Control versus Revenue: Round 2 -- Ubisoft

Subject: Editorial | October 7, 2011 - 10:11 PM |
Tagged: ubisoft, piracy

A couple of days ago I posted an editorial discussing videogame piracy and secondary sales. During the discussion I postulated that the primary issue with publishers is the logical leap made between controlling your market and the amount of revenue made from the market. The failure in that assumption is that you ignore the cost, in market size and otherwise, spent to acquire that control and immediately attribute the negative consequences of that to piracy or secondary sales. PC Gamer has weighed in on the topic with an interesting addition: Ubisoft, since the introduction of the DRM method, has not only shrunk piracy but also shrunk sales by 90%.

Jack Blackbeard... the one who all pirates fear. Just kidding, that's fiction.

In terms of the sense of control, PC Gamer quotes Ubisoft prior to Driver’s release:

“It’s difficult to get away from the fact that as a developer, as somebody who puts their blood, sweat and tears into this thing… And from the publisher’s point of view, which invests tens and tens and tens of millions into a product – by the time you’ve got marketing, a hundred million – that piracy on the PC is utterly unbelievable.”

So Ubisoft's PC gaming sales are down 90% without a corresponding lift in console sales. If only they gave up some control for some revenue, right? A smaller number of pirates might make you sleep better at night, but with an empty stomach and no roof over your head. As always, the solution is to lure customers to your content; do not condone piracy, but pretty-much do not enforce it. I realize that you may feel violated by your non-paying customers but as a company you should be concerned about revenue, not bad feelings; the two paths occasionally diverge. The customer is always right.

Source: PCGamer

October 9, 2011 | 10:41 PM - Posted by Alonso (not verified)

I tried to read the article twice, but my english seems not to be good enough (it is somehow a bit complicated written): Can somebody explain me the point of the article?
Is it like, Ubi makes 90% less because of too harsh DRM (which would be HUGE news and I wanna get that the right way)? Or because piracy is so high (which would be extremely sad).
Please be patient with me, interestingly i understand 90% of the hardware-reviews and so on, but I am struggling with this news :(

October 9, 2011 | 11:09 PM - Posted by Alonso (not verified)

Nevermind, i read the original article and got it now ;-)

October 10, 2011 | 12:07 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Funny how Robin Hood was a hero for stealing from the rich and giving to the less fortunate.

October 11, 2011 | 06:49 AM - Posted by Virtuous (not verified)

Ubisoft should exit the gaming business. That's the best way to stop piracy.

October 11, 2011 | 10:43 AM - Posted by JSL

... and $hitty console ports.

October 11, 2011 | 02:41 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Well that would be the ultimate trade-off between control and revenue, wouldn't it?

October 11, 2011 | 03:51 PM - Posted by JSL

they'd call it 100% success rate. lol

October 13, 2011 | 12:07 AM - Posted by Ogopogo (not verified)

YOu guys are harsh! Ubisoft puts out some awesome games! they create , that take years of very hard work & missed nights with your girlfriend , kids , friends , so you can put out a game that rocks & then people tell post on here tha tthey should pack it in & get out of the bussiness? because they are mad some ASSHAT is stealing something that i had to pay cash for ? i worled for my money , people pirating are thiefs ! no different than someone stealing from you , from your hard earned money \ pocket

October 13, 2011 | 03:21 AM - Posted by Scott Michaud

The problem is that they are losing much more money trying to end piracy than they "lose" because of piracy. A lot more.

They feel violated and thus they violate themselves and their actual paying customers.

March 30, 2012 | 12:50 AM - Posted by UBISoftboycotter (not verified)

I really dislike UBISoft as a business entity. They have insulted me as a PC gamer on numerous occasions, they have treated me like a criminal, when I am certainly not, and snuck in DRM after advertising it had none- among other things. They ARE the Metallica of the now infamous Anti-Napster era.

While I cannot stand (I cannot stress that enough) UBISoft, I really love some of the games that they have made and miss the ones they have released since I started boycotting them (read, closing my wallet to them). I have posted several times on various websites (primarily Steam) when I have seen game releases. Stating (without going into a soap box speech about their use of DRM) that I would love to purchase the game and play it, but their choice to use their specific DRM has forced me to take a "no purchase" position.

"Any amount of money is too much to pay to be treated like a Pirate".

I will not go into the DRM cons and the entire discussion. However, since some companies have started using very strict models of DRM - I have stopped purchasing their games. And yes, aside from playing demo's if available, I have stopped playing them as well. That also includes posting about them, talking to friends about the games, and recommending those games to my other gaming friends. There are simply so many options out right now that losing any market share is not a wise business model in a brand orientated, consumer driven market. Any business manager, or employee, shareholder, etc.etc., that will cut sales 90% to reduce piracy by lets say ~15% should be FIRED.

Regardless of any marketing spin, if my sales dropped by 90%, my boss would fire me and s/he would say, “That is not successful at all”.

So UBISoft, what is worse? A pirate or a pissed off ex-customer that stops consuming (ie paying) and stops playing?

Some past UBISoft games that I have purchased:

Rayman *(On Atari Jaguar-Sony PS)
Driver *
Tom Clancy * Series of Games
Silent Hunter * series
Far Cry