Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

Ubisoft claims everything is going well, despite delays, claims, and hazy predictions

Even though Ubisoft has released some reputable blockbuster games in the last few years, French Canadian companies nevertheless have At that time.

First and most importantly, the studio, which was first announced last year, continues to be alleged of toxic labor culture, leadership and sexual harassment. This has revived in the light of similar allegations at Activision Blizzard and accusations that Ubisoft hasn’t done enough to modify the company’s culture in the past year.

Then there are all the delays. Ubisoft has repeatedly postponed multiple games each year for some time now. Rainbow Six Extraction, Immortals: Fenyx Rising, Watch Dogs: Legion were delayed in 2019, after which Extraction was delayed again. There are many delays in Riders Republic, including Far Cry 6, Avatar, Skull & Bones’ endless treadmill delays, and Prince of Persia remakes, which pushed the entire fiscal year. The Ghost Recon Frontline was announced earlier this month, but its beta was less than a week behind its announcement.

In most cases it’s not clear why all these delays are occurring, Kotaku Report from July I investigated specifically what was happening at Skull & Bones. The team was reportedly burned out, with development turmoil and no one knowing what kind of game they were making.

Next, there is a more minor issue with the free play question. This seems to have disturbed the general public and investors. In the last few earnings releases, Ubisoft has expressed a keen interest in free-to-play games, expressing its desire to move away from its commitment to release three to four AAA titles each year.

That’s a lot! Anyway, that’s the mood for Ubisoft’s second-quarter earnings report today, and it certainly feels like the company is defending. Indeed, numerically, things look good enough, even if Ubisoft gives some interesting details. Net bookings increased 14% from last year to € 392.1 million ($ 458.1 million) and sales increased 21% to € 398.5 million ($ 465.6 million). Assassin’s Creed Valhara was touted as “the second most profitable game in Ubisoft history, less than 12 months”, and Far Cry 6’s early sales were at the same time around Assassin’s Creed Odyssey — a number we don’t have. (Sold 10 million copies between October 2018 and March 2020).

There were other bits. The Crew 2 engagement is on track, up 70% from two years ago (launched in 2018) and 53% in revenue since then. The Just Dance franchise currently sells 80 million units. And, apparently, people are getting Far Cry 3 and 5 because of the interest around Far Cry 6, but exactly how many people are unknown.

But beyond that, Ubisoft’s presentation felt like an attempt to reassure in a pile of negative headlines. First, for its revenue release, make “gradual and meaningful progress” in improving corporate culture through “the evolution of the HR organization” and, in particular, a detailed study of Ubisoft’s employee resource groups and creative content. It contained a long quote about the attempt to.

“Strengthening support for ERG is just one example of how Ubisoft is committed to becoming a more diverse and comprehensive organization,” read the release. “Another meaningful example is the internal content review committee investigating game and marketing content, providing additional perspectives on that content, and creating a global inclusive game and content team to create diversity and diversity. Make sure that the inclusions are part of the production process.

In particular, none of the investors who answered the phone asked about this issue.

CEO Yves Guillemot also felt that Ubisoft needed to reassure everyone that it was in the premium AAA gaming business, despite the surge in interest in free play. The revenue release points out that 80% of Ubisoft’s investment is focused on expanding premium products, and during a call, investors may not be able to play Assassin’s Creed Infinity for free at some point. But I was relieved that there was an important story-focused content — although the game is still on its way.

However, the general public may have been reluctant to recognize the increase in free play, which did not bother investors. Many times during the call, I had problems with games that I could play for free were delayed or released and didn’t work. Ubisoft touted them. Guillemot seemed quite happy with the trial-and-error model, as he said in his opening remarks:

“Look at our free play operations and make it clear. Our organic value-creating model means that we can go through a stage of trial and error that can fail. Increasingly, you will always be in a better position to learn, grow and succeed Although you cannot be content with your progress, you have a solid track record of building new skills, technologies and features through the initiative process. We reviewed our initiatives and made the necessary decisions. We are confident in applying our iterative process to free play, ultimately creating great value and expanding the reach of our brand. [inaudible] Our recurring revenue. “

However, the issue was raised many times over the phone. At some point, it is not included in the company guidance, especially with regard to roller champions. It’s scheduled for this year as well (most recently in 2021, but there’s no fixed date yet), but it’s been largely unacceptable in terms of marketing these days, and Ubisoft is a competitive roller that you can play for free. Derby.

If an investor asks you what’s wrong with a free-to-play game, specifically Roller Champions, and this content (that is, your investment) launches indifferently (remember Hyperscape?) Guillemot gave quite a few opinions. The classic answer is that it’s difficult for players to identify what they want to play for free, and it can take longer to figure it out.

“But what we see is that the player’s reaction to much of the free play is actually a good reaction. It may repel some factors, but it actually adapts. Helpful. Feeling an investment in free. -To-play is a really good investment for the company and will bring a lot of profits in the future, so it is really good in the future We spend the time we need to generate revenue and profits. “

Shortly afterwards, CFO Frédérick Duguet recalls and Guillemot reiterates the importance of the “repetitive” process in free play described above, ensuring that free play is a growing and profitable sector and treating it to investors. .. When the questioner suggested that the Ghost Recon frontline was shelved for negative feedback, Gillemott immediately condemned the concept — it’s just late.

Elsewhere, all other premium games that are gradually being pushed next year (starting in April next year), Prince of Persia, Avatar: Pandora Frontier, Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, Skull & Bones, Rocksmith +, Tom Clancy’s Division Heartland. Much of the concern is focused on the fact that Ubisoft lowered its year-round guidance slightly more than ever and, in contrast to previous single-digit growth forecasts, flattened or slightly reduced new bookings from the previous year. It looked like there was.

Ubisoft specifically sought to avoid questions about Skull & Bones and Kotaku’s reports in its report, prompting the following claim that everything is going well at Ubisoft Singapore.

“The game is on track and the Singapore team has passed an important new production milestone,” it read. “Creating ambitious new IPs is difficult, requires an indomitable spirit and a long-term vision. This is how major industry franchises such as Assassin’s Creed and Tom Clancy’s Division are created. Ubisoft is innovation and new technology. Passionate about innovation and fostering an environment for it. Talent to prosper and maximize its potential. “

The Prince of Persia Twitter account was also trying to avoid worry by letting everyone know that the game was still under development. Well, that’s what!

Despite a fairly consistent uptrend in numbers, Ubisoft is in a very strange place for the company as it seeks to direct its vessels in different directions. Some of them are more effective than other directions. Its series of lagging headings isn’t self-confident, and franchises like Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry are well-funded, but games like Prince of Persia, Roller Champions, Skull & Bones. Ironically, if you are sinking money into them, a complete concern. Perhaps the best thing Ubisoft can do to organize all this is to release some good games on time.

Corporate culture issues, on the other hand, remain the worst issue, as long as investors do not seem to affect their bottom line, they remain uninterested in subsequent inquiries.

Rebekah Valentine is an IGN news reporter. You can find her on twitter @duckvalentine..

Fixed after publication to refer to Ghost Recon frontline instead of breakpoints.