Is game ownership overrated? (Picture: Ubisoft)
Just hours after GAME was said to be dropping video game trade-ins, Ubisoft has insisted that gamers shouldn’t be afraid of going digital.
It might have been upsetting to learn that GAME is reportedly set to stop in-store trade-ins, and the sale of second-hand games, but it wasn’t much of a surprise, given how every year digital sales take over more and more from physical.
Despite the fact that owning a physical copy has many benefits over digital, the minor convenience of not having to use discs has been enough to slowly turn gamers towards digital – but that’s been too slow for publishers like Ubisoft.
By coincidence, on the same day that the GAME news was rumoured, an interview with the exec in charge of Ubisoft+ saw him state that, ‘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 [in games],’ added Philippe Tremblay, Ubisoft’s director of subscriptions.
That’s not the sort of thing most gamers want to hear at the moment, but as his job title suggests, Tremblay wasn’t really talking about one-off digital purchases but subscription services and streaming.
‘You don’t lose your progress. If you resume your game at another time, your progress file is still there. That’s not been deleted. You don’t lose what you’ve built in the game or your engagement with the game. So it’s about feeling comfortable with not owning your game,’ he told GamesIndustry.biz.
‘Streaming is also a thing that works really well with subscription. So you pay when you need it, as opposed to paying all the time,’ he added.
Tremblay was attempting to promote a rebranding of subscription service Ubisoft+, as Ubisoft+ Premium, which will be available on Xbox, PC, and Amazon Luna for £14.99 and not only grants access to a back catalogue of older titles but every new Ubisoft from day one – just like Game Pass.
A cheaper subscription is also available called Ubisoft+ Classics, which gives you access only to the older titles (although there are over 50 of them), for £6.99 a month.
So, Ubisoft isn’t arguing that you shouldn’t worry about not really owning your game when you buy digitally but that not even having the semblance of ownership is fine, if you just sign up to a subscription service.
However, just as gamers have been slow to go digital-only, compared to music and movies, subscription services have yet to catch on in the way many companies imagined, with datasuggesting take-up may already have plateaued for both Game Pass and PS Plus.
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