With one of the biggest video game companies opting to switch its focus away from Triple-A titles, Ubisoft is setting a precedent on what type of games companies will focus on in the future.
Ubisoft is known for a bevy of Triple-A franchises, with the most notable being the Assassin’s Creed and Tom Clancy series of games, among many more. The aforementioned series made up a good portion of a list of 11 games that sold over 10 million copies each during the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One’s life cycle.
Additionally, if the success of Assassin’s Creed alone is anything to go off of – the franchise has sold more than 155 million copies as of October 2020 – it appears that Ubisoft’s current direction regarding Triple-A titles is justified. Moving forward, though, Ubisoft will be making a sharp left turn, turning away from Triple-A titles to make revenue.
In an earnings call on Feb. 9, though Ubisoft mentioned that from April 2021 to March 2022 there will be three Triple-A releases, the publisher will also focus on “complementing” Triple-A releases with free-to-play and other premium experiences, according to CFO Frederick Duguet. Though it was not specified what the “other premium experiences” will be, it is safe to assume Duguet was referring to mobile as currently, it makes up about 9% of the company’s revenue.
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot also stated in the call that games like Rainbow Six Siege will remain a fixture for Ubisoft, as the game added 15 million new players in the last year. Additionally, Far Cry 6, Rainbow Six Quarantine and other games are slated to release at some point in 2021 and are expected to sell very well when they eventually release.
With Ubisoft announcing that they are moving away from its reliance on Triple-A titles to make revenue, what does that mean for the video game industry moving forward? Simply put, publishers and developers will not be inclined to make any more titles and thus, it could be the end of those types of games as the main force in the industry.
As it stands, digital games spending reached $127 billion in 2020 across mobile, PC and console. Out of the almost $130 billion, $73.8 billion was on mobile while PC and console made up just $33.1 and $19.7 billion, respectively.
What’s more, free-to-play games generated almost $100 billion – $98.4 billion or 78% – of the revenue in 2020. With those numbers in mind, it is clear to see that free-to-play and mobile games, or a combination of the two, is the new way to drive sales in the future.
Even though Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said in an earnings call on Feb. 8 that Rockstar Games is still focused on the single-player aspect of games – especially since GTA Online and Red Dead Online continue to set records and sales – it is hard to see a future in which Triple-A games continue to be the main driver of video game revenue.
Currently, next-generation games are selling for $70 USD, a $10 increase from the previous generation. Not only are games becoming more expensive and next-gen consoles becoming more scarce because of scalpers, the world is also grappling with a global pandemic which has wreaked havoc on society, forcing scores of people around the world to lose their sources of income.
It stands to reason then that perhaps free-to-play and mobile games are the way of the future. Depending on how Ubisoft’s move ultimately pans out, the video game industry could be in for a massive shift away from Triple-A titles.
With the preference of multiplayer games over single-player games becoming that much more evident as well, the future of the industry could look very different from what it does now.
Only time will tell.