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 2009-10 targets revised downwards

 Releases of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction™ and R.U.S.E™ postponed to 2010-11

 Initial information on the 2010-11 line-up

Paris, January 13, 2010 – Today, Ubisoft updated its 2009-10 targets.

The sales targets for third-quarter and full-year 2009-10 have been revised downwards to €495 million and around €860 million respectively, from the previously announced figures of €540 million and €1,040 million.

These downward revisions are due to the following factors:

- A further correction in the market for DS titles. After several years of very strong growth, the significant correction of the DS market in 2009 particularly affected Ubisoft. As a result, despite relatively robust sales for Wii casual games, and particularly the success of Just Dance, sales in the casual segment are expected to be down for the full year by around €160 million, representing a drop of around 50%.

- Further market concentration towards AAA high-quality games. Ubisoft has demonstrated its ability to react to this trend through the success of Assassin’s Creed 2, which has achieved sell-through sales topping 6 million. However, not all of the Company’s games have reaped the full benefits of the measures implemented, with James Cameron’s Avatar™: The game and several non-casual Wii titles reporting lower-than-expected sales.

- Underperformance by back catalog titles due to both of the above-mentioned trends.

- The postponed release dates for Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction™ and R.U.S.E™, which were previously scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2009-10, and will now be released in 2010-11. Splinter Cell Conviction™ is now expected to hit the stores in April 2010.

In addition, Ubisoft now expects to end the year with a current operating loss before stock-based compensation of around €50 million, rather than the previously announced target of current operating income amounting to at least €70 million. This negative swing reflects the following:

- Lost earnings due to lower-than-expected sales.

- Additional depreciation and impairment charges for:

o under-performing products and back-catalog titles,

o abandoned projects, as well as certain games scheduled for release in future periods,

o write-downs of inventories.

- The postponed release dates for Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction™ and R.U.S.E™.

Yves Guillemot, Chief Executive Officer, stated "Despite a number of highly successful titles, such as Assassin’s Creed 2 – which is expected to reach 9 million sell-in units by the end of March 2010 – and Just Dance – our great Wii success during the holiday season – Ubisoft has not met its financial targets. The considerable contraction in the DS market during the year particularly affected Ubisoft, leading to a €160 million, or almost 50%, year-on-year drop in the Company’s casual segment sales. At the same time, like in 2008, the year 2009 saw the release of many more very high-quality games than in the past. Against this backdrop and with a view to further reducing our exposure to the DS, we intend to continue to refocus our development resources on our major franchises and on the Xbox360 and PS3, the two consoles which are expected to see sales growth in games for gamers in 2010. Ubisoft has already demonstrated its capacity for success in the high-end games market thanks to Assassin’s Creed 2, with sales 40% higher than for the first title. The 2010-11 line-up – which is stronger in franchises for Xbox360 and PS3 – reflects our refocusing efforts and should enable us to both win market share and enhance our profitability.â€

Initial information on the 2010-11 line-up

The 2010-11 fiscal year will see a greater number of franchise releases than in 2009-10, including Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction™, a new game in the Tom Clancy™’s Ghost Recon® series, Prince of Persia The Forgotten Sands™, Driver®, Raving Rabbids™ 4 and a new episode of Assassin’s Creed®, which will be the first in the series to have an online multiplayer mode. The 2010-11 line-up will be more focused on the Xbox 360® and PLAYSTATION® 3, the consoles which are expected to experience sustained sales growth in games for gamers in calendar 2010. Other new franchises and innovations will also be announced throughout the year.

Ubisoft will release its final sales figures for the third quarter of 2009-10 in February.

The Company will organize a conference call at 6.15 p.m. (CET) this evening, which will be accessible via the following address: www.ubisoftgroup.com/ir

Notice also that they mention nothing of PC games. I want to say something else but will refrain, for now, but PC gamers may as well bend over. The problem is, I know of one PC specific game that Ubi has in development, yet the CEO or the company fails to mention it.

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Hmm ... good news is that there is no R6 game on the horizon. I think there is evidence Ubi has maybe learned to not milk its franchises and take time to produce a quality game.

Pushing Conviction into next year's fiscal year is likely a move to make Ubi's books look better for 2010-11 (rather than make significant improvements to the game) since if it's only pushed to April, its not like they have a whole lot more time to polish the game.

Not sure if Conviction has a PC version - would be interested to see if they provide decent patch support if they do

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From what I see, there is a PC version of Conviction, it's just that there is no PS3 version of it. The general consensus is that Ubi is trying to make their books look better as you suppose.

With other AAA games supposedly being released at that time, one has to wonder if that also has something to do with it. I can't remember the last time Ubi released a AAA title during the holiday sales season before Christmas. If they are so sure of their games, why not release them against other titles to get a real idea of if their games can hold their own? My guess is that they would fall flat and one would see the real performance of what they release.

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Ouch, yeah, was just coming here to post this in the other thread. Not looking good for ubisoft this year, now that these numbers are out.

It's not quite fair to say they haven't put games out in the holiday season -- iirc they did in 08. Almost no publishers wanted to run their games against Modern Warfare 2 this last year, everyone pushed back their holiday titles. To a point where gaming publications started joking about Christmas 09 -- coming in q1 20010.

It's interesting to see that Assasins creed, and for that matter every one of their big name, AAA console titles in the last several years, sold great, beating projections... And yet they revised their numbers down dramatically. Regardless of their development side, something is ######ed up in their business model. They seem to be putting a lot of money year after year into the sinking ship of their DS and WII titles.

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I can't remember the last time Ubi released a AAA title during the holiday sales season before Christmas.

Ummmm..... Assassins Creed 2 :unsure:

Its not a financial decision, the game needs a little extra work, simple as that I'm afraid

One in the last six years then possibly. The way I see it, Ubi does not have games that can go up against other companies offerings if they will not release games during the biggest game selling season of the year. AC2 still hasn't been released on the PC and apparently has been pushed back too.

EA have had a pretty rough time of it looking at this dissection of their latest financial report detailed in full here.

Electronic Arts Inc. lowered its fiscal-year guidance for the second time in two months as the big videogame publisher continues to suffer from a lack of compelling titles.

With many gamers lumping Ubi and EA together for many of the same reasons, is it any wonder?

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http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/us-v...percent-in-2009

US videogame market down 8% in 2009

The US videogame market was down 8 per cent on last year, despite a record December for sales, according to data released by the NPD Group.

The industry generated $19.66 billion during the twelve months, down from the $21.4 billion in 2008. Every section of the business was down year-on-year, apart from the handheld hardware market which grew 6 per cent by revenue. Console hardware was down 13 per cent, console software down 10 per cent and handheld software also down 10 per cent.

"Clearly, 2009 was tough year for consumers and the national economy," offered Michael Gallagher of the ESA.

"However, the bigger picture is one that underscores the industry’s strength; 2009 and 2008 were the highest grossing years in our industry’s history. Our industry's structure is solid, and I anticipate a strong 2010 with a pipeline full of highly-anticipated titles."

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One in the last six years then possibly.

Dozens in the last six years. A few have been massive disasters but for the most part ubisoft dominated the console holiday market in 06/07/08. I know you aren't a console gamer, but for a lot of people it felt like Ubisoft and Capcom were the only companies releasing games for a few years there.

Ubisoft was on a massive finanical upswing for years.

Most of these games sold EXTREMELY well, or were met with critical acclaim. Look up console sales numbers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brothers_in_A...Earned_in_Blood an oct 05 release

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassin's_Creed_(series) nov 07, nov 09

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Clancy's_Splinter_Cell nov 02, and an oct 06 release

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Naruto_video_games Naruto games on a lot of recent holidays -- i dont think these sold that great, but i have no idea

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_in_Conflict WIC, this is a pc one, sep 07

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Messiah_of_Might_and_Magic Dark messiah was an 0ct 06 release. to my knowledge it did poorly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Far_Cry_2 FC2 was an oct release.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_of_Per...e_Sands_of_Time Prince of persia games in fall/winter 03, 04, 05, 08

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Clancy...nbow_Six:_Vegas vegas in holidays 06

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rayman_Raving_Rabbids Rabbids games, holiday wii releases.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Steel Red steel, holiday 06 wii release, to my knowledge did poorly.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Clancy's_EndWar End war, holiday 08.

Edit: more importantly! Serellan, is that the halo reach box in your signature? Hell yes, excitement +10 for it. The design in your team based multiplayer games is always stand out superb, i can't wait to see what you and the rest of the bungie team is cooking up.

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Its not a financial decision, the game needs a little extra work, simple as that I'm afraid

Then I applaud Ubi's decision. However, they've got to get a better handle on accurate release dates - they've been announcing and then pushing release back dates of their games for years now.

Studios like Bungie or Infinity Ward can hit their release dates (and do decent pre-release PR) so you know it's not impossible to set a reasonable date and finish on target.

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Infinity ward, yes, but bungie isnt a great example of getting games out on time. All three halo games have been delayed (i believe? it may have been that halo3 never got a solid date and publications thought it was delayed when it was announced to be lather than expected) -- halo 2 most notably had its entire development restarted right before it was initially supposed to come out. Fantastic developers can still completely bungle projects for a multitude of reasons. Learning to make consistent games on a schedule is obviously a goal every studio should have, but very few actually demonstrate achieving it.

I am curious about why Ubisoft's games fail to get out the door on time so consistently, though. It's important to keep in mind that there isnt exactly one unified 'ubisoft' entitiy involved here -- there's the development studio, Ubisoft Montreal, and then there's the big corporate publisher side of ubisoft. Just like when Ubi was publishing a game for Grin or Red Storm, it's very likely the developers and producers have sometimes conflicting goals, despite being part of the same overarching company.

Are the development sides of Ubisoft inefficient? Hard to believe offhand, considering the quality of games they're known for releasing, but definitely plausible. It would be interesting to hear who's decision this was, beyond the super vague 'ubisoft'.

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While not necessarily Convictions, I still say that Ubi pushing back release dates has to do with the fact that they want their books to look good. Not having to go up against other AAA titles from other companies pretty much guarantees them better sales, thus a bigger profit. I still say that Ubi's games, especially much of what they have released as AAA titles over the past several years, would not be able to compete sale wise, against a CoD or Halo game if released at the same time.

If Ubi would forgo trying to do that and go back to creating or publishing the niche market games that they have solidly sold for an earlier part of their history instead of games of the Lockdown/Vegas caliber, would they have something to brag about.

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If Ubi would forgo trying to do that and go back to creating or publishing the niche market games that they have solidly sold for an earlier part of their history instead of games of the Lockdown/Vegas caliber, would they have something to brag about.

I'm sure some of the people at Ubisoft studios want to produce niche games, and i agree that the scenario where development houses like red storm and ubisoft montreal take more risky creative moves would be ideal for them and for us.

But, that said, how would Publisher Ubisoft reducing their market, and their profits dramatically be anything for those businessmen to brag about?

Find me a niche developer making anywhere near the money ubisoft is this year. Some niche and indie developers are making really cool games -- Kings bounty, AI war, Telltale's throwback 80s and early 90s style adventure games, the ultra difficult, very tactical Men of War out of russia, super creative distinctly japanese games out of the east, like No More Heroes (which ubisoft is actually publishing in some territories) and MadWorld (surprisingly by another super sized publisher, Capcom)... But none of these games are making near as much money as ubisoft's products. So i can definitely understand why the corporate side of ubiosoft wants to stay on their course.

And, at the risk of slightly undermining my point, i'd like to remind you that Ubisoft isnt exactly avoiding all creative risks. Even design decisions you may not agree with that they've recently made have been groundbreaking -- The hybrid third person/first person system in Vegas, which was risky but a hit with consumers, the painterly unique storybook artstyle of the last Prince of Persia, the new and never before seen tactical streamlining of Splinter Cell, with the potentially too simple but undeniably innovative mark and execute system, Far Cry 2, (a game i personally see as a huge failure design wise)'s unique status as an open world first person stealth shooter. Or HAWX, being essentially two flight models in one, and allowing the players to switch between them at will in a rock/paper/scissors design strategy. Assasins creed playing super-tight lipped with the spoilers, and not announcing its sci fi setting until the day of release.

Some of these ideas are pretty stupid, i think, but they're definitely creative and unique. Ubisoft may be a company that's way too focused on sales vs quality, but they can't really be accused of shying away from creative risks and innovative design.

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Its not a financial decision, the game needs a little extra work, simple as that I'm afraid

Then I applaud Ubi's decision. However, they've got to get a better handle on accurate release dates - they've been announcing and then pushing release back dates of their games for years now.

Studios like Bungie or Infinity Ward can hit their release dates (and do decent pre-release PR) so you know it's not impossible to set a reasonable date and finish on target.

I’d like to see more accurate release dates as much as anyone, but I do think there’s a huge rose tinted glass thing going on with respect to how some view the release dates of other publishers. Fact is all publishers get dates wrong at some point; some go through phases of doing it rather a lot while others don’t but its swings and roundabouts.

Personally I think the reason some get away with it more than others is they simply avoid a date full stop, and the community go on for quite some time with absolutely no idea what the target date is. Of course which is the best way to deal with release dates is debatable but as Sup has already pointed out Bungie are not among those I would use as an example of hitting accurate dates.

While not necessarily Convictions, I still say that Ubi pushing back release dates has to do with the fact that they want their books to look good. Not having to go up against other AAA titles from other companies pretty much guarantees them better sales, thus a bigger profit. I still say that Ubi's games, especially much of what they have released as AAA titles over the past several years, would not be able to compete sale wise, against a CoD or Halo game if released at the same time.

If Ubi would forgo trying to do that and go back to creating or publishing the niche market games that they have solidly sold for an earlier part of their history instead of games of the Lockdown/Vegas caliber, would they have something to brag about.

WK its business, all businesses do that at some point, if you’ve got a large selection of product all ready for release within the same financial year and little for the following it makes sense to move the later releases a few days/ weeks to boost the following financial period, and please don’t laugh at me saying days/ weeks because I have seen Ubi move games by no more than 2 days purely for that purpose.

But just because they have and do on occasion do that doesn’t however mean every time they move a game it’s for those reasons, when they’ve moved a title to boost a financial period they’ve been very honest about it in their FS so why would they deny it at other times?

You said earlier they’ve not released any AAA titles in a long time; this wasn’t the case as was shown. You’re now saying if they released against another companies AAA title/s they couldn’t compete, yet they have released alongside other AAA title releases (in recent times) and their games have still sold well.

With respect you’re allowing your biased dislike of Ubisoft to affect your judgement

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Personally I think the reason some get away with it more than others is they simply avoid a date full stop, and the community go on for quite some time with absolutely no idea what the target date is.

Thanks for the reply Klean. I think perhaps the above method is the best ... sort of like what Blizzard is doing with Starcraft 2 - it will be released "when it's done"

The problem I see is Ubi often sets a date months in advance (and I don't think it is arbitrary - I haven't looked to see if there is a pattern so I'm not accusing Ubi of anything as many other companies do the same thing) and in the latest case with Conviction, the original release date was set within this fiscal year which potentially would have impacted stock analysts assumptions about potential reported earnings for the upcomning quarter etc.

In the case of most AAA games these days that primarily profit from console versions, usually a console game is completed at least 3-4 weeks (or a little more) before you see it packaged and on store shelves as it has to go through Microsoft/Sony's testing process, get physically packaged etc. So why not just announce a firm release date once the gold master is sent out? You would still probably have a lead time of approx 1 month for retailers to get ready, game websites and mags to get their previews etc up.

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You would still probably have a lead time of approx 1 month for retailers to get ready, game websites and mags to get their previews etc up.

1 Month is nowhere near enough time to prep that kind of stuff. Retailers (by this I mean Walmart, Target, etc, not game stores) plan their shelf space months out, game mags have at least 2 month lead time, etc. Plus think about your packaging and physical distribution deals, etc.

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Thanks for the clarification Serellan. There is a lot of logistical stuff going on behind the scenes we don't know about or just speculate on, so I appreciate the insight.

I honestly don't want to make a big deal about release dates - like I said before I applaud a company for taking a hit (financially, bad press, disappointed fans) to put more time into making a game better.

It's likely a common industry-wide issue (like people in this thread have pointed out about Bungie) and perhaps my perspective is biased as I've followed Ubi games a little more closely than others. It's just after posting news about Ubi's Clancy games for years it seems that I've typed up news about release dates being pushed back more than a few times. That being said I want to point out Ubi's Red Storm studio is an exception as they seem to have a good history of hitting their development milestones and release dates with previous games.

I honestly think Ubi is improving and want to give them credit where it is due - such as they don't seem to be pumping out new iterations of their cash cow games every year anymore, coming out with creative new IPs etc.

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In general, I think publishers would always want to hit their announce dates, as it DOES cost them money to change those (think of changing publication contracts with disc printers, for example, or advertising that has been optioned that then needs to be changed or replaced with another product).

Sometimes there are financial reasons (fiscal years, revenue spread, marketing tie-ins, crowded release dates, etc) to move a title, but often it is to ensure quality. That is what happened with Batman, and like Kotaku mentions, no one cares now :).

http://kotaku.com/5433362/batman-was-great...batman-was-late

Game delays are big news and bad news. But once a game comes out and proves to be good, game delays are often forgotten news. Batman: Arkham Asylum was delayed in 2009. Its lead creator recalled that forgotten moment.

You would think that delaying a game is an awkward process. The game is closing in on its completion date. The studio needs to be finished. Ads are placed. The publisher wants to start selling the thing and making money.

You'd also think that Arkham Asylum game director Sefton Hill of Rocksteady Studios might have had butterflies in his stomach when, earlier this year, he and his team broached the topic to the games publishers that the game, which was planned for a late June release, could benefit from being pushed back.

He doesn't tell the story as if he had much fear at all: "We discussed it with Warner Brothers and Eidos and said, 'Look, we believe we have a really good game here.' What we all agreed to do at the outset was put the time in and make sure we deliver a game worthy of Batman. ... [We] said what we really need to do here is spend this additional three months to make sure we tidy the game and deliver the game that we all set out to do. To give Eidos and Warner a lot of credit, they backed that 100%."

For consumers, the delay turned out to be two months. Arkham Asylum slipped from June to late August, when it was released to rave reviews. It seemed such a short delay, in fact, that some gamers thought they sniffed out a different motivation. "I think there were some rumors that it had just been delayed for more sales, but that wasn't true. We were still working on it like crazy."

What did change in Arkham Asylum while the team labored for a couple of extra months? Hill was unable to specify any notable design changes, no new gadgets or altered levels. "Some of the things we worked on that aren't immediately apparent is things like the [data-]streaming times," he said. "You never see any loading screens when you're playing the game. And that's stuff that takes a lot of time to do." Hill said the delay also helped the team optimize the game's framerate.

Hill made the delay sound so easy. Surely it wasn't that simple? He said it was the product of a team confident in their potential, an attitude that would empower other studios to also get their publishers to give them the extra time their games might need. So to get that delay, he suggested, a development team must have "confidence in the game." They also need "to be able to show that [added] time is going to be well spent. I think if you can do that, any publisher is going to buy into that. I think where it becomes difficult is if you're arguing from a position of weakness, if the confidence isn't there."

It sounds like one of those things that's easier said than done. It sounds like one of those things that requires a publisher and a developer to be working together happily, which is not at all a given. And it sounds like something that, as a gamer, would be awfully hard to take.

It also sounds like something that gets forgotten, because as 2009 recedes what lingers about Batman: Arkham Asylum is how good it was. Not how late it was.

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It also sounds like something that gets forgotten, because as 2009 recedes what lingers about Batman: Arkham Asylum is how good it was. Not how late it was.

Interesting read, huge Batman Arkham fan here.

Sure, nobody really minds post release about a game delay, where the game is awesome, different story though when a game is delayed, eventually gets released..... and sucks. Then the delay because another nail in the coffin...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, here's a respected game designer that takes delays seriously:

http://kotaku.com/5460800/kojima-apologize...me-than-a-delay

Kojima Apologizes; Says 'No Greater Crime' than a Delay

Hideo Kojima is taking the delay (in Japan) of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker very seriously, and has posted a personal mea culpa asking for fans' forgiveness and their continued trust.

"I always preach to the staff, 'You must not have a delay after a release date has been announced. There is no greater crime as a game developer.'" Kojima wrote (this according to a translation by andriasang).

"Official announcement of a release date is nothing less than a promise to fans and business partners. In other words, a release date change is like betraying the expectations of everyone," Kojima added, according to the translation.

The game originally was slotted for a March 18 drop; it's now been pushed to April 29. The North American (May 25) and European (May 28) release dates are not affected.

Andriasang reports that Kojima's apology has been met with wide forgiveness, in the form of numerous blog comments pledging support.

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