Ubisoft has announced steady growth and encouraging financial results for its second fiscal quarter, at the end of a period that has seen the French publisher rise to prominence amongst the top five independent publishers in Europe and the USA. The publisher also believes that its Christmas line-up - one of the strongest in the industry - will help lift Q3 sales further, and is predicting annual sales growth of between 17 and 22 per cent.
According to the publisher, sales for the three month period ended September 30th rose 21 per cent year-on-year, up to â'¬62.3 million from â'¬51.5 million. Third quarter sales for the 2003/04 financial year are now expected to hit some â'¬260-280m thanks to the publisher's Christmas line-up - a group of games that includes a new Prince of Persia title, which recently went gold, Rainbow Six 3 for the Xbox, multi-platform comic-based first-person shooter XIII, Michel Ancel's latest project, Beyond Good & Evil, and Uru: Ages Beyond Myst.
Also on Ubisoft's books for this Christmas are two games based on the BBC's Fame Academy programme, which will be going head-to-head with Codemasters' rival Pop Idol titles. Also due out before the end of the year are Batman: The Rise of Sin Tzu, and a game based on Ang Lee's classic movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
However despite a positive reception at ECTS, EverQuest 2, the follow-up to the world's most popular massively multiplayer online RPG, appears to have disappeared into the mists of 2004, and can no longer be found on the publisher's release schedule. Likewise, acclaimed FPS Far Cry is rumoured to have slipped beyond the end of 2003, although it still appears on the publisher's Christmas schedule. Ubi will be hoping that a clutch of titles including Raven Shield expansion Athena Sword and strategy titles Lords of EverQuest will tide PC gamers over until those games appear.