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Assassin's Creed 4 ships 10M copies, 2M below Assassin's Creed III

Ubisoft says game has seen "excellent momentum" despite failing to match or exceed predecessor; Just Dance 2014 also can't match last year's game.

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Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag has shipped 10 million copies since launch, Ubisoft announced today as part of its earnings report for the quarter ended December 31. That's in-line with Ubisoft's internal expectations, but below the 12 million mark of Assassin's Creed III during the same period, despite Black Flag being available on two additional platforms: Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Ubisoft said Black Flag has seen "excellent momentum" since launch. Its performance "bears witness to both the high quality of the game and the franchise's strong dynamic with gamers," Ubisoft said. The game sold 7 million copies on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC and 3 million units on Xbox One and PS4.

Just Dance 2014 shipped 6 million copies during the quarter (down from 8 million copies of Just Dance 4 shipped a year ago), while Rocksmith 2014 saw "lower-than-expected" sales, with around 1 million units. During a conference call following this announcement, however, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said the game is already profitable. Guillemot also teased that the Just Dance series is going to move in "exciting new directions" in the future.

Overall, Ubisoft had a rough quarter, with sales falling 35.2 percent to €520 million ($708.7 million), compared to €802 million ($1.09 billion) last year.

Digital sales were €53 million ($72.3 million) for quarter, down 4 percent compared to last year, which benefited from the release of Far Cry 3, Ubisoft said. On a nine-month basis, however, digital sales rose by 12 percent to €123 million ($167.7 million), led by digital distribution, free-to-play, and DLC sales.

Back-catalog sales fell a heavy 21 percent to €53 million ($72.3 million), "due to the console transition period," Ubisoft said. But on a nine-month basis, back-catalog sales actually grew 6 percent to €172 million ($234.5 million), thanks to games like Assassin's Creed III, Far Cry 3, and Ubisoft's free-to-play games.

Ubisoft's breakdown of sales by platform also reveals that players purchased more Ubisoft games on PS4 than Xbox One by a margin of 12 percent to 9 percent, respectively. The PS3 (28 percent) was Ubisoft's top platform during the quarter, followed by Xbox 360 (27 percent).

"The launches of the PS4 and Xbox One were both hugely successful, with sales of these machines more than doubling those for the previous generation and confirming the growth potential of the console market in the coming years," Guillemot said in a statement. "Over the short term, the high quality of our titles--which is unanimously recognized by gamers--has enabled us to achieve our third-quarter sales target despite the transition period currently affecting the market. Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag performed particularly well, reinforcing the franchise’s long-term potential and therefore its upcoming iteration. This robust showing was achieved thanks to the excellence of our teams, our extensive development capacities and the efficiency of our Lead and Associate studio structure.”

That statement seems to suggest an Assassin's Creed title for 2014 is now confirmed.

Ubisoft's management team is currently holding a financial call to discuss the results and answer questions. We'll have more from the call as it happens.

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