DS sales slump 67% for Ubisoft
Publisher shifts casual focus to Wii and Project Natal; DS piracy can be fought by adding in-box value, says CEO
Ubisoft's Yves Guillemot has revealed that sales of new and back-catalogue DS games for the company have dropped a massive 67 per cent compared to last year.
The CEO was speaking during a conference call to investors, in which he blamed rampant piracy in Europe for significantly impacting the company's casual business.
"Altogether our DS sales are down 67 per cent versus last year and this has affected both the back catalogue and the new releases," he stated.
Guillemot doesn't expect software sales for Nintendo's handheld to pick up, pointing out that the summer period is traditionally strong for DS sales, but the company expects the poor performance to continue over the next three months.
"It's important to note that we do lots of our DS game sales during the summer which is a period where people go for holidays and buy lots of those games. Because this market is slowing down it has a big impact on the second quarter."
"Entering the second quarter we expect those trends to continue with much lower than expected sales of back catalogue and new releases on DS games," he added.
Where Ubisoft is losing out in DS sales, it hopes to increase its Wii market share. The Nintendo home console, along with Microsoft's Project Natal, will help the publisher refocus its casual strategy during this year and into 2010, said Guillemot.
"The DS is declining quickly. The casual business is changing rapidly and we have to reinvent it this year. We already have a big shift from DS to Wii this year and it will continue with the Wii and Xbox 360 new camera next year."
"We expect the Wii to account for 40 per cent of sales in our causal label versus last year when it was at 18 per cent, so it's a big change," added Alain Corre, executive director of Ubisoft.
To regain DS sales, Guillemot said the company is looking to add value to packaging at retail, by including items such as figurines to tempt consumers back into stores.
"What we are seeing in Europe, especially on the DS, is that the piracy is strong so we are working to put new figurines and new elements in the box that will change that for the future," he said.
"But in the short-term it's affecting us. For example in Europe we have the same market share on DS as last year, so it's really the market which is declining. Retail, because of that, is less active on the format."
Ubisoft revealed yesterday that sales were down over 50 per cent due to poor sales of DS games and Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 back catalogue titles.
It also delayed four major releases into 2010, with Splinter Cell: Conviction and Red Steel 2 nudged to the Q4 financial year, and Ghost Recon and I Am Alive pushed back until the 2010/11 period.