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Ubisoft's Financial Result Vague About 'Haze' And Reveals New Titles

by Rainier on Jan. 23, 2008 @ 9:28 a.m. PST

Ubisoft reported its sales for the 3rd fiscal quarter 2007 revealing sales are up about 50% compared to last year, fueled by Assassin's Creed and its causal line of titles, beating its own guidance by nearly 10%. Uncertainty regarding Haze continues as the recent retail date changes turn out to be unsubstantiated with Ubisoft's vague "will now be released in fiscal 2008-09," meaning April 2008 at the earliest. Also revealed are new titles in the Prince Of Persia and Anno franchises.

Sales for the third quarter of 2007-08 came to €450 million, up 44.4%, or 50.1% at constant exchange rates, compared with the €311 million recorded for the same period of 2006-07. Sales for the first nine months of fiscal 2007-08 totaled €711 million versus €483 million in the corresponding period of 2006-07, representing an increase of 47.2%, or 52.1% at constant exchange rates.

Third-quarter sales outstripped the guidance that was raised to €410 million on13th December, 2007. This very good performance was fueled primarily by the following elements:

A further exceptional showing from Assassin's Creed. In Europe, this was the best-selling game in 2007 for the PS3 and the number 2 best-seller for the X360.
In the United States, it was the second best-selling game in 2007 for the PS3 and the number 3 best-seller for the X360.2

Excellent sales levels reported by our casual games including Fashion Designer, Babyz and Animal Doctor for the Imagine series; Horsez, Hamsterz and Catz for the Petz series; and MyWordCoach for the MyCoach series.

Games for new-generation consoles represented 84% of the Group’s sales in the first nine months of 2007-08, versus 55% for the equivalent period of 2006-07.

Ubisoft continued to gain market share in calendar 2007, and was ranked as follows:

  • Number 2 independent publisher in Europe, reporting 58% growth (versus 25% for the European market as a whole), and market share of 8.7% (6.9% in 2006).
  • Number 3 independent publisher in the United States, where growth came in at 49% (compared with 29% for the US market as a whole), and market share represented 6.1% (5.2% in 2006).

Yves Guillemot, Chief Executive Officer of Ubisoft, stated "The vast majority of our games reaped the benefits of particularly strong market momentum over the Christmas period. Two new long term multi-million franchises were created, Assassin's Creed and Imagine, generating sell-in sales of 5 and 2.5 million units respectively. They will join our existing portfolio of 12 franchises. As a result, Ubisoft moved up from fourth to third place in the overall ranking of independent publishers in 2007 – a year that saw the video game industry enter new dimension with previously unheard-of visibility. This revolution stems from the greater accessibility of Nintendo's consoles as well as from the superb cinema-like visual experience provided by Sony and Microsoft consoles. We expect this situation to significantly drive up market performance once again in 2008, with overall market growth representing at least 10%. Against this backdrop, Ubisoft will continue to leverage its strong brands and design capacities with a view to outperforming the market."

Fourth-quarter 2007-08 will see the following main releases:

  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2 for PC, the X360 and the PS3,
  • Assassin's Creed for PC and the NDS
  • The game based on the Lost television series, for PC, the PS3 and the X360,
  • New casual games for the NDS and Nintendo Wii.

Haze, which was originally scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2007-08, will now be released in fiscal 2008-09.

The Group expects sales for the fourth quarter of 2007-08 to total around €165 million, representing a 16% contraction compared with the same period of 2006-07.

In light of the Group’s third-quarter performance and initial positive trends for the fourth quarter of the year, Ubisoft has raised its performance targets for full-year 2007-08. The 2007-08 sales target is now approximately €875 million, compared with the forecast of €840 million announced on December 13, 2007, and the Group expects current operating income before stock options to represent at least 13% of sales, versus the previous estimate of at least 12%.

At the same time, in order to take into account the postponed release date for Haze, Ubisoft has raised its 2008-09 sales target to approximately €1 billion, compared with the previously-announced forecast of around €975 million. The Group is maintaining its target for current operating income before stock options to represent at least 11% of sales.

The 2008-09 line-up will include notably the following key titles:

  • 7 franchises, including Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Brothers in Arms, Far Cry, Prince of Persia and Anno,
  • 5 new brands, including Tom Clancy's EndWar, Haze, the Shaun White snowboard game and a Tom Clancy air combat game,
  • New games in the Petz, Imagine and MyCoach series as well as a new line of casual games.

Market share: Excluding Asia, Ubisoft was the third-leading independent publisher in the world in 2007. It ranked number 3 in the United States with 6.1% market share (compared with number 5 and 5.2% one year earlier); number 2 in Europe with 8.7% market share (compared with number 2 and 6.9%); number 2 in France with 9.3% market share (compared with number 2 and 7.7%); number 2 in the United Kingdom with 9.1% market share (compared with number 3 and 7.6%); and number 2 in Germany with 7.9% market share (compared with number 2 and 6.6%).

Ubisoft closes the acquisition of the Japanese video game development studio Digital Kids: Established in 1996 with offices in Nagoya and Osaka, Digital Kids currently has a team of 20 developers specialized in games for the NDS. The studio has worked regularly for a number of Japanese publishers and has developed several successful titles for Ubisoft’s Petz line of games, including Hamsterz Life.

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