Ubisoft is one of the world's biggest publishers, yet has largely struggled to make a major breakthrough in the lucrative free-to-play space. The one exception currently is Brawlhalla, which is enjoying a resurgence after 5+ years on the market and plenty of investment. There's more on the horizon, too, with Roller Champions due on pretty much every platform including Switch.
Though some of the company's treasured IP have endured some iffy smart device games, many have predominantly remained as triple-A big-budget titles. However, reflecting a shift that we saw with the recent announcement of Tom Clancy’s The Division: Heartland, the company's bigger franchises are expected to get free-to-play entries too. Ubisoft will still release sizeable premium games, but wants to "meaningfully expand the audience of our biggest franchises".
Here's what chief financial officer Frederick Duguet said in a recent investor call (thanks, RockPaperShotgun).
We've taken the time to learn from what we did last year with Hyper Scape. We're also learning with the launch we'll be making on Roller Champions, we've been learning a lot with Brawlhalla that is rapidly growing, and we think it is now the time to come with high-quality free-to-play games across all our biggest franchises, across all platforms.
From a Switch perspective the last line is one to note; Ubisoft has offered solid support for Nintendo's system, and while the hardware continues to perform so well we expect that'll continue where possible - some games, inevitably, won't be a good fit.
We're likely to see a free-to-play focus from Ubisoft in the next few years, then. Maybe it's the only way to get a new Splinter Cell game.