Gaming

Ubisoft's Game Pass reveal isn't the sweet deal you're hoping for

Instead of joining the Netflix of video games, Ubisoft wants to be the Starz app.

Who wants another monthly subscription service? If your answer was “absolutely no one,” you’d be right! But don’t tell that to the good folks at Ubisoft, makers of the Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry franchises.

On January 5, Xbox and Ubisoft revealed that the upcoming Rainbow Six: Extraction would launch day one on Xbox Game Pass. That’s pretty cool. Bringing major releases to Microsoft’s subscription service at launch has proven to be an effective strategy for third-party publishers over the last year, like Bandai Namco with Scarlet Nexus and, somewhat awkwardly, Sony San Diego with MLB The Show ‘21.

Launching on Game Pass encourages players to spend some time with games they might not otherwise drop $60 bucks on, and allows new games to get great word of mouth. Everyone wins.

The first batch of games coming to Xbox Game Pass in January 2022.Xbox

In that same announcement, Ubisoft also revealed plans to bring its subscription service to Xbox Game Pass at some point in the future. (Yes, Ubisoft+ was a thing that existed before today — it’s a revamped version of UPlay that’s available for PC and cloud gaming platforms.)

In a press release, Ubisoft Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Business Development Chris Early went into a bit more detail.

Rainbow Six Extraction for Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass members is just the beginning. Ultimately, we will offer the Ubisoft+ subscription service to Xbox owners so that they can enjoy the full extent of our Ubisoft+ game library, including new releases, on their consoles.”

Sounds like a pretty sweet deal right? Kind of like how EA Play works with Game Pass, where you get day-one access to new games and a library of legacy titles as part of the same subscription. Not so fast there, pardner!

CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Seems like a fair few people online were as confused as we were over at Inverse Towers about this. And as it turns out, the plan is for Ubisoft+ to charge a separate fee in addition to your monthly Game Pass sub. In a follow-up tweet, a company spokesperson clarified how Ubisoft+ on Game Pass would work, without getting into pricing specifics.

“Hey! Ubisoft+ will be a separate subscription from Game Pass but keep an eye out for more news and launch dates!”

So instead of joining the Netflix of games, Ubisoft seems to be preparing to make itself the Starz app of games (it’s right there, but you gotta pay extra). Which is, frankly, a weird move.

There are several reasons bundling Ubisoft games into Game Pass — without the deterrent of an additional fee — makes a lot of sense. Microsoft has deep pockets and hasn’t been shy about dropping big money to acquire developers like Zenimax. If EA can make money by launching many of its games on Game Pass, Ubisoft can too. There’s no rule saying there can’t be occasional exceptions.

Also, it’s not uncommon for Ubisoft games like Far Cry 6 and Watch Dogs: Legion to see deep price cuts soon after release. Rather than sending scoldy emails in the guise of Giancarlo Esposito, Ubisoft could offer more enticing reasons for players to spend time with its games by going all-in on Game Pass.

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