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Ubisoft is moving away from reliance on AAA releases



Ubisoft will not be as dependent on AAA game releases as before, and will instead look more closely at free-to-play games and the back catalog to make money. In an earnings call today after the company’s third quarter financial results, the publisher said that the plans for the financial year 2022 (the period April 2021 to March 2022) included three AAA game releases, but that Ubisoft in the future did not want AAA games to be the focus of the business model.

“We said for a number of years that our usual template is to come up with either three or four AAA games, so we will stick to the plan for the financial year 2022,” said CFO Frederick Duguet. “But we see that we are gradually moving continuously from a model that only focused on AAA releases to a model where we have a combination of strong releases from AAA and strong back catalog dynamics, but which also compliments our program with new releases with free- to-play and other premium experiences. “He went on to specify that the company had a number of titles, AAA and elsewhere, in the process of naming Far Cry 6, Rainbow Six Quarantine, Skull & Bones, Riders Republic, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time remake and Roller Master. He also nodded to a previously announced Assassin̵

7;s Creed mobile game scheduled to arrive in China with the help of Ubisoft investor Tencent, who he said was part of the company that increased its investment and interest in free-to-play games, especially on mobile. Mobile currently accounts for approximately 9% of the company’s total business.

“In fiscal year 2022, we will continue our evolution from a AAA release-centric model to a model where AAA stands together with new premium and free game-innovative experiences across platforms,” ​​said Duguet. “These different experiences will feed each other through complementary game and business models.”

In particular, there was not a single mention of the conversation about Ubisoft’s free-to-play game royal Hyper Scape, which flopped enormously at launch and is currently undergoing an overhaul.

Elsewhere in the conversation, CEO Yves Guillemot also noted that the company’s back catalog – or its already released games that still provide revenue in the long run – will also play a heavier role in the company’s revenue in the future, and already is. As an example, the six-year-old Rainbow Six Siege added 15 million new players in the last 12 months, increasing to a total of 70 million players since its launch, and remains a major revenue driver for the publisher.“We continue to move toward an increasingly pronounced repetition of our revenue behind a growing audience,” Guillemot said. “Therefore, we expect that our very profitable back catalog will make up an even larger share of the business in the future.”

In recent years, Ubisoft has struggled to get its AAA game releases on time, with the publisher delaying Rainbow Six Quarantine, Gods & Monsters, and Watch Dogs Legion a year from its intended release during a 2019 earnings call, and then pushing quarantined again the following year next to Far Cry 6, and delays the upcoming Avatar game until 2022. And not to mention what happens to Skull & Bones, which has been delayed several times and seems to have been restarted right in the middle in development.

Meanwhile, Ubisoft’s economy indicates that games like Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, Far Cry 5, The Crew 2, Anno 1800, older Just Dance games, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and the aforementioned Rainbow Six Siege still make meaningful numbers for the company, which means it does not necessarily have to throw out more blockbusters a year to continue making money – but based on Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s launch sales that break records, it certainly does not hurt.

Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.




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