While Ubisoft started the week with a record-breaking number one chart position for Assassin’s Creed III, it has followed that feat by reporting a £46.6 million (€58.1 million) operating loss for the six month period ending September 30.
Sales for the period reached £224 million (€279.2 million), up from last year’s £199.3 million (€248.5 million), with a total loss of £25.9 million (€32.3 million) – an improvement over last year’s £29.8 million (€37.1 million).
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot pointed to sales of Ghost Recon Future Soldier, Just Dance 4 and a strong performance from the digital sector for the boost in income and gross profit, but said a heavy marketing spend on major titles pushed up expenses.
“However,” he continued, “those large-scale marketing campaigns for Assassin’s Creed 3 and Far Cry 3 should pave the way for an exceptional year-end, with a significant increase in both sales and profitability.”
That prediction is borne out by today’s revelation that Assassin’s Creed III has sold 3.5 million copies during its first week on sale – a 100 per cent year-on-year increase over last years series entry.
The company has 15 more games to release this year, a figure half that of the same period last year as it adopts a “fewer but bigger” publishing strategy.
Despite the loss, it’s a comfortable report, especially with Far Cry 3 still to launch. Ubisoft is also heavily backing Nintendo’s Wii U, due for release at the end of the month, with seven games including ZombiU and Rayman Legends – a move that will likely result in healthy returns.
Guillemot also revealed that Ubisoft is developing all of its future games – such as the promising Watchdogs – for both current and next-gen hardware, a strategy that will spread both risk and cost, and in theory increase profit margins on each release.
“For the first two years [of next gen development], because we are making our games on next-gen and old-gen at the same time, we expect the overall [development] costs will not increase,” he explained during a conference call to investors. “We don’t know about the third year, when we will take full advantage of the capacity of the consoles.”