In the evolving landscape of video gaming, the concept of game ownership is undergoing a significant transformation, one that Ubisoft’s Philippe Tremblay, director of subscriptions, believes is essential for the future growth of video game subscriptions.
Tremblay, speaking about the launch of Ubisoft’s new subscription services, Ubisoft+ Premium and Ubisoft+ Classics, shared his insights on the shift required in gamers’ mentality for subscription models to flourish.
According to Tremblay, the gaming industry has witnessed rapid expansion in subscription services in recent years, but they still occupy a small fraction compared to traditional models. The success of these services on consoles, like PlayStation and Xbox, is bringing new audiences, and Ubisoft sees potential for further growth, especially on PC.
However, the main challenge lies in changing gamers’ long-standing habit of owning games, much like the transition from physical CDs and DVDs to digital formats. Tremblay notes that gamers have historically valued physical copies of games, a sentiment he understands personally.
The shift towards being comfortable with not owning games, according to Tremblay, hinges on the understanding that players’ progress and engagement with games are not lost when they switch to subscription services. He emphasizes that the games and the progress made in them remain accessible, even if not owned physically.
Streaming, as Tremblay points out, complements subscription models well, offering flexibility and convenience to gamers. However, this perspective has not been universally accepted. Some gamers continue to prefer buying physical copies of games over downloading or streaming. This preference is acknowledged by Ubisoft, which continues to release games on discs, acknowledging the significant portion of players who favor physical ownership.
Tremblay’s comments also touch upon the critical issue of video game preservation. As the industry gravitates towards digital and internet-dependent games, there is an increased risk of these games becoming inaccessible if their servers are shut down. This concern was highlighted by the criticism faced by Remedy Entertainment for releasing Alan Wake 2 as a digital-only title.
The debate between physical and digital gaming is intensifying as the industry leans towards an all-digital future. This shift was underscored by the leaked news of Microsoft’s plans for a Blu-ray drive-less slim version of the Xbox Series X, although these plans may have evolved since then.
This ongoing debate represents a pivotal moment in the gaming industry’s history, reflecting changing consumer habits, technological advancements, and the challenges of preserving gaming heritage in an increasingly digital world.