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'It's about feeling comfortable with ​​not​​ owning your game': Ubisoft executive pushes gamers to accept subscription models
Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

'It's about feeling comfortable with ​​not​​ owning your game': Ubisoft executive pushes gamers to accept subscription models

An executive from popular video game publisher Ubisoft Entertainment stated that consumers need to get used to not owning their video games in order to move the market in a direction that is focused on subscription-based access.

Philippe Tremblay, director of subscriptions at Ubisoft, spoke to Games Industry about the company's rebrand of its subscription platform.

Tremblay said the revamp was due to a positive response from gamers who enjoyed having digital access to their back catalogue of titles.

While Tremblay stated that the point is not to "force users to go down one route or another," his comments eventually revealed a desire to push gamers toward a subscription-based model in which users do not own their own games.

"One of the things we saw is that gamers are used to, a little bit like DVD, having and owning their games. That's the consumer shift that needs to happen. They got comfortable not owning their CD collection or DVD collection. That's a transformation that's been a bit slower to happen [in games]," Tremblay explained.

The subscription executive rationalized the position by offering a surety that gaming progress would not be lost.

"As gamers grow comfortable in that aspect … you don't lose your progress. If you resume your game at another time, your progress file is still there. That's not been deleted. You don't lose what you've built in the game or your engagement with the game. So it's about feeling comfortable with not owning your game."

The obvious pushback from proponents of physical media ownership has surrounded the publisher's ability to revoke access at any given time.

This can happen if a user loses access to his account or if certain content is simply removed. In December 2023, users lost access to their already-purchased episodes of shows from the Discovery network. More than 1,200 titles were removed from the PlayStation Network due to a change in licensing agreements.

"PlayStation will delete users’ purchased tv shows with no refunds" Nerdist wrote, while Forbes noted, "PlayStation store to lose more than 1,200 purchasable titles - with no refunds."

Director Christopher Nolan ("The Dark Knight," "Oppenheimer") also criticized digital media for this very reason in an interview with IGN. Nolan explained that access to digital products often relies on the status of a distributor's relationship with the platform providing access to the media.

"If you buy a [DVD], you buy a Blu-Ray, it's on your shelf, it's yours. No company is going to break into your house and take it from you, repossess it; you know it's yours and and you own it," Nolan explained. "That's never really the case with any form of digital distribution. You're relying on the continued health of the supplier, the company who's supplying."

Ubisoft's Tremblay attempted to quell such worries, saying he understood "the gamers' perspective with that." However, he did not address the realities expressed by critics like Nolan.

"As people embrace [subscriptions], they will see that these games will exist, the service will continue, and you'll be able to access them when you feel like. That's reassuring," Tremblay added. "Streaming is also a thing that works really well with subscription. So you pay when you need it, as opposed to paying all the time."

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Andrew Chapados

Andrew Chapados

Andrew Chapados is a writer focusing on sports, culture, entertainment, gaming, and U.S. politics. The podcaster and former radio-broadcaster also served in the Canadian Armed Forces, which he confirms actually does exist.
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