Assassin's Creed Valhalla

Ubisoft to shift its focus onto producing free to play games

Ubisoft is moving away from its annual AAA releases, in favour of producing free to play titles for its biggest franchises.

The news comes from the company’s full-year earnings call on Tuesday, in which Ubisoft stated that it wishes to be less reliant on AAA 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 3-4 premium AAAs per year,” said Ubisoft chief financial officer Frederick Duguet. “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 AAA performers.

“Additionally, we are building high-end free-to-play games to be trending towards AAA ambitions over the long-term. This is purely a financial communication evolution and doesn’t change the fact that we continue to expect a high cadence of content delivery including powerful premium and free-to-play new releases.”

Ubisoft has already started work on producing free to play entries to some of its most popular franchises. Just last week the company announced a new entry to The Division franchise, a free to play title called Tom Clancy’s The Division: Heartland. Heartland will be Ubisoft’s first steps into this space, and seems likely to be followed by the publisher’s other franchises.

“We recognise this is the first year we are coming meaningfully into the space,” said Duguet. “That’s why we need to take reasonable assumptions for year one on the top line as well as on the contribution, but of course we want to make sure this is a strong contributor in the long-term to the expansion of the overall brand on console and PC, and then of course will come mobile at a later time.

“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. That’s why we want to be cautious in year one. If we are successful, that can have a very meaningful impact on the value creation of Ubisoft.”

Still, the company isn’t exactly hurting under the annual AAA release approach. Ubisoft reported record sales figures, up 9% to €2.22 billion, while net bookings were up 46% to €2.24 billion. The publisher also reported consolidated net income of €105.2 million – compared to last year’s €124 million net loss.

Ubisoft will release Far Cry 6, Rainbow Six Quarantine, Riders Republic, T Roller Champions and The Division: Heartland this fiscal year, although revealed that Skull and Bones has once again been delayed, and will release in the next fiscal year (beginning April 1st 2022).

About Chris Wallace

Chris is a freelancer writer and was MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer from November 2019 until May 2022. He joined the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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