Ubisoft’s most reliable annual franchise is starting to slip, and the company is looking to shake things up moving forward.
The French publisher generated $638 million (532 million euros) in sales during its fiscal third quarter, which ran through December 31. Those revenues were down from the $681 million (600 million euros) the company was predicting to bring in during that period. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, the latest entry in the company’s open-world action-adventure series that has players taking on various roles throughout the history of the world, is the primary reason Ubisoft failed to live up to its expectations. The company, which is only behind Electronic Arts and Activision in the world of third-party game publishing revenues, has relied on Assassin’s Creed to deliver steady access to the console and PC gaming market that are together worth multiple tens of billions of dollars. But now, Ubisoft has confirmed the franchise will skip 2016 in an effort to reset expectations and give the next entry the chance to reignite the passion of fans
Annual series are an important component of the blockbuster (aka triple-A) game industry. The market leader, Call of Duty, has generated more than $10 billion in sales over 10 years for publisher Activision with yearly releases.
In a note to investors, Ubisoft said Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate had a “slower launch than expected.” The publisher did not, however, specifically blame Syndicate’s predecessor Unity — which was widely criticized by fans for technical issues — for dragging down the franchise. Instead, Ubisoft pointed to a competitive environment.
While Assassin’s Creed is experiencing friction, Ubisoft pointed to Rainbox Six: Siege for some good news. That multiplayer shooter, which puts players either on the side of criminals who must defend a position or with a SWAT team that must assault a position, found success thanks to its remarkable online mode.
“Rainbow Six: Siege achieved record engagement levels during the period thanks to the success of its exceptional multiplayer mode,” Ubisoft chief executive Yves Guillemot said in a statement to investors.
The CEO went on to say that Siege is indicative of how the company can grow its business moving forward. He says that he will hope to keep players engaged in Siege as well as the upcoming Tom Clancy’s The Division shooter, which the publisher claims could end up as one of its biggest new property launches ever.
The Division leads into the rest of Ubisoft’s fiscal 2016. The company now expects to generate $1.54 billion (1.36 billion euros) in sales for the 12-month period by the end of March. This means the publisher is expecting $170 million (150 million euros) in net income. That is revised down from Ubisoft’s previous expectations of $227 million (200 million euros).
Looking even further down the line, the company is predicting it will generate $1.9 billion (1.7 billion euros) during fiscal 2017.