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Ubisoft think gamers need to get comfortable with not owning games

By - | Views: 50,842

GamesIndustry.biz recently spoke to Ubisoft, and something said during the interview seems to have created some sparks across the industry about game ownership.

What was said is not all that surprising really. Ubisoft, like multiple others, run subscription services with theirs being Ubisoft+ that just had a bit of a change into multiple tiers. These services are everywhere now like Xbox Game Pass, EA Play and others. That, and GI.biz spoke to Philippe Tremblay, director of subscriptions at Ubisoft so obviously they're going to be somewhat biased on what they think — it's their job.

From the interview, the bit in question:

One of the things we saw is that gamers are used to, a little bit like DVD, having and owning their games. That's the consumer shift that needs to happen. They got comfortable not owning their CD collection or DVD collection. That's a transformation that's been a bit slower to happen [in games]. As gamers grow comfortable in that aspect… you don't lose your progress. If you resume your game at another time, your progress file is still there. That's not been deleted. You don't lose what you've built in the game or your engagement with the game. So it's about feeling comfortable with not owning your game.

The GOG team certainly took notice, mentioning on X (formerly Twitter): "You should feel extremely comfortable with owning your games on GOG (they're DRM-free) :)".

It's worth noting that clearly it's going well for Ubisoft, as Tremblay mentioned October 2023 was their biggest month in Ubisoft+ history. So people are clearly buying into game subscriptions more and more. And related, Microsoft said back in 2022 that Xbox Game Pass had 25 million subscribers. Subscriptions are clearly here to stay.

Also worth noting, to be clear, Ubisoft don't plan to force you into one way or another noting:

"The point is not to force users to go down one route or another," he explains. "We offer purchase, we offer subscription, and it's the gamer's preference that is important here. We are seeing some people who buy choosing to subscribe now, but it all works."

Given how services can just entirely remove your paid-for content, this whole issue of ownership is a concerning one. Like how Sony were going to just remove previously purchased Discovery content from users, although they've since backtracked on that after public outcry.

The thing is, you have to remember, you don't actually own your games on Steam either. This has been well-known for a long time now. As per Steam's Subscriber Agreement under the "A. General Content and Services License" section:

[…] The Content and Services are licensed, not sold. Your license confers no title or ownership in the Content and Services. To make use of the Content and Services, you must have a Steam Account and you may be required to be running the Steam client and maintaining a connection to the Internet.

I'll admit, it's not entirely the same. Valve won't take away your games if you don't pay them every month, it's not a subscription in the same way, and plenty of games on Steam are actually entirely DRM-free and can be run outside of Steam. But still, it's something to remember, ownership has been on the decline for a long time.

A lot of it simply comes down to convenience though right? Plenty of us pay for Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime and so on and so on — so we can just quickly jump into a show or a movie they have available. But then the problem there is, again, everyone wants their own service. There's more popping up all the time, and rights on various shows end up split between them and you end up paying more and more (look at the mess of Pokémon streaming) and never owning a damn thing.

Over to you in the comments: what are your thoughts? 

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
Tags: Editorial, Misc
21 Likes
About the author -
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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly. Find me on Mastodon.
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77 comments
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Nateman1000 Jan 16
Ubisoft needs to be comfortable going bankrupt
I recently got a free trial of AppleArcade. When the free trial expires, it's $6.99 a month. A smartphone game costs around $1.99. There's no way I'm going to play more than 3 games a month, so I don't see the point. Even if I could get a game streaming service on Linux, I still wouldn't use it for the same reason.

Personally, I'll never get used to not owning my media. I don't do streaming services. I buy physical books, CDs and movies. I do use steam, but recently I've started checking GOG to see if it's there. It's the same reason I run Linux and open source programs. I don't need to go full GNU and always have to be able to mess with the source code, but if I buy something I really like I want to be able to keep enjoying it even in an apocalypse.
Peak Jan 16
I'll flip it back to them. I think Ubisoft needs to get comfortable with me not owning their games
elmapul Jan 16
they need to be confortable with not owning our money
artixbtw Jan 16
As for the shift to digital, it definitely helped lowering the bar for entry at least to some extent.

As for stupid subscription services where you don't have access to anything by default, well, it's a really sick and twisted scheme that heavily relies on DRM, and is the furthest away possible from ownership.

You will own nothing, and you will pay for Ubisoft+.
If that's what they want, I can start pirating…
slaapliedje Jan 16
Quoting: PeakI'll flip it back to them. I think Ubisoft needs to get comfortable with me not owning their games
I think that was their point, right? They should get comfortable not getting any licensing fees. :)

This is part of the reason I'm more impressed by people who make games / update old ones for 'retro' systems.

https://itch.io/search?q=amiga
https://itch.io/search?q=c64
https://itch.io/search?q=atari

I'd rather support people here these days than the greedy fat corps that have just gotten entirely too greedy.
pb Jan 16
"you don't lose your progress. If you resume your game at another time, your progress file is still there"

Sure, assuming the service is still there or the game's developers have a basic knowledge about data sync (bye bye my Hitman 3 progress on Stadia).
melkemind Jan 16
People comfortable with not owning their music and movies are people who don't find them valuable (and possibly for good reasons). When people do find value in them, they still want to own them. I have a daughter who buys physical copies of her K-Pop albums, even sometimes in vinyl, because it's more than just a listening experience for her. People who are really into gaming, especially on PC, expect more than just the basic game. That's why the modding community is so huge. You take that away, and you lose a lot of people.
pb Jan 16
Quoting: artixbtwscheme that heavily relies on DRM

Quoting: eridanired123If that's what they want, I can start pirating…

It might be the exact contrary to what you said. If the games are only available via streaming, they don't need any DRM and they can't be pirated. So yes, that might be exactly what they want.
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