Ubisoft Says Piracy Hits 95 Percent on Its PC Titles

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot says that free-to-play is a viable option for Ubisoft going forward because it costs less than boxed products, and roughly the same number of people who pay for F2P stuff pay for PC games.

Now, if you’re unfamiliar with the free-to-play model, it operates on an interesting pay structure. Most players pay nothing for F2P games, but those titles include a great deal of micro-transactions. A small percentage — roughly 5 to 7 percent, Guillemot says — are willing to pay for a lot of those things, and those people manage to spend enough money to cover the rest of the players.

Here’s where it gets a little wonky, potentially: Guillemot says that that same percentage is the number of people who pay for Ubisoft’s PC titles. The rest, as much as 95 percent of the people playing PC games, didn’t pay for them.

Is your mind blown? My mind is a little blown. Here’s what Guillemot told Games Industry:

“We want to develop the PC market quite a lot and F2P is really the way to do it,” said Guillemot. “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 percent who pay anyway, the rest is pirated. It’s around a 93-95 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.”

Okay, okay, okay. Wait. I’m not down on F2P and if Ubisoft wants to pursue that path, I’m down (although hopefully they remember to make those games actually fun to play), but PC piracy at 95 percent?

Unfortunately, we have no way of really verifying those numbers. We have to take Guillemot at his word (or not), because the games industry is actually very protective about its sales numbers. It’s even harder to start figuring out what piracy numbers are like unless you have access to information developers and publishers have, which they seem to jealously guard.

Guillemot also sees the release of fresh consoles as reinvigorating that side of the business, which has languished a bit in comparison to PC because of this somewhat-longer hardware cycle. So new free-to-play PC games aren’t going to replace its core (console) business, he says.

Still, though. Ninety-five percent? That sounds insane. And it can’t be accurate for all developers* — look at the PC strides Square Enix has taken lately, or CD Projekt Red, which is killing piracy with kindness.

What do you guys think? Are 95 percent of you stealing games from Ubisoft? No, seriously, I’d like to know that.

*Side note: Apparently that always-on super-irritating DRM of Ubisofts doesn’t work, like, at all. Good thing those of us who do pay get to put up with it.

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12 Comments on Ubisoft Says Piracy Hits 95 Percent on Its PC Titles

Axetwin

On August 22, 2012 at 11:43 am

I find that the so called “piracy percentages” are based on their projected numbers for a game. So when a game doesnt come in at a certain number they just write off the difference as piracy.

However in the case of Ubisoft, it could be them going “ok theres 7 (rounding up) billion people in the world. Only 5-7% of those people are playing our game, so naturally the rest of the world population must obviously be pirating our game.” I dunno, do you think Ubisoft’s head is that far up their ass?

R.J.

On August 22, 2012 at 1:01 pm

The footnote said exactly what I was thinking. If that number is true, and it’s pretty hard to believe that it is, then Uplay doesn’t work. What he unintentionally said is that delaying releases and DRM doesn’t work and they have no idea what to do about it. And I just can’t believe that 95% is accurate. Sure, they would have the data, but I find it hard to believe that they would continue to bother making PC games if piracy was that rampant. I would think it would be more cost effective to just develop console versions in the long run.

user

On August 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm

“more cost effective to just develop console versions in the long run.”

True but console’s also have piracy, yes? So better but still not great.

It is ironic that their own DRM that is meant to lower it most likely is actually making it worse. In effect they’re most likely driving up the piracy number by doing it to themselves.

With numbers like that you’d think someone would be smart enough to say we must be doing this wrong, so lets remove DRM for a game and find out what happens. Or our numbers used to be lower so…

Red Menace

On August 22, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I wonder if they’ve said it so many times that they actually believe their own lie?

Luther

On August 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm

That percentage is probably true, if you ever played a ubisoft game then you would know they require an account and a constant internet connection. If you pirate one of there video games you still download some of there content off there servers before the hack tricks your computer into thinking its online with ubi when in fact its not so im sure they are able to calculate the number of sales vs the number of IP’s that connect to the server requesting data.

This high number of piracy in my opinion isn’t a surprise since most of there games are not all that highly anticipated except for Assassin’s Creed.

If you look back this is exactly what happen to the makers of The Witcher 2, they logged all the ip’s vs sales figures and was seeing three fourths of the people playing it where pirating.

I think most of you guys reading this are in a deep state of denial with how broad pirating is right now, I know i was in denial tell i started seeing the facts, but one thing is for sure DRM does not work so the gaming industry is in a serious pickle right now and hopefully a solution will come soon.

Don’t Pirate, if you can’t afford the game then get a job and save up for it, or rent the game from gamefly or any other source available.

Ares

On August 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I dunno I have payed for every great, good, mediocre and down right horrible PC game I have ever played over the years. I seriously doubt 95% pirate games. Only game I have ever played from Ubisoft was Farcry. Otherwise looking at everything available for PC. There is nothing that remotely gets my attention to buy let alone pirate.

Menthro

On August 22, 2012 at 2:29 pm

You know why I pirate Ubisoft games? Because of the DRM. I legitimately own the entire Assassin’s Creed Series, yet it is much easier on me to, after I buy the game, to play m pirated version not gonna lie.

JC

On August 22, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Did Ubisoft just say that all their insane anti-customer always online DRM is completely and utterly useless?

Also…

The award for pulling ridiculous and stupid numbers out of a bodily orifice goes to…….. Yves Guillemot from Ubisoft.

If there was a way to get anything remotely accurate for piracy numbers, or if they even believed those piracy numbers they would stop making games for the PC and good riddance.

It’s strange how while Ubisoft claims 95% piracy there are indy devs popping up faster than ever making record breaking sales and profits.

Maybe people are starting to avoid companies that treat them like crap with insane DRM, late PC releases, poor PC ports from console, being treated like a pirate for buying something, having access to their games disabled, or just not being able to play because of DRM and connection problems, ridiculously high prices.

I guess someone forgot to tell the makers of Super Meat Boy, Minecraft, Orcs Must Die and so on that they can’t make any money because everyone just pirates.

It’s hard to try and counter such insane claims because anyone that believes them or even spews such nonsense out clearly isn’t interested in facts, but rather is just looking for a scapegoat to suit their agenda.

JC

On August 22, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Also would like to add that a pirate copy does not in any way represent a lost sale. I’ll admit to downloading a game and seeing if it’s worth buying considering not only the game but the price and the company’s attitude and treatment of it’s customers.

Frankly a very low percentage of games I see are worth even trying twice never mind buying at ridiculous prices of $40-$50-$60. It’s a very rare and very well done game that even deserves to be close to the $40 mark and that’s presuming it comes with extras like a special edition.

midad

On August 22, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Ubisoft is so full of crap, if they didn’t treat all PC gamers like thieves maybe they wouldn’t all act like it towards ubisoft.

Zach

On September 1, 2012 at 12:51 am

I’m curious as to how many people download a pirated version of the game because they are curious as to how it plays on their PC.

I’ve become very wary in the last few months alone simply because two of the games I purchased legally stopped working due to the company “fixing” them.

When I contacted the respective companies they told after 14 hours of troubleshooting that the error was “strange” and “previously unrecorded” and that there was nothing they could do. Of course when I asked them for monetary compensation for the game and offered to send it back to them they refused and said I should have know the risks before purchasing their product.

I was not aware that purchasing a new PC game was as risky as buying a pawnshop TV or Stereo {except for the part where the pawnshop will give your money back}.

Suffice to say, if there isn’t a demo of the game available I tend to skip over it outright, for both PC and Console. If the company doesn’t want to take the time to give me a sample of their product then they shouldn’t be shocked when I don’t give them money.

Dean

On November 27, 2013 at 10:01 pm

If 95 percent of the players had money to pay for games I am sure they would but everything is so god damn expensive they probably can’t afford a decent game to play. I buy all my games through steam I could pirate games for pc or console but I choose not too because I can afford to pay for games and want to help support company’s who create games like assassin’s creed black flag.