For all the talk of disruption in games, Ubisoft believes the industry has become a more stable place to earn a buck in recent years. Speaking at the publisher's Investor Day today, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot ran down a list of changes that have occurred in gaming of late.
The publishing business has shifted from "fire and forget" to year-round service over multiple years. Companies have gone from no direct contact with their players to constant direct contact. The fragmented AAA space has consolidated to a handful of major players. And perhaps most important for Ubisoft's investors, what used to be a hit-driven and cyclical business is now a more recurring and dependable source of revenue.
Much of that dependability comes from increased engagement with players over longer periods of time. To capitalize on that, Ubisoft laid out a plan to grow revenue by 60 percent to €2.2 billion by the end of its 2018-19 fiscal year. The publisher said it is transforming its traditional organization into a live operations model so that it can deliver the sort of multi-year service that drives engagement, and is also making "a strong push on multiplayer-centric games."
That push is already evident in games like Rainbow Six Siege, For Honor, and The Division, but Guillemot also confirmed that the as-yet unannounced new AAA IP the publisher is working on for its 2016-17 fiscal year will also be driven by multiplayer.
The other key part of Ubisoft's plan is to widen its audience and raise awareness of its franchises. Beyond its well-documented transmedia ambitions for movies and TV, Ubisoft also plans to promote its series through theme parks and more consumer products. For example, the company today announced a partnership with Scholastic to create a new young adult book series based on Assassin's Creed and called Last Descendants. The first book launches this September, with the second following in January 2017.
Guillemot also addressed the future of Assassin's Creed, the once-annualized franchise which is taking this year off after the disappointing performance of last year's single-player Assassin's Creed: Syndicate. While the plan is for it to return next year, Guillemot wouldn't commit to the series becoming an annualized franchise once again.
"The goal is not to automatically come back to an annual cycle, but to come back on a regular basis," Guillemot said. "We can't say every year."