Ubisoft revealed last month that The Division 2 would be exclusive to the Epic Games Store and Uplay, ditching Steam entirely. While this have proven to be a controversial move among the most vocal of fans, CEO Yves Guillemot has revealed that its own platform has seen a boom in popularity as a result.
Given that the Epic Games Store takes a 12% cut instead of Steam’s hefty 30%, it’s easy to see why developers are driven to ditch Valve’s long-established platform. But according to Guillemot’s words in Ubisoft’s recent earnings call, it’s less about the extra revenue generated by this difference and more about how the decision has attracted a considerable amount of purchases on its own Uplay platform.
“With this deal, we saw an opportunity to increase player exposure to our own store while at the same time supporting a partner that greatly values our games and provides better terms,” said Guillemot. “Early indications are supportive, as PC pre-orders are higher than for the first Division, and pre-orders on the Ubisoft store are six times higher. We believe this deal is a long-term positive for Ubisoft.”
There are two main reasons that could be attributed to the uptick in Uplay sales. First is that Uplay is a requirement regardless of which platform Ubisoft games are purchased on. And secondly, PC gamers aren’t convinced that the Epic Games Store can stand up to the quality of Steam given its current lack of features. It seems as though prospective players simply want to cut out the middle-man in its entirety.
Unlike Metro Exodus, boycotting the move could be a lot more difficult for fans since Ubisoft has already entered a multi-game agreement to see more games ditch Steam in favour of Epic. And it seems as though Guillemot in particular is happy with the direction that the company is headed in.
“Ubisoft is building its organisational structure for the long term,” explained the CEO. “Leveraging the ownership of our IPs and studios, we are striving to provide a fulfilling working environment so that our talented people can realise their full potential and to deliver players beneficial experiences that go beyond pure entertainment. Therefore, we are confident in our ability to continue to grow and increase our profitability over the coming years.”
Overall, “Ubisoft delivered a solid performance in a quarter when, as expected, competition was particularly fierce.” This is particularly evident with the company exceeding its own $600 million estimate by taking $684.3 million in the third quarter, and Ubisoft's PC net bookings up 24% over last year’s 15%.
Guillemot suggests that its Q4 sales will be up 29% in comparison to last year, with The Division 2, Far Cry: New Dawn, Assassin’s Creed 3 Remastered and Trials Rising carrying the baton. The CEO assured that Ubisoft is also committed to making its staff feel secure in their position, a comment which follows Activision Blizzard shedding 8% of its workforce.
KitGuru Says: Although Ubisoft has been improving with its in-game practices, helping Rainbow Six Siege breach 45 million players as it enters its fourth year, this is sure to tarnish its image in the eyes of some fans. Personally, I see this as a testament towards players being open to competition on the market, but staunchly against platforms that lack features.