In an Ubisoft earnings call (via VGC), Chief Financial Officer Frederick Duguet revealed that the company is planning to shift its focus toward “high-end free-to-play games” and perhaps de-emphasize its cadence of AAA releases. There’s a lot of room for interpretation in the statements made, but the bottom line is that Ubisoft sees that (a) AAA games don’t always make more money than non-AAA games and (b) there is plenty of money to make in free-to-play games, like the recently announced mobile game, The Division: Heartland.
“In line with the evolution of our high-quality lineup that is increasingly diverse, we are moving on from our prior comment regarding releasing three-to-four premium AAAs per year,” said Frederick Duguet. “It is indeed no longer a proper indication of our value creation dynamics. For example, our expectation for Just Dance and Riders Republic are consistent with some of the industry’s AAA performers.”
Duguet further elaborated on Ubisoft’ plans: “Additionally, we are building high-end free-to-play games to be trending towards AAA ambitions over the long term. This is purely a financial communication evolution and doesn’t change the fact that we continue to expect a high cadence of content delivery including powerful premium and free-to-play new releases.”
Niko Partners senior analyst Daniel Ahmad has added his perspective on this murky subject. He explains that the likely outcome of this strategic shift won’t mean fewer AAA Ubisoft titles — but rather the same amount of AAA titles in addition to more free-to-play releases. If that’s the case, everybody wins.
The reason for this is because Ubisoft's guidance would always be dependent on how many AAA games they release each year and 3-4 was the typical guidance for how successful they would be.
All this is saying is that metric isn't as important. https://t.co/Dla3wR07cG
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) May 11, 2021
Time will tell if there is any significant change in Ubisoft’s video game output as far as AAA releases go. Regardless, we can definitely count on more Just Dance — and that mysterious new Star Wars game at some point.