Ubisoft financials tease Assassin's Creed 2

In announcing first-half profits, French publisher plays coy with release window for next installment in acrobatic stealth action series.

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Ubisoft today reported profits for the first half of its fiscal year (the six months ended September 30), and acknowledged development on a key part of its profit plan in future quarters, the much-anticipated follow-up to Assassin's Creed.

While economic woes seem to be keeping other publishers down, Ubisoft has yet to feel the slowdown's effects. Following up on its second-quarter financial report, the publisher today cast a bit more light on its bottom line for the first half, posting operating income of €24.7 million ($31.9 million), nearly double that of the €12.5 million ($16.1 million) it raked in for the same stretch of the previous year.

While those numbers don't account for the last two months of volatility in the economy, Ubisoft executives were optimistic about their holiday sales outlook. In a question-and-answer session with analysts at the end of a conference call, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot and CFO Alain Martinez said that retailers are being cautious with their day-one orders, but it hasn't been a big issue as they're also quick to reorder when stock runs low. On top of that, they said all indications are that Ubisoft is on track to achieve its guidance for the year.

As for future years, one analyst asked if the second installment of Assassin's Creed would be released in Ubisoft's fiscal 2010. (The original was released to commercial success and mixed critical reception in 2007.) Guillemot flatly refused to give even a hint about the project, but did confirm it was in development.

"We're not answering that question," Guillemot said. "What we just can say is that we are working hard on the product."

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