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Ubisoft think gamers need to get comfortable with not owning games

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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
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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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JustinWood Jan 16
It's extremely funny to me that they let this guy do this interview while they prepare to shut down the servers for The Crew in about 3 months and change. Also funny how they're putting out a new subscription for "Ubisoft+ Classics", and naming Rainbow Six: Siege (2015) and Far Cry 6 (2021) as the headliners. I think they have a different definition of what constitutes a "classic" than most.

Ultimately though, they interviewed the "Director of Subscriptions", so it's to be expected that he'd preach about how his job is totally worthwhile. I do appreciate the flattery of not forcing folks to subscribe if they don't want, but that should be the standard, not something that they should expect to be praised for.

As for not owning the games I buy on Steam, like you said, it's not a subscription service, and a lot of the games on there are DRM free. I also just don't have the storage space to house upwards of 1,000 games, and many of those don't even have physical releases. It's all about benefits and drawbacks, and Valve has done well in walking the line between both, at least for me.
Soulprayer Jan 16
Well, i do understand this dilemma - in terms of MMO or similar games it is okay for me.
MMOs will die eventually and when they do I'm not shedding tears - but I would get nostalgic about it.
I still have my Steam library and my wishlist is not short, but i play most games only once and never touch them again.
But i do keep my backups of my bought games from GOG.
twinsonian Jan 16
I certainly respect others using subscription services for their games. Everyone has use cases that work best for them. I do not currently use such a service, and anything I buy on steam is usually heavily reduced in price due to a sale. When I do make purchases on steam I know that there is always some associated risk and ultimately given enough time, I may lose access to them.

I have a much larger library on GOG. And for my absolute favorite games and those that are relatively small and easily downloadable I have them backed up and stored on a non internet speaking NAS along with a couple external hard drives and many backed up and stored away on bluray.

GOG could also go bellyup, but at least I have the opportunity to create real tangible media that I can store away.

I do not and will not ever use any of these sub services, they just aren't for me -- and to those that do use them, good for you. My advice, just because you like a service or the games you play or whatever flavor of the month thing is happening, always remember, none of these companies can be trusted -- stop going to bat for them and just enjoy the things you enjoy.
finaldest Jan 17
Remember this conspiracy, You will "OWN NOTHING" and "BE HAPPY"

I have gone from a big fan of having digital ownership and a streaming only future to completely boycotting it. The only exception being PC gaming as its simply impossible to buy games physically so I am sticking with Steam and maybe GOG in future if they ever give linux 1st class support.

As for Movies and TV shows, I now own over 400 UHD 4k movies and over 200 Blu rays inc TV box sets so I am good for a while. Its actually cheaper to buy a few movies each month than pay £75 - £100 per month for cable and streaming services. Not to mention that my media cannot just be taken away or altered by an evil entity. I no longer subscribe to any streaming services or purchase digital content after losing over 100 digitally purchased titles.

I also own a PS5 and are collecting select physical games which can be installed and played offline without a day 1 patch.
Pengling Jan 17
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I'm comfortable with not buying any Ubisoft games.

It's not like they've made anything I'd even want in decades anyway. And then they turned Rayman (protagonist of the only one of their series that potentially would've been of interest) into a violent cocaine-snorting alcoholic pervert propaganda-mouthpiece for a dystopian murder-machine in a recent animated production. That's commercial suicide for a franchise like that, so clearly they've got no plans to make anything else that I'd want to buy in the future anyway.

More money saved.
They note that people are comfortable with cd and movie streaming, but personally I would love something like GOG that focuses on drm-free movie purchases, and I still like to go to cex from time to time to buy used dvds for dirt cheap

Look at capcom recently adding in some drm into resident evil revelations, a game over ten years old! I don't feel comfortable with them having too much control over my purchases
grace_art Jan 17
I refuse to use any entertainment/software service that are only available via subscription. If something goes subscription only, then oh well, guess I didn't need it anyway. No tv, games, software (YES, even for work!), music, etc. I spend less money buying directly for artists/game devs anyway.

If you don't have the luxury of renting access to everything in life, you'll be okay without that content. I promise you, you can live a fulfilling and happy life without it. If you do have that privilege... well, your money, your choice. You vote with your wallet, as they say, so if you want to be perpetually renting your whole life, go for it.


Last edited by grace_art on 17 January 2024 at 2:23 pm UTC
Nezchan Jan 17
Quoting: finaldestRemember this conspiracy, You will "OWN NOTHING" and "BE HAPPY"


The funny part is, she (Ida Auken) wasn't talking about what she wanted, she was describing where she thought corporations were headed anyway. And she was right.

The original quote went on to say "What you want you’ll rent, and it’ll be delivered by drone".
ssj17vegeta Jan 17
This kind of speech is on par with similar patterns coming from other companies, not necessarily game studios.

Google taking bolder and bolder steps against ad blocking, Crimosoft aggressively bu(r)ying all the studios they can get and blocking ports on other platforms, Apple crusading against open standards for hardware (thank God for the EU forcing them to use USB-C) and software (hello Metal, good bye Vulkan)... Even smaller companies get their share of crappy behaviour (*cough* Unity) and seek to make their customers captive.

It's part of terrible PR, but also testing the waters before imposing harsher terms for their customers. Unless people boycott the living crap out of them, they'll keep pushing and pushing. We've come a long way from 2006 when Bethesda took a massive backlash when they released their very first DLC (the infamous horse armour). I mean, the EA CEO saying people shouldn't get used to high quality standards when BG3 came out, that's almost a "normal" statement nowadays. 15 years ago, the guy would've been hanged, drawn and quartered.
Pengling Jan 17
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Quoting: Doktor-MandrakeLook at capcom recently adding in some drm into resident evil revelations, a game over ten years old! I don't feel comfortable with them having too much control over my purchases
And more besides (a few titles I'd picked up were affected too) - I wrote a bit about it over on the forum.
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