Ubisoft has hit us with that rarest of news - under-performance. The French publisher has slashed its expected net bookings for the 2019-20 fiscal year down by over €700 million. Ubisoft had originally expected overall revenue to be €2.185 billion but has now dropped its target to €1.45 billion. This means net revenue has fallen from around €480 million all the way to just €20 million and €50 million.
It still leaves Ubisoft in the green, just about, but it represents a very disappointing year when we take into account its previous growth.
There are two big causes for this change in fortunes. Firstly, “a sharp downward revision in the revenues” is expected from Ghost Recon Breakpoint and, to a smaller degree, The Division 2. In a nutshell, these games weren’t the success which Ubisoft was predicting.
Secondly, three Ubisoft games have been delayed. Gods & Monsters, Rainbow Six: Quarantine and Watch Dogs Legion were all expected to launch before the end of March 2020. All three games have been pushed to fiscal 2020-21, which runs from April 2020 through to March 2021.
Of these games, Watch Dogs Legion was the only one with a confirmed release date. Originally pencilled in for launch on March 6th, 2020, it’s now been pushed back to an undetermined date.
“While each of these games already has a strong identity and high potential, we want our teams to have more development time to ensure that their respective innovations are perfectly implemented so as to deliver optimal experiences for players,” says Ubisoft.
The good news for Ubisoft in all of this is that it expects the FY2020-21 to be very strong now. It has five AAA titles planned, including the three above. The other two are probably Skull & Bones and the unannounced Assassin’s Creed project.
But now back to the thorny issue of Ghost Recon Breakpoint, which now appears to have massively disappointed both critically and commercially. In its fiscal report, Ubisoft said it thought Ghost Recon Breakpoint was on course for success having tracked well “based on E3, Gamescom, previews and our latest internal playtests.”
Ubisoft attributes Breakpoint’s failure to three chief reasons - It’s harder to generate interest for a sequel to a GaaS title; the new innovations were not perfectly implemented; and Ghost Recon Breakpoint wasn’t unique enough so it didn’t stand out from the crowd. All of these points seem pretty much bang on the money, it’s perhaps just a shame Ubisoft wasn’t aware of this before Breakpoint hit store shelves.