Ubisoft abandoning Steam, learning from EA

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Uplay origin steam

Steam proved an important point – there are tons of PC gamers and they like to buy their games digitally, preferably at a discount. There is an army of PC gamers, and with the launch of new generation consoles, it seems that even more gamers converted to the PC master race. But now Ubisoft is changing the game with Steam, just like EA did.

When EA launched Origin, it received a ton of hate. It was a horrible application that caused computers to act like they were possessed by evil spirits. However, over time, it seems that people have come to terms with it. Sure, they wish all the games were just on one launcher, but in the end they still get to play their preferred games on PC. Plus, EA started to give away some pretty cool titles via Origin, sweetening the deal.

As I told you yesterday, Ubisoft started by pulling its new games (Assassin’s Creed Unity, Far Cry 4 and The Crew) from the UK version of Steam. However, soon after publication, it escalated and Ubisoft actually pulled those titles from the US version, too. While we might still argue that it’s about the price points accepted by Steam, I think something far larger is at play.

Uplay is Ubisoft’s account system. It was a cool way to link your Ubisoft products across platforms; I first used it for Assassin’s Creed II: Brotherhood when they launched a tie-in Facebook game that would give rewards. While it could have just been an extra login to help you earn points and give added bonuses if you owned multiple Ubisoft products, the publisher has now decided to take a page out of EA’s book, and it makes sense why.

While gamers might hate it, Ubisoft probably figures that they’re big enough now that people will want to play their titles, even if they don’t find them through Steam. Much like EA, they think that their games will draw players to whatever launcher they decree, even if it means using Uplay. Sure, PC gamers will rage for a while, but eventually they will opt to just download the Uplay launcher, especially if Ubisoft starts to give away free games via Uplay. By moving away from Steam, Ubisoft gets to keep all the profit without paying them any fees. Sure, they might take a knock in sales originally, but they probably assume that they’ll earn it back over time.

We have reached out to Ubisoft for comment. What do you think of this move? Is it just plain stupid to leave Steam, or will Ubisoft benefit in the long run? Remember, GoG.com is also putting out a launcher soon – one without any DRM. That will bring the game launcher count to four… and might make PC gamers explode.

Last Updated: November 7, 2014

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