Friday, November 25, 2011

Ubisoft Developing PC Free-To-Play Ghost Recon Game, Claims

Ubisoft, pioneer of the much-hated always-on DRM, is currently developing Ghost Recon: Future Soldier – but only for the console platforms. The PC will instead get the free-to-play ("F2P" in common parlance) Ghost Recon Online, which conversely will not be available for consoles. Ubisoft claims that this is because "95% of our consumers will pirate the game", so they are addressing the needs of this market. Sebastien Arnoult, Ghost Recon Online producer said:
We are giving away most of the content for free because there’s no barrier to entry. To the users that are traditionally playing the game by getting it through Pirate Bay, we said, 'Okay, go ahead guys. This is what you're asking for. We’ve listened to you – we're giving you this experience. It's easy to download, there's no DRM that will pollute your experience.'
Note how Ubisoft are finally admitting that DRM 'pollutes' the experience? No kidding. Arnoult then elaborated on the differences between the business models of the PC and console platforms:
We’re adapting the offer to the PC market. I don't like to compare PC and Xbox boxed products because they have a model on that platform that is clearly meant to be €60's worth of super-Hollywood content. On PC, we’re adapting our model to the demand.

 He then explained how they are embracing "piracy":
When we started Ghost Recon Online we were thinking about Ghost Recon: Future Solider; having something ported in the classical way without any deep development, because we know that 95% of our consumers will pirate the game. So we said okay, we have to change our mind.

 "We have to adapt, we have to embrace this instead of pushing it away. That's the main reflection behind Ghost Recon Online and the choice we've made to go in this direction.
In other words, they won't bother developing the main single player game for the PC and just give gamers some maps to play online with each other instead, with some added "premium" content that requires payment to access. Not good news for single player gamers, leaving them feeling like second class citizens.

 However, not everyone at Ubisoft sees it this way, as Stanislas Mettra, Creative Director of console-exclusive Ubisoft title I Am Alive, believes that the sales numbers on PC simply don't stack up to make a full port from console worthwhile:
 Perhaps it will only take twelve guys three months to port the game to PC, it's not a massive cost but it's still a cost. If only 50,000 people buy the game then it's not worth it.
This appears to be the view of the old guard however and it will be interesting to see which view, Arnoult's or Mettra's or yet something else, will prevail in the long run.

 One thing is clear however: the DRM-free model of premium product does work, whether it be games, songs or movies, as reported here and here. So, perhaps Ubisoft should concentrate less on worrying about "pirates" and instead give people a reason to buy their products – it's very easy to use "piracy" as a scapegoat for the poor sales of a poor product. Treating their customers like criminals by infesting games with unreasonable, draconian DRM is not the way to give people a reason to buy and many potential customers simply boycott those products due to this DRM.

 The official website for Ghost Recon Online is at and an established Ghost Recon fan site with lots of info on the entire Ghost Recon series is at

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