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Ubisoft's Full Year Fiscal Report Reveals 'Ghost Recon 4' and More ...

by Rainier on April 29, 2009 @ 10:32 a.m. PDT

Ubisoft has just released the 2008-2009 full-year sales numbers, and it's no surprise that the French publisher/developer is still going strong, posting a 14% sales increase (€1,058 million). More importantly, a projected release schedule for the next 12 months reveals Ghost Recon 4, a new Arthur and the Invisibles title, and a new Wii sports game are in development.

Sales for the fourth quarter of 2008-09 came to €206 million, down 5.1%, or down 2.3% at constant exchange rates, compared with the €217 million recorded for the same period of 2007-08. Full-year sales for fiscal 2008-09 totaled €1,058 million versus €928 million for fiscal 2007-08, representing an increase of 14.0%, or 18.4% at constant exchange rates. Fourth-quarter sales were in line with the guidance of between €190 million and €210 million issued when Ubisoft released its sales figures for the third quarter of 2008-09. This performance was primarily attributable to:

  • A continued very strong showing for games for Wii, including Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party and Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip, combined with the successful launch of My Fitness Coach.
  • Sales of Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X which reached the set target of one million sell-in units.
  • The Petz and Imagine franchises which each sold-in over one million units during the quarter.

Yves Guillemot, Chief Executive Officer, stated: "In a highly competitive environment Ubisoft reported full-year sales growth of 18% at constant exchange rates in 2008-09 as well as the second best profitability among comparable companies in its industry. In addition to strengthening our existing franchises – particularly Far Cry and Rayman Raving Rabbids, whose sales were up by more than 50% on their previous performances – we successfully launched two new million-unit-selling brands with Shaun White and Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X, confirming our entry into the sports segment and bolstering our position in the air combat segment. Lastly, we affirmed our expertise in titles for Nintendo consoles, with our casual games business posting a growth over 40%. In 2008-09, we also continued to invest heavily in Ubisoft’s future potential, hiring some 1,300 talents for our studios with a view to driving the Company’s expansion, further strengthening our franchises and preparing for the next generation of handheld as well as home consoles. The results of these efforts will be seen as early as this Christmas with one of the industry's most ambitious games line-ups which will include Assassin's Creed 2, James Cameron's Avatar, Splinter Cell Conviction, Rabbids Go Home and Red Steel 2."

Full-year current operating income before stock-based compensation is expected to represent around 12% of sales, compared with the 12% to 13% range previously announced, notably as a result of the product mix impact.

Ubisoft's net cash position at March 31, 2009 is expected to stand at approximately €155.0 million compared with the previous estimate of around €200.0 million, due to:

  • the Company's investment in its future growth, with the hiring of some 1,300 talents for its studios, a third of whom were through acquisitions;
  • the fact that the casual games business – particularly titles for Nintendo DS – is more working capital intensive.

The first quarter of 2009-10 will see only a few games releases, including:

  • Anno for the PC, Wii and NDS
  • Call of Juarez: Bound In Blood for the Xbox 360 and PS3
  • New casual games for the NDS in the Imagine, Petz, MyCoach and Playzone ranges.

The Group expects sales for the first quarter of 2009-10 to come in at around €95 million, representing a 44% decrease compared with the first quarter of 2008-09 which saw strong sales of back-catalog titles as well as the release of Haze and the PC versions of Assassin's Creed and Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas 2.

Ubisoft is confirming its targets for 2009-10, namely sales of around €1,100 million and current operating income before stock-based compensation representing at least 11% of sales. Growth is forecast to be generated in the second half, driven by the launch of the year's principal games for the Holiday season. Consequently, in the first six months, sales are expected to contract by approximately 35% compared with the first half of 2008-09, followed by an estimated growth of around 23% in the second half.

The games line-up for 2009-10 will include the following flagship titles:

  • 7 franchised games, including Assassin's Creed 2, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Conviction, Rabbids Go Home, Red Steel 2, Ghost Recon 4 and Anno 1404.
  • 4 licensed games – James Cameron's Avatar, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Arthur and the Invisibles.
  • 3 new brands – R.U.S.E., I am Alive and a sports game for the Wii.
  • New titles based on the successful Petz, Imagine and MyCoach brands and new innovations for Wii.

Market share: In the first three months of calendar 2009, Ubisoft was the number 4 independent publisher in the United States with 5.2% market share (compared with number 3 and 7.2% one year earlier); number 3 in Europe with 8.3% market share (compared with number 3 and 9.6%); number 3 in France with 8.1% market share (compared with number 2 and 8.8%); number 3 in the United Kingdom with 9.0% market share (compared with number 3 and 10.5%); and number 3 in Germany with 7.6% market share (compared with number 3 and 7.8%).

Acquisitions and studio openings in 2008-09

  1. Acquisition of Action Pants in Vancouver, Canada (fourth fiscal quarter): Established in 2006, Action Pants Inc. currently employs more than 110 video game developers. 2009 will see the release of the studio’s first title, a sports game developed exclusively for Wii. Vancouver is one of the industry’s biggest talent pools.
  2. Acquisition of Southlogic Studio in Brazil (fourth fiscal quarter): Established in 1996 in Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul), Southlogic’s team of around 20 developers has created titles for PC, handheld and home consoles, as well as provided art outsourcing and porting services. The studio has worked for various European, Japanese and American publishers and most recently developed Imagine: Wedding Designer on Nintendo DS for Ubisoft.
  3. Ubisoft acquires the assets of Massive Entertainment (third fiscal quarter): Created in 1997, Massive Entertainment employs over 120 developers and was ranked as one of the top 50 best game studios in the world by Game Developers Research in 2008. The studio is world renowned for its expertise in the RTS genre and for the quality of its innovative proprietary technologies, particularly for online applications. World in Conflict was acclaimed by critics, receiving the Best Strategy Game of E3 2007 award, as well as being named Best Online Multiplayer Game of 2007 by IGN, and Most Innovative Game of 2007 by Gamespot, among many other awards.
  4. Acquisition of Hybride Technologies (first fiscal quarter): Created over 15 years ago, Hybride is based near Montreal and employs 80 team members. The studio specializes in the creation of visual effects for cinema, television and advertising and its many projects include the movies 300, Frank Miller's Sin City, and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Ubisoft and Hybride will work closely together to share technology and develop tools in order to optimize the creation of both video games and special effects, offering gamers visual experiences that rival those of the cinema. At the same time, Hybride will continue to work actively with its movie partners while also bringing its expertise to leverage Ubisoft's intellectual property in the cinema industry.
  5. Ubisoft acquires its first development studio in India, based in Pune (first fiscal quarter): This studio has a team of 120 developers and testers and its testing costs are half the level of the Group average. The studio's goal is to become 200-people strong in 12 months’ time and to reach a team of 500 in the coming years.
  6. Ubisoft opens two new studios (first fiscal quarter): one in Kiev and one in Sao Paulo. The Kiev studio expects to shortly become fifty-person strong and staff numbers at the Sao Paulo studio are scheduled to reach 200 in the next four years.

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