A couple days ago, gameindustry.biz spoke with Ubisoft's VP of live operations Anne Blondel-Jouin, who had some interesting things to say about Ubisoft's experience with Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, which has seen a consistent stream of free DLC since its release and recently had an announcement that it would receive another year of free content. This is what she had to say:
The key is if it's not adding something on-top of the actual experience of the game, then it is no good. Because you'll be asking for more money for the wrong reasons. Also, if the content is compulsory for the gamers, it's no good as well. It is a way to deliver more fun to gamers, but they have a choice to go for that extra fun or not. If I take an analogy of an amusement park, you can go through all the rides, but then you can also go to the shop to buy some food or merchandise or whatever... regardless of whether you spend in the shop, you're still part of the whole experience. Nobody is making you buy if you don't want to, but it is another way to have a different entertainment experience. If you're with your kids, and there's a toy you want to get, we will make sure it is an extra experience. It won't be the case if you don't buy it then you can't do anything else.
It wouldn't work if it was about making it compulsory for gamers. No more DLC that you have to buy if you want to have the full experience. You have the game, and if you want to expand it - depending on how you want to experience the game - you're free to buy it, or not...
...The way we monetise Rainbow Six is that people are happy about the new characters, and they can customise them with weapons and charms, but even if they don't do it, they will have the exact same experience of the other gamers," she says. "It is just an extra piece of revenue for us, which comes from gamers being happy. If gamers were not happy, we would not ask for that extra money.
It does have the same commercial impact [as charging DLC]. It is also more fair for both Ubisoft and the gamers, as it is an extra proposal for them and they even take it or not. This new way of doing things, is because it is Ubisoft's responsibility to deliver gamers with the best quality possible. If you do a nasty toy, it will stay in the store no matter what the brand is. It is putting our creative teams back to work to deliver the best stuff for gamers, and it's a win-win situation.
Rainbow Six Siege is a game that has taught Ubisoft a valuable lesson.
So what does it all mean? Basically, Ubisoft is done with paid DLC like map packs and extra classes. Instead, they'll follow the same path as games like Halo 5: Guardians and Overwatch: Origins Edition where the content is free and the publisher makes up the difference through completely optional cosmetic upgrades. It's a model that has worked with great success and Ubisoft is ready to embrace it fully.
Will this extend to single player games? Anne Blondel-Jouin doesn't say either way. But it's no doubt something they'll at least be considering moving forward and that is certainly good news for everyone.