Ubisoft: Casual Titles Cheap To Develop, Expensive To Market
Though casual titles contributed 25% of Ubisoft's $1.5 billion revenue for the previous fiscal year, the publisher's North American president Laurent Detoc is hesitant to accept casual games as "complete casual costs" due to profits spent on marketing for drawing in new casual users, according to an interview
with newspaper San Francisco Chronicle.
"The margins on these games are good when you look at development, but it takes a lot of marketing dollars," said Detoc. "It's like packaged goods. You have to think about marketing, retail space, branding." He explained that the extra marketing is necessary for attracting casual gamers, as they are not as devoted to following new releases as hardcore gamers.
He acknowledged the Wii in particular has been difficult for Ubisoft to find success with. Pointing to the console's generous sales, he noted that games published for the Wii made up only 10 percent of Ubisoft's sales last year, and added that the company will need to work harder to create games that will "sell as well as Nintendo's own Wii titles."
Despite marketing costs and lagging software sales for the Wii, Detoc believes that Ubisoft will lead the casual gaming boom: "We feel that's a good opportunity for us. People want games that are more accessible and less intimidating. We have been exploring a lot in that space and we think we will have an advantage as that group gets bigger."
On the topic of recent mergers and acquisitions in the industry, he stated that Ubisoft is committed to growing internally and won't necessarily follow in the footsteps of Electronic Arts and Activision. Said Detoc: "I don't think we will focus on acquisitions unless it makes sense for us. We're not a reactive company, we're builders."
With seven franchise games and five new titles currently planned, Detoc predicted a solid year for Ubisoft: "Nothing's ever easy, but our lineup is strong, and the industry is healthy."