Ubisoft sees high acceptance for opt-out subtitles

Even in games that ship with subtitles off by default, publisher sees more than half of players turn them on

Sometimes gamers want things spelled out for them. That's one takeaway from a handful of stats released yesterday by Ubisoft accessibility project manager David Tisserand in a Twitter thread about player behavior as it relates to subtitle features.

Tisserand began by noting that 2017's Assassin's Creed: Origins had subtitles off by default, but Ubisoft found that more than 60% of players eventually went into the option screen to turn them on.

He then gives subtitle usage stats for a pair of games released after Origins -- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey and Far Cry New Dawn -- both of which shipped with subtitles on by default. In the most direct comparison, Odyssey, only about 5% of players entered the options to turn subtitles off. For Far Cry New Dawn it was even less common, with about 3% going out of their way to turn them off.

However, Ubisoft hasn't switched to opt-out subtitles across the board. Earlier this year, The Division 2 shipped with subtitles off by default, and Tisserand said 75% of players turned them on at least once. About half of all Division 2 players continue to play with subtitles on.

"Subtitles matter to _everyone_," Tisserand said. "We hope it helps spreading best practices throughout the industry."

For more on the subject, he pointed to an Ian Hamilton talk on the subject from this year's Game Developers Conference.

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Latest comments (4)

Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 3 years ago
I would say its less of an accesssibility issue with those kind of numbers, and more a FUTURE accessibility issue with the blaring headphones playing the thumpa thumpa ;)
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Oscar Escamilla Perez Game Designer 3 years ago
I consume 90 % of my audiovisual media in english with subtitles. I can understand spoken English perfectly most of the time, but some accents, while cool sounding, are hard for non-native english speakers. Also, the music and audio sometimes are not mixed well, the game distracts you with something and you lose focus, or somebody is talking to you. Subtitles help a lot, as they stay as long as the phrase is being spelled.

It would also be great if you had the option to scale subtitles on all games. I'm 44 and my sight isn't getting any better. That's a standard to look forward.
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Ron Dippold Software/Firmware Engineer 3 years ago
It really is something that should just be on by default for everything but really, really atmospheric games. The people disabling them now are probably the ones who play without HUD as well - they don't want anything on their screen (would be interesting to see if Ubi has that data).

Also, @Oscar, I am a native English speaker and it still took me a good 20 minutes before I could understand what people were saying in Trainspotting.
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James Prendergast Process Specialist 3 years ago
Honestly, I'm with Oscar. I have perfect hearing (according to half yearly testing) and I'm English-born but still have trouble with the mixing in most games. In fact, I spend the first minutes with every game drawing down the music and interaction sounds below the 'voice' sounds.

Unfortunately, games tend to treat cutscenes as "music" so it's only useful for 90% of a game...

Plus, there are many games with made-up words. Honestly, subtitles help me work out what's being said and going on in those instances.

Font size is also a disgraceful omission on most games. At the distance I sit from the TV, despite having perfect vision, many games use a tiny, tiny, indistinct font that just doesn't read well outside of a PC/monitor setup. It's very frustrating.... and, quite honestly, this has been going on since the 360/PS3 era when developers just decided not to support any analogue output from those devices (in terms of usability)...

I bet most games are now tested only on 60" 4K displays and not on any 720/1080 displays. (That's probably not true but then it fails to describe why the current situation is happening)

Edited 2 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 27th June 2019 8:00pm

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