Date: January 17, 2024
By Hanna Rose
Swen Vincke expresses, “It’s something you definitely wouldn’t desire,” in reaction to Ubisoft’s remarks about gamers having to adapt to the idea of not owning their games.
Earlier this week, there was considerable controversy sparked by Ubisoft’s director of subscriptions, Phillipe Tremblay, who asserted that gamers should acclimate to the concept of “not owning your games.” Swen Vincke, the lead of Baldur’s Gate 3 and CEO of Larian Studios, disagrees vehemently, stating that “you won’t find our games on a subscription service.”
Vincke, in a tweet, emphasized the enduring significance of content in the gaming landscape. He expressed concern that if subscriptions dominate the industry, determining what enters the market and what doesn’t will become the prerogative of a select group, potentially hindering the flow of quality content. Vincke advocates for a direct relationship between developers and players as the preferred model for the future.
Undertaking an idealistic project often faces insurmountable challenges when seeking approval from a board, and Vincke argues that idealism requires space to thrive, even if it entails some risks. Subscription models, he contends, are ultimately driven by cost/benefit analyses aimed at maximizing profits.
Vincke’s stance on Baldur’s Gate 3’s availability is consistent with his previous statements. He declared last month that the game would not be featured on Xbox Game Pass. While acknowledging the value of subscription services for many developers, Vincke notes that the industry already relies heavily on a limited number of digital distribution platforms, and a shift towards subscription models could intensify the struggle for discoverability.
Tremblay draws parallels between the evolution of gaming ownership and the transition from CD and DVD collections to subscription-based services like Netflix, Amazon, Apple, and Disney Plus for movies. He highlights the accessibility offered by services like Ubisoft Plus, allowing gamers to access their titles at their convenience, despite the fluctuating libraries common in services like Game Pass.
Vincke raises concerns about the exclusive dependence on subscription services, particularly in terms of game preservation. He warns that if a digital-only title is withdrawn from platforms, it becomes completely inaccessible legally. In contrast, physical copies, once pulled from online stores, can still be preserved and played, as evidenced by the continued availability of the Deadpool game in the second-hand market.
While Tremblay advocates for the inevitability of the shift from ownership to subscriptions, Vincke staunchly opposes this trajectory, asserting that such a transition is not in the industry’s best interest.
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