The strength of its Wii titles was key to Ubisoft's 14 percent sales increase in its fiscal 2008, the publisher announced today, although sales declined 5.1 percent in the fourth quarter.
Thanks to what the company calls "a continued strong showing" for Rayman Raving Rabbids: TV Party and Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip, Ubisoft's fourth quarter sales were €206 ($292.52) million, while full year results came to €1.06 ($1.5) billion.
"You can expect more Shaun White in the future," said Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot on the company's financial results call today.
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. reached internal targets of one million units sold in, while during the fourth quarter, casual DS franchises Petz and Imagine each sold in over one million units.
Guillemot says that Prince of Persia, at 2.5 million units, outdid its predecessors despite being released on fewer platforms. Sales in the Far Cry and Rabbids franchises were also up 50 percent over their previous installments, and the company's casual business rose 40 percent during the year.
Ubisoft says it has continued hiring over the past year, adding some 1,300 employees "with a view of driving the company's expansion." The company says it's now the fourth independent publisher in the U.S. by marketshare with 5.2 percent -- which is actually a lowering in its position over last year, when it pegged itself as the third publisher with 7.2 percent share.
"Our goal is to internalize more and more of the development of our projects to better control development processes and quality, so we will have less third party and more internal projects," says Guillemot.
With today's results, the company confirmed it would release Red Steel 2 in holiday 2009. Developed by Ubisoft Paris as a Wii exclusive, it will use the Motion Plus attachment. Also on Ubi's holiday slate is Assassin's Creed 2, James Cameron's Avatar, Splinter Cell Conviction, Rabbids Go Home, and a "soon to be announced franchise."
"We have adapted our strategy toward bigger games with higher quality... more investment, but in the end it will reduce risk and increase each game's potential," Guillemot said on the call.
Perhaps that's why the company's first quarter release slate is fairly light, and includes Dawn of Discovery for PC, Wii and DS; Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and new entries in the Imagine, Petz, MyCoach and Playzone lines on DS.
The company also says Ubisoft Shanghai's I Am Alive will launch in this fiscal year, as will two other new brands: R.U.S.E. and an unnamed sports title. On the licensed games side, Ubisoft plans a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles title, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, and Arthur And The Invisibles.
The company expects a 44 percent year-over-year decline in its first fiscal quarter, planning sales to come in at about €95 ($134.90) million, thanks to tough comparisons against 2008 -- when the first quarter saw the release of Haze and the PC versions of Assassin's Creed and Rainbow Six Vegas 2.