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Ubisoft looks to  Watch Dogs ,  Far Cry 4  to bolster weak sales
Ubisoft looks to Watch Dogs, Far Cry 4 to bolster weak sales
May 15, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

May 15, 2014 | By Alex Wawro
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    17 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



Today French publisher Ubisoft announced the sales figures for the final quarter of the 2013-2014 fiscal year, and while the company reported a modest improvement in its quarterly sales year-over-year, Ubisoft's sales over the fiscal year were down due, among other reasons, to the fact that Watch Dogs had been delayed to launch in the next fiscal year.

Profits were down overall, as the company reported a €49.3 million (~$67.6 million USD) loss in net income for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot acknowledged the loss and promised that the company would swing back to profitability in the year to come on the back of its upcoming AAA releases.

"2014-2015 should see a return to double-digit profitability," stated Guillemot in the company's yearly earnings report. "Our ambitious games line-up should land three of our titles in the top ten best-selling games of the year for consoles and PC."

For the fiscal year that was, Ubisoft reported a total of just over €1 billion in sales (~$1.37 billion USD). That's down nearly 20 percent from the €1.26 billion (~$1.72 billion USD) the company reported at the close of the prior fiscal year, though it is still within the company's original projected sales target range of €995 million to €1.05 billion for the year.

The company also reported €194 million (~$265 million USD) in sales for the fourth quarter of the 2013-2014 fiscal year, which is actually about 11 percent higher than the €175 (~$239 million USD) million in sales Ubisoft recorded in the same quarter during the prior fiscal year. The growth is attributed to strong sales of South Park: The Stick of Truth during the quarter.

Ubisoft acknowledges that the comparative year-over-year drop in sales reflects the fact that the company released only two games for "core gamers" in the 2013-2014 fiscal year, compared to three such games in the year prior.

The company also reported a 24 percent drop in sales year-over-year of what it considers to be "casual" games, down to €249 million (~$342 million USD) in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Looking to the fiscal year ahead, Ubisoft is counting on big games like Watch Dogs and Far Cry 4 -- announced in tandem with today's financial report -- to give the company a big sales boost.

"The year’s performance will be led by five games – Assassin’s Creed Unity, Far Cry 4, Just Dance, The Crew and Watch Dogs," Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot stated in his outlook for the 2014-2015 fiscal year in the company's financial report. "Watch Dogs’ pre-orders are at record levels and it is perfectly positioned to become the industry’s most successful new IP in history."

You may notice that Ubisoft's upcoming third-person shooter The Division is not on that list, despite being announced as a 2014 release during the company's E3 2013 press conference.

"The Division is announced for next year," Guillemot said during a conference call following today's earnings report, and sure enough, an update was published on the game's website shortly thereafter confirming that the game will be available sometime in 2015, "when it's ready."


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Comments


Michael Thornberg
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Wow... and they wonder why sales go down. How clueless can they get?

A W
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Meaning?

Michael Thornberg
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Sequels ad nauseum, rehashes.. keeping to the same over and over and over... take your pick. In short.. They seem to have stopped coming up with something new. So much of their content is so polished.. and yet so empty. That can actually be said of many larger dragons these days. I see so many new and fresh ideas from Indies, and some of them turn out to be quite successful. I don't know about you, but I think many people like to see new things, new stories (and hopefully well told as well), exiting game plays etc.. Not endless cycles of polished empty mannequins, with little or no story to be told. So much focus on eye candy, but so little on what actually makes a game fun. I know I am ranting :) But this actually annoys me :)

A W
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I do like to see new things too, but there is nothing wrong with the old things either. Besides The Crew and Watch Dogs are two new non sequel new games they announced this year alone, and they just release one this month called Chile of Light as a $15 DL game across all consoles.. I think it is unfair what you say about them given they have done things like give most consoles exclusive "never to be made on another system again" games. Like giving Wii Red Steel or Wii U Zombi U. The fact that consumer are blatantly or ignorantly ignoring new content when they come is an obvious problem of the market and how it penetrates the mind to get that new content to sell.

Just because they are an AAA publisher doesn't mean they should be automatically hated. They have been doing much better in trying to produce new content than most AAA publishers in the business of game creation.

Michael Thornberg
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I didn't say I hated them did I? Please don't put words in my mouth or try to paint me with feelings I didn't present. And I am not impressed by them not making things exclusive to a platform any longer. There is nothing wrong with that actually. It is less attractive (in my view) to keep making games (endless sequels) with no other purpose than to empty your pockets yet a little more. If they had been part of a trilogy, quintet etc.. that would have been fine. But pumping out 'sequels' that are so thin story wise, it would even pass as a budget day time tv-series is bad. But I respect that you feel for them, good for you :)

Dane MacMahon
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As long as annual sequels make billions for them they're not going to stop making them. The market is the boss.

Michael Thornberg
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I understand that. Thankfully their incomes are declining though. Here is hoping they get back to making things that are more than a nice pretty face :)

Marvin Papin
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I would like to notice that Ubi is moving toward changes. Far cry 4 will really a sequel but FC3 was not really one, they redefined gameplay and that work.

Now, indies provides new fresh experiences. But they tends to be often expensive for short life times and a low narrative aspect (note that it's about the whole, I know some are awesome).

But when people buy a AAA, they expect a strong Gameplay, more or less simple with and adventure. You move through beautiful world, evolve, discover strong stories. The experience is largely different from indies and doing sequels and adaptive tech to provide kinda similar games, helps to make a viable AAA business.

Personally, I didn't get the kind of experience I had with most AAA games with indies. I didn't see world as immersive as Last of Us, Mass Effect, Assassin Creed. And I expect new gameplay from them. Now, most indies are 3 hours long. Putting a strong story into that amount of time is hard.

There are boring aspect to sequel but it works because it bring a new story, gameplay variation, world extension...

Finally, I just wanted to add that I see AAA as an opportunity for indies to gather players, because without those games, people would have a lower interests in video games. It's good for everybody. And even if Ubi did some mistakes. Like (personal opinion) killing partially Splinter Cell IP (which could come back easily, with a 'real' resourcing however), they now knows that innovating is good and most games they are producing go in the direction of players feeling. The games they are developing and ""how they are showing them"" (maybe watch dogs is as repetitive as the 1st AC, but I don't think so) are what I expect from AAA, cool gameplay, cool tech, cool story, cool length, and, again, I know I'll not see that in indies (but I'll find into them gameplay opportunities) ;)

A W
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Facts are facts, and I presented them. If consumers wish to ignore them they are going to. Ubisoft has made new games that are not sequels. Being snarky and defensive about the way you type about how "things should be" is not going to change those facts.

Child of Light, the Crew, and Watch_Dogs are all new games we know of on Ubisoft Roster. One of those games you can play right now, and one of those games are set to come out in a few weeks.

Michael Thornberg
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If you are going to use quotes ("..") use them correctly. The only one that have used "Should be" is you. I also never suggested they make anything *but* sequels either. But no matter.. this is pointless. If you don't agree this is fine, I happen to be of another opinion :) Clearly I won't change in that regard. I will leave this discussion with a quote from a journalist: ".. om du investerar i spelarnas plånböcker förlorar du alltid. Investera hellre i deras hjärtan" Translated it means: If you invest in the players wallets you will always loose, rather invest in their hearts. .. END OF LINE//STOP :)

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Michael Thornberg
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Where did I say people don't want sequels? I am really interested to know that? I also respect that you feel that way about me. I don't recognize myself in that though. Seems to me that you probably are talking more out of anger than anything else. I am sorry you seem to feel that people like me aren't entitled to this kind of opinion.

Marvin Papin
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@Dave

If you're speaking about spiderman. It's probably for the story and the license, being a superhero...

Something else... oh ... Call of ;) . Well, it's a trend effect, My friends bought the game, so I buy it. They play, I play with them. And, I'm better than you or I want to explain you a tactic, because I'm a boss at video games. It's all about having the new one and doing the same stuff. With a quite low average age concerned.

But except those 2 IPs : Guitar Hero ? maybe needed a story. Skylander ? Lower average age. but barely a mix with story appeal and CoD appeal effect.

Anyway, I'm not sure what you're talking about but if you wanna say CoD, say CoD. :)
In that case, that's 7 opus (I count from MW1 due to MP and the change of the direction taken (historic vs modern fiction)).
And people do not buy those games for story appeal and gameplay evolution (because they are not here). So it tends to prop my though partially. (and assassin's creed MP by example is for most less interesting than Solo in contrary to CoD). But it's my own analysis.

If you have anything that contradict this, tell me. Game design is also about understanding why, and how to aswer to those facts.

A W
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I think the method of pick and choose is working for them a little, but what happens when they can't develop PS3 and Xbox 360 games anymore? Announcing Far Cry 4 for those to systems is telling of a company that won't let the past be the past. It's humorous given that right after the announcement of the PS4 they when on record to say that they couldn't wait for the announcement of the PS5, yet they continue to make games for the PS3 and Xbox 360. Baffling.

Jonathan Murphy
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Ubisoft is claming Watch Dogs will be the greatest new IP ever made. Activision, Ubisoft, EA. Stop hyping your games into crazy expectations! Just make them fun and affordable. Indie gets it, so why can't you? This method creates a fanatic atmosphere where gamers expect 9.5/10 or nothing.

I watched Midway play this game with Stranglehold, THQ with Homefront, Square with Hitman. Were these games bad? No, but their sales went into the toilet because expectations, budgets weren't sane.

A W
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I though they said it would deliver the "Next gen experience?" I don't thing thats in line with the best IP ever made.

People want companies to advertise and when they do they don't like what they are being advertised. A Catch 22 by the looks of it.

Jonathan Murphy
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It was quoted on Gamespot. Hype machines at their worst.


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