French-headquartered publisher and developer Ubisoft has revealed holiday revenue up 13% year on year, noting that some holiday titles "did not meet the required quality levels", and also revealing a delay to I Am Alive and a new upcoming iteration in the Assassin's Creed franchise.
Overall, sales for the quarter ended December 31st were €508 million ($737 million), up 12.9 percent compared with the €450 million recorded for the same period of 2007-08.
Ubisoft commented on "a solid showing" from franchise titles, particularly Far Cry 2 (2.9 million units sold worldwide) and Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party (1.5 million), but offset by a 'slower take-off' for Prince Of Persia (2.2 million units).
It also revealed that Shaun White Snowboarding was the quarter’s number two sports game in the United States, and recorded 2.3 million units sales worldwide.
The company's DS casual game division is one of the main areas helping Ubisoft, with titles such as Imagine Teacher and Imagine Wedding Designer taking the firm's overall DS market share to 13.5 percent in Europe and 12 percent in the United States.
Yves Guillemot, Chief Executive Officer, commented in relation to the results: "The holiday period proved to be even more competitive than we expected... we posted strong growth on the Nintendo consoles which accounted for 44 percent of our sales."
He continued: "However, as some of our games did not meet the required quality levels to achieve their full potential they need more sales promotions than anticipated." The titles in question were not named.
Overall, the firm is expecting revenues for January to March of 2009 to come in between €190 million ($275.50 million) and €210 million ($304.50 million), representing a 3-12% decline from the previous year.
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. is one of the only major releases for that quarter, and the company also announced that disaster survival game I Am Alive "will require further development time, and will now bolster the line-up for [fiscal] 2009-10", being released some time after April 2009.
The company has adjusted its targets down very marginally for the financial year ending March 2009, but looking forward, Yves Guillemot commented: "2009-10 looks very promising and our teams are working hard to provide gamers with the best the industry has to offer."
He revealed: "Our line-up comprises several potential blockbusters with the launch of seven franchise [titles], including Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell and Ghost Recon, as well as four license-based games including James Cameron’s Avatar, three new brands and a further-enhanced casual games portfolio."
This is the first confirmation of a new title in the Assassin's Creed series, called Assassin's Creed 2 in the release, and presumably due for a holiday 2009 release. Other titles include Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction and a new game in the Anno strategy game series.
Discussing the company's most important titles for the Wii in its next fiscal year, Guillemot accidentally revealed a sequel for first-person shooter Red Steel. "We have lots of products coming for the Wii next year; we have Red Steel.... Sorry, I mentioned a game that I wasn't supposed to mention."
Later detailed were specifics on the license-based games, which include a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game and the sequel to French animation-based game Arthur and the Invisibles.
Ubisoft’s initial sales target for 2009-10 is approximately €1,100 ($1,595) million, taking into account both "an increase in gross profit reflecting the launch of a greater number of high-margin titles", presumably on Wii and DS, and "a rise in R&D costs due to a product mix geared more toward higher-investment games."
Overall, the company commented on "gains on marketing expenses due to a product mix geared more toward blockbusters and less casual", showing that it is intending to produce more big-budget games in 2009.