Resistance to Digital Distribution Weakening, According to Ubisoft
In an interview with GamesIndustry, Chris Early, Ubisoft’s VP of digital publishing, had an interesting take on the current state of digital distribution and how players feel about it.
Early offered that while originally players were strongly opposed to the digital side of the industry, resistance towards things like Season Passes and DLC is waning, and more players are accepting the idea on a grander scale.
“I think there are some models that are accepted now. DLC is pretty much accepted. Season pass is pretty much accepted,” Early explains. “Now it’s interesting when you start to think of Season Pass as a Service Pass. For our Season Pass holders, I know we hold events for them specifically, so it’s little bit more than just DLC content. So there’s an evolution going on there.”
He also sees the idea of “pay-to-win” as becoming more accepted, citing the “Time Saver” DLC packs in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag as an example. These packs allowed for faster resource gains or revealed locations of secrets, things that would have been free in the past, but according to Early, “There was no resistance. Maybe there were 12 guys somewhere who said something, but whatever. As a whole, there wasn’t a problem.”
While you may disagree with Early’s points on the acceptance of things like Season Passes and the like, one thing you can’t dispute is his assertion that digital has opened doors for new titles that maybe wouldn’t be successful at traditional retail outlets.
“I’m sure you’ve read or even written tons of stories about people who leave a studio to go do their own passion thing because they don’t have freedom of expression within,” Early said. “This lets us keep our people and make them happy being able to be creative. It lets us go and experiment with treating war a different way with Valiant Hearts than the way the majority of industry treats war.
“We can bring a bigger breadth of games to players, a creative breath of fresh air to our designers, and we approach all of it the same way. We look at all of these as opportunities to bring entertainment and at the same time provide a good return to our shareholders.”
The almighty bottom line is certainly important on the business end, but it’s good to hear that in spite of the flack Ubi gets, the publisher is still looking for ways to keep its various staff members happy, motivated, and creative.