November 8, 2017 // 10:25 a.m.
Games publishing giant Ubisoft has announced a major financial milestone, and one which will not be welcomed by those against the practice of day-one downloadable content and pay-to-win microtransactions: The company earned more from 'player recurring investment' than direct digital sales in the first half of its 2018 financial year.
Announced as part of the company's 1H 2018 financial report, the figures paint a picture of sudden and sharp growth: Digital revenue rose 69.1 percent for the half, to €342.6 million, which includes €174.5 million in what the company calls 'player recurring investment' or PRI - income received after the original sale of the game through in-game purchases, downloadable content, season passes, subscriptions, and advertising.
That 83 percent growth in PRI year-on-year has rocketed it above direct digital distribution income, which grew only 57 percent to €168 million - meaning that, for the first time in the company's history, it is making more money from in-game advertising and add-on content than from the digital sales of games themselves.
'In addition to [our] new releases, players are engaging with a large amount of additional high-quality content which provides them with longer-term entertainment,' said co-founder and chief executive Yves Guillemot of his company's performance. 'This includes Blood Orchid, the recent major update to Rainbow Six Siege, and Ghost War, the highly-acclaimed PvP mode for Ghost Recon Wildlands. And it doesn't stop there: in the coming weeks we will notably release Resistance, a massive free update to The Division, and South Park: Phone Destroyer, a free-to-play mobile game. Our commitment to providing high-quality game experiences and supporting them for the long term is driven by the importance we place on our player communities. This winning content strategy drove a 66% surge in our sales for the first half of 2017-18 – largely exceeding our targets – as well as a sharp increase in our earnings.
'The quality of our new releases is the result of our effort to transform our model and make our business more profitable and recurring. Given longer development lead times, our talents can fully express their creative visions and therefore maximize the potential of our games. The success of these releases – notably the 100%2 sales growth for Assassin’s Creed Origins – combined with solid live operations demonstrate that Ubisoft is ideally positioned to deliver further growth in future fiscal years, both in terms of financial performance and shareholder value.'
In apparent celebration of its impressive growth the company has also announced it is giving away the original Watch_Dogs via its Uplay platform through to November 13th.