Earlier this week, Philippe Tremblay, Ubisoft’s director of subscriptions, made a comment in an interview stating how video game fans would need to get comfortable with not owning their games. Today, Baldur’s Gate 3 developer Larian Studios’ CEO responded, calmly explaining his opinion that “direct from developer” is best.
In a recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Philippe Tremblay discussed the introduction of the Classic service to the Ubisoft+ streaming platform. Within that conversation, he told the outlet, “It’s about feeling comfortable with not owning your game,” in the context of a wider discussion about how he sees the shift from buying games to streaming them similar to the one from buying DVDs to streaming movies. The comment has been hit with backlash from hundreds of consumers who adore their physical collections, and now Larian Studios’ CEO has made his stance clear.
Larian Studios’ CEO Rebutts Ubisoft Subscriptions Director’s Dismissal of Physical Media
The original comment from Temblay in GamesIndustry.biz’s interview has been quoted by almost every press outlet on Twitter this week. Until today, we’d noticed how most, if not all, developers had been rather quiet on the matter. Almost as if they’re avoiding speaking about it. Then, as we should have expected from someone so willing to stand up for what they believe in, Swen Vincke, CEO of Larian Studios, shared his opinion.
Quoting IGN’s repost of the news, Vincke explained, “Whatever the future of games looks like, content will always be king. But it’s going to be a lot harder to get good content if subscription becomes the dominant model and a select group gets to decide what goes to market and what not. Direct from developer to players is the way.”
In his statement, Vincke is careful not to dismiss the fact that the future of gaming may well be a complete transition to streaming services. But he adds that “content will always be king.” As in, the content of the games will always determine whether they succeed or not. He alludes to the fact that making quality games becomes harder under a subscription model.
It’s impossible to know if Vincke is referring to the revenue structure of a subscription model here. But it’s obvious that Larian Studios has managed not only to survive but thrive on producing games through a combination of Kickstarter funding and the sale of full-priced products as opposed to operating under Xbox Game Pass or Ubisoft+.
The part of this statement that’s the most striking is “Direct from developer to player is the way.” It’s how Larian Studios operates, and it’s clear this is how Vincke sees the company continuing to operate. It’s the exact opposite of what Tremblay is saying, with consumers owning the digital and physical copies of the game they’re buying instead of paying a subscription for access to it.
No one knows what the future of the games industry will look like when it comes to game distribution. Ubisoft certainly seems to be attempting to bolster its subscription model, but game developers haven’t stopped producing games for release on Steam or local game stores. There’s certainly no shortage of collector’s editions coming out in 2024. From the outside looking in, making anything for a streaming service, be it a TV show, movie, or game, seems unsustainable because those creators stand to make more money from selling their product outside of it.