Ubisoft‘s Uplay platform has offered PC gamers access to their favorite titles for over a decade. But does using Uplay require a paid subscription? Or can you access core features and even score free games at no cost? Let‘s take a detailed look at what‘s free and paid about Ubisoft‘s gaming ecosystem.
A Brief History of Uplay
Uplay first launched in 2009 as a digital rights management (DRM) service tied to Ubisoft games. It began attracting controversy in 2010 when an Assassin‘s Creed II PC release required an internet connection to Uplay for single-player.
Over the years, Uplay evolved into a more full-featured social gaming platform. It now boasts over 100 million users worldwide.
Some key milestones in Uplay‘s growth include:
2012 – Uplay expands into a social network with profiles, friend lists, and other community features.
2013 – Uplay begins offering rewards and discounts for completing in-game challenges. Their Uplay points program also debuts.
2016 – The Ubisoft Club loyalty program is introduced to provide expanded benefits across games.
2020 – Uplay is rebranded to Ubisoft Connect with expanded cross-platform support.
Today, Uplay serves as the gateway to playing Ubisoft titles on PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, mobile devices, and even cloud gaming services. Let‘s examine what gamers can access on Uplay at no cost.
Core Uplay Services Are Free
The base Uplay platform is 100% free to use. All you need is a Ubisoft account to unlock features like:
Cloud Saves – Sync progress across devices.
Achievements & Rewards – Earn points for in-game actions.
Friend Lists – Connect with other players.
Message Boards – Discuss games on forums.
Game Access – Download and launch titles.
DLC Management – Install expansions and extras.
Virtual Currency – Earn small amounts through play.
Uplay packs a robust suite of community features rivaling leading platforms like Steam, Origin, and Epic Games. And the best part is it‘s all accessible with any legit Ubisoft game or free account.
What About Ubisoft‘s Premium Subscription?
In 2019, Ubisoft launched a premium subscription tier called Uplay+ for $14.99 per month. It grants members unlimited access to over 100 games, including:
- New releases like Assassin‘s Creed Valhalla
- Back catalog classics like Prince of Persia
- Premium editions with all DLC included
- Early access to upcoming games
Think of Uplay+ like "Netflix for Ubisoft games." It removes the need to purchase titles individually.
But again, a paid Uplay+ subscription is not required to use basic services. Core online and social functionality remains free. You only need the premium membership for unlimited access to Ubisoft‘s full catalog.
Scoring Free Ubisoft Games
While Uplay+ grants endless access for a monthly fee, you can still score free full games through Uplay in a few different ways:
Limited-Time Free Trials
Ubisoft offers 6-10 hour free trials for major new releases like Far Cry 6 and Riders Republic. Trials let you experience a sizable chunk before deciding on purchasing.
The Assassin‘s Creed Valhalla trial notably allows up to 15 hours of free questing and raiding.
Giveaways & Free Events
For special promotions, Ubisoft gives away select games for free. For example, Assassin‘s Creed II was available as a permanent giveaway in 2020.
You can also find free weekends and extended "Free Events" for titles like The Division 2 and Ghost Recon Wildlands lasting several days.
Ubisoft has around a dozen free-to-play games across PC and mobile devices. Popular F2P titles on Uplay include:
Brawlhalla – Smash Bros-style fighter with over 50 million players.
Roller Champions – Competitive roller derby / sports hybrid.
The Division 2 – Sample the base game experience for free.
Might & Magic Heroes Online – Turn-based strategy in the classic fantasy world.
Hungry Shark Evolution – Action-packed shark RPG on mobile.
F2P games offer full access without upfront purchase. You can unlock additional content through optional in-game transactions.
What About Ubisoft Games on Other Platforms?
Even if you purchase Ubisoft games through another store like Steam or the PlayStation Store, you can still access them through a linked Uplay account.
When you first boot up a new Ubisoft title on any platform, you‘ll be prompted to log into or create your Uplay account. This will permanently tie that game license to your account.
You can then download and launch your game through the Uplay desktop app on PC or the mobile app on console. Cross-platform cloud sync also links progression across any linked devices.
This way you can score discounts on Ubisoft games from other vendors while still adding them to your permanent Uplay library. Pretty nice bonus!
A Look at Ubisoft Connect and the Future
In late 2020, Ubisoft renamed Uplay to the new Ubisoft Connect service. This aims to expand Uplay‘s cross-platform and social features.
Key goals for Ubisoft Connect include:
- Deeper account synchronization across platforms
- Shared progression and activities across devices
- Expanded community challenges and events
- Allowing easier friend connections
The publisher also continues investing heavily in cloud gaming. They plan to integrate titles with platforms like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna, and Nvidia GeForce Now.
But Ubisoft promises that core access to owned games will remain free for all users regardless of these changes.
Is Uplay Ultimately Free?
At the end of the day, can you enjoy Ubisoft‘s catalog of acclaimed titles without paying? Absolutely.
Creating a Ubisoft account and downloading Uplay gives you free access to essential services like cloud saving, achievements, friend lists, and core community features.
Purchasing the optional Uplay+ subscription unlocks unlimited access to new premium games monthly like a "Netflix for Ubisoft."
But you can permanently add free games to your library through promotional giveaways, free weekends, and entirely free-to-play titles like Brawlhalla.
While Uplay+ offers a Netflix-style back catalog buffet, you can dine for free on new releases through generous 6-10 hour trials. And any qualifying Ubisoft games activated on other platforms get added to your permanent Uplay collection.
So don‘t let Uplay‘s premium subscription confuse you. Ubisoft still offers plenty of free gameplay fun for thrifty gamers on any budget.