Ubisoft is infamous for being one of the more inconsistent companies in the gaming world but in reality they are one of the smartest. By using a series of free weekends to get players to try Rainbow Six Siege they managed to not only save it from near death but also made it grow into a popular game long after its release.
Ubisoft, are the creators of the Far Cry series, the Assassin’s Creed series, and the Tom Clancy’s series, the latter of which we will be exploring today. Tom Clancy’s is a 30-year-old name in Ubisoft’s history. The Tom Clancy’s series of games has grown and evolved from the third person genre to a first person shooter genre. The series is known for its strategic planning and heart pounding tension and this is very prominent in Rainbow Six Siege which, despite being released in 2015, has grown to be one of the best shooters of 2017.
Rainbow Six Siege, despite its popularity now, had humble beginnings. It only had 12,000 players on launch which is quite low for an online multiplayer game. Despite this, Ubisoft stuck with their original plan which involved the release regular DLCs, or downloadable content, which add new features to already purchased games. DLCs like “Operation Skull Rain” increased their player base quite a bit but not enough to keep the game alive for very long.
You might be thinking, where is the part where Ubisoft brings the game back from the near-death experience of launch? Well, it’s simple: they made the game free–temporarily. All that Ubisoft did was allowing many skeptical buyers to download and play the game for a limited time and the game would require a purchase to be able to play again.
This strategy is very rare, especially among big companies. These trials usually have catches like requiring you to buy passes or other games or requiring you to have other products or previous games to be able to play. But these “free weekends” had no catches; instead they had benefits because attached to these “free weekends” were sales on Rainbow Six Siege ranging from 50% to 65% off which makes a big difference on the steep price of $60 to $70 dollars. To help with the high price Ubisoft made a separate version of the game which is only $20–dead cheap for a game like this. This version reduces the amount of in game currency you gain per match making you play much more to get more characters in your arsenal. Making the game free-to-play is the best strategy for attracting large number of players because it lets buyers have a taste of the game enticing their appetite for making the purchase.
But once Ubisoft has got the gamers in the door, so to speak, what is it about the actual gameplay that convinces them to buy? The game offers a new taste to the competitive shooter scene that everyone is used to with games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Call of Duty by actually making the gameplay feel real. The game is almost like a simulation of real life as most of the players don’t run around at the speed of light, but each step is strategic and revolves around thought which is new to the competitive shooter scene. This attracts many people because of how it seems like a real hostage capture situation and the characters feel alive and the guns seem real. The game has 36 characters, with 2 more years of content coming that will add 16 more and each character is unique which adds freshness every time you play. This is what attracts players: the fact that every game will be different and new with many possibilities.
The strategy employed by Ubisoft is a good one for companies that have faith in the quality of their product. Ubisoft knew that their game was worth the price tag. They just needed to get players to try it out in order to be convinced.