December 8, 2017
Ubisoft Game Sales Show Decline Over Holidays: Will Vivendi Take Over?

Ubisoft's recent game sales didn't perform as well as the company had expected. With no full release of a new Assassin's Creed game and the lukewarm reception to Watch Dogs 2 and The Division, it appears the Canadian publisher could need to re-think their entire lineup.

Trouble for the long-time heavyweight may have started almost a decade ago when Revelations failed to be what gamers expected after Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and the games that came later didn't quite live up to the standard set by the second game in the series. Black Flag and Syndicate were both "slow burn" successes.

The Fall release of The Ezio Collection wasn't well-received, having been labeled a waste of money if you already owned the games on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. The visuals had only been given a subtle boost, which gamers cited as not being enough to justify the purchase. Even the inclusion of eight dollars off admission to the Micheal Fassbender film ended up not being worth it in the eyes of critics.

The Far Cry series has shown moderate success, although the fourth installment in the main series had been criticized over the cover image, which some observers called out for being racist. Primal was almost a sleeper hit, bringing stone-age survival to the table and taking the guns out of a series known as an open-world shooter.

'Far Cry Primal' is among Ubisoft's many
'Far Cry Primal' is among Ubisoft's many "slow burn" hits. [Image by Ubisoft]

The game Ubisoft would likely blame the most for the lack of interest was Watch Dogs 2, following up a title that had been little more than a dull "GTA clone" by adding more useful hacking abilities. The addition of drones gave the game more of a stealth approach, with the flying drone adding an element similar to Far Cry Primal's owl, allowing you to scout the area without being detected. One noticeable absence which most of the first game's fans won't miss was the "car stealth" mission, which had been a serious annoyance due to the difficulty involved in simply backing up.

Ubisoft's third quarter game sales from the 2016 Holiday season had been projected at $596 million, but only brought in $564 million. The loss of over $30 million could have been due to the lack of interest in any of the new titles.

The lack of an actual new full Assassin's Creed, their current flagship series, is partially due to Ubisoft taking the year off to rethink the franchise. After Unity and the myriad of glitches which it launched with, gamers are hesitant to trust any new titles. Even DLC expansions haven't done much for sales, as The Crew: Calling All Units has been considered a rip-off for gamers who already owned the game previously, and Ghost Recon: Wildlands almost released with a whisper.

The only positive in Ubisoft's recent releases was Steep, the snow-based take on extreme sports. Previous fans of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and its spin-offs were likely the reason as extreme sports titles, including the fifth main installment in the THPS franchise, have been relatively weak in recent years.

Games like 'Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5' may have fed the need for 'Steep.'
Games like 'Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 5' may have fed the need for 'Steep.' [Image by Activision]

The dip in sales expectations couldn't have come at a worse time, according to Venture Beat as Ubisoft is busy fending off a hostile takeover by Vivendi, who now own more than a quarter of the company. Ubisoft remains determined to give gamers the quality they expect in spite of it.

"This is another indication that Vivendi is continuing its ill-advised and value-destructive approach of attempting to take creeping control of companies like Ubisoft. As we've said previously, we are undeterred by these actions and remain focused on providing the best experiences to our players and fans, and to delivering long-term value for all of our shareholders."
A majority of Ubisoft's profits this past year were from older titles and DLC, although they did mention that interest in the Tom Clancy games has increased.

[Featured Image by Ubisoft]