Ubisoft’s relationship with bestselling author Tom Clancy has been very lucrative for the French game publisher. The French game publisher has sold over 63 million Tom Clancy video games since Tom Clancy’s Politika launched in 1997. Video games like Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, Tom Clancy’s EndWar, and Tom Clancy’s Hawx have connected the Clancy brand with a diverse male gaming demographic and helped catapult Ubisoft to a top-tier publisher. Now the publisher is targeting an even broader audience with Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Online, the first free-to-play online PC game,which is playable at E3 this week.
Ghost Recon Online introduces first-person shooting action set within a near-future world. Players will traverse global hot spots like Moscow and engage in eight-player versus eight-player shooting action. The new game will feature the elite U.S. military warriors known as the Ghosts, because they can get in behind enemy lines, take out key targets, and then disappear.
“The shooter genre is a very crowded space and we believe this game offers something unique to fans of the genre,” said Theo Sanders, the creative director of Ghost Recon Online. “There’s no barrier to entry, which means it’s easy for gamers to get into the game with their friends and have a social experience.”
Sanders said the game has been built to capitalize on the micro-transaction business model that has been so successful in Asia. Players will be able to play the game for free at their own pace, upgrading their characters and weapons. But for those who want to level up quicker, they can purchase in-game weapons and upgrades.
The game, which is the first project completely developed at Ubisoft’s Singapore studio, will launch later this year with four or five maps to play on. Additional maps will be released on a regular basis.
Ubisoft will continue to support the retail Ghost Recon franchise with new games like Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, which ships for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on October 1.
“This is really a community-driven game,” said Sanders. “Over the next couple of years, the game community will become the designer of the game or the owner of the IP, which is really a unique difference from a retail title. And the design team becomes more of a curator of the game than anything else.”
This game will also help Ubisoft attract a larger audience for Ghost Recon. Ubisoft Motion Pictures, a new division of the game company focusing on film and television projects, is developing a Ghost Recon feature film. The company is also developing a Splinter Cell movie, as well as an Assassin’s Creed film. All three of these movies will be filmed in 3D. Ubisoft will partner with Hollywood studios and talent to make the films, but hopes to keep creative control of the projects.
Back in 2000, Ubisoft purchased Tom Clancy’s video game studio, Red Storm Entertainment. In March 2008, Ubisoft bought the Tom Clancy name outright, which eliminates the royalty for each game that the company previously paid the best-selling author. It also gave the publisher all intellectual property rights to the Tom Clancy name, on a perpetual basis and free of all related future royalty payments, for use in videogames and ancillary products including related books, movies and merchandising products.