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Ubisoft debuts its own Origin-like platform
Ubisoft debuts its own Origin-like platform
August 16, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

Ubisoft is pushing its way into the digital distribution platform space, launching Uplay PC, a new service that will compete with the game shops/communities of Valve's Steam and Electronic Arts' Origin.

This application builds on Ubisoft's similarly named Uplay online community for its games, as the desktop client requires users to register for a Uplay account. It features a shop for purchasing physical and downloadable games, free-to-play titles, achievements, cloud saving, a friends list, and a chat system.

Uplay PC also acts as a single area where users can launch their games from (instead of opening them from individual game launchers), just like EA's Origin or Valve's Steam services -- though Uplay PC so far only supports Ubisoft-published titles.

While Ubisoft is entering the digital distribution market relatively late compared to those competitors, the publisher has been building its Uplay community and positioning it for this service for some time now -- it currently has over 35 million registered Uplay members across various platforms.

For comparison, Origin has 21 million registered users across Windows and iOS (EA plans to also launch the service on Mac, Android, Facebook, and online-connected TVs) since launching a year ago, and the 9-year-old Steam has 40 million users on PC and Mac.

Ubisoft has placed a lot of emphasis on its digital strategy in recent years with numerous free-to-play and downloadable releases. That approach has paid off for the company through considerable growth in its sales, despite many other publishers suffering due to the weak retail market.

Gamasutra is in Cologne, Germany this week covering GDC Europe and Gamescom. For more coverage, visit our official event page. (UBM TechWeb is parent to both Gamasutra and GDC events.)

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k s
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Is it just me or is the PC scene become really fragmented all over again?

Alex Sivro
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You hit the nail on the head there, man. If anything, this is going to frustrate consumers on the PC even more than Origin did, especially if we see Ubisoft pull support from Steam with highly anticipated games like EA did with Battlefield 3.

Andrew Wallace
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How they did this was pretty clever. They launch UPlay as just their own thing for achievements and DLC and such, with incentives like unlocking the Altair costume in AC:Brotherhood just for creating a uPlay account.

Now it's a much smaller step* to start using their service, because you already have an account.

(*It's rather funny that people consider making an account for something a big hassle)

As a consumer I would prefer a single service, and steam works wonderfully, but I can't really blame publishers for wanting to hold on to that 30%.

Ron Dippold
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"It's rather funny that people consider making an account for something a big hassle"

It's one more password to remember (if you don't have a manager, which most don't).

It's one more set of bozos who have all your account info (including credit card, and password if you used the same one everywhere like so many people do) to lose when their servers get hacked.

It's one more set of bozos sending you weekly (or daily!) spam about 'great deals'. They might let you unsubscribe but then things still mysteriously come through occasionally.

It's 5x more bozos sending you spam if they share your contact info with their 'trusted partners' 'for your convenience'.

You could use the + trick with gmail, but a lot of them have caught onto that and reject it as an invalid email address (or their email validation code is just wrong and thinks + is a bad character).

But I think it's mostly the idea that you have a company that can't even keep its 24/7 required DRM servers up having all your personal info now.

Tom Baird
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It makes sense that everyone wants in on this market, there is no reason for any of them to let Valve own it uncontested.

But let's all hope that a victor arises from this fragmentation, and will both benefit from the increased competition, and eventually the singular dominant service.

Doug Poston
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Given that Steam has the keys to dozens of my games already, I know who I'm hoping for. ;)

Maria Jayne
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I would probably be pretty angry yet another publisher is trying to muscle it's client onto my desktop, actually though, I haven't bought a Ubisoft game since they started using always online drm for their singleplayer games, so I don't care about this at all.

Zach Grant
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Who in their right mind would buy a PC game from "Always on DRM" Ubisoft?

Jack Lee
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Is there any word on whether they will stop selling their titles through Steam? Not that it makes a ton of difference at the moment, because you'll still have to use their launcher the same way you do now, but if I can avoid giving them my credit card directly and still take advantage of Steam sales/Steam downloading infrastructure, that would be nice.

As you can tell, I'm not super up in arms over Ubi's DRM strategies, though I do find them distasteful. My bigger problem comes from lackluster PC versions with serious technical issues, which is why I have yet to buy a Ubi game at full price, or even not steeply discounted. I'm willing to deal with their annoyances if I'm only paying them $7 for AC:R, but for $60, I'm less inclined to deal with it.

Alex Boccia
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My question is: why bother?

Stephen Chow
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They just burning the cash...once they run out they will start layoff and shutdown studio...

Henri Mustonen
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Battlefield 3 was a game I really wanted to play, I've played almost all previous ones of the series and spent many years modding one of them. Origins was a deal breaker though. I will not use any new services by being forced to use them.

Services like this don't take into account social or trust investments. Steam has my whole gaming circle cutely wrapped and easy to reach. I don't really care if other services have better deals or exclusives. I will not likely start using any new services since they offer nothing new or valuable. They are just tedious extra work.

Matthew Cooper
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Uplay blows, and their utterly unnecessary TAGES DRM blows even harder. It was so hard for me to buy Anno 2070 because of this, even though I love Anno. I ended up buying it, begrudgingly, for $25 during the steam summer sale (it still forces you to install and use Uplay). Hey, I just thought of some great tag lines for Uplay! Ubi, feel free to use these:

Uplay® – Powered by Cognitive Dissonance™ technology™
Uplay® – Hey, you bought it. We must be doing it right™
Uplay® – Just pretend it's better than the pirated version™
Uplay® – Only rich assholes have access to more than 3 computers, right?™
Uplay® – Oh, we're still going to sell it on Steam, lol™
Uplay® – Muahahahahaha™