Ubisoft chief Yves Guillemot believes cloud streaming will be as transformative to gaming in the coming years as Netflix was to TV.
Speaking with the Financial Times, Guillemot looked back on Netflix’s initial foray into streaming and noted the market’s early skepticism. “Their shares fell a lot and they were widely criticized,” he recalled. “Today, we see what they have become.”
Guillemot said he believes the same will eventually ring true for video game streaming as well, but admitted it will likely take some time. “But when it takes off, it will happen very quickly,” he said.
Guillemot’s comments come just weeks after Microsoft announced it had agreed to sell the streaming rights for Activision Blizzard games to Ubisoft if it completes its $68.7bn takeover of the Call of Duty publisher.
According to the exec, Ubisoft was “pushed… to go forward” with this deal with Microsoft because of the company’s faith in the future of streaming. “We strongly believe in the next five to 10 years, many games will be streamed and will also be produced in the cloud,” Guillemot said.
The exec believes that these streaming rights, along with new technologies, will enable Ubisoft to increase its reach in countries outside of Europe and America, with Guillemot touching on the adoption of mobile payments in Africa.
“Countries that need to progress very quickly often jump to new technologies and skip old methods of the old systems,” he said. “So we think that [these regions] will move more quickly to streaming and the cloud than others.”
Cloud gaming has notoriously been a tough nut to crack. A little shy of a year ago, Google announced it was closing down Stadia, its own cloud gaming service. At the time of this announcement, Stadia vice president and general manager Phil Harrison said the service hadn’t “gained the traction with users that [it] “expected”.
Stadia was fully shut down in January of this year.
But Microsoft certainly believes in the cloud – enough that its leaked plans for the next generation of Xbox hardware describe a console set to launch in 2028 as designed to play “cloud hybrid” games.
As for Microsoft’s ongoing bid to buy Activision Blizzard, earlier this month the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it had “provisionally concluded” the company’s revised deal to purchase the Overwatch maker – which covered that aforementioned agreement with Ubisoft – will be enough to grant approval.
We are expecting to hear more about this in the coming weeks.
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