But ‘premium’ games aren’t going anywhere

Ubisoft is going to focus more on producing “high-end free-to-play games” in future – sort of. In an investor call earlier today, chief financial officer Frederick Duguet said that the company’s focus on releasing 3-4 premium games per year “is no longer a proper indication of [Ubisoft’s] value creation dynamics.”
That doesn’t mean they’re going to stop making games with an entry fee, but it means that free-to-play is becoming a larger part of their business. The comments come after Ubisoft announced a new free-to-play game, Tom Clancy’s The Division Heartland, earlier this week.
Duguet said that Ubisoft “are building high-end free-to-play games to be trending toward triple-A ambitions over the long term.” In other words, the free-to-play games they want to make will have the production values of their other games.
Ubisoft see free-to-play as an opportunity to introduce “meaningfully expand the audience of our biggest franchises,” Duguet said. “We’ve taken the time to learn from what we did last year with Hyper Scape. We’re also learning with the launch we’ll be making on Roller Champions, we’ve been learning a lot with Brawlhalla that is rapidly growing, and we think it is now the time to come with high-quality free-to-play games across all our biggest franchises, across all platforms.”
I had fully forgotten that Hyper Scape existed, but it’s not a surprise that Ubisoft are looking at free-to-play as a larger part of their business. Do you know what businesses like? Money. You don’t have to look far to find a free-to-play game – Fortnite, Call Of Duty: Warzone, Apex Legends, Genshin Impact – that’s raking in cash that way. Ubisoft have comparatively little in that space currently.
Personally, I tend to lose interest before finishing Ubisoft’s 60-hour open world epics anyway, so an Assassin’s Creed without an entry fee would suit me fine. I can have my six hours of fun with wrist-axes and a pretty landscape, then uninstall before I get drawn into spending money on trying to gacha pull Ezio.