Ubisoft has revealed they’re moving away from their previous reliance on AAA titles. In their latest earnings call, the company revealed they won’t be abandoning AAA games completely but will instead increase the number of “other premium experiences” and free-to-play titles to go alongside them.
Fiscal year 22 will be the year the publisher takes the first step towards “ramping up” their free to play output. They’ll also begin focusing on the mobile market, aiming for AAA quality on mobile. Ubisoft wants to see their brands as AAA titles and on mobile platforms, a model they’re adopting with the upcoming Roller Champions. The first title created with Tencent, rumored to be an Assassin’s Creed mobile title, will also see a soft launch towards the end of the period. As CFO Frederick Duguet explains:
In fiscal 22, we continue our evolution from a AAA release-centric model towards a model where AAAs stand alongside new premium and free-to-play innovative experiences across platforms. These diverse experiences will feed on each other through complimentary gameplay and business models.
[…]We said for a number of years that our normal template is to come either with three or four AAA games, so we’ll stick to this pattern for fiscal 2022. But we see that we are progressively, continuously moving from a model that used to be only focused on AAA releases to a model where we have a combination of strong releases from AAAs and strong back catalog dynamics, but also complimenting our program of new releases with free-to-play and other premium experiences
Ubisoft has learned a lot from the acquisition of Brawlhalla, especially in regards to multiplayer and a live service model. They introduced a Battle Pass over the summer that increased player engagement, and they’ve implemented cross-play between all consoles and PC. The game’s availability on multiple platforms is a model the publisher wants to apply to other franchises too. The beleaguered Hyper Scape also taught the company how to make a robust structure to handle many players. The team didn’t mention their future plans for this title as it undergoes a radical redesign.
These intentions aren’t too surprising when you realise that not only did Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla earn record revenue for the franchise, but their casual titles are also blooming. Just Dance 2021 saw a sharp increase in net bookings compared to Just Dance 2020 — it was the best selling franchise title in the last six years. The back catalogue also saw a 200% surge. The good news is that if the company moves away from an emphasis on AAA titles, they won’t be likely to increase the price on many, if any of their titles.
As confirmed by Duguet, the fiscal year 22 release slate will include three AAA titles. Of the known releases, the delayed Far Cry 6 and Rainbow Six Quarantine are considered AAA games. Other titles include the troubled Skull and Bones, Riders Republic, the remake of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and Roller Champions. They mentioned a “few other surprises are in the works” too.
Further on, Massive Entertainment has their Star Wars title. Ubisoft confirmed there was a lot of interest on working on the title and lots of people wanted to participate. As the game is in the early stages of development, there is no estimated release window yet. Massive will also continue to create more content for The Division 2, which is currently celebrating the 25th anniversary of Resident Evil with a crossover event, as well as double XP all week.
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