Petz help breed profitz for Ubisoft

Casual brands a big factor in French publisher's serious 36 percent revenue increase; Assassin's Creed hits 6 million-unit milestone.


Launching a new hit franchise with Assassin's Creed may be the most visible success that Ubisoft achieved over the last year, but the French publisher spread the love around a little more broadly in its fourth-quarter financial report today.

Assassin's Creed was just one of a few big wins to which the company attributed its 36 percent full-year sales increase. The publisher also said that existing brands such as Rainbow Six, Rayman, Settlers, and Ghost Recon all turned in strong sales performances. Furthermore, its Games for Everyone range of casual games, which includes the Petz, My Coach, and Imagine series, tripled its sales over the course of the year.

For the 12 months ended March 31, Ubisoft racked up revenues of €928 million ($1.46 billion), up from €680 million ($1.07 billion) for the previous year. The Wii- and DS-centric Games for Everyone line accounted for nearly a full quarter of that haul, bringing in a total of €230 million ($361 million).

As for the most recent quarter, revenues were up a more modest 10 percent to €217 million ($340 million), which was still above Ubisoft's original guidance. The publisher's gamble on a Rainbow Six Vegas sequel paid off, with Rainbow Six Vegas 2 coming in second on the March sales charts in both the US and the UK, and more than 2 million copies of the tactical shooter shipped to retailers. Assassin's Creed also continued sneaking off of shelves, with the stealth action game now having shipped 6 million copies worldwide.

Looking ahead, Ubisoft executives said in a conference call with investors that 2008 appears set to be another record year for the company, in part due to the company's recent purchase of the Tom Clancy brand. The battle plan calls for continued emphasis on building existing franchises and expanding the casual lineup with games like a new Wii party game. To help the publisher achieve that, it's ramping up the hiring process, looking to hire an additional 500 employees for new offices in Singapore, China, and India, with an extra 400 being added to the mix in more established studios.

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