Ubisoft / Trials Fusion
Ubisoft, which has tried to position itself front and center with the latest wave of gaming consoles, may be in trouble.
In spite of big new software launches like Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag and Trials Fusion, the French game developer and publisher reported today that its sales fell 20 percent between the fiscal year that ended in March 2013 and the one that ended this past March. It posted a $17 million loss on the year, versus $143 million in profit in the previous year.
Sales for the quarter that closed in March were actually up 11 percent year over year, at $266 million, but the preceding holiday quarter was a big pain point, down 35 percent year over year.
The company’s new-generation woes speak to weak software sales throughout most of the gaming industry, which have been trending downward for years, even as hardware sales of the recently launched PlayStation 4 and Xbox One surpass their predecessors. In its summary of the most recent fiscal year, Ubisoft said the sales decline was driven by contractions in both “core” (think Assassins Creed) and “casual” (think Just Dance 2014) segments, so it’s not one audience or the other that’s not buying — it’s all of them.
Measured as a percentage of Ubisoft’s overall sales, PlayStation 3 and 4 moved 33 percent of the games, while Xbox 360 and Xbox One moved 29 percent and PCs were responsible for 24 percent. Nintendo’s Wii and Wii U represented five percent of the total, down from 13 percent in the previous year.
The company forecast that the new fiscal year will be sunnier, with a “return to double-digit profitability.” One reason to believe it might be right: Watch Dogs, a hotly anticipated console game being released for both old and new consoles, has set a new record for preorders of the company’s games. Ubisoft also expects new entries in the Assassins Creed, Far Cry and Just Dance series to drive better sales.