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Watch Dogs

During an investor conference call today, Ubisoft’s chief financial officer Alain Martinez claimed that the free-to-play model will influence all of its future games.

The French publisher detailed the benefits of giving away the razor only to charge for the blades.

“Free-to-play is a very flexible business model,” said Stéphanie Perotti, Ubisoft’s worldwide director of online. “The player has the capability to spend more than in a traditional model.”

Ubisoft claims it can reach a wider audience with free-to-play.

According to the company, The Settlers 7 (the last retail release in the strategy franchise) is available in five different languages and 28 countries. Meanwhile, The Settlers Onlline is accessible anywhere in the world, and the development team localized it for nine languages, with more to come.

“The Settlers Online is set to make more money in four years than the Settlers brand did on PC over nine years,” Perotti said.

Mastering free-to-play required that Ubisoft learn a new set of skills. The software producer is focusing on mastering marketing and micro-monetization that’s very different when compared to traditional retail releases.

“We can control everything from the pricing to marketing as if we were an online store,” Perotti said.

When asked directly about free-to-play on next-gen consoles from Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony, Martinez didn’t back down.

“There will be free-to-play on consoles,” Martinez said. “But in the future, with games like Watch Dogs, we could see more opportunity for $60 games to learn from the free-to-play model. The next generation will offer more and more item-based content,” Martinez. “This will benefit our games’ profitability.”

So, some games may still cost $60, but they’ll at least have plenty of fun micro-transactions.

Ubisoft expects to earn €50 to €60 million just from its free-to-play and casual games in fiscal 2013. That’s up from €20 million in 2012. That kind of money is going to turn heads in the company, and Ubisoft has obviously implemented a standing order for all of its teams to implement some of the lessons its learned from free-to-play.

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