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.