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

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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  • idroid
    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.
  • g00fysmiley
    bullshit statistic is bullshit... love how there are so many reliable statistics he quoted instead of throwing arbitrary number out of thin air
  • jecho
    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 $.
  • zybch
    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
  • velosteraptor
    95% piracy rate? And here I thought it was more like 93% ....
  • ojas
    According to Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, 93 to 95-percent of the company's PC games are pirated despite because of its DRM efforts.

  • JeanLuc
    I think Ubisoft are flattering themselves to even think PC gamers would even bother to pirate there rubbish games.
  • nicklasd87
    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.
  • 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 :)
  • techguy911
    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?.