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Ubisoft: DS market has declined this year

But publisher expects to maintain market share as shoppers buy fewer games

Ubisoft's sales numbers for the Nintendo DS platform are down this year compared to 2008, as part of the global slowdown following the economic collapse.

According to the publisher's UK Games For Everyone boss, Mark Slaughter, Ubisoft's aim this year is to defend the market share established by the Imagine range of games for girls as the company builds up to another busy Christmas period.

In an interview looking at the success of the Imagine range, and the challenges of bringing it to market, Slaughter explained that the company's big marketing spend, combined with strong retailer relationships, were two factors that helped the games to cut through a crowded DS marketplace last Christmas.

"But I think we face similar challenges again this year, because of the way the DS market is declining - and things change over the period of a year," he explained to GamesIndustry.biz. "What we did last year was set out our stall quite early, we shared with retailers exactly what we were going to do and showed them our level of investment, and our plan.

"They got behind it, and the momentum then - from advertising through to retail support - really delivered strong sales in the last five or six weeks of the year. I think we sold 300,000 units in the last four weeks of 2008, and I think that was the evolution of all of the different factors - strong selling, a strong retail team, strong backing and significant marketing spends with Fearne, Holly and the X-Factor.

And when questioned further on his comments regarding the DS market's decline, Slaughter added some more details.

"I mean the DS market from last year to this year, in terms of software sales," he said. "Overall, for everybody... there is a decline in the DS market in its entirety. So instead of that being a growing market, within Ubisoft we have to find out how much of that pie we can actually defend.

"It's our objective this year to actually maintain market share," he continued, going on to explain some of the reason for the downturn. "Pricing is very important, and where people may have been buying two or three games last year, this year they may only be buying one. The average purchasing is going down.

"There is still a massive installed base, so the market is still there - but I think you've got to be clever about what part of that market you're taking. We're still forecasting big numbers this year for Imagine."

The full interview with Mark Slaughter and Rachel Grant is available now.

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