Ubisoft is increasingly focusing on a narrower range of big hits.
Ubisoft gave quite a bit away during its FY2017 financials overnight, including word that Far Cry 5 and a new Assassin's Creed will release before March 31 2018.
The publisher had a lot to say about how well it did over the previous financial year with new IP and reboots (The Division, Ghost Recon Wildlands and Rainbow Six Siege have been especially successful). But even as it congratulated itself on "winning the battle for time" with increased engagement across multiplayer and online titles, Ubisoft warned investors that it intends to move focus away from churning out new boxed releases.
Ubisoft has five other major releases planned for FY2018, the financial year we're currently in: the new Assassin's Creed, Far Cry 5, The Crew 2, South Park: The Fractured But Whole and The Crew 2 and one other. But it only has four major releases planned for FY 2019, which runs April 1 2018 through March 31 2019.
One of these is a brand new IP, Ubisoft said, which is pretty exciting. The other three are established franchises.
Ubisoft expects to sell about 28 million units across these four titles in FY2019, down from a projected 40 million on its five releases in FY 2018. The publisher is willingly entering into this downturn because it is expecting to see revenue increases from digital, recurring and back catalogue sources. You can see the relevant slides from Ubisoft's presentation below.
In this sense, Ubisoft isn't unique - most publishers have been talking up digital revenue sources for years now. There's also been an increasing emphasis on games as service, or live games as they are sometimes called, which make money from add-ons, microtransactions and subscriptions rather than a single release and maybe a season pass. Even the box-and-season-pass specialist crew at Activision is emphasising live games these days.
Given the ever-increasing cost of triple-A development it's no wonder publishers want to release fewer games and make more money from each over a longer period of time. It does make it harder to budget your time and money if you're keen to try most new games though, doesn't it?