The Division 2 PC pre-orders six times higher than original on Ubisoft's own site, partnership with Fortnite firm Epic's new store responsible

The Division 2 PC pre-orders six times higher than original on Ubisoft's own site, partnership with Fortnite firm Epic's new store responsible

Pre-orders for forthcoming online shooter The Division 2 are six times higher on PC on Ubisoft's own storefront than its 2016 predecessor.

That's according to the French publishing giant's CEO Yves Guillemot, who says that the decision to partner with Epic Games for the PC release instead of Steam has helped drive more consumers to its own marketplace.

Of course, we have no idea how many pre-orders there were for The Division; nor do we know how many of these were on PC. Given Steam's historic dominance of the PC market, we'd bet that most pre-orders were done via Valve's platform.

That being said, a six-times growth is not to be laughed at and does show a shift in the games industry due to new stores entering the market.

Furthermore, the firm is bullish about The Division 2's chances on launch, with CFO Frédérick Duguet - who joined the company in October 2018 - calling out record number of users taking part in a closed beta - at least going by Ubisoft's standards - with players spending an average of five hours in the game. In total, Guillemot said that the closed beta resulted in the fourth highest number of users in the company's history and a record figure for PC.

"There is a growing number of distribution platforms fighting for great content," Guillemot told investors.

"With this deal, we saw an opportunity to increase players exposure to our own store while at the same time supporting a partner that greatly values our game and provides massively better terms. Early indications are supportive as PC pre-orders are higher than for the first Division and pre-orders on the Ubisoft store are six times higher. We believe this deal is a long-term positive for Ubisoft."

During the following Q&A with shareholders, one investor asked about whether Ubisoft had considered taking Rainbow Six: Siege to a free-to-play business model and what was occurring with the tactical online shooter's proposed China launch.

"We are happy with the evolution of the game today," Duguet said.

"We see there is strong engagement and we continue acquiring people - so the game is continuing the grow. We see potential growth for opportunities in PC and Asia with the drive of esports.

"We are happy to see the approval process [in China] is starting again but we don't know yet when the game will be released."

Oh, and the same investor asked whether Ubisoft was eying up the battle royale genre. Guillemot declined to comment, saying that its development staff are constantly looking at what is going on in the games market.

"We can't give any comments at the moment, but for sure we are looking at all the new innovations that are happening in the market at the moment," he said.

"Our teams are working hard to be very creative in this market."

In other words: 'We are working on battle royale but aren't ready to talk about it just yet. Tune into our E3 show.'

For the quarter ending December 31st, Ubisoft recorded €605.8m ($683.7m) in net bookings. This was down 16.4 per cent year-on-year but beat the company's €600m ($677.2m) target.

The firm reported a 58.1 per cent increase in PC net bookings - versus the 77.6 per cent for mobile that the firm called out - over the first nine months of this fiscal year.

Digital net bookings rose 33.9 per cent year-on-year to €444.3m ($501.4m) for March-to-December 2018, now forming 66.4 per cent of total net bookings. For the same period last year, digital was 26.8 per cent of net bookings.

Ubisoft continues to see strong sales from its back catalogue, too. Net bookings from this pool rose 38.6 per cent year-on-year to €842.9m ($951.3m) for the first nine months of this fiscal year. This now forms 62.3 per cent of total net bookings over last year's 51.1 per cent.

The company also said that there was a 205 per cent increase in Rainbow Six: Siege esports viewership for the 2018 calendar year.

There are also now more than 70m players in what Ubisoft is called 'Tom Clancy communities', a 27.3 per cent increase on the 55m it was boasting at the end of the 2017 calendar year.

40m of that figure is from Rainbow Six: Siege alone.

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.