Ubisoft talks up its subscription services and making gamers ‘comfortable’ with not owning titles


Allow us a moment to lean back in our rocking chair, coddle a cup of sarsaparilla, and look up at the sky as we mutter about the days of renting games. See, back in our collective youth, renting games from a place called a “video rental store” was one of the best ways to experience a new game without buying in whole hog; you obviously didn’t own the game, but for a few days, you got to play the dickens out of new titles or games you were curious about. Remember Blockbuster? Remember Gamefly? Pepperidge Overpowered remembers.

This is all basically a lead-up to Ubisoft+ Premium, the company’s games subscription service, which is the focus of an interview with director of subscriptions Philippe Tremblay, who discusses the program’s success and the wider hurdles of subscription services for games overall.

According to Tremblay, Ubisoft+ Premium has had “millions” of subscribers over the past four years, even in spite of its $18 monthly price point, which is much higher than what Microsoft’s Game Pass asks (though we should point out that Ubisoft also has a more limited but cheaper Classics plan for $8 a month). Tremblay explains that both offerings cater to multiple player behaviors, whether it’s those who simply want to see the newest releases and buy them after they try it or those who want to play the developer’s back catalogue of titles. “The point is not to force users to go down one route or another,” he says. “We offer purchase, we offer subscription, and it’s the gamer’s preference that is important here.”

The interview also has Tremblay talking about how subscription services for games are still facing a mental hurdle for gamers in that they don’t technically own the titles they’re playing, but ultimately he believes it’s a matter of time and offering consumers several reassurances.

“One of the things we saw is that gamers are used to, a little bit like DVD, having and owning their games. That’s the consumer shift that needs to happen. They got comfortable not owning their CD collection or DVD collection. That’s a transformation that’s been a bit slower to happen. […] As people embrace that model, they will see that these games will exist, the service will continue, and you’ll be able to access them when you feel like. That’s reassuring.”

We’ve discussed before how MMOs are still games you just rent, and we’re all familiar with the range of subscriptions for TV and movie streaming, so it’s likely that pure attrition will prove executives like Tremblay correct. But we’ll still sit on this porch and reminisce about those good ol’ days.

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