Everything’s coming up Milhouse for Ubisoft if its latest financial results are anything to go by. The headline for investors is revenue growing an impressive 36% year on year thanks to ongoing support for older titles and strong launches for new games. Ubisoft’s own estimates of €630 million for the 2017 calendar year were well and truly crushed - the French publisher brought in €725 million.
On the PC side of things, it’s boom time for Ubisoft. 18% of Ubisoft’s global revenue now comes from PC gaming, compared to 7% just a few years ago. Not only are PC players spending more, they’re also playing more. PC gamers are the most active portion of Ubisoft’s player base. On average, PC players game for 30% more hours than console players, and are also 37% more likely to spend money on microtransactions.
Sales of Assassin’s Creed Origins and South Park: The Fractured But Whole were both well above Ubisoft’s targets, with AC Origins already doubling AC: Syndicate’s lifetime sales to date. Ghost Recon Wildlands, meanwhile, was one of the bestselling games of the entire year.
Along with the new games, Ubisoft has long been talking up the potential of supporting all its games for longer. This bore fruit in 2018, with The Division and Rainbow Six Siege enjoying continued success. Siege, in particular, is a standout sales for success for Ubisoft, its audience still growing more than two years after it launched.
You only need to take a peek at Ubisoft’s digital revenue to get a picture for why games as a service (GaaS) appeals to the publisher. Last year, around 44% of all Ubisoft’s income came from sales of titles and in-game purchases for games launched in prior years. In short, Ubisoft is almost making as much from its old games as it is from its big blockbuster launches.
Ubisoft provided some interesting data to back this up, claiming that a traditional game’s year two revenue is around 13% of its year one earnings. With a ‘live’ game (GaaS), this revenue jumps up to 52%. Not only that, but the revenue generated is reliable and the development costs of ongoing content is considerably lower than developing a new game. Ubisoft’s newfound practice is to make less games, but to support them for longer. We’re even potentially seeing this at play in single-player story-driven games, with Ubisoft heavily hinting there won’t be a new Assassin’s Creed game this year. Instead, Ubisoft has continued plans for DLC content.
Do you think fewer games yet with longer post-launch support is the right route to go for Ubisoft? Or would you prefer a return to once-and-done experiences? Let us know what you think!