Paris, France-headquartered Ubisoft launched a new digital publishing business headed up by former Games for Windows Live head Chris Early, according to a Friday report on VentureBeat
The foundation of a new division focused on digital publishing reflects Ubisoft's previously-announced intentions of moving further beyond its packaged goods business, which releases games such as Splinter Cell
, Prince of Persia
and Ghost Recon
“Our focus on digital publishing will be about operating games as an online service,” Early told the publication. Ubisoft has no substantial revenue coming from any online-centric business as of yet. Early admitted that Ubisoft "has some catching up to do," but said it has strong expertise in game and brand development that will aid the company moving forward.
As early as 2008, Ubisoft said that it would be putting more efforts into the digital space, as new online business models begin to become viable complements to brick-and-mortar retail. That year, the company acquired World in Conflict
developer Massive Entertainment, stating that the company would help Ubisoft establish its online strategy, beginning with "light" MMOs.
Early was heavily involved with the Microsoft games business, including heading up Games for Windows Live, casual games and Xbox Live Arcade. He was laid off from Microsoft more than a year ago when the Xbox house made substantial staff cuts.
According to VentureBeat, Early's digital division will have its own resources and budget to create digital online games, and will also coordinate Ubisoft's efforts in the realms of Facebook, iPhone and other platforms.
Game publishers that are traditionally centered on packaged goods are making major corporate moves to online business models as Facebook games like Zynga's FarmVille
take off. Notably, Electronic Arts acquired Pet Society developer PlayFish
in 2009 for $300 million, plus a possible $100 million paid in earnouts.