Origin Access Adds Warner Bros. Games; Ubisoft Prevents Hostile Takeover – LMG 03/18

EA Adds Warner Bros. Games to Origin Access Service

Origin Access, EA’s PC game subscription service, now includes Warner Bros. games in its catalog. Games from the Batman Arkham franchise and Lego Batman franchise join the service. The Witness, Out of the Park Baseball 19 and others will also join the Origin Access Vault soon.

The continued shift towards subscription-based game delivery continues in a post Xbox Game Pass world. Last month, Microsoft announced their plans to launch all future Xbox One exclusive games on Game Pass. Sea of Thieves became the first Xbox game to launch on the service alongside retail stores.

Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves saw 2 million players join the community with the help of Game Pass’ $10 USD/$12 CAD monthly fee. Over 1 million players sailed the seas at launch, making it Microsoft’s most successful new game on the Xbox One.

Although Origin Access added older Warner Bros. games, Microsoft puts pressure on EA to add newer content. With a new Battlefield coming this year, EA could release it Origin Access to boost the population. Games like Titanfall 2 struggled to retain its userbase, so a release day launch on Origin Access could help future titles stay afloat. Extensive DLC plans would become the major source of revenue.

The new ways to sell games may change the revenue focus from launch day sales to lifetime accumulative earnings. Rainbow Six Siege’s continued support means new players and old players generate consistent revenue for the developers. If Battlefield does launch on Origin Access with a revamped DLC model, players might feel more inclined to pay for additional content. For the buyer, the question becomes “Do I want more of this game?” rather than “Should I buy this game?”


Ubisoft Prevents Hostile Takeover as Vivendi Sells All Shares

After years of fighting Vivendi’s hostile takeover attempt, Ubisoft ownership can sleep easier. Vivendi sold its entire position in the company – 27.3 per cent of Ubisoft’s capital.

Vivendi’s sale ensures freedom for Ubisoft, eliminating the burden of potentially losing creative control and flexibility. “The evolution in our shareholding is great news for Ubisoft,” said CEO Yves Guillemot. Far Cry 5, Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Rainbow Six Siege highlight Ubisoft’s successful year across consoles and PC.

When Vivendi’s takeover attempt started in 2016, Ubisoft worked to prevent it. Ubisoft started selling shares to employees for a 15 per cent discount, hoping to increase its control.

While Vivendi’s sale gives Ubisoft space, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Tencent stepped in as new investors. Their investment makes up eight per cent of Ubisoft. The new buyers don’t pose an immediate threat to ownership control, despite Tencent’s ownership in many major game companies.

Tencent, a Chinese conglomerate, owns shares in Riot Games, Epic Games and Activision Blizzard. The Chinese investors appear oppressive with its involvement in many large game companies, yet their history says otherwise. As Gamesindustry.biz points out, Tencent doesn’t mind their minority position in companies. With their minority stake, they plan to help Ubisoft bring games to the competitive Chinese market.

Far Cry 5

In the game industry, takeovers and company acquisitions set off alarms for fans and employees. When EA purchased Respawn Entertainment in 2017, many worried about Titanfall’s future. EA’s acquisitions led to many studio closures. Their reputation as “studio killers” saw teams like Visceral Games, Maxis and Pandemic all shutter.

For now, Ubisoft’s future seems secure. Successful monetization models saw growth in their major franchises. As the market changes, their quick adaption keeps their games alive. The shift to open-world design for majority of their single player titles does however saturate the market.

Open world fatigue becomes an issue when developers replicate familiar formulas. This fatigue forces developers to reinvent with each game, making development cycles longer and more complex. Rainbow Six Siege and a future title like Skull and Bones bring some variety to an otherwise open-world heavy portfolio.