For a number of years now, Ubisoft have consistently maintained a business model that has seen them releasing at least two to three major AAA games every year, and it’s an approach that’s been very successful for them. In the closing weeks of 2020, for instance, Ubisoft released Watch Dogs: Legion, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Immortals Fenyx Rising in quick succession, leading to their most successful quarter ever.
However, going forward, it seems the publisher will be changing its strategies a little bit. Speaking during the company’s recent quarterly earnings call, CFO Frederick Duguet said that while fiscal year 2022 (which runs until March 31 of next year) will see Ubisoft continuing with their AAA release model, following that, they will start putting a greater emphasis on free-to-play releases, and that the two types of games will complement each other.
“We said for a number of years that our normal template is to come with either three or four AAA games, so we’ll stick to that plan for fiscal 2022,” Duguet said. “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 AAA and strong back catalog dynamics, but also complimenting our program of new releases with free-to-play and other premium experiences.”
“In fiscal 2022, we will continue our evolution from a AAA release-centric model toward a model where AAA stands alongside new premium and free-to-play innovative experiences across platforms,” he added. “These diverse experiences will feed on each other through complementary gameplay and business models.”
In the premium space, by October of this year, Ubisoft currently plans on releasing both Far Cry 6 and Rainbow Six Quarantine. In addition, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake and Riders Republic are also expected to launch this year, though neither of them currently have release dates. Beyond 2021, Massive Entertainment’s Avatar and Star Wars games are also on the docket. There’s also Skull and Bones, but what shape that game will take (if it ever even releases) is anyone’s best guess.
On the free-to-play side of things, Ubisoft plans on releasing Roller Champions this year. Last year saw the launch of Hyper Scape, and though the battle royale shooter performed worse than Ubisoft expected, its developers have plans for a major reworking to ensure greater success.
Given the massive success that Activision have seen in the free-to-play space in recent years with the likes of Call of Duty: Mobile, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Diablo Immortal, it’s not surprising that other major publishers are also looking to follow in their footsteps. It remains to be seen what form that will take for Ubisoft.