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Ubisoft Executive Argues Physical Media Will Never Go Away

Posted on November 16, 2023 by Nick Moreno

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In today’s current gaming market, one of the biggest concerns with the arrival of the newest Xbox & PlayStation is pricing. From publishers like Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Microsoft, and Sony Interactive Entertainment, these firms entertain the idea for $70 to be the new standard pricing. Even in one report, it was said the PlayStation firm even considered pricing even more for these titles.

On the other hand, a large issue is support for physical media. Alongside the current digital-only consoles, newer systems are outright not even including inputs for games to be inserted. Additionally, new games are even disregarding tangible copies altogether. Alan Wake II – one of the most well-received titles of 2023 – does not feature any sort of physical release as of writing.

Now in a recent interview with Ubisoft, the firm presses on the matter of physical media. Ubisoft’s senior vice president of strategic partnerships & business development Chris Early presses on the matter directly. When speaking on the topic of the now-concluded Xbox Activision Blizzard King deal, he elaborates that physical media will not be done away entirely with the demand that still lingers.

There’s a collector edition market. There’s the aspect of gifting physical items and allowing access for people to be able to easily purchase a game in a store and gift them to their friends or family. Some people will always want to own the physical disk. I just don’t think it’s going away. Do I think physical sales might get lower over time? Sure, but will it ever completely go away? I don’t think so.

Early goes on to elaborate on the growing market for streaming subscription service for games as well. “streaming is essentially the same as buying a disk, it’s just a way to get those bits to the device you’re going to play them on. I absolutely think what it takes is that reliable infrastructure underneath, because none of us wants to be playing and have an internet hiccup and suddenly our game freezes up.

“We don’t want that when we’re streaming shows on our TV either, everyone hates when you’re getting to the climax of a scene and suddenly you get the little spinning loading icon, and you get mad. […] The challenge today for streaming games versus streaming video, is that video is linear entertainment which can be streamed in advance and buffered. The movie or song is consistent, it doesn’t change for one person versus another. As a result, that can be buffered locally so that you can overcome or hide any small drops in your connection.

“On the other hand, gameplay is essentially dynamic – you can’t stream in advance if you don’t know whether the player is going to turn one way or the other at the end of the corridor. When streaming games, there’s more immediate need for quality infrastructure, a quality internet connection, so it’s more demanding as a streaming mechanism than streaming music or streaming video.

But that said, there are plenty of places in the world today where the internet is pretty good and where streaming works just fine. There are also areas in different countries where it’s not good at all, where you don’t have good access because of the infrastructure, not because of a lack of desire and not because there are no cloud servers available.

Early continues: “And then the other part of the question is the subscription side, is it a mechanism that’s going to last? We believe so, and that’s why we went out and we made Ubisoft+. We are one of a few companies in the video game space that has enough breadth of content to support our own subscription service. We’re seeing a broader range of subscription services in games, and I think that will continue.

“Not everybody has adopted subscriptions on the consumer side at this point and I don’t think absolutely everybody will. People are going to choose what makes sense for them and I view our job as providing a variety of means of access to our games. Underneath it all, our primary function as a company is to make great games and then what we do from there is to get them into the hands of as many people as possible, and if some people want to subscribe and get their game access that way, great.

“If some people want to buy physical games or downloads, great. The more people who can get access to our games, the more choice they have, then it shows we’re doing our job well.” Ubisoft’s comments pertaining to the matter come from its involvement with the Activision deal as Microsoft welcomed the publisher to handling the cloud streaming – enabling titles to come to Ubisoft+. You can read the full report by heading here.

What is your thoughts on Early’s statement?

Source: Ubisoft

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