The last full Ubisoft game to release on Steam was Trials Rising in 2019. Since then, the publisher has released its new PC games exclusively on the Epic Games Store and Ubisoft Connect, and hasn't said if or when it'll start putting them on Steam again. If data gathered from the Ubisoft client backend indicates what it looks like it indicates, however, Ubisoft may be knocking on Gabe's door again.
Among the recent Ubisoft games that skipped Steam releases are Assassin's Creed Valhalla in 2020 and Roller Champions this year. The YoobieRE Github organization—which is working on a SteamDB equivalent for Ubisoft Connect—recently pulled a couple of notable new sets of product information from Ubisoft Connect's database, one of which includes the label "Internal Dev/QC - Assassin's Creed Valhalla [STEAM]" and another which references "Roller Champions Steam."
Also relevant: In 2021, SteamDB noticed that a version of the Ubisoft Connect client appeared in the Steam database.
The theory behind the speculation is that Steam versions of these games, if they exist, will still require the Ubisoft Connect client, and we're seeing the first steps toward that integration. It wouldn't be at all surprising if new Ubisoft games on Steam launched a version of Ubisoft Connect. Ubisoft's Epic Games Store releases include Ubisoft Connect integration, and the Steam version of Rainbow Six Siege relies heavily on Ubisoft's account system and client. EA does the same thing, launching a mini version of the EA app (formerly Origin) when you launch many of its games through Steam.
Another reason to think Ubisoft may be on its way back to Steam is that returning to Steam is just a trendy thing for big publishers to do. EA, Microsoft, and Activision are all releasing games on Steam again after holing up in their own clients for a time. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 just saw double the PC sales of comparable Call of Duty releases, a figure we largely attribute to the existence of a Steam release. Despite the temporary departure of companies like Activation and Epic's lightly disruptive presence over the past few years, Steam is still the center of the PC game distribution world.
Since launching its store at the end of 2018, Epic has been enticing developers to put off Steam releases in favor of Epic Games Store releases by guaranteeing them a certain amount of revenue. We're not sure how much Epic offered Ubisoft upfront for games like Far Cry 6 and Assassin's Creed Valhalla, but we know that it guaranteed $115 million to secure Borderlands 3 exclusivity—so, probably a lot.
Most Epic exclusives have a one-year timespan, after which the developers release the game on Steam to mop up sales from the portion of that audience that doesn't want to use Epic's store. Borderlands 3 released on Steam just six months after its Epic Games Store release. So far, Ubisoft has been unusual in this respect. Its games have stayed put on the Epic Games Store and Ubisoft Connect.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has steadfastly argued that the Epic Games Store's 12% cut is fairer to developers and better for consumers than Steam's 30% cut (now 20% for the biggest earners), and Ubisoft took his side in that debate early on. In 2019, Ubisoft vice president for partnerships and revenue told The New York Times that he thinks Steam's business model is "unrealistic."
That might have something to do with Ubisoft's seeming reluctance to slide back onto Steam, but as it doesn't look like Valve is going to be pressured into matching Epic's 12% cut, it feels like Ubisoft is just leaving money on the table by not selling its biggest games to the Steam-only audience. The backend Ubisoft Connect data found by the YoobieRE project isn't absolute confirmation that Ubisoft is coming back to Steam, but it already seemed likely, so I'd put my money on it happening. Granted, if Ubisoft does start releasing games on Steam again, I'd expect it to continue putting a gap between the Epic Games Store and Ubisoft Connect releases and the Steam releases.
We've asked Ubisoft for comment, and will update this article if we hear back.
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Tyler grew up in Silicon Valley during the '80s and '90s, playing games like Zork and Arkanoid on early PCs. He was later captivated by Myst, SimCity, Civilization, Command & Conquer, all the shooters they call "boomer shooters" now, and PS1 classic Bushido Blade (that's right: he had Bleem!). Tyler joined PC Gamer in 2011, and today he's focused on the site's news coverage. His hobbies include amateur boxing and adding to his 1,200-plus hours in Rocket League.