Just as the infamous year that was 2020 finally wound down last week, what first appeared to be nothing more than a highly unlikely rumor has been quickly gaining traction: Ubisoft’s monthly game subscription service, Ubisoft Plus (formerly known as Uplay Plus), might be rolled into Xbox Game Pass Ultimate at some time in 2021. While there have been rumblings of such a move being in the works since as early as last October, a Christmas Day tweet from Xbox Worlds’ @IdleSloth84 suggesting amongst a list of other rumors that “Uplay is going to be coming to Xbox Gamepass subscription just like EA Play did for holiday 2021” appears to be the spark that brought bigger pundits to weigh in on the topic during the week that followed.
Two of these pundits were Jez Corden (@JezCorden) of news site Windows Central and @klobrille, who exclusively follows developments in the world of Xbox. While tech blogger Corden didn’t claim to have any solid evidence that Ubisoft Plus was indeed going to be rolled into the service, what he did claim at least suggested a strong possibility. “I’ve seen rumors about Ubisoft Uplay+ joining Xbox Game Pass Ultimate…I think this has a strong chance of being true, based on stuff I’ve heard,” he stated in the first of two tweets on the subject. Corden went on in the second tweet to propose how such an arrangement might realistically be worked out that wouldn’t devalue Ubisoft Plus as a standalone service, but then admitted that in light of recent events nothing could really be considered to be off the table.
In response to Corden’s musings, Klobrille was far more skeptical, pointing out the unlikelihood that Ubisoft would consider offering up all of its latest games to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members at launch and miss out on initial profits. Note that Ubisoft Plus is a $20 CAD/month subscription service that grants users digital access to over 100 Ubisoft titles on PC, as well as immediate access to the latest Ubisoft titles as soon as they release, along with related content such as expansions, season passes and select premium content. Currently the service is only available on PC.
While Klobrille’s rebuttal makes quite a strong point, in the same breath he himself suggests that the rumor might be indicative of what is “more likely a cloud (+ maybe ‘vault’) deal if anything”, rather than ruling out the idea entirely. In other words, in theory, Ubisoft Plus could possibly come to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate in a more limited, specifically curated version more akin to EA Play’s own “EA Vault” that is currently offered on Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, while newly-launched Ubisoft games will offer exclusive, limited-time trials that will prompt players to purchase the game outright and continue their progress once the free trial has expired. With Ubisoft Plus only existing as a service on PC right now, a stripped-down console-friendly version of the service that provides Xbox Game Pass subscribers with another means of discovering more of Ubisoft’s games and potentially incentivizes the purchase of more Ubisoft content in the future would likely be a very smart move for the France-based publisher and developer.
Once again, it should be clarified that the above story is still widely considered to be nothing more than rumor. That being said, if Ubisoft Plus (in some form) does ultimately join its competitor EA Play as yet another component of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, the implications for the console gaming landscape would be huge, especially for Microsoft, as Xbox Game Pass would effectively have the weight of two of the industry’s largest and most well-known western game publishers behind it in addition to Xbox’s own 23 first party studios (which will now also include Bethesda’s eight studios and all related IP once Microsoft’s purchase of Zenimax Media concludes in 2021). That’s quite the value add.