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Up to 95% of Ubisoft's PC Games Are Pirated, Says CEO

By - Source: GamesIndustry | B 83 comments

Ubisoft thinks F2P games on PC are the way to go until the console makers churn out their next-generation machines.

It should have come as no surprise that Ubisoft eventually broke down and launched its own digital distribution platform for its PC games. The company has been at the forefront of fighting piracy on the platform for years, implementing controversial DRM efforts that have prevented its customers from playing their games, and as seen just last month, opened PCs to a security risk. Offering a Steam-like client would seemingly resolve Ubisoft's piracy issue. After all, it works for Valve and all its partners, right?

That may not be good enough. According to Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, 93 to 95-percent of the company's PC games are pirated despite its DRM efforts. That's a staggering number, and explains why the company focuses heavily on the console sector. Still, there's money to be made on the PC platform as Zynga has shown to all the industry skeptics. PC gaming is once again back on the rise, and publishers are taking note of comrades in the East and releasing free-to-play titles or similar tiers in their current games. Ubisoft is looking to head in that direction as well.

Why? Guillemot makes an interesting point. "It's a way to get closer to your customers, to make sure you have a revenue," he told GamesIndustry International at Gamescom 2012. "On PC it's only around five to seven percent of the players who pay for F2P, but normally on PC it's only about five to seven percent who pay anyway, the rest is pirated. It's around a 93-95 percent piracy rate, so it ends up at about the same percentage. The revenue we get from the people who play is more long term, so we can continue to bring content."

F2P is the way to develop the PC market, he said. The company can even generate revenue from countries where Ubisoft couldn't previously, places where the products were played but not bought. The F2P model will also help strengthen Ubisoft's brands, make them last a lot longer than before. Even more, F2P titles are cheaper to produce and distribute -- there's no box or disc to manufacture and ship across the globe.

Still, games must be tailored to fit the audience's needs. "We also take content which we've developed in the past, graphics etc, and we can make cheaper games and improve them over time," he said. "What's very important is that we change the content and make it a better fit to the customer as time goes on."

Offering F2P titles will also help Ubisoft float through the migration from the current console generation to the next, its core business. "We must be careful because the consoles are coming," he warned. "People are saying that the traditional market is declining and that F2P is everything - I'm not saying that. We're waiting for the new consoles - I think that the new consoles will give a huge boost to the industry, just like they do every time that they come. This time, they took too long so the market is waiting."

The consoles are coming! The consoles are coming! Sounds like a monster movie. Should PC gamers be scared? Probably not.

 

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  • 52 Hide
    zybch , August 24, 2012 11:45 AM
    Perhaps Ubisoft games are pirated at a rate of 95%, but thats simply because their totally over the top DRM causes so many issues that its easier to just play a pirate copy than have to deal with the insane number of hoops you have to jump through if you'd have bought the game legally.

    Serial number - Okay
    Keeping the game DVD in your drive - Annoying
    Online registration - Intrusive
    Online activation/validation - Very annoying
    Having to remain online to play a single player game - COMPLETELY INSANE
  • 48 Hide
    ojas , August 24, 2012 11:49 AM
    Quote:
    According to Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, 93 to 95-percent of the company's PC games are pirated despite because of its DRM efforts.


    Fixed.
  • 43 Hide
    g00fysmiley , August 24, 2012 11:41 AM
    bullshit statistic is bullshit... love how there are so many reliable statistics he quoted instead of throwing arbitrary number out of thin air
Other Comments
  • 22 Hide
    idroid , August 24, 2012 11:33 AM
    there will ALWAYS be people who like to go over the laws and pirate things because the can, companies will have to live with it.
  • 43 Hide
    g00fysmiley , August 24, 2012 11:41 AM
    bullshit statistic is bullshit... love how there are so many reliable statistics he quoted instead of throwing arbitrary number out of thin air
  • 8 Hide
    jecho , August 24, 2012 11:43 AM
    I wish people would buy more games. I buy most of my games on sale from steam. If I really want something like BF3 then I just pay for it. If people would buy more games the quality would increase for some games. The developers see this and decide to make the extra effort. If they think that everyone is going to pirate the game anyway then why make the extra effort. BTW developer does not include EA or Activision. These companies are in it for pure profit. All they care about is $.
  • 52 Hide
    zybch , August 24, 2012 11:45 AM
    Perhaps Ubisoft games are pirated at a rate of 95%, but thats simply because their totally over the top DRM causes so many issues that its easier to just play a pirate copy than have to deal with the insane number of hoops you have to jump through if you'd have bought the game legally.

    Serial number - Okay
    Keeping the game DVD in your drive - Annoying
    Online registration - Intrusive
    Online activation/validation - Very annoying
    Having to remain online to play a single player game - COMPLETELY INSANE
  • 26 Hide
    velosteraptor , August 24, 2012 11:48 AM
    95% piracy rate? And here I thought it was more like 93% ....
  • 48 Hide
    ojas , August 24, 2012 11:49 AM
    Quote:
    According to Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, 93 to 95-percent of the company's PC games are pirated despite because of its DRM efforts.


    Fixed.
  • 29 Hide
    JeanLuc , August 24, 2012 11:51 AM
    I think Ubisoft are flattering themselves to even think PC gamers would even bother to pirate there rubbish games.
  • 23 Hide
    nicklasd87 , August 24, 2012 11:53 AM
    I wish developers would stop using an unmeasurable statistic like piracy as an excuse for poor game sales. I don't pirate, I buy my crap on Steam, and I have yet to see a title released by Ubisoft since the original Assassins creed worth getting excited for.

    Make a game worth buying and the talks of piracy suddenly stop.
  • 10 Hide
    Anonymous , August 24, 2012 11:58 AM
    HAHAHAHA, UBISOFT is on the road to FAIL!

    I no longer buy Ubisoft titles, and have not for a few years now, many of my friends pirate the titles because of the strict DRM Ubisoft push, I do not bother because mostly the games they make are crap anyways.

    Come on ARENANET and NCSoft, I give you my money :) 
  • 15 Hide
    techguy911 , August 24, 2012 12:01 PM
    That is pretty funny why does every developer think there is no piracy on consoles?
    I fix consoles and see many modded xbox360's ,Wii only console i have not seen modded is ps3.
    The reason why Ubisoft games are pirated is the really BAD DRM causes the game to crash and run unstable so people buy game and the game crashes they look to patches, still no fix so the download game with no drm and voila no crashing, now who's fault is that i wonder?.
  • 15 Hide
    SocketA , August 24, 2012 12:07 PM
    Ok those percentages are BS and they know it. I guarantee they are counting every instance of piracy ( i.e downloading the torrent file not necessarily the actual game) as a potential sale to get those numbers, which is total crap. There is no such ting as a potential sale, if you make a shitty product and some one pirates it and goes "What a pile of crap" and deletes it from there system (Which I know I do quite a bit and I bet others do it as well) that's not a potential sale. They were never going to buy this game whether or not they could pirate it or not. The issue here is not just piracy it's the industry's unwillingness to change how they do business and how they price games. I mean video games have never been what you could call cheap but I remember laying down 40-50 dollars around 2002 for Mafia: The City of Lost Haven and getting not only the game but a full size poster of the cover art as well as the games orchestral score and the soundtrack. Now a days I'm lucky to get a B/W manual with it for that price. If the industry want to combat piracy than they should do so by including cheap (price wise) physical items with the game. It won't eradicate piracy but more people would be willing to pay the 50-60 bucks for a game if they actually got some kind of extra item/s for buying the game. Hell the collectors edition for the PC release of Alan Wake did something like this admittedly it was all digital content (full color booklet about the games setting and characters, soundtrack, both DLC packs, and developers commentary) and that release was only 20 bucks. Come on Ubisoft stop blaming the consumers and realize that it's partially your guys fault as well. .
  • 4 Hide
    olaf , August 24, 2012 12:08 PM
    helps to have good games that you don't finish in a day, also helps not having a DRM that makes you pull your Hair out, loving the always connected crap....
  • -4 Hide
    Pinhedd , August 24, 2012 12:13 PM
    techguy911That is pretty funny why does every developer think there is no piracy on consoles?I fix consoles and see many modded xbox360's ,Wii only console i have not seen modded is ps3.The reason why Ubisoft games are pirated is the really BAD DRM causes the game to crash and run unstable so people buy game and the game crashes they look to patches, still no fix so the download game with no drm and voila no crashing, now who's fault is that i wonder?.


    There is piracy on consoles but it's a full order of magnitude lower than it is on PC.

    Shitty DRM is not an excuse for pirating a game. It's at best an excuse for bypassing the DRM. If you're not willing to pay for a game then don't play it. Don't try to find some shitty justification for piracy because there is none.
  • 11 Hide
    alidan , August 24, 2012 12:16 PM
    i want to be 100% clear with ubisoft here

    i dont pirate your games, i just dont play them period.
    you make playing your game payed significantly harder than pirating it, most companies drm is annoying, and can clog your system, yours kicks you from single player for a small hickup in the connection to the internet... no crap your game will be pirated.

    if i ever played a ubi soft game on the pc, i would pay for it and play the pirate copy.

    but until that insanity ends, never playing a ubi game out of spite... pure unadulterated spite.
  • -3 Hide
    Pinhedd , August 24, 2012 12:18 PM
    SocketAOk those percentages are BS and they know it. I guarantee they are counting every instance of piracy ( i.e downloading the torrent file not necessarily the actual game) as a potential sale to get those numbers, which is total crap. There is no such ting as a potential sale, if you make a shitty product and some one pirates it and goes "What a pile of crap" and deletes it from there system (Which I know I do quite a bit and I bet others do it as well) that's not a potential sale. They were never going to buy this game whether or not they could pirate it or not. The issue here is not just piracy it's the industry's unwillingness to change how they do business and how they price games. I mean video games have never been what you could call cheap but I remember laying down 40-50 dollars around 2002 for Mafia: The City of Lost Haven and getting not only the game but a full size poster of the cover art as well as the games orchestral score and the soundtrack. Now a days I'm lucky to get a B/W manual with it for that price. If the industry want to combat piracy than they should do so by including cheap (price wise) physical items with the game. It won't eradicate piracy but more people would be willing to pay the 50-60 bucks for a game if they actually got some kind of extra item/s for buying the game. Hell the collectors edition for the PC release of Alan Wake did something like this admittedly it was all digital content (full color booklet about the games setting and characters, soundtrack, both DLC packs, and developers commentary) and that release was only 20 bucks. Come on Ubisoft stop blaming the consumers and realize that it's partially your guys fault as well. .


    At no point did they mention anything about lost sales, merely percentages. They're probably comparing the number of unique installations which phone home to the total number of sold and/or registered copies. It's an old trick but it's also a valid one. Even with some statistical adjustment it could still be as high as 75% which is no less astounding.
  • 8 Hide
    magmcbride , August 24, 2012 12:23 PM
    NINETY PERCENT!? Are you shitting me? I think he meant ninety percent of their games aren't even worth pirating.
  • 0 Hide
    zeratul600 , August 24, 2012 12:33 PM
    bad games, thats why people pirate them! its fun when companies believe that if someone is playing a pirated copy, then they lost a game sell, NO YOU BIG IDIOT most people who play pirate wont ever buy your game (they dont have the money to do it), but at least they can comment about your game if it is good and try to convince some of they friend to buy it! sometimes they friend will even buy an original copy for their pirate friend in order to play online with them!
  • 7 Hide
    Dangi , August 24, 2012 12:34 PM
    This guy made me laugh

    So 95% piracy, maybe is due to their use of DRM and other shitty anticopy methods, that in the end get's bypassed and only works to hinder the ones that actually payed the games.

    Also waiting for next gen console ?? Yeah as if there isn't piracy in console market..........


    The solution is quite simple, drop anticopy methods ( every method gets cracked ) and spend that HUGE money into lowering games prices.

    Also and the most important thing, don't treat your customers as if they are all dumb, no more BF3 new maps that are already on the disk, or "new" maps from previous BF, or Assasin Creed "new" mission that is already on the DVD you bought, but you have to pay extra cash to play it
  • 7 Hide
    velocityg4 , August 24, 2012 12:44 PM
    There games sell so poorly because of the always online DRM. After buying Assassins Creed I couldn't wait for Assassins Creed 2. Then I found out about the always online DRM. Because of that I did not buy the game nor did I pirate it I just skipped it. Unfortunately it looks like I will have to do the same for 3.

    I'll get games when I can download a simple crack to avoid activation and NOCD patch to play it. Not if I have to pirate a whole game or go through complicated procedures to install the damn thing.

    For me a game has to have the following:
    1. Be entertaining
    2. Long game play preferably a large open world
    3. Have easily bypassed DRM

    The main problem with the DRM is it can break the game especially on a new version of Windows. GTA IV does not work in Windows 7 until you bypass the DRM. What makes the always online DRM unacceptable is that the game stops working when they decide to shutdown the servers. I expect to be able to play the game twenty years from now.
  • 7 Hide
    rantoc , August 24, 2012 12:45 PM
    Best piracy deterrent, quality products and don't go to insane levels on the drm.

    A system designed to make the piracy harder is fine, however when the customers are the ONLY party who suffers from it - Something is seriously wrong. Is it really that hard to imagine why the customer who had issues with the system choose not to pay for the frustration of the drm the next time they want a title?

    Need proof? Any of the thousands of angry forum threads on Ubi's forum about the drm should be enough to understand why Ubi's sales is dwindling like a rock. It would seem they now don't even have the courage to admit their mistake and rather use a generic excuse for the failure - They seem to hope some of the less enlightened investors will think the piracy symptoms is the problem rather than the cause of it!

    Simply put - Their extreme drm have pushed more people towards piracy. In order to enjoy an Ubi title the way it was meant to be enjoyed when the developers created is by avoiding the drm issues. That leaves piracy and that is so wrong on so many levels.

    I for one haven't craved in just yet but its on the edge to be part of the next percent, after buying the last 5-6 titles with the online drm I can sadly for the first time fully understand why people who previously purchased their games now choose to pirate them, all in order to get more enjoyment than frustration.

    To UBI - Its easier to blame piracy than look in the mirror, isn't it!
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