Ubisoft Exec Says Gamers Do Not Really Need to Own Games

people with game disc in their hands

Ubisoft’s director of subscriptions, Phillipe Tremblay, recently made a controversial statement that gamers need to accept not owning their games.

This sentiment reflects the industry’s push towards all-digital services like Ubisoft Plus but ignores valid concerns from players.

What Did The Ubisoft Exec Say?

In an interview with Gamesindustry.biz, Tremblay compared the shift away from physical games ownership to the transition from DVDs and CDs.

He said:

“One of the things we saw is that gamers are used to, a little bit like DVD, having and owning their games. That’s the consumer shift that needs to happen.”

Essentially, Tremblay believes gamers should accept not having a physical copy of games, just as they did with movies and music.

He argued that digital access still allows you to keep your progress and achievements, even if you can’t display a box on your shelf.

Tremblay also said services like Ubisoft Plus (Obviously he promoting) let you play games “when you feel like it.”

What Are Gamers Worried About With Digital-Only?

While Tremblay argues this transition is inevitable, many gamers have valid concerns, including:

  • Losing access: Games come and go from services like Xbox Game Pass all the time. Relying solely on subscriptions means you can lose access to titles unexpectedly.
  • Disappearing games: Titles pulled from digital stores for licensing or other issues essentially disappear in an all-digital future. For example, Alan Wake and parts of The Crew.
  • Preservation: Physical games can be preserved for posterity. Digital-only makes posterity uncertain. Gamers care about video game history.

The Industry Is Pushing This Direction Despite Concerns

The industry sees major revenue potential in digital subscriptions, looking to Netflix and Sisney’s success.

Subscription spending was 89% of UK video-based media revenue in 2023.

However, the transition for games may not be as smooth.

Serious concerns remain about long-term access and preservation.

For example, Grand Theft Auto 5 recently left Xbox Game Pass, cutting off access for some subscribers.

Even more worrying are games like Ubisoft’s own The Crew, which will be removed from sale entirely in 2024 when licensing expires.

An all-digital future raises the scary prospect of games simply blinking out of existence.

There’s also something to be said for the satisfaction of physical collections and nostalgic experiences many gamers value.

Sure, subscriptions offer plenty of practical benefits, but do they capture the same magic as perusing a shelf of favorite games and classics?

Gamers Will Likely Adapt, But Questions Remain

While Tremblay may be right that gamers will eventually accept not “owning” games, it’s reasonable for consumers to question how this shift affects game preservation and access long-term.

The industry should address these concerns directly rather than dismiss them as an inevitable change in consumer behavior.

In conclusion, while the all-digital future seems inevitable, gamers raise important issues the industry must consider regarding ownership and access.

The transition may not be as seamless as companies like Ubisoft hope.

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