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Ubisoft reports underwhelming Q3 sales buoyed by  Black Flag

Ubisoft reports underwhelming Q3 sales buoyed by Black Flag

February 10, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

February 10, 2014 | By Alex Wawro
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

Today French publisher Ubisoft announced the sales figures for its third quarter ending December 31st, reporting sales of 520 million ($708 million), roughly 35 percent less than the 820 million ($1.12 billion) the company reported in the same quarter -- the holiday quarter -- last year.

It's a drop, to be sure, but an expected one. Ubisoft's third quarter sales fell squarely within the company's target sales range of 500-540 million, totaling 813 million ($1.1 billion) for the first 9 months of this fiscal year.

That's down nearly 25 percent -- or roughly 22 percent, Ubisoft notes, at constant exchange rates -- from the 1,081 million ($1.47 billion) the company made during the same nine-month period in the previous year.

Of course, the pubisher doesn't have a surprise sales hit like Far Cry 3 this year. It does have a popular Assassin's Creed game, however, and Ubisoft's report suggests that the company's third quarter sales were primarily fueled by Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Just Dance 2014, with roughly 10 million units of the former and 6 million of the latter sold in (meaning sold to retailers, rather than customers) during the quarter.

"Over the short term, the high quality of our titles - which is unanimously recognized by gamers - has enabled us to achieve our third-quarter sales target despite the transition period currently affecting the market," stated Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot in a press release announcing the company's financial report. "Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag performed particularly well, reinforcing the franchise's long-term potential and therefore its upcoming iteration."

Though no sequel to Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag has been officially announced, Ubisoft Toronto lead Jade Raymond confirmed last year that her studio is collaborating with Ubisoft Montreal on the next game in the franchise.

Ubisoft reported digital sales of roughly 53 million ($72 million), which is about 4 percent less than digital sales in the same quarter last year. Though digital sales were down in the holiday quarter, Ubisoft's digital sales in the fiscal year to date are up 12 percent (to 123 million) from where they were the previous year, suggesting that people are continuing to embrace digital distribution.

Coincidentally, the company also reported 53 million ($72 million) in sales of back-catalog games like Far Cry 3 and Assassin's Creed 3, roughly 21 percent less than the previous quarter.

For the immediate future, Ubisoft's fourth-quarter plans include bringing Rayman Legends to Xbox One/PlayStation 4 and releasing South Park: The Stick of Truth on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

Based on these titles, Ubisoft is hoping to hit a targeted 187 million ($255 mil) in fourth-quarter sales, up from the prior year's 144 million ($196 mil). If successful, Ubisoft expects to hit sales of approximately 1 million ($1.36 million) for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

It's worth pointing out that under French accounting law, Ubisoft is not required to publicly report its profits until the end of the fiscal year. All Euro-to-dollar conversions in this story were performed at a rate of 1.362 US dollars to 1 Euro, a rate suggested by Ubisoft representatives.

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