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Ubisoft Q4 and FY11 financials: Ghost Recon delayed to 2012

Ubisoft has announced its year-end and Q4 FY11 results for the period endingon March 31. Sales for the firm's Q4 came in at €178 million, which is down 15 percent year-over-year compared to the €210 million recorded for the same period of 2009-10.

Down for the quarter, up for the year

Full-year sales for fiscal FY11 totaled €1,039 million versus €871 million last year, which represents a year-over-year increase of 19 percent. Fourth-quarter sales were higher than the guidance of around €159 million issued when Ubisoft released its sales figures for the third quarter of 2010-11. Ubisoft attributed the Q4 sales surge to continued solid sales for its dance titles, as well as successful launche of its 3DS titles.

Gross profit represented a significantly higher percentage of sales for the year, coming in €673.6 million, compared €512.8 million the prior year.

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood was reported as selling 7.2 million units, the Just Dance franchise has hit 10 million units sold, and Michael Jackson The Experience has moved 3 million units so far.

It also revealed the following units sold figures for the following franchises: Anno 5 million, Brothers in Arms 7 million, Driver 15 million, Far Cry 7 million, Prince of Persia 17 million, The Settlers 8 million, and Your Shape 2 million.

"Ubisoft saw a sharp upturn in revenue and current operating income in 2010-11 and strengthened its financial position," said CEO Yves Guillemot in a statement. "Ubisoft saw a sharp upturn in revenue and current operating income in 2010-11 and strengthened its financial position. The Casual segment returned to significant levels thanks to our leadership positions in the dance game segment, on Kinect and on 3DS. At the same time, we continued to make progress in the Online segment, doubling revenue and above all improving the management of our online communities, our service offering and their monetization.

"Lastly, in the High-Definition segment, we scored another success with Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. This performance was achieved thanks to our continuing creativity and an innovative multiplayer mode which proved highly popular with the large community of players who are increasingly engaged with the franchise. Our objective now is to replicate this success for our other strong franchises”.

"In the coming days, we will officially announce an ambitious project on PC based on one of our top gamer franchises."

The firm said it intends to consolidate its leadership position in dance games, particularly by launching several titles with some on both Kinect and Move, with a continued effort to offer new experiences to casual players through 3DS, as well as through titles such as Rocksmith.

Ubisoft also plans to take advantage of the high definition market with titles such as Assassin’s Creed Revelations, Driver San-Francisco, Ghost Recon Future Soldier, Rayman Origins, and an adaptation of the Tintin movie, by offering multiplayer modes and additional online content and services through Uplay in order to increase each title's "revenue-generation potential."

"We [will] continue to grow our Online segment with the release of numerous gamer and casual titles," added Guillemot. "We intend to capitalize on the experience gained in the past year and on the strength of our franchises. For example, we plan to launch a free-to-play world based on our highly popular franchise for young girls, Imagine, which will be an addition to our recurring revenue from Settlers Online and Might & Magic Heroes Kingdoms.

"In the coming days, we will officially announce an ambitious project on PC based on one of our top gamer franchises that will illustrate our capacity to take advantage of new business models. In addition, Trackmania 2 Canyon – the sequel to Trackmania, the industry's most successful online racing game – will be available as a closed beta in the next few months."

Future Soldier delayed, more dancing on the way

Ubisoft expects 2011-12 sales to come in at between €1,040 million and €1,080 million based on the slight growth seen in its high definition segment of €565 million in the close of its recent fiscal year.

The first three months of 2011-12 will see the following main releases:

  • Michael Jackson The Experience for Kinect and Move
  • Child of Eden for Kinect
  • Might and Magic Clash of Heroes and Outland for XBLA, PSN

Ubisoft stated that during the first three months of calendar 2011, it was the number three independent editor in the United States with 8.2 percent market share and number three in Europe with 8.5 market share.

The following percentages represent Q4 sales for the firm broken down by platform, with Wii and 3DS holding the majority:

  • Nintendo DS - 5 percent
  • Nintendo 3DS  - 20 percent
  • PC - 17 percent
  • PS3 - 7 percent
  • PSP - 2 percent
  • Wii - 37 percent
  • XBOX 360 - 9 percent
  • Other -  3 percent

It was also noted in the financial notes that the firm has reorganized and restructured roles in its studio operations, which "has resulted in the termination of certain projects."

So far, there isn't any word on which projects were canceled, but two projects in particular which have been chatted about, but not seen in a long time are Beyond Good & Evil 2 and I Am Alive.

Ubisoft also revealed that it has delayed releasing Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier into Q4 of its FY12, meaning it will be released sometime between January and March 2012. Guillemot said the reason for the delay could be chalked up to the crowded holiday shooter market, which will see the likes of Battlefield 3 and the next Call of Duty released.

Other titles it would be competing with include the possibility of Bungie's new title for Activision, and Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed: Revelations if it too does not see a delay.

Ubisoft also informed investors that it had canceled a number of projects in reaction to "major changes in the industry," and Guillemot described Ubisoft's strategy of broadening its release of casual oriented titles like its popular Just Dance franchise to Microsoft's Kinect and Sony's Move platforms.

Project Cafe, PSN

CEO Yves Guillemot said in a call of investors this afternoon, that it won't be hard for the firm to make Project Cafe versions of its PS3 and Xbox 360 games. The team at Ubisoft will apparently be able to use a lot of the current assets it has when creating titles for the upcoming console.

"The platform Nintendo is coming with is really a fantastic platform," he said via Eurogamer. "We think it will be extremely successful. What we see is that we will be able to leverage a lot of the work we do for Xbox 360 and PS3 while we create games for the platform.

"So we will not have to redo completely the games that we create. We'll be able to use all the capacity the console is giving but also use all the work we do for the other platforms."

The CEO also told investors that while the PSN service being down was affecting Ubisoft games already launched, and ones it plans on launching, the impact is small.

"The impact is still small because our revenue on this platform is not huge, so we think that altogether the cost will be minimal," he said, adding that revenues for the firm are higher on XBL than on PSN, especially at the moment.

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