October 25, 2020

Ubisoft: No Price Increases For AAA Games (This Year), Better Conduct

Ubisoft has pledged to keep the price of its upcoming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series...

Ubisoft has pledged to keep the price of its upcoming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X games aligned with the current $59.99 structure we’ve had since the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 launched back in 2005 and 2006. The company’s promise stands in contrast to 2K, which recently announced higher prices for next-generation games and now offers the ability to buy a title for both Xbox One and Xbox Series X in a two-package deal for $99.99.

“For the Christmas games, we plan to come [out] with the same price as the previous generation of consoles,” Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said on a conference call. “That’s what we’re focused on at the moment.”

When attendees asked for additional information, like whether this would also apply to the upcoming Far Cry 6, or if the deal would hold through 2021, Guillemot demurred. “For the $60 price, we are concentrating on the Christmas releases. Those games will launch at $60.”

Meanwhile…

Normally I don’t fuse disparate story topics together, but there’s no way to currently discuss Ubisoft without also discussing the torrent of allegations currently unleashed against the company. In the same call in which he discussed game pricing, Guillemot also declared the company was “committed to implementing profound changes across the company to improve and strengthen our workplace culture.”

A number of former and current UbiSoft employees came forward in late June alleging consistent abusive behavior as well as sexual misconduct. On Wednesday, Ubisoft fired its PR director, Stone Chin, for failure “to uphold the company’s code of conduct over the course of my career at the company.” Ubisoft co-founder Maxime Béland was fired for allegedly choking a female employee at a work party. Another powerful Ubisoft employee, Tommy François, has been placed on disciplinary leave pending an investigation into his alleged misconduct.

Kotaku has more details on the allegations and investigations if you’re curious, but they’re directly pertinent to Ubisoft’s long-term future and the short-term launch schedule for its various titles. A number of the individuals implicated in the allegations sit at the top of the company. Ubisoft, it should be noted, doesn’t have the best track record with women or female representation in general. The company pushed back against the idea of having a woman star in an Assassin’s Creed game on a number of occasions. Back in 2014, Ubisoft developers claimed doing so would have doubled the amount of work and that the issue wasn’t relevant. Now we know that multiple high-ranking executives pushed back against the idea of a female lead because “Women don’t sell.

Sarah Kerrigan, Bayonetta, Lara Croft, and Ellie, from the Last of Us 2. LoU2 is one of the fastest-selling, highest-earning PlayStation 4 games of all time. So…who wants to tell him?

In any event, Ubisoft may have decided it didn’t need to take fire for both its toxic culture and its decision to raise prices simultaneously, or the company may simply be acting cautiously in the COVID-19 pandemic and not wanting to rock the boat by raising prices. This move implies we’ll have some companies offering $69.99 price points, some at $59.99, and some using their own bundles like 2K. We don’t normally get this much experimentation in the gaming market with pricing strategies, so this should actually be rather interesting.

Feature image from Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. While Eivor is canonically female with a gender-swapped option for players, much of the art thus far has featured the male version of the character. If Guillemot is serious about changing the culture at Ubisoft, I can think of a few really basic ways to start. 

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