As the usual transition period between console generations lingers on and investors squirm awaiting the receding tide of lost revenues, EA and Blizzard have had multiple quagmires marring unfruitful attempts as permanent landmarks representing failure and loss of consumer good will through controversies with tone deaf cover stories.
You would be forgiven for not hearing much about Ubisoft during this time period as the majority of their Q4 2019 games lineup was delayed including unannounced titles as well as heavily anticipated Skull & Bones, Gods & Monsters, Rainbow Six Quarantine, plus the potentially innovative Watch Dogs Legion (moved from 2019 to a date TBD 2020-2021).
Ubisoft’s CEO and Co-Founder Yves Guillemot provided insights as to how this would affect the company’s profit margins which saw a projected decrease of €430 – €460 million in non-IFRS operating income as well as a downscaled target of €1,450 million in net bookings from the prior expectation of €2,185 million for Q4. The rest of the year isn’t looking particularly profitable either as strategy seems to be rotating to avoid a catastrophic event like what has befallen peer publishing firms EA and Blizzard.
“For Ghost Recon Breakpoint, while the game’s quality appeared on track – based on E3, Gamescom, previews and our latest internal playtests –, critical reception and sales during the game’s first weeks were very disappointing. As we have done with past titles, we will continue to support the game and listen to the community in order to deliver the necessary improvements.” – Ubisoft’s CEO and Co-Founder Yves Guillemot
Ironically, Ghost Recon Breakpoint became the breaking point for the strategy of releasing essentially the same game over and over again with as few changes as possible. Ubisoft will restructure once again with yet another checklist of core principles and we at RGN sincerely appreciate and wish for the best outcomes to these efforts to course correct the ship before it’s too late.
However, it is also obvious that the situation major game publishers find themselves in for 2020 could have been avoided with better foresight and by listening to their consumers instead of attempting to maintain the most egregious business practices ever seen in the industry, even leading to worldwide scandal and government regulation of video games.
Many of the titles offered by Ubisoft will become part of the UPlay+ service set to debut on Stadia with availability also found on PC and Xbox. This is a great way to help reduce the price of recurring titles like Just Dance 2020 and Ghost Recon Breakpoint, which have indeed been heavily criticized for being too similar to their predecessors to justify their price tags. Still holding their own, Ubisoft managed to escape the dread other companies have garnered throughout 2019 by the hair on their chins.
Taking more time in between releases to give further development time and ensure optimizations from previous iterations are not lost on new releases is a major claim from Ubisoft – and we heard a similar song and dance when they told the world that they won’t make many games anymore – just microtransaction fueled “live services” an instant meme that gamers absolutely hate and voted with their wallets against all throughout 2019. Let’s see if this turns out to be a good thing and the time when Ubisoft learned a valuable lesson the hard way, but took action before things got to EA / Blizzard levels of disaster…