Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot claims that between 93 to 95 percent of people playing the publisher’s games on PC are playing a pirated copy.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Guillemot said that the percentage of paying players was the same for free-to-play as it was for PC boxed product, around 5 to 7 percent.
Guillemot went on to state his belief that free-to-play is an effective way for the publisher to market games in territories where piracy is so rampant that profit is impossible.
“We want to develop the PC market quite a lot and F2P is really the way to do it,” Guillemot 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 did not provide a source for the rate of piracy. Ubisoft has been particularly vocal on the issue of piracy and its effect on the company’s profitability in the sector. The publisher has also implemented severe Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems that some PC gamers claim negatively impact on legitimate users’ experiences while making no impact on piracy rates.
At Gamescom, Ubisoft announced a number of free-to-play PC exclusives, including Silent Hunter Online, Anno Online, The Settlers Online and Might & Magic Heroes Online.