Ubisoft is one of the largest and most famous computer gaming companies in the world. She is known for hits like Assassin's Creed, Far Cry, Watch Dogs, and Just Dance.
Naturally, it is not the same company it used to be, as evidenced not only by sales results, but also by decisions made behind the doors of the board of directors. It's bad and it could be worse. Moreover, the recently released Prince of Persia (in my opinion, it's more of a “mobile”) won't save the world, but it won't be any big hits either, but I hope I'm wrong.
However, the company recently surprised its fans and the industry by announcing its intention to completely abandon physical game distribution and switch to a digital-only model, focusing primarily on its subscription offering.. What does this mean for players and why (in my opinion – as someone used to physical releases) is this a nightmare in the making?
No more boxes and CDs
The first and most obvious consequence of Ubisoft's decision is that it will no longer be possible to purchase this company's games in the traditional form, that is, in a box with a disc. This means that players will have to download online games or stream from PC to mobile devices (remote play in beta), which brings many conveniences, but also problems (depending on the situation and point of view). However, I will focus on the drawbacks of this solution.
First, not everyone has access to a fast and stable internet connection, which can make downloading large-capacity games difficult or impossible. Second, downloading games takes up a lot of space on your hard drive, which may require you to delete or move other files frequently. Third, downloading games deprives players of the opportunity to collect and store games physically, which is an important component of the hobby for many. And at any moment, this game can be removed from the collection, if we are talking about the subscription model, as experience has taught us that nothing is eternal (in this case, appropriately).
More control and restrictions
The second consequence of Ubisoft's decision is that the company will have more control over its games, which will actually limit players' freedom. The shift to digital distribution means that Ubisoft will be able to impose its own conditions and rules on the use of games, such as the requirement of a permanent Internet connection, the need to have an account with the Ubisoft Connect service, the lack of the ability to resell or exchange games with other players, or the lack of support for games Outdated or incompatible with new operating systems. Additionally, Ubisoft will be able to more easily make changes to games, such as updates, patches, additions, micropayments, advertising, censorship, and removal of inappropriate content or features, all without approval, let alone consent or knowledge. Of players. This means much less competition and diversity.
The third consequence of Ubisoft's decision is that it will face less competition and reduce the diversity of the gaming market. The move to digital distribution means that Ubisoft will only be able to sell its games through its Ubisoft Connect platform, which will force players to use it even if they prefer other services like Steam, GOG, or the Epic Games Store. This in turn means that Ubisoft will be able to dictate the prices and terms of sale of its games, and will also, at a later stage, set very high subscription prices, which are already not very attractive or acceptable today.. And all this without fear of competition or comparison with other offerings – after all, it's Ubisoft. Furthermore, Ubisoft will have less incentive to create new, innovative games (if it doesn't already have one) when it's sure that its fans will buy everything it releases, regardless of quality or originality.
What does the future hold?
Ubisoft's decision to shift to digital game distribution is not only surprising, but also alarming. It is a step aimed at increasing the company's profits and controlling it at the expense of players and the gaming market. This is clear to me. This is a move that deprives players of many of the privileges and opportunities they have had so far. It's changing the face of the gaming industry and portends a bleak future we're heading into anyway (there's no point in fooling yourself). However, it seems to me that Ubisoft has come a long way in terms of gaming with gamers. Now the nightmare is starting to take shape, and other companies will certainly be monitoring this situation closely, and perhaps changing their business model to the one adopted by France. Time will tell.
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