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Ubisoft+ is now available on Xbox consoles, marking a significant expansion of publisher Assassin’s Creed’s plans for its previously PC-only service.
Ubisoft+ first launched on PC as Uplay+ in 2019. It was later rebranded when it debuted on cloud gaming services Stadia (although it’s now defunct) and Amazon Luna via the Ubisoft + Multi-Access tier, which is now on Xbox.
The $14.99 Standard Membership gets you access to the full library on PC, while the $17.99 Multi-Access allows subscribers to play select titles on PC, Luna, Xbox, and PlayStation later, even transferring their sessions between platforms.
While Xbox itself has been making a lot of noise about its Game Pass subscription over the past six years, Ubisoft has been relatively quiet in its efforts. But Philippe Tremblay, director of Ubisoft+, says GamesIndustry.biz the publisher considers the rise of subscriptions to be a significant change in the gaming market, and which opens up a key opportunity for Ubisoft.
“We want to reach a new population of gamers and people who may not yet have the chance to play our games,” he says. “We definitely see subscription as a way to do that. Expanding the platform to Xbox today is another way to make our games accessible.”
Tremblay considers the Multi-Access level “quite unique on the market, at least in the world of video games”. When asked why the publisher hasn’t sought to bundle Ubisoft+ with Xbox Game Pass – like rival Electronic Arts has done with EA Play – he pointed to the investment made in the Ubisoft Connect system, in particular to enable cross-progression.
It’s understandable that Ubisoft also wants to establish its own monthly revenue stream, but the challenge this creates is having to contend with the Xbox Game Pass, which is packed with titles from Microsoft and its slew of owned studios, the EA Play catalog and a wide range of indie and third-party games. Can Ubisoft convince Xbox gamers to sign up for a second subscription?
“We haven’t necessarily seen that this market has reached the maximum opportunity here,” says Tremblay. “It’s still pretty new in all areas that we have subscription deals, even from Xbox or other partners. I think the key point – as we see in many other industries – is that the content be at the center of what the consumer wants. That’s what we’re putting forward again with Ubisoft+, that’s the great content we have behind it. That’s the point of differentiation that we bring.”
On point, Ubisoft+ offers over 100 games from the publisher’s 37-year history, including nearly every Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, Watch Dogs and Tom Clancy game, plus some of the most indie titles ever. ‘Ubisoft has products, such as Child of Light and From Dust, and family offerings like Monopoly, Uno and Rayman games.
“We didn’t necessarily see that [the subscriptions] the market has reached the maximum of opportunities here”
There’s also a selection of non-Ubisoft indie games – such as Absolute Drift, cat cafe management title Calico and puzzle game Death Squared – which Tremblay says adds to the breadth of content available. Another talking point around subscription services is the need for variety, appealing to an audience that might not be interested in the AAA blockbusters that primarily make up Ubisoft’s catalog. While Tremblay says there’s nothing to talk about Ubisoft creating smaller, more original titles just for Ubisoft+, he says the company hopes to attract more indies to the service.
“It’s something we want to pursue,” he says. “For almost a year, we have been starting to offer smaller titles on the platform and invite independent developers to bring their titles to the Ubisoft+ subscription. Again, this is one more way to bring diversity in the catalog.”
For its hit games, Ubisoft also gives subscribers access to premium editions that include DLCs and additional content. And, like Xbox Game Pass, all new releases are added to Ubisoft+ at launch – again, in their most premium form, if available.
This strategy makes sense for Microsoft, which uses the subscription service as a way to lure people into the Xbox ecosystem, but for a publisher that still depends primarily on game sales, it seems counterintuitive. Is it financially viable to give away your biggest games to subscribers as soon as they launch?
“I can’t speak specifically to the financials, but what I can share is that I think our expansion to Xbox and the other announcements around Ubisoft+ that are communicated to the market show that we have confidence in this model. We’re seeing positive results and we think it’s not something that’s likely to go away.”
We insist on more information on these “positive results”. Four years after the start of the service, Ubisoft has yet to share subscriber numbers. Tremblay points out how adding Ubisoft+ to cloud services opened up the library to people without access to a high-end gaming PC, but doesn’t give any numbers.
“There’s nothing specific I can share today, but the overall results have been great,” he said. “We have seen a large influx of new players coming to Ubisoft through [cloud gaming] and we should expect the same with Xbox.”
Tremblay also points out that Ubisoft has been somewhat cautious with the launch of its subscription service, first on PC and then moving into cloud gaming. As the service becomes available to users on more platforms, he suggests that the publisher step up its efforts to promote this offer.
“[Ubisoft+ on PC] was a first step into this subscription world and trying to understand the different dynamics and understanding, as you mentioned earlier, the financial impact on the business,” he says. “Again, I don’t share anything specific, but we are happy with the results.
“We have continued to invest in this direction, expanding the program and accommodating more platforms, expanding to more platforms behind the SKU. The expansion we are discussing today with Xbox is one of them. great testimonial. You should see Ubisoft+ more prominently as we grow. The more platforms we cover, the more relevant it becomes for the overall player base.”
“We have seen a large influx of new players coming to Ubisoft through [cloud gaming] and we should expect the same with Xbox”
Trying to sell a subscription service in today’s economy won’t be an easy task. With an abundance of services for music, film, TV, books, comics and of course video games – as well as people looking for ways to cut costs as the price of living rises – how Does Ubisoft hope to convince people to sign up?
“I’m a dad so I can clearly understand the number of subscriptions that we manage in this household so that everyone is happy,” laughs Tremblay. “From a consumer perspective, I think it’s a great way to access content in general. I’m not necessarily talking about Ubisoft+ but in general. As a consumer, having this ‘frictionless’ access to all that content makes it very enjoyable. I think that’s the mindset we have.
“I said earlier that access to our games is key. Giving access to all of our titles means we can help players discover our other franchises. People might know us for Assassin’s Creed, people might know us may be familiar with Far Cry and Tom Clancy titles, but there may be other titles that they haven’t partnered with us in. This is an opportunity for them to get into that. our catalog allows us to offer this offer to our players. It is a testament to our 35 years of creating games that we feel comfortable presenting this offer.”
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