Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot says that the percentage of paying customers is about the same for free to play as it is for PC boxed product: around five to seven percent. Guillemot tells GamesIndustry International that using a free to play model in countries where piracy is a huge problem has proven to be an effective strategy.
"We want to develop the PC market quite a lot and F2P is really the way to do it," he said. "The advantage of F2P is that we can get revenue from countries where we couldn't previously – places where our products were played but not bought. Now with F2P we gain revenue, which helps brands last longer."
"It's a way to get closer to your customers, to make sure you have a revenue. On PC it's only around five to seven per cent of the players who pay for F2P, but normally on PC it's only about five to seven per cent who pay anyway, the rest is pirated. It's around a 93-95 per cent piracy rate, so it ends up at about the same percentage. The revenue we get from the people who play is more long term, so we can continue to bring content."
Guillemot also said that this allows them to make cheaper games from older assets and then improve on them over time after they have been launched. While Guillemot talked up the free-to-play model, he also cautioned that a whole new console cycle will be happening soon enough.
"We must be careful because the consoles are coming," he said. "People are saying that the traditional market is declining and that F2P is everything – I'm not saying that. We're waiting for the new consoles – I think that the new consoles will give a huge boost to the industry, just like they do every time that they come. This time, they took too long so the market is waiting."
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