the market is waiting,” he said.
“I think it’s very important for new generations to come regularly with innovations for the industry, so I think we’ve been waiting a bit too long. What is important is that when those new generations do come, they bring enough innovation to make the market strong again.”