Ubisoft revealed its own upcoming game subscription service at E3 2019, Uplay+. Joining will grant players access to over one hundred Ubisoft games on PC, all from a single unified ecosystem, as they describe it. Subscribers will also benefit from a 20% discount off their next purchase on the Ubisoft store. Did no one tell Ubisoft about Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass leak last week, and its formal announcement yesterday?
While similar, Ubisoft seems to be making a leap of faith into the unknown by forming partnership with the upcoming Google Stadia. For $14.99 a month, subscribers will be able to access the entire Ubisoft catalogue from not only on their PCs, but also through Stadia’s steaming service in 2020.
Google Stadia – A limited library?
The Google Stadia has been off to an odd start, to stay the least. As details emerged of its launch price and the need to have a subscription in order to stream games, numerous issues have been raised with regards to its viability.
The Uplay+ library may be a boost for the Stadia, but players may simply look at the machine and think “Why would I buy hardware that ties me to the Ubisoft library?” There is nothing inherently wrong with Ubisoft games, but the Xbox Game Pass gives players access to a far broader catalogue of games with new titles rotating in and out all the time, and players can use either their PCs or Xbox One.
The Stadia also demands so much from its user to function as advertised. Do you not have unlimited data? That will be a problem to stream. Do you not have a sufficiently high connection speed? Enjoy that laggy, low quality connection. Is anyone else in the home using the internet for something even remotely demanding of the bandwidth? There is a third problem. Want to play a game not made by Ubisoft? Nope, not unless you’re planning on getting multiple game subscriptions, assuming there are others, since we are still waiting for the details to emerge.
The Ubisoft Library
Here are some of the games available on Ubisoft:
- Upcoming title launches for Watch Dogs: Legion, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, Rainbow Six Quarantine, Gods & Monsters
- Popular games that have launched recently such as Tom Clancy's The Division 2, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, Far Cry 5, Anno 1800
- Classic catalogue titles from Far Cry and Rayman franchises, Prince of Persia, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Beyond Good & Evil, Heroes of Might and Magic, Silent Hunter, The Settlers, Anno
As you can see, there is a good selection of upcoming, already released, and classic titles to choose from. Unlike the Xbox Game Pass, the library will not be expanding or changing often unless Ubisoft does something drastic like purchase or license out the games from other publishers. Possible, though not probable.
What exactly is Ubisoft’s long-term plan here? They do not seem ready to compete on price, or on selection. Are they banking hard on the success of the Google Stadia to drive forward their new subscription service?
Project xCloud: Microsoft’s Sleeping Giant
The problem lies not only in the fact that Ubisoft is launching a more expensive service, with a smaller catalogue, and with faith placed in the Google Stadia that seems doomed to take the route of the Sega Dreamcast (Brilliant, but five to ten years ahead of its time), but that the Xbox Game Pass is only a first step into something massive and dominating.
Microsoft has slowly been revealing news about its upcoming Project xCloud, which looks to offer the ability to stream all three generations of its Xbox titles, numbering an enormous 3,500 games. They aim to allow players to use the hardware of their choice, be it PC, Xbox One, or smartphone/tablet.
So far, the project is in early alpha, but the results look terribly promising. The Xbox Game Pass we are seeing this week is in every sense a small taste of things to come. Will Microsoft allow for its games to stream to Google Stadia? I cannot fathom a single reason why they would.
On May 24, Corporate Vice President in charge of the Gaming Cloud at Microsoft, Kareem Choudhry, stated that the vision for the Xbox as a platform was that “you can play the games you want, with the people you want, on the devices you want.”
On top of that, preparing future titles to be compatible for this streaming service will require literally nothing extra from developers. They simply create and update their games as they normally would, and Microsoft will take care of the rest.
The Ubisoft Uplay+ pass is, in a vacuum, not bad. When compared to what else is coming, one needs to dial the description down to irrelevant, or inconsequential. Only the most diehard of Ubisoft fans would consider the subscription over the Xbox Game Pass, unless they were keen to play a specific title that they cannot find elsewhere, but that circumstance feels quite niche.
At this point, Ubisoft would need to do one of those previously mentioned ideas, such as acquiring licensing for additional games to feel relevant as Microsoft continually rotates games into their library. Alternatively, they could drop the price, and it feels as though matching Microsoft would not be enough, they would need to undercut them to be a viable option.
For now, the future is wide open. The prospect of games as a subscription service on both PC, console, and wherever the Stadia lies, is in its infancy. Doubtless there are going to be some bumps and learning along the way. At the very least, we as players benefit from the competition that ensues among these companies, and that almost always results in better deals for consumers.
For more information, check out Ubisoft's website.