Ubisoft's Quarterly Numbers Show The Bad Side Of A New Console Generation

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Ubisoft's Quarterly Numbers Show The Bad Side Of A New Console Generation

A new generation of consoles is usually a pretty welcome thing. New opportunities to be amazed by great games, new graphics, new plots, new possibilities in general, not to mention a chance to ramp up all the old greats with new and more powerful sequels. For crying out loud, “Dead Rising” went from one mall to like four malls with casinos attached to the better part of an entire town. That makes me happy in ways I can barely describe. But there are down sides, too, and Ubisoft is showing off some of these with its new quarterly numbers.

Ubisoft's revenue for the third quarter of its fiscal year, according to reports, came out to be $709 million. That sounds great, until you consider that in the third quarter of 2012, the number came out at $1.09 billion, which is down a little better than a third. Meanwhile, compiling together the first nine months of the last two fiscal years for comparison shows a slightly less stark but still unpleasant picture: sales down 25 percent from $1.47 billion to $1.11 billion.

It's hard to feel much sorrow for a company that measures its sales in “slightly less over a billion than last year,” but the reasons are sound. Last year featured several big releases, like “Assassin's Creed III,” “Far Cry 3” and beyond, but this year was mostly about “Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.” Worse, “Watch Dogs” got hit with a bit of a delay, so it didn't even have a chance to contribute to the bottom line, which it likely would have done in a pretty grand style.

Despite that, however, Yves Guillermot—Ubisoft's CEO—expressed plenty of optimism about the near-term future, owing largely to the brisk sales of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. Both of these are certainly good news for Ubisoft, but this must be capitalized upon by having quality games in the pipeline, and indeed, Ubisoft doesn't look to disappoint on that front either. Not only is there the issue of “Watch Dogs,” which will likely be a big seller, but there's also the next round of “Just Dance,” “The Crew,” and plenty of others to show up in the next fiscal year. Ubisoft expects five to emerge in 2014-2015's fiscal year.

Yes, this isn't a great time to be a game company. The new season's getting a lot of people interested in new consoles, and many are even trading in older consoles for a discount on the new ones. Even Microsoft was offering a bounty on old Xbox 360 units, as well as old PlayStation 3 units, so it's clear that the old console market will suffer a bit even with new games coming out. But in the short term, Ubisoft is going to find itself down just a bit, with some great things to come in the future.

That's what's really interesting about all this; if Ubisoft had had “Watch Dogs” ready for this quarter, it likely wouldn't have been such a blow. Granted, “Watch Dogs” itself may not have made up for all the losses, but it certainly would have shored up the proceedings a bit. Still, it's kind of like a tsunami. Maybe the water level goes down for a while, but it's likely to be back with a vengeance before it all finally levels off. What we're looking at here is likely Ubisoft's own sales tsunami, and the tide is about to come in.

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