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Ubisoft refocuses on core market as casual sales drop 50%

Wed 13 Jan 2010 7:12pm GMT / 2:12pm EST / 11:12am PST
BusinessPublishing

€50m loss expected for full year; Splinter Cell and RUSE delayed; Xbox 360 and PS3 are priorities in 2010

French publisher Ubisoft has revised its financial outlook off the back of poor DS sales contributing to a 50 per cent drop in its casual business, and under-performing titles such as James Cameron's Avatar: The Game.

Third quarter sales are expected to be €495 million, down from €540 million, with full-year sales expected to €860 million, a drop from the previous forecast of €1,040 million.

"The considerable contraction in the DS market during the year particularly affected Ubisoft, leading to a €160 million, or almost 50 per cent, year-on-year drop in the Company’s casual segment sales," offered CEO Yves Guillemot.

The company revealed that Assassin's Creed II has now sold over six million units worldwide, and is expected to shift nine million by the end of the financial year – and its this success in the core market that Ubisoft intends to chase in 2010.

"The year 2009 saw the release of many more very high-quality games than in the past," continued Guillemot. "Against this backdrop and with a view to further reducing our exposure to the DS, we intend to continue to refocus our development resources on our major franchises and on the Xbox 360 and PS3, the two consoles which are expected to see sales growth in games for gamers in 2010.

"Ubisoft has already demonstrated its capacity for success in the high-end games market thanks to Assassin’s Creed 2, with sales 40 per cent higher than for the first title. The 2010-11 line-up – which is stronger in franchises for Xbox 360 and PS3 – reflects our refocusing efforts and should enable us to both win market share and enhance our profitability," he added.

The company is to delay the next Tom Clancy title, Splinter Cell: Conviction, from February until April. RUSE will also now be released sometime in the next financial year 2010-2011, alongside a new Ghost Recon title, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, Driver, Raving Rabbids 4 and a “new episode of Assassin’s Creed, which will be the first in the series to have an online multiplayer mode.”

The company expects to end the year with an operating loss of around €50 million, rather than the operating income of €70 million initially forecast.

Also blamed for the loss is poor sales of back catalogue titles and abandoned projects.

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