PC piracy rate above 90%, says Ubisoft

Publisher seeking more business in free-to-play PC games

For every PC game Ubisoft sells, another nine are pirated, the chief executive at the publisher has claimed.


Yves Guillemot told GamesIndustry International that the publisher wants to invest more in the PC space, and that free-to-play games and browser games were a serious consideration.

"We want to develop the PC market quite a lot and F2P is really the way to do it," said the French CEO.

The business model behind free-to-play games is to consume vast audience numbers by virtue of offering a game completely free of charge, and then ensuring that a small percentage pays for in-game items.

On the iPhone, where free-to-play is the dominant business model, it is believed that on average about 3-5 per cent of customers will pay for in-game content. Guillemot suspected that yield is slightly higher on PC, between five and seven per cent.

But he said that this percentage is roughly the same as how many legitimate customers buy traditional PC games.

"On PC it's only around five to seven per cent of the players who pay for free-to-play, but normally on PC it's only about five to seven per cent who pay anyway, the rest is pirated," he said.

"It's around a 93-95 per cent piracy rate, so it ends up at about the same percentage as free-to-play".

Ubisoft has endured criticisms for installing an always-on DRM model for its PC games. The piracy protection model means that Ubisoft games are continuously being authenticated through online signals, but in turn means the game will stop playing if a connection is lost.