Ubisoft executives have revealed that the company is so impressed with the free-to-play business model that they are planning to insert it, along with hundreds of microtransactions, into full $60 retail games.
The terrifying news came from the mouth of Ubisoft‘s CFO, Alain Martinez, during an investor call earlier this week. The company’s worldwide director of online, Stéphanie Perotti, was explaining how the free-to-play business model allows players to spend more than they normally would using the traditional model. The thought of all that additional consumer spending got Martinez’s financial juices flowing, and he chimed in with the following statement:
“There will be free-to-play on consoles, but in the future [next-gen consoles], with games like Watch Dogs, we could see more opportunity for $60 games to learn from the free-to-play model. The next generation will offer more and more item-based content. This will benefit our games’ profitability.”
The success of the free-to-play model came from the fact that consumers could control exactly how much they wanted to pay for the game, because they had the ability to limit their spending to only the content that they wanted to play. Apparently, this has resulted in some users spending more than they would have if the game was sold outright. Sadly, Ubisoft has horribly misinterpreted that result to mean that consumers are looking for ways to pay more money for their video games.
Free-to-play works because it starts out as free. That same model is not going to go over so well when consumers start off $60 in the hole, and then have to pay even more to play the game.
Like it or not, this new more-expensive-to-play business model seems to be on the way, and since Ubisoft is openly talking about it you can bet that other publishers have (at the very least) kicked around the idea.
Sounds like one more reason to be excited for the next generation of consoles.