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Watch Dogs 2 launch "not as dynamic as expected"

Ubisoft says Steep slightly overperformed, downgrades sales outlook as South Park gets delayed out of the fiscal year

Maybe Ubisoft could have used a new Assassin's Creed game during the holiday sales season after all. The publisher today announced its results for the quarter ended December 31, revealing sales figures down year-over-year and short of guidance.

For the third fiscal quarter, Ubisoft sales were down 6% year-over-year to €529.9 million ($564.9 million), when it had projected sales to be €560 million ($597 million). In a post-earnings conference call, Ubisoft blamed the softness in sales partly on an abundance of new hardware like the PS4 Pro, Xbox One S, PSVR hitting the market and eating up consumers' discretionary income. Watch Dogs 2 must also share some of the blame, as Ubisoft said the launch was "not as dynamic as expected," particularly in the US, though it has been gaining momentum and performed better than Assassin's Creed: Syndicate did in the same quarter last year.

On the bright side, Ubisoft's new extreme winter sports game Steep slightly outperformed the company's expectations, and the company's games-as-a-service titles Rainbow Six Siege and The Division continued to do well. Ubisoft noted that Rainbow Six Siege now boasts 15 million registered users and the game is now seeing the highest daily active user numbers it has ever posted. Meanwhile, The Division saw a 152% jump in daily active users from the launch of its October update through the end of the year. Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot noted that this year's third quarter saw record back-catalog sales and digital revenues for the publisher, something he attributed directly to The Division and Rainbow Six Siege.

"We are successfully pursuing our transformation into a more recurring and more profitable profile," Guillemot said. "The positive effects of this transformation are remarkable."

Last quarter also saw the debut of the Assassin's Creed feature film. And while that movie flopped with critics, it drew in some crowds at theaters, with worldwide box office receipts sitting at $213 million already with debuts in China and Japan still to come. Executives called it "a solid first step" in the company's filmic ambitions, and noted that Assassin's Creed back-catalog titles enjoyed a significant uptick in sales during the quarter.

Looking ahead, Ubisoft downgraded its full-year sales target. It had previously set a target of €1.61 billion ($1.72 billion) to €1.67 billion ($1.78 billion) in revenues, but has downgraded that to €1.46 billion ($1.56 billion) to €1.50 billion ($1.60 billion). The lowered expectations were partly a response to the third quarter sales target miss, and partly due to a shift in the release schedule, as South Park: The Fractured But Whole has been delayed outside of the current fiscal year.

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