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Ubisoft evolving production strategy to include 'high-end' freemium releases

Ubisoft evolving production strategy to include 'high-end' freemium releases

May 12, 2021 | By Chris Kerr

Ubisoft is rethinking its production strategy to bring more free-to-play titles into the fold.

That's according to Ubisoft's chief financial officer Frederick Duguet, who during a recent earnings call indicated the French publisher intends to double down on "high-end" freemium offerings that can perform just as well as triple-A releases. 

"In line with the evolution of our high-quality line-up that is increasingly diverse, we are moving on from our prior comment regarding releasing three to four premium triple-A titles per year," said Duguet, as highlighted by VGC.

"It is indeed no longer a proper indication of our value creation dynamics. For example, our expectation for Just Dance and Riders Republic are consistent with some of the industry’s triple-A performers. Additionally, we are building high-end free-to-play games to be trending towards triple-A ambitions over the long-term.

"We think it is now the time to come with high quality free-to-play games across all our biggest franchises across all platforms, but of course it will take time before proving it in a more assertive way."

Duguet said the company will still be producing "powerful premium" releases alongside that new free-to-play content, pre-emptively rubbishing the notion the publisher will be swapping one for the other. 

Ubisoft senior analyst Sean Lama has since offered extra clarification on Twitter, explaining the company wants free-to-play releases to become "a larger share of the revenue pie," but doesn't intend to release fewer traditional paid games like Assassin's Creed. "The content mix is expanding, not changing," added Lama. "A good comparison is the evolution of Call of Duty since Warzone." 

Ubisoft's production shakeup was announced alongside its results for the 2020-21 fiscal year, which saw the company hit $2.7 billion in net bookings thanks to its flagship franchises.

Update: Ubisoft has followed yesterday's earnings call up with a statement, aiming to clarify that its growing interest in free-to-play games isn't coming at the expense of its more traditional triple-A lineup.

“Our intention is to deliver a diverse line-up of games that players will love - across all platforms. We are excited to be investing more in free-to-play experiences, however we want to clarify that this does not mean reducing our AAA offering," reads a statement provided to Gamasutra.

"Our aim is to continue to deliver premium experiences to players such as Far Cry 6, Rainbow Six Quarantine, Riders Republic and Skull & Bones to name a few while also expanding our free-to-play portfolio and strengthening our brands to reach even more players.”

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