Piracy has long been a thorn in the side of developers and publishers, mainly due to their long held belief that every copy pirated is a lost sale. This belief is false, but still they continue to insist, fingers in ears, that extensive measures must be taken to fix the “problem”.
The piracy estimates publishers put out can be pretty big at times. Sometimes the number of pirated copies can even seem to surpass the number of legitimate sales. Ubisoft, despite their infamous reliance on clumsy and intrusive DRM, claims that their piracy numbers have now reached around 93-95%. Would you believe for a moment that this is true? CEO Yves Guillemot would certainly like you to.
In response to this catastrophic loss of imaginary revenue, Guillemot has announced that Ubisoft intends to switch to the Free-to-Play model for the majority of their future PC releases.
“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.
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 to 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.”
Examples of upcoming releases that fall into the initiative include Silent Hunter Online, Anno Online, The Settlers Online, Heroes of Might and Magic Online, Shootmania Storm and Ghost Recon Online, all announced last week at Gamescom.
So called “companion gaming” is also part of the strategy, integrating mobile devices and social networks into games to discourage piracy. Because we all know Facebook is gonna last forever, right? If Guillemot was disappointed with sales before, it should be amusing to see the effects of further DRM and tacked-on social integration on Ubisoft’s games from here on out.